Reface YC and DX teardowns

Markus Fuller posted two Yamaha Reface teardowns (YC and DX) to Youtube:

In case you’re not familiar with the term “teardown,” think of a teardown as a casual tour through the insides of a keyboard.

Both Reface keyboards have an ARM FM3 handing the user interface panel. The switch to ARM is major news. In the past, Yamaha used Renesas H8 or SH4 microcontrollers for interface applications. They apparently have decided to ride the embedded cost curve and that curve leads to ARM, the current leader in low-power, high function embedded microcontrollers.

I wonder if Yamaha will adopt ARM in their entry-level keyboards? This would be a smart move. Yamaha currently use their own SWL01 processor in battery-powered entry-level products. Now that Yamaha have sold off their integrated circuit fabrication plant, they are free to move to off-the-shelf parts when it makes sense. ARM is the choice for battery-powered embedded devices. Further, the ARM-resident, XG-capable sound engine in Yamaha Mobile Music Sequencer has a better spec than the entry-level ‘boards. (MMS reference)

Both Reface keyboards have a large metal plate over one or more integrated circuits. This is the honey pot. 🙂 I understand Markus’s reluctance to remove the heat sink. This is, however, where the digital signal processing (DSP) is being performed. Apparently, Yamaha had a minor power dissipation problem and resolved it using a simple heat sink (no fan). Heat is an important product design problem; x86 fans take note. (More on x86 and instrument design.)

Here are some notes about the integrated circuits in the Reface YC:

Winbond W9864G6KH-6 SDRAM  (64Mbits)
    4Mx16 bits = 1M words x 4 banks x 16 bits (8MBytes equivalent)
    Parallel interface
    Burst-oriented accesses

Winbond W9812G6JH-6 SDRAM (128Mbits)
    8Mx16 bits = 2M words x 4 banks x 16 bits (16MBytes equivalent)
    Parallel interface
    Burst-oriented accesses

AKM AK4396VF (Asahi Kasei Microdevices Corporation)
    Digital-to-analog converter (DAC)
    24-bit 192KHz 128x oversampling
    I2S data interface
    Integrated digital filter

Texas Instruments / Burr Brown PCM1803A
    Stereo analog-to-digital converter
    24-bit, 64x or 128x oversampling
    I2S data interface

The circuits are all pretty typical for a Yamaha design. Not enough information here to indicate whether the SWP70 tone generator is in use or not. Yamaha have used W9864G6KH as DSP SDRAM in past designs.

I’m glad that Markus posts his teardowns. I like it when he zooms in and identifies the integrated circuits. One very small quibble with the YC teardown — I believe the “A” stands for “Acetone.”

While you’re here, catch my Reface CP snap review.

New Yamaha workstation at NAMM 2016?

True gearheads are already making predictions and plans for 2016 Winter NAMM, January 21-24, 2016. Winter NAMM rumors abound including “Montage,” the rumored name for the rumored new Yamaha synthesizer workstation.

See the list of new waveforms in the Montage and read my initial review of the Montage8. Update: May 10, 2016.

Find the latest links, pictures, rumors and facts here . Update: January 21, 2016.

Check out some new thoughts about the rumored workstation and preliminary comments . Update: January 18, 2016.

Many folks — myself included — anticipate the release of a new Yamaha synthesizer workstation at the next NAMM. Much has been made of the registered trademark “Montage.” I don’t really care too much about what they call it, as I care about what it will do.

Last month, I posted two articles about the new Yamaha tone generation chip called “SWP70”:

This chip made its first appearance in the new PSR-S770 and PSR-S970 arranger workstations. Lest anyone scoff, the S770 and S970 produce Motif-caliber sounds including the REAL DISTORTION effects added to the Motif XF by the v1.5 update. The previous tone generator (SWP51L) is used throughout the mid- and upper-range Yamaha keyboard products including Clavinova, MOX/MOXF, Motif XS/XF, and Tyros 4/5. The number of tone generator chips varies by product specification and, most notably, sets the maximum available polyphony. A new tone generator chip is a pretty big deal since it will have an impact on all mid- and high-grade electronic instruments across product lines.

My earlier article about the SWP70 is written from the perspective of a computer architect and is way too nerdy for normal people. 🙂 Let me break it down.

Musicians using VST plug-ins within a PC-based DAW are familiar with the concept of sample streaming. In the quest for greater realism and articulation, sample libraries have become huge. These libraries simply cannot fit into fast random access memory (RAM) for playback. As a work-around, a software instrument reads samples from a drive-based library on demand and only a small part of the entire library is resident in RAM at any given time. The process is often called “sample streaming” because the software instrument streams in the samples on demand from a large fast secondary memory like a Solid-State Drive (SSD). The Korg Kronos workstation caught everyone’s attention because it incorporates an x86-based software system that streams samples from an SSD. (For Kronos-related articles, look here and here.)

The SWP70 combines streaming with tone generation. It does not, however, use an SSD for storage. Rather, it subsumes the functionality of the SSD. A moment to explain…

An SSD consists of three major subsystems: SATA controller, temporary storage cache (RAM) and one or more NAND flash memory chips. The NAND flash memory chips typically adhere to the Open NAND Flash Interface (ONFI) standard. This allows expansion and standardized configurability. The SATA controller exchanges commands and data with a computer using the SATA bus protocol. The temporary storage cache holds data which is pre-read (cached) from the NAND flash chips. Caching is required because random access read to NAND flash is too slow; sequential paged access is much faster. Data must be prefetched in order to achieve anything like SATA 1 (2 or 3) transfer speed.

The SWP70 subsumes the SSD functionality. It has its own memory controller and has a side memory port to its own RAM for caching samples. The SWP70 reads samples from its ONFI-compatible NAND flash memory bus and stores the samples in its cache. The tone generation circuitry reads the samples from the cache when it needs them. The SWP70 solution is, effectively, sample streaming without the added cost and latency of SATA bus transfers. The samples coming into the SWP70 from flash are compressed, by the way, and the SWP70 decompresses them.

The SWP70 will very likely make an appearance in the new Yamaha synthesizer workstation. The S770 and S970 do not make full use of the SWP70, so we have yet to see what this chip is fully capable of. We can definitely expect:

  • Much larger wave memory (4GBytes minimum)
  • Greater polyphony (256 voices or more)
  • More simultaneous DSP effects (32 units or more)
  • The demise of the expensive expansion flash DIMMs

I would simply love it if the new workstation implemented some form of Super Articulation 2 voices (now supported by Tyros 5). The raw resources are there.

User-installed expansion memory may be a thing of the past. The current DIMMs plug into a two channel, full parallel memory interface. That interface is gone and the SWP70 communicates with flash NAND through an ONFI-compatible interface. The Motif and Tyros follow-ons will likely reserve space for user samples and expansion packs in built-in flash memory just like the new mid-range PSRs.

What does Yamaha intend to do with all of this polyphony? Current high-end models like the Tyros 5 use two tone generation chips. Yamaha could replace both chips with a single SWP70 and pocket the savings.

Another possibility is to provide advanced features for musical composition that combine MIDI and audio phrases. Here is a list of technologies covered by recent Yamaha patents and patent applications:

  • Beat detection and tracking
  • Chord detection
  • Synchronized playback of MIDI and audio
  • Combined audio/MIDI accompaniment (time-stretch and pitch-shift)
  • Object-oriented phrase-based composition on a time-line
  • Accompaniment generation from chord chart
  • Display musical score synchronized with audio accompaniment
  • Phrase analysis and selection (via similarity index)
  • Near ultra-sonic communication of control information
  • Search for rhythm pattern similar to reference pattern

A few of these technologies are covered by more than one patent — recurring themes, if you will. I could imagine a screen-based composition system that combines audio and MIDI phrases which are automatically selected from a database. The phrases are transparently time-stretched and pitch-shifted. Some of the compositional aids may be implemented in the workstation while others are tablet-based. The tablet communicates with the workstation over near ultra-sonic sound (no wires, no Bluetooth, no wi-fi, no time lag).

Sample-based tone generators already perform pitch-shifting. That’s how a single sample is stretched across multiple keys. A musical phrase can be pitch-shifted in the same way. As to time-stretching, stay tuned.

Some of these features, like accompaniment generation from a textual chord chart, are more likely to appear in a future arranger workstation product. Making product-specific predictions is a risky business, especially if you want to get it right!

Yamaha — the business — is keenly interested in growth and expanding markets. Management sees opportunity in growth markets like China. The need to combine audio phrases with MIDI is driven by non-Western music: time signatures other than 3/4 or 4/4, different scales, different playing techniques and articulations. These concerns are perhaps more relevant to the arranger product lines. However, phrase-based composition that manipulates and warps audio and MIDI transparently is a basic feature of many DAWs. (Think “Ableton Live.”)

One final theme seems to recur. Yamaha appear to be interested in analyzing and accompanying non-keyboard instruments. The market for guitar-driven accompaniment is much wider and deeper than today’s arranger workstations and is a lucrative target.

Here are links to a few earlier articles, including speculation about the new Yamaha synthesizer workstation:

These articles link to further background information. Of course, we’ll know a lot more once Winter NAMM 2016 is underway!

All site content Copyright © Paul J. Drongowski unless otherwise indicated.

Copy PSR DSP effects (part 4)

This is part 4 of a series of articles about DSP effects for electric pianos and other electrified instruments like guitar. The first three articles are:

This article covers two more techniques that should help you create and apply DSP effects to PSR/Tyros voices.

Beg, borrow and steal

As Picasso once said, “When there’s anything to steal, I steal.” I’m not encouraging larcency or piracy, but when there’s a good effect in an OTS or voice, copy and paste is the way to go.

I like writing these blog posts because they encourage me to learn more about PSR/Tyros features that I might have ignored or overlooked. Such is the case with the section titled “Disabling Automatic Selection of Voice Sets” in the Reference Manual. This features gives us a way to selectively copy certain aspects of a voice to another (new) voice.

This feature is like a “mini-freeze” that applies solely to VOICE SET, not entire registrations. Navigate to:


then TAB over to the VOICE SET page. There are four buttons at the bottom of the page controlling, respectively, four aspects of voice loading when a voice is selected:


When a button is ON, the corresponding voice parameter settings are loaded automatically from the selected voice. When a button is OFF, the corresponding voice parameters settings are not loaded.

So, if we set the button for EFFECT to OFF, we essentially “freeze” the current effect settings. When we load a new voice, the effects remain the same. This gives us a poor man’s copy and paste between voices.

Let’s say that we like the distortion effect on the “Clavi” voice and want to apply it to “VintageEP”. First, I load the Clavi voice to call up the DSP effect. Then, I navigate to the VOICE SET page (as described above) and turn the EFFECT button OFF. This freezes the effect part of the voice programming. Then, I select the VintageEP voice. Voila, the VintageEP voice plays using the distortion effect that was frozen.

Stop! Wait a minute!

Once you save the VintageEP voice to the USB drive or an OTS button, be sure to unfreeze the EFFECT aspect of voice loading. If you don’t do this, you will surely wonder why all of the voices you load are distorted!

Hey, where’s the loot?

The built-in voices are the most obvious source of inspiration for new basic voice plus effect combinations. Yamaha need to maintain backward compatible voices, however, and the older voices such as the electric pianos may not use the latest and greatest effects (e.g., REAL DISTORTION). The guitar voices tend to turn over more quickly and adopt the latest effects.

Backward compatibility is less of an issue for the OTS voices within styles. You are more likely to find new and interesting effects under the OTS buttons. Take the built-in “WahClavi” voice, for example. The built-in voice uses the old CLAVI TC.WAH effect. The “WahClavi” voice in the JazzFunk style, on the other hand, uses the new REAL DISTORTION multi-effect MLT CR WAH (Multi FX Crunch Wah).

The following table is a list of OTS voices showing the parent style and DSP effect. Follow this map to find buried treasure!

Voice            Style          S950 effect   Tyros 5 effect
---------------  -------------  ------------  -------------------------------
GrungeGuitar     JazzFunk       AMP1 HEAVY    British Combo Heavy
OverdriveWah     JazzFunk       MLT CR WAH    Multi FX Crunch Wah
VintageAmp       Soul           V_DIST SOLID  V_Dist Solid
Slapback         MotorCity      V_DIST ROCA   V_Dist Roca
SingleCoilClean  Live8Beat      CMP+OD+TDLY4  Compressor+Overdrive+TempoDelay4
JazzClean        KoolShuffle    V_DST JZ CLN  V_DistJz Cln
StageLead        HardRock       MLT DS SOLO   Multi FX Distortion Solo
EarlyLead        FunkPopRock    TEMPO AT.WAH  Tempo At.Wah+
MetalMaster      ContempRock    ST AMP DS     Small Stereo Distortion
ElectroAcoustic  AcousticRock   AMP1 CLASSIC  British Combo Classic
BluesyNight      70sGlamPiano   ST AMP VT     Small Stereo Vintage Amp
PureVintage      60sRock&Roll   MLT OLD DLY   Multi FX Oldies Delay

VintageEP        SoulBrothers   AMP1 CLASSIC  British Combo Classic
WahClavi         JazzFunk       MLT CR WAH    Multi FX Crunch Wah
SuitcaseEP       Live8Beat      CELESTE2      Celeste 2
ElectricPiano    FunkyGospel    EP AUTOPAN    EP Autopan
CP80             FunkPopRock    T_PHASER1     T Phaser 1
JazzVibes        DetroitPop2    VIBE VIBRATE  Vibe Vibrato
VintageEP        60sPopRock     EP TREMOLO    EP Tremolo

HoldItFast       LiveSoulBand   DIST SOFT2    Distortion Soft 2
WhiterBars       Soul           V_DIST CLS S  V_Dist Cls S
WhiterBarsFast   GospelSwing    ST AMP CLEAN  St Amp Clean
CurvedBars       MotorCity      ST 3BAND EQ   St 3Band EQ
EvenBars         FunkyGospel    ST 3BAND EQ   St 3Band EQ
AllBarsPhase     FunkPopRock    PHASER2       Phaser 2
ClassicBars      BluesRock      ST AMP CLEAN  St Amp Clean
Organ-a-Gogo     70sDisco2      V_DIST TWIN   V_Dist Twin
R&B Tremolo      60sVintageRock DIST HARD2    Distortion Hard 2
OrganFlutes      60sPopRock     AMP2 CLEAN    British Legend Clean
OrganFlutes      6-8SlowRock    ROTARY SP1    Dual Rot BRT

GrowlSax         SoulBrothers   V_DST S+DLY   V Distortion Soft + Delay
GrowlSax         MotorCity      V_DST H+DLY   V Distortion Hard + Delay
RockSax          LiveSoulBand   DST+DELAY1    Distortion + Delay 1
RockSax          HardRock       ST AMP CLEAN  St Amp Clean
Harmonica        6-8Soul        TEMPO AT.WAH  Tempo At.Wah+

Use the poor man’s copy and paste method to mix and match a basic voice sound with a DSP effect. The treasure map demonstrates how the Yamaha style programmers make use of the workstation’s sonic resources. There’s a lot to learn here!

Dry/Wet mix

I like to change voices by hitting the OTS buttons while jamming along with a tune. I have created more than 50 styles with customized OTS buttons to cover my current repetoire. The OTS buttons select the voice and effect combinations that are the most approprtiate for specific tunes (appropriate to my ears anyway).

Unfortunately, the kind of OTS voice and effect informaton that can be stored is limited by the S950’s operating system. (See the Voice Effect, Voice Set, and Mixing Console sections of the Parameter Chart in the Data List manual for the exact details.) An OTS button remembers:

  • DSP effect type (insertion type)
  • DSP variation ON/OFF
  • DSP variation value
  • DSP depth

for the RIGHT1, RIGHT2 and LEFT parts.

If you cast your mind back to Part 1, you know that there are a lot of parameters behind each effect. These parameters cannot be directly captured in an OTS button, which is why they must be stored in a USER EFFECT memory location as described in Part 2. You do get a fly-speck of tweakability by modifying the DSP variation value. Unfortunately, the parameter type is fixed.

The OTS restrictions are relieved or eliminated in the PSR-S970. Again, please see the Parameter Chart in the Data List manual.

Fortunately, OTS remembers DSP depth. The DSP depth controls the “dry/wet” mix, that is, the amount of uneffected (dry) and effected (wet) signal that is mixed together and sent further along (usually to the system-level chorus and/or reverb blocks).

Let’s say that you added a heavy distortion sound to the “SuitcaseEP” voice and you want to reduce the amount of distortion without changing the tone. (Guitar distortion is often waaaay too much for electric piano.) Simply dial down the DSP depth. This increases the amount of dry (clean) electric piano sound and decreases the amount of wet (distorted) electric piano sound. Voila, an electric piano with a bit of grit, not a fuzzed out shredder’s delight.

Here are the parameters for the DISTORTION presets DIST SOFT1 and DIST SOFT2.

                       DIST SOFT1  DIST SOFT2
                       ----------  ----------
    Drive                 16           7
    Amp Type             Tube        Combo
    LPF Cutoff          4.5 KHz     3.6 KHz
    Output Level          64          82
    Dry/Wet              D44>W      D<W63
    Edge (Clip Curve)     49          40

The built-in preset “Clavi” voice uses DIST SOFT1 to get its biting tone. Note that the DIST SOFT1 dry/wet mix has more dry signal than wet and that the DIST SOFT2 dry/wet mix has more wet signal than dry.

Here’s where things are cool, confusing, or both. The S950 seems to know when a DSP effect has a predefined dry/wet mix parameter. The parameter value tracks the DSP depth knob in the Mixing Console. Cool. The DSP depth knob is calibrated from 0 to 127 while the dry/wet parameter is calibrated from full dry (D63>W) to full wet (D<W63). Confusing. Internally, a 50-50 dry/wet mix (D=W) is represented by the value 64. The dry/wet mix is 50-50 (D=W) when the mixing console DSP depth knob is set to 64; the knob determines the internal value. (Pan gets munged in a similar way.)

As an exercise, I suggest applying the distortion effect in the built-in “Clavi” voice to “SuitcaseEP.” Then, use the DSP depth (dry/wet mix) to dial back (or dial up!) the distortion to taste.

A loose end

Some of you probably noticed that I didn’t say much about the “Wah Pedal” parameter belonging to the REAL DISTORTION multi-effect algorithm. This parameter can be swept by an XG “assignable controller.”

I didn’t say much about the “Wah Pedal” parameter because I was hoping to find a way to control this parameter from either the expression pedal input or an external MIDI controller. It may be possible to set up external control if a controller can utter the right SysEx mumbo-jumbo to set up an XG assignable controller. The process looks beastly and not very practical.

However, the S970 and Tyros 5 are capable of sweeping the wah pedal parameter. Please see the reference manual concerning “Footswitch / Foot Controller Settings”.

Multi-effects for electric piano (Part 3)

This is part 3 of a multi-part series about PSR/Tyros effects for electric piano.

PSR effects for electric piano (Part 1) presents a basic approach to grunging up an electric piano sound with distortion (amp simulation). Editing and saving PSR effects (Part 2) describes how to save a custom PSR/Tyros effect to USER EFFECT memory. In this part, I’ll cover the REAL DISTORTION multi FX algorithm.

If you’re a real gear-head, you probably heard about the new Yamaha Reface mini keyboards including the Reface CP, which is rich in electric pianos. (See my snap-review of the Reface CP.) Aside from good samples, it’s the effects that make the Reface CP a winner. The Reface CP has an effects chain driven by the basic EP voice:

              Tremolo       Chorus       Digital Delay
   Drive -->     X     -->     X    -->         X       -->  Reverb
                Wah         Phaser        Analog Delay

Switches select between Tremolo and Wah (or pass-through), between Chorus and Phaser (or pass-through), and between Digital Delay and Analog Delay (or pass-through). Thus, either Tremolo or Wah is active, but not both at the same time, etc. Each effect has one or two knobs that control the most basic parameters:

  • Drive: Amount of distortion (including none)
  • Tremolo/Wah: Depth and Rate
  • Chorus/Phaser: Depth and Speed
  • Digital Delay/Analog Delay: Depth and Time
  • Reverb: Depth (including none at all)

The front panel controls let you tailor your sound, e.g., maybe a little distortion (Drive) followed by Tremolo and some Reverb.

This article shows you how to make a similar effects chain on your PSR/Tyros. I assume that reverb is applied by the PSR/Tyros REVERB effect block, so I won’t discuss reverb here.

If you have a late-model Yamaha arranger workstation (PSR-S950 or later, Tyros 5 or later), Yamaha have already done much of the work for you. These workstations are equipped with REAL DISTORTION effects. One of the REAL DISTORTION effect types is a multi-effect. On the PSR-S950, look for the effect presets called “MLT DS SOLO,” etc. The “MLT” stands for “MULTI.”

A little product family history. The REAL DISTORTION effects first appeared in the Version 1.5 Motif XF upgrade. Yep, these are among the latest effects in the Motif series. Yamaha implemented all of these effects in the Tyros 5 and about half of these effects in the S950. Yamaha added the rest of the REAL DISTORTION effects to the S970. Fortunately, S950 owners have the versatile “Multi FX” algorithm (effect type).

If you don’t have REAL DISTORTION effects, you’re not totally out of luck. Look in the Data List manual and find combination effects (distortion plus delay, etc.) and use them instead. You won’t have as many effect stages, but the approach still applies.

The REAL DISTORTION MLT effect chain is quite complete:

                                                  Vibe       Chorus
Compressor --> Wah --> Distortion --> Speaker --> Phaser --> Flanger
                                                  Tremolo    Delay

The effect chain is really intended for guitar, but hey, people in the sixties and seventies put electric pianos through stomp boxes and guitar amps.

There are six REAL DISTORTION multi-effect presets: MLT DS SOLO, MLT DS BASIC, MLT OD CHO, MLT CR WAH, MLT OLD DLY, and VINTAGE ECHO. Use these as starting points for your experiments. I suggest starting with VINTAGE ECHO as it is the cleanest of the lot. Do what guitarists do — dive in and tweak.

Here is a list of the parameters and the allowed values. See the full information in the REAL DIST section of the Data List manual.

#   Parameter      Display
--  -------------  ---------------------------------------------
1   Comp. Sustain  Off, 0.1 - 10.0
2   Wah Sw         Off, Wah Pedal, Auto+Full, Auto+Mid,
                   Auto+Light, Auto-Full, Auto-Mid, Auto-Light
3   Wah Pedal      0-127
4   Dist Sw        Off, Overdrive, Distortion1, Distortion2,
                   Clean, Crunch, Higain, Modern
5   Dist Drive     0.0-10.0
6   Dist EQ        High Boost, Mid Boost, Mid Cut 1, Mid Cut 2,
                   Mid Cut 3, Low Cut 1, Low Cut 2, High Cut,
7   Dist Tone      0.0-10.0
8   Dist Presence  0.0-10.0
9   Output         0-127
11  SP Type        Off, Stack, Twin, Tweed, Oldies, Modern, Mean,
                   Soft, Small, Dip1, Dip2, Metal, Light
12  LFO Speed      0.1Hz . 9.925Hz (table#27)
13  Phaser Sw      Off, Standard, Wide, Vibe, Tremolo
14  Delay Sw       Off, Delay M, Echo1 M, Echo2 M, Chorus M,
                   Dl Chorus M, Flanger1 M, Flanger2 M,
                   Flanger3 M, Delay St, Echo1 St, Echo2 St, 
                   Chorus St, Dl Chorus St, Flanger1 St, 
                   Flanger2 St, Flanger3 St
15  Delay Ctrl     0-127
16  Delay Time     0-127

The parameters look overwhelming, so let’s break things down.

There are six “switches” that turn effects on and off. In a few case, the switches also select the flavor of the effect when it is turned on. For example, “Dist Sw” turns off the effect in the chain or turns on one of the seven available distortion types (Overdrive, Distortion1, etc.) In addition to switches, there are effect-specific knobs. “Dist Drive,” “Dist EQ”, “Dist Tone” and “Dist Presence,” for example, change the sonic characteristics of the distortion effect.

The “Delay Sw” acts like one of the switches on the Reface CP. “Delay Sw” disables the effect stage, or it turns on a delay, echo, chorus or flanger effect. Some effects are mono (M) and some effects are stereo (St). The “Phaser Sw” switch disables the stage (off) or it turns on a phaser (type: standard, wide, vibe) or tremolo effect.

The Low Frequency Oscillator (LFO) Speed parameter controls the effects that need modulation: phaser, chorus, flanger, tremolo, etc. You need to dial in the appropriate LFO frequency for the modulation effect type.

Wow, that’s a lot of choices! Here is a table of the parameter values for each preset.

    MSB/LSB --->  95/32     95/33     95/34     95/35     95/36     95/37
#  Parameter     DS SOLO   DS BASIC   OD CHO    CR WAH   OLD DLY   VINT ECHO
-- ------------- --------  --------  --------  --------  --------  ---------
1  Comp. Sustain   3.6       3.2       3.6       3.6       4.0       3.6
2  Wah Sw          Off       Off       Off     Auto+Mid    Off       Off
3  Wah Pedal        0         0         0         0         0         0
4  Dist Sw       Distort1  Distort1 Overdrive   Crunch    Clean     Clean
5  Dist Drive      5.0       4.1       3.8       5.0       5.0       6.6
6  Dist EQ       Hi Boost  MidBoost  MidCut2   LowCut1   Hi Boost  MidBoost
7  Dist Tone       2.4       5.6       5.6       4.2       3.0       4.6
8  Dist Presence   4.8       5.6       5.0       5.2       5.6       5.0
9  Output           55        60       102        95       121       113
11 SP Type        Twin      Stack     Tweed     Stack     Oldies    Twin
12 LFO Speed      0.1Hz     0.1Hz     0.1Hz    1.167Hz    0.1Hz    0.142Hz
13 Phaser Sw       Off       Off       Off       Off       Off      Off
14 Delay Sw      Echo1 St  Delay St  ChorusSt  Delay M   Delay M   Echo1 M
15 Delay Ctrl       40        26        20        13        24       20
16 Delay Time       48         2        46        36        20        6

These parameter values should give you some starting points for exploration.

If you’re not a guitarist, terms like “presence” may not be meaningful to you. Here are a few helpful definitions taken from Yamaha documentation.

  • Drive: Determines the extent to which the sound is distorted.
  • LFO Speed: Frequency of delay modulation (chorus, flanger), Modulation frequency (tremolo), Frequency of phase modulation (phaser), Frequency at which wah filter is controlled (wah)
  • Delay Time: Determines the delay of the sound in absolute time.
  • Output: Determines the level of the signal output from the effect block.
  • Presence: This parameter of the Guitar Amp effect controls high frequencies.
  • SP Type: Selects the type of speaker simulation.

Why start with VINTAGE ECHO? This preset adds a modest amount of compression and sends the signal through the Clean guitar amp model. The Clean model does not dirty up the sound too much. Rock guitarists — especially guys with mullets — like a lot of distortion. Electric piano, not so much. The Mid Boost adds guts to the midrange frequencies making an EP sound fuller, with guts. Finally, the distorted signal is sent into a Twin speaker model and then a light echo. The Twin model sounds like it would be Fender Twin-ish and similar to the kind of speaker used with a Rhodes EP.

I’ll close with an example USER EFFECT that I called “DirtyChorus.” The chain starts out with compression and a little bit of overdrive and mid-range boost. The distorted signal goes into a nice stereo chorus. I copped the chorus paremeters from the MLT OD CHO preset. I tried different speaker models and liked the sound of the Mean speaker type. Finally, I dialed up the output level to compensate for the low amount of overdrive.

    Comp Sus       5.0
    Wah Sw         Off
    Wah Pedal      0
    Dist Sw        Overdrive
    Dist Drive     1.4
    Dist EQ        Mid Boost
    Dist Tone      3.2
    Dist Presence  1.3
    Output         120
    SP Type        Mean
    LFO Speed      0.1Hz
    Phaser Sw      Off
    Delay Sw       Chorus St
    Delay Control  20
    Delay Time     46

Dist Drive can be increased before the distortion sounds guitar-ish. Generally, the output level must be lowered when more drive is applied. Clipping-induced distortion is not pretty. Of course, if you like that sort of thing, please carry on.

PSR effects for electric piano (Part 1)
Editing and saving PSR effects (Part 2)
Multi-effects for electric piano (Part 3)
Copy PSR DSP effects (part 4)

All site content is Copyright © Paul J. Drongowski unless otherwise indicated.

Editing and saving PSR effects (Part 2)

In my previous post, PSR effects for electric piano (Part 1), I give some tips and ideas for improving PSR electric piano sounds through customized DSP effects.

Before going any further, you need to know how to edit and save a DSP effect. Newer Yamaha arranger workstations (e.g., PSR-S970) have a graphical interface for guitar effects and the ability to store edited effects in OTS locations and Registrations. Older model workstations store edited effects in the USER EFFECTS memory locations. See the “Parameter Table” in the Data List manual for your workstation to see the capabilities for your particular instrument. Look under:

    Main > Mixing Console > Effect

to see where “Effect Parameters” can be stored. On the S950, you may store an edited effect to either the USER EFFECT memory locations or a SONG. This is typical for older model arranger workstations.

Not being able to store an edited effect to OTS (within a style) is a major bummer. This limitation makes it hard to share new effect settings with friends. It also means that you cannot directly customize a DSP effect for a particular style. You must first save the edited effect to a USER EFFECT memory location. Then, the OTS in the style is set to refer to the USER EFFECT memory location. On the up side, the USER EFFECT can be assigned a meaningful name. On the down side, the style cannot be transfered to a different keyboard without moving the USER EFFECT data, too.

The Yamaha reference manual does a decent job of describing the “push this, select that” of editing and saving a user effect. Read the chapter about the MIXING CONSOLE for detailed information. The Yamaha manual is a little short on “big picture.” Hopefully, this short note provides a strategic overview that makes all of the button pushing a little more understandable. It might also save you the frustration of trying to save an edited effect to an OTS button and failing. I tried saving to an OTS button (and style) for an hour before checking the parameter table in the S950 Data List and realizing that it ain’t possible.

I included a brief outline of the process of editing and saving an effect at the very end of this blog entry. It should help you to find the parts of the reference manual with the details.

The other part of “the big picture” that you should know is how to save and restore USER EFFECT memory to a USB file. The USER EFFECT memory is part of a bigger package of stuff that is all saved to a single file. That package of stuff contains:

    USER EFFECT types and associated parameters
    User master EQ types
    User compressor types
    User vocal harmony types

All of this is stored in a single USER EFFECT file. So, if you want to move your user effects to another workstation, write a USER EFFECT file to the USB drive. Then, take the USB drive to the other workstation and load the file. The bad news is that you are forced to load the user master EQ, compressor and vocal harmony types, too, thereby overwriting these settings on the target machine.

Saving and loading a USER EFFECT file is handled on the CUSTOM RESET page. Navigate to the SYSTEM RESET page:


and press [H] USER EFFECT FILES. Then TAB over to the USB drive page and press [6] SAVE. The usual file dialog box displays where you can rename the file. The default name is “UserEffectPreset”. The file extension is “.eff”. If you don’t change the name, the PSR writes the file “UserEffectPreset.eff” to the USB drive. (More stuff the Yamaha manual didn’t tell you…)

The subjects of factory and custom reset remind me that it’s a good idea to make a full system back-up to a USB drive. See the:


page in the Owner’s and Reference manuals for further details. Full system back-ups have saved my bacon on the MOX on the few occasions when I had to perform a complete factory reset. Also, make sure to save the back-up file on a PC or Mac. You never know when that USB drive will fail or get lost!

The PSR-S950 writes a back-up file to the USB drive. The back-up file is named “PSR-S950.bup”. Presumably, other workstation models name the back-up file after themselves, too.


Changes to REVERB, CHORUS and DSP effects are made on the EFFECT page in the MIXING CONSOLE. The knobs on the EFFECT page control the effect sends. Press [F] TYPE (in the upper right corner) to change the effect type assigned to each part or channel.


The EFFECT TYPE SELECTION page is a four column browser that lets you choose the effect BLOCK, PART, CATEGORY and TYPE. After selecting the effect type, press [F] PARAMETER (in the upper right corner) to change the effect parameters.

The EFFECT PARAMETER page has a scrolling list of parameters for the chosen effect type. Use the buttons below the LCD display to set the effect BLOCK, CATEGORY, TYPE, PARAMETER and VALUE.

Press [I] SAVE to save the edited type and parameters as a new USER EFFECT. The USER EFFECT page displays the memory locations where you can store the new effect. The number of available memory locations depends upon the chosen effect block:

    REVERB   3 locations
    CHORUS   3 locations
    DSP      10 locations

Choose a memory location using the buttons below the LCD display and press [I] SAVE. Enter a name for the new user effect and confirm the save.

Once a user effect is saved, it appears in the EFFECT TYPE SELECTION page under the USER category. The user effect is recalled just like a built-in effect preset.


USER EFFECT: Restores the User Effect settings including the user effect types, user master EQ types, user compressor types, and user vocal harmony types created via the Mixing Console display to the original factory settings.


For the items below, you can save your Original Settings as a Single File for future recall.


The User Effect settings including the user effect types, user master EQ types, user compressor types, and user vocal harmony types created via the Mixing Console displays are managed as a single file.

The USER EFFECT settings can be saved to a file and loaded from a file.


BACKUP: Lets you backup all data on the instrument to a USB storage device. Refer to the Owner’s Manual.

RESTORE: Loads the backup file from the USB storage device.

PSR effects for electric piano (Part 1)
Editing and saving PSR effects (Part 2)
Multi-effects for electric piano (Part 3)
Copy PSR DSP effects (part 4)