Yamaha reface: the series explained
Four Yamaha classics recreated in miniature form
Yamaha have a ubiquitous presence within the world of music, and for many years have shaped the way some of our favourite music sounds with their innovative keyboards, synthesizers and organs. With the introduction of the Yamaha reface range, they have condensed some of the most famous sounds such as the DX7 and CS Control Synthesizer series and housed them in an ultra-compact and extremely portable design to create the definitive range of Mobile Mini keyboards, making it easier for musicians of today to access those classic sounds. These small but extremely powerful keyboards and synths are perfect for the modern musician on the go, designed for use in the studio – whether home or world class production suite, those late hotel writing sessions and the stages of the world.
In addition, Yamaha’s Soundmondo sound community and reface Capture allows you to collaborate with musicians all over the world and store, recall reface Voices on iOS and share them on Soundmondo where you can rate, name and add custom images to your sound library. In short, the entire reface range offers musicians an almost unprecedented selection of sounds and encourages creativity through collaboration whilst providing artists with a highly portable, and easy to use range of stage-ready instruments that sound amazing. So today we’re going to look through the entire range and discuss the features of each keyboard, organ and synth.
Based on the CS Control Synthesizer, first introduced in 1976 and used by the likes of Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and Vangelis, the reface CS offers all the classic sounds that made it so famous and introduces a variety of modern improvements to make it the simpler to use with added dynamics yet being respectful of the original monophonic synth. The reface CS is a 37-key (3 octaves) mini keyboard and polyphonic tone generator – an absolute powerhouse that has a surprising amount of voices. Packed inside is 8 voices and 5 oscillator types that includes multi saw, pulse, oscillator sync, ring modulation, and frequency modulation that offers the modern player a sonic smorgasbord of digital and analogue sounds that can be easily manipulated by the super tough (and satisfyingly smooth) sliders.
It can be powered by six “AA” batteries with five hours of life and you also have an integrated looper as well as built in 2w 3cm stereo speakers which makes it a great instrument to jam out ideas at home, in the studio or in the park – basically where you go, this can come along too. As previously mentioned, Yamaha’s online community, Soundmondo allows you to create music with others across the globe share and download new sounds and sync everything directly to your synth. Powered by Web MIDI just connect your reface to Chrome and you’re ready to start browsing or create your own sounds. For added mobility and on-the-go music making you’ll be pleased to know the reface CS Analogue Synthesizer is easily connected to your iPhone and iPad via the free reface iOS app.
Remember when it was really convenient to carry 5 organs to a gig? No. Me neither. If you love the sound of a variety of different organs, but are extremely fed up with mediocre sounds, or don’t want to have to heave a full size organ around with you to gigs or the studio, then you’re going to absolutely love the reface YC Electric Combo Organ.
This lightweight and super portable organ features a variety of voices and effects to provide the gigging musician or music producer with the ultimate professional grade instrument. The reface YC combines 5 different organs, namely the American tone wheel organ, British transistor organ, Italian transistor organ, Japanese transistor organ, and the Yamaha YC-45D – all of which are created by the Organ Flutes Tone Generator. You can manipulate the sounds to your needs using any of the nine drawbars, virtual rotary speakers and HQ Mini Keys, which offer action based on Yamaha’s flagship Motif XF model, making it an extremely impressive sound generator that partners everything you love about vintage organs with a small, more portable design.
The legendary Yamaha DX7 was responsible for shaping the sound of the 80s, and the reface DX: FM Synthesizer brings the legendary sounds back into the 21st century and presents them to an entirely new generation of musicians. Just like the other items in the reface range, the reface DX FM synth is a small and compact powerhouse that has been built to last years of touring. Not only does it come with 32 (memorable) voices, the reface DX is also a polyphonic instrument with 8 voices as well as 7 fantastic effects to add new elements to your sound. In fact, you have 2 entirely programmable effects blocks with seven effect types per block, meaning you can get to grips with effects such as VCM Touch Wah, VCM Flanger, VCM Phaser, Chorus, Delay, Reverb and Distortion and enjoy all the awesome sounds you’ve come to love from the classic DX7 and make it entirely your own.
The keyboard is dynamic and responsive which is extremely important for FM synthesis, so you’ll feel comfortable using the capacitive multi touch 7-key (3 octaves) mini-action keyboard in all situations. Soundmondo (Yamaha’s online community) allows you to connect with other reface DX FM owners all over the world and share sounds or simply to use it as a place to store your voices and set lists for later recall. It’s also iPad and iPhone compatible, comes with integrated stereo speakers and headphone connectivity as well as built-in speakers which means music creation can happen anywhere, regardless of the size of your studio or your location.
Although it’s small in size, the reface CP: Electric Piano packs a serious punch providing the professional musician with a range of sounds inspired by the legendary Stage Keyboards of the 70s. Straight out of the box you get a Vintage Keyboard Sound Engine with 6 keyboard types, 128-note polyphony and a host of effects. The host of built-in keyboard sounds will keep any enthusiast happy as you have a choice of, RdI (early ’70s tine electric piano), RdII (late ’70s tine electric piano), Wr (late ’60s reed electric piano), Clv (70s struck string Clavinet), Toy (toy piano), and the CP (Yamaha CP80 electric grand piano) – all of which sound absolutely amazing whether you’re playing through a PA or going straight into your DAW. When it comes to effects, you can choose from Drive, Tremolo/VCM Wah, Chorus/VCM Phaser, Digital Delay/Analog-Type Delay, and Reverb effects and flick between them on the fly thanks to the intuitive layout and smooth, comfortable keys.
To get a professional feel, the HQ Mini Keys have been designed to feature an action based on the FS action of the flagship Yamaha Motif XF. So Yamaha have ensured you have great response and a professional grade feel at all times. Again, Yamaha have provided the modern musician with a whole host of online collaboration capabilities as you can actually share your sounds via the Yamaha’s free reface iOS app and a unique QR code across all reface products. Create your own sounds and voices and the app will then turn each one into a unique QR code at your request which you can then share with other reface users via an iPad or iPhone camera and then load your custom sound onto that particular device. Genius.
Check out the full reface range over at the Dawsons website.