Genos news from Germany

Heidrun Dolde is a musician, performer, composer and music educator in Stuttgart, Germany. Heidrun has a wonderful Web site dedicated to technique and workshops with an arranger keyboard focus.

The epicenter for the Genos™ roll-out is Rellingen, Germany, So, it makes sense that Heidrun would be right in the middle of the action. She collected questions concerning Genos from members of the European Yamaha forum and sent the questions to the Yamaha team in Rellingen. She has summarized the answers in a PDF available here: http://heidruns-musikerseiten.de/keyboard/vergleiche.

I am in Heidrun’s debt for all of the information in this post. I cranked her PDF through Google Translate and used a little bit of my “viewgraph German” to learn more about Genos. Here are a few items that I have not seen prominently in English language sources. I wrote a few editorial comments, which appear between square brackets “[]”. I’ll take the heat for any errors.

New voices and drum kits

There are 14 “Revo” drum kits including: Rock Drums, Pop Drums, Vintage Open, Vintage Muted, Jazz Sticks, Jazz Brushes, Vocal Beatbox. The drums are recorded with room ambience. [I’ve been freezing MIDI songs to WAV audio on PSR-S950. I desperately need the wave-cycling in Revo drums.]

New voices include:

  • Revo! Drums
  • Resonator guitars (Dobro)
  • Flugelhorn and other brass sounds
  • Pedal Steel (authentically playable because only the lower part of a chord responds to pitch bend)
  • CP-80 (e.g., for classic Freddy Mercury and Foreigner songs)
  • Many strings of a large orchestra to cello, viola, violin in a small ensemble
  • New piano sounds (from Montage)
  • Many synth sounds (from Montage)

[Country and folk players appear to be big winners with Genos. Dobro, pedal steel, new acoustic steel guitars. Wow!]

There are new OTS for all 550 styles. [Yamaha usually updates styles to use the latest voices. They outdid themselves this time.]

Layers, splits and editing

Up to three voices can be layered. You can not control voices [in a layer] by velocity level as with a synth.

You can create up to 3 voice areas next to each other on the keyboard by splitting split points (Left Voice, Right Voice 1 + 2, Right 3).

Onboard sound editing is through “Voice Set”, which influences the overall sound of a voice (filter, envelope, effects, etc.) In addition, there is sound modification in live mode (“Live Control”) which are made by knobs and sliders. The OLED sub-display shows the parameter value changes in real time.

If you want to get into detailed voice editing, the new Yamaha Expansion Manager (YEM) will provide advanced ways to change the individual components of Voices. YEM 2.5 will be released in November 2017. Information about voice editing will be available then.

DSP effects

There are three system-level effects automatically called by MIDI files or styles: Reverb, Chorus, and DSP 1.

Of the 28 insertion effects, eight DSPs are reserved for styles. Each part has its own separate DSP.

The remainder of the insertion effects have a fixed assignment. Voice parts LEFT, RIGHT1, RIGHT2, RIGHT3 can each have an insert DSP (+ Part EQ) and are routed to the system reverb and chorus effects. Song parts 1 to 16 each have a separate insertion effect. Song parts 1 to 16 and Style parts 1 to 8 can be routed to a single variation effect (effectively forming a 2 DSP insert chain).

Multipads do not have their own DSP effect.

Operating system and user interface

A maximum of 2500 files can be in a folder. MIDI files can be a maximum of 300 KB. [Several people on the European forum made note of the 300KB limitation. EDM, in particular, makes heavy use of MIDI continuous control (CC) and the 300KB limit may be a deal breaker. Yamaha, please take note.]

Playlists work best with Songbook+. An entry can be linked directly without having to know the MSB / LSB of the Voice. [Sounds like there will be tight(er) integration between Songbook+ and Genos. Songbook+ is free through the US Apple app store, but there is a 15 song limit. Unlimited Songbook+ is an in-app purchase. I’ve already downloaded Songbook+, but haven’t had the time to try it.]

Genos takes about 20 seconds to power up the operating system (as of October 2017).

[I anticipate faster expansion pack loading time. Blake Angelos (Yamaha) reported that Montage load times were measured at 6 to 7 times faster than Motif XF. For example, a 500MB load took 5 minutes on a prototype model. Like Montage, Genos incorporates the new tone generator hardware and flash interface.]

Controllers

The Yamaha MFC10 foot pedal is supported by Genos. The settings are made via Menu> MIDI> External Controller.

The front panel gateway buttons are:

  • Home: Main Display
  • Menu: Basic
  • Style: Styles
  • Voice: Instruments
  • Songs: MIDI and audio files
  • Playlist: Repertoire list

[I love that name, “Gateway.”]

MP3 format

Genos supports MP3 audio playback with lyrics. Given an MP3 file with the appropriate embedded information, the Genos provides a karaoke function with song text and chord display. The MP3 formats are Midiland Lyrioke (DKE format, fits all Midiland players) and MP3 + G. Heidrun and folks tested CDG format.

Both Genos song players can display MP3 with song lyrics.

Internal file storage

Geno has no internal hard drive and no SSD drive. Hard drives are vulnerable to fairure due to their mechanics. The moving parts in a hard drive also affect the lifetime of a hard drive. There is a solid-state user memory (= Flash ROM) with 58 GB of memory.

[People are having a hard time getting their minds around this one. Wot? No hard drive, no SSD? What is it? Yamaha have cleverly used the flash memory attached to one of the tone generators as explained in my post. Yes, it’s flash, but it will be a heck of lot faster than USB flash. Trust me.]

Appreciation

I just want to thank Heidrun, again, for collecting questions and answers, and summarizing the responses. She did a superb job!

Vielen Dank!

Genos: After the fireworks

So, how do I feel about Genos now that the Genos manuals are rolling out and emotions have cooled down?

The Yamaha Genos™ is a significant update on the Tyros 5. The brand new user interface (UI) should be easy to navigate through the brand-spanking new touch screen. The assignable knobs and sliders are very welcome, and probably give some Montage owners FOMO (fear of missing out). The sound set has gotten the usual and expected boost: CFX piano, C7 piano, electric pianos on par with Montage, new acoustic guitars, and so on.

Scratch the surface of the new UI, however, one finds few feature enhancements. The new Playlist capability replaces the Music Finder Database (MFD). Yamaha are in competition with Korg’s Songbook and only real hands-on experience will determine who has the edge.

The lighter weight is definitely appreciated as well as the modern stage styling. Yamaha have chosen to offer Genos in a single 76-key model. The 76-er weighs less than the previous 61-key Tyros 5 and that’s all to the good.

Before I discuss a few specific points, I want to describe how I feel: methodically enthusiastic. Huh?

When I buy a new keyboard, I think carefully about need — what would improve my experience and skills as a musician and what would improve the experience of those for whom I play. I do not currently perform with my Yamaha PSR-S950 arranger. Gig-wise, I can cover what I need to cover with a sample-playback synthesizer. I need section/solo orchestra strings, woodwinds and horns. I need B-3 organ and pipe organ. The Yamaha MOX6 — my main gig instrument — is sufficient in this regard.

I do play the S950 as a practice instrument. I also have aspirations of performing as a one man band (OMB). I would be very happy to have a single instrument that fulfills gigging, practice and OMB situations.

In terms of sound, I’m ready for a major update. The MOX6 and the S950 sounds are roughly the same vintage as the Motif XS, first released in 2007. That’s ten years. As a car owner, I tend to hold and drive the same car for ten years. Then I realize how far the technology has progressed and update. My attitude is the same for instruments. I prefer to hold and play an instrument for five years or longer, learning it in depth. I make an exception if the front panel buttons are worn and broken. 🙂

At this point, I know for sure that I want a better keyboard action such as the FSX action in Montage and Genos. This is similar to moving from a “student model” sax to a “pro” sax. I think the better action will help me as a player.

If you stuck with me this far, you probably realizing that I’m considering either the Montage or the Genos as my next gig and home ax. Even though I respect the Kronos, its orchestra instruments are not as expressive as Yamaha’s. Roland seems to have given up on orchestral instruments. After a quality/reliability issue with Kurweil, I’m off of them for life.

So, I am methodically enthusiastic about the Genos. It’s Genos vs. Montage; Godzilla vs. Mothra. Is the Genos value proposition sufficiently atractive that I will pay its premium price? That comes down to the playing experience and workflow. To be decided over the coming months.

I’m reluctant to give anyone advice. Every musician must carefully weigh their needs, the Genos value proposition and the Genos price. I will say that the Montage, Kronos, Tyros 5 and PA4x remain very fine, capable instruments. The PSR-S970 is no slouch, either. I tend to skip a generation before updating. Should you? Can’t say.

Drawbar organ

The Genos drawbar organ engine is substantially the same as Tyros 5, and S950, for that matter. The drawbar organ page is a skeuomorphic representation of the drawbars, rotary speed switch, etc. When Yamaha adopted a touch screen, thank heavens they added real sliders for drawbar control. This is doing it right.

I play the bars constantly. When I test drove a CVP-709 touch screen piano, the virtual, on-screen drawbars were impossible to play. Kudos for adding real physical controls to the Genos.

Also, thank you for porting the new Montage rotary speaker effect to the Genos.

Speaking of DSP and control, I have another suggestion for Genos 1.1. Many DSP effect algorithms have a parameter which can be controlled from an assignable controller (e.g., AC1). The Genos is too limited in this regard. Any physical controller — including a foot pedal — should be able to tweak a controllable DSP parameter in real time. Currently, for example, a foot pedal can only control the WAH effect. One should be able to control any DSP algorithm with a controllable parameter.

Ready for the studio?

Quite a few pros immediately noted the lack of balanced outputs and asked “Is Yamaha serious about attracting pros to the Genos?” Another question often raised is, “What happened to PAC?” The S/PDIF digital output is good enough to connect to home audio equipment, but the professional studio (and stage) expects balanced outputs.

Another missing feature is audio over USB and/or DAW integration. Fortunately, these features can be added through a software update; balanced outputs cannot.

Really ready for EDM?

Now, I’m not really an EDM person. I like down-tempo and I’m hoping to compose down-tempo tracks once the snow flies and the weather keeps me in. A few common themes recur in on-line forums.

The Genos adopts arpeggios and arpeggio control features from the PSR-S970. True EDM people are expecting more, however. At the very least, Yamaha need to add user-defined arpeggios, maybe in release 1.1. User-defined arps were a much-requested item for the Montage punch-list; Genos is no different.

Yamaha, if you’re listening, there is an active thread about arpeggios in the Genos section of the PSR Tutorial Forum. Please read through it.

If you want to attract younger composers and players to Genos, Yamaha need to be bolder and faster.

Built-in expansion memory

Yamaha are committed to built-in flash expansion memory which cannot be expanded by the end user. Not to put too fine a point on it, the flash memory expansion modules are dead. If you’re getting rid of your Tyros, Motif, or MOXF, get rid of the modules, too. If you’re looking for a bargain Tyros 5, Motif XF or MOXF, be sure to get flash expansion modules thrown into the deal. (If you’re buying a MOXF, keep an eye on the Yamaha promotions web page.)

As I explained in another post, I believe that the Genos internal file system resides in the same physical memory unit as the user expansion waveform memory. The total capacity of this memory is 64GB and is partitioned into the 58GB internal file system and the 1.8GB voice expansion memory. If 1.8GB is too small, I wonder if Yamaha could be persuaded to repartition the memory and make the voice expansion memory bigger (at the expense of file system size)? This is all speculative, of course.

Audio styles

Audio styles have not disappeared — just deemphasized. Audio styles were not universally popular. So, audio styles have been dropped from initial factory content and will be provided at a later date. Users will be able to load audio styles, if they so desire.

I still believe that Yamaha will introduce full audio styles, that is, styles with melodic parts that follow the current chord type and root. When Yamaha re-launch audio styles, they will be “audio styles done right.” I think they learned a lot from the S950, S770, S970 and Tyros 5 in this regard. Release date? Who knows?

Copyright © 2017 Paul J. Drongowski

Genos internal memory: A speculation

First, you have to get the mule’s attention.

Yamaha Genos™ hasn’t hit the streets yet and here is a speculative article about its hardware design…

I’d like to thank Kari V., Mihai and Joe H. on the PSR Tutorial Forum for getting this mule’s attention. They deserve the credit.

Spex

Here are a few Genos specifications that drew curious looks:

  • Polyphony: 256 (max.) (128 for Preset Voice + 128 for Expansion Voice)
  • Voice expansion memory: Approximately 1.8GBytes
  • Internal memory: Approximately 58GBytes

Normally, a Tyros has a large hard disk inside for bulk storage. The hard drive contains a file system to hold style files, song files, text files and a whole lot more. The Tyros 5 shipped with a 500GB hard disk drive. Tyros 5 internal memory — some form of non-volatile flash — is spec’ed at approximately 6.7MBytes. Yes, megabytes.

Word from the demonstrations is that the Genos has neither a hard disk drive nor a solid state drive (SSD). Thus, “Internal memory” is not directly user expandable or upgradeable. Eliminating the hard disk drive, the bracket and access door makes good sense because it reduces weight and chassis complexity. SSDs are still a little pricey for a cost-sensitive manufacturer like Yamaha. If it’s not a hard drive and if it’s not an SSD, then what is it?

Next, what’s up with that polyphony spec? 128 voice polyphony when you play preset voices only and 128 voice polyphony when you play a voice from user voice expansion memory? That’s rather unorthodox.

The high-level view

This is where the Yamaha SWP70 tone generator (TG) integrated circuit (IC) comes into the story.

The SWP70 uses ONFI-compatible NAND flash as its waveform memory. “ONFI” is the industry standard Open NAND Flash Interface. ONFI-compatible chips are the same NAND flash used in SSDs. The SWP70 caches the waveform data in a fast SDRAM just like an SSD in order to have fast, random access to samples.

Yamaha have created a tone generator IC that integrates an SSD-like flash and cache controller. This design eliminates the cost and latency of the SATA bus which normally connects an SSD within a PC or Mac.

For the hardware inclined, here’s a short speculative answer. There are two tone generator ICs each having their own ONFI flash memory. One TG and flash memory (call this one “TG A”) handles factory presets. The other TG and flash memory (call this “TG B”) handles user expansion voices.

The “TG B” flash memory is 64GBytes of ONFI NAND flash. Through software, it is partitioned into a file system partition (62GB?) and a user expansion voice partition (2GB).

The file system partition contains the initial factory content (4GB). The remaining space (58GB) is the “Internal memory” quoted in the Genos specifications.

So, Yamaha engineering decided to use space in one of the ONFI flash memories for bulk storage in order to cut the weight and expense of a magnetic hard drive (heavy) or an SSD (lighter than a hard drive, but not cheap).

If this is true — if — then there are some positive implications for the future of Genos. More at another time.

Ingenious, yes. User expandable, no.

Do I know this for sure? Oh, hell no. We need a service manual. Even a visual inspection of the digital logic board (DM) might not be conclusive.

The low-level view

The notional diagram below shows some of the major interfaces to the SWP70. [Click on images to enlarge.]

  • The CPU bus connects the SWP70 to the main control CPU and other major subsystems that require CPU-based data and control.
  • The ABUS allows SWP70s to communicate with each other when more than one SWP70 is in a system.
  • The waveform memory (NAND flash) communicates with the SWP70 over a Open NAND Flash Interface (ONFI) bus. This open industry standard lets Yamaha use commodity flash memory for waveform ROM. Waveform memory is split into upper and lower bytes with shared control signals. This arrangement instantly doubles bus bandwidth versus a single ONFI data channel.
  • The Serial audio bus brings audio data into the SWP70 (e.g., from the ADC) and sends audio data to the DACs and other subsystems.

Then, the fun begins. The SWP70 has three parallel SDRAM memory channels for wave and DSP working memory.

  • The DSP working memory is a large, scratch-pad memory for effect computation. I believe this memory is also the working memory for Montage FM-X.
  • The Wave working memory is a fast, read/write data cache which holds samples after they are read from the waveform memory. Remember, NAND flash favors sequential block mode read access, transferring data on the nibble-serial ONFI bus. The wave working memory plays the same role as the data cache in an SSD storage unit.

Memory capacities vary across products depending upon target polyphony, effect workload and, of course, the sample set.

Here are capacities for the PSR-S770, PSR-S970 and Montage. All capacities are physical (i.e., raw physical storage space).

             AWM     Waveform    Wave     DSP
          Polyphony   Memory   Working  Working
          ---------  --------  -------  -------
PSR-S770     128      512MB      32MB     8MB
PSR-S970     128       2GB       32MB     8MB
Montage      128*      4GB       32MB    16MB
          * Stereo/mono

The Montage DSP working memory is twice as large as the PSR-S970 reflecting the larger number of supported effect units.

The ONFI standard is the same standard used in solid state drives (SSD). Thus, Yamaha can reap the benefit of lower cost commodity flash. The wave working memory caches data just like an SSD. The SWP70 design yields maximum bandwidth to and from NAND flash without the expense or latency of a SATA bus. Thanks to ONFI, Yamaha can increase waveform memory size by dropping in higher capacity ONFI-compatible devices. User waveform (voice) expansion memory resides in these same memory components, so one should expect bigger user expansion memory in the future as well as bigger factory sample sets.

The SWP70 reads and writes two flash memories in tandem effectively sending a 16-bit word on each ONFI bus cycle. (See diagram below.) One memory provides the HIGH byte and the other memory provides the LOW byte. The same ONFI control signals are sent to both. For people who like to trash Yamaha for not using SSD, please note that tandem access doubles the transfer bandwidth over a single ONFI data path solution. (Of course, an SSD could do the same thing.)

I’ll bet that using the ONFI waveform memory for file system access made the tone generation guys nervous. Would file system traffic rob memory bandwidth from the tone generators?

Yamaha know latency. They spend a lot of time, money and intellectual effort understanding latency and conquering it. That’s where the second waveform working memory comes into play. Samples heading to the tone generators could be held in one waveform working memory while file system data could be held in the second, separate working memory. This organization separates the memory traffic and prevents file access from disturbing the critical, must-be-predictible sample stream. When the two channels arbitrate for the ONFI bus, the sample stream feeding tone generation could be given priority.

Copyright © 2017 Paul J. Drongowski

A few quick Genos links

Just wanted to offer a few quick Yamaha Genos™ links.

If you haven’t seen the Genos demo by Martin Harris, please don’t wait any longer. Martin is one of the key Genos developers. Pay close attention! His demonstrations always hit the sweet spots in a new Yamaha keyboard. There is a no talking, all playing demonstration, too.

I also would like to draw your attention to Frank Ventresca’s blog post about the Yamaha Genos. Frank attended the Genos demo in New York City.

Full disclosure: I bought my Yamaha PSR-S950 from Frank at Audioworks CT. I met Frank when I tested the Tyros 5 at his store. He is a knowledgeable, solid guy who gigs with this gear. A good dude.

Played a Montage, again, yesterday. The Genos vs. Montage battle is alive in my mind. I’m not in a big hurry to buy, so please expect this comparison to drag out — possibly until NAMM 2018 when the “Half Monty”, MOXF successor might be announced. Oh, yeah, that one is in the works. Sometime.

Genos genesis

After fits and starts due to early leaks, Yamaha have launched the Yamaha Genos™ digital workstation. You can check out Yamaha’s content through the Genos concept site or the Genos product pages. [Click images to enlarge.]

There’s no point in regurgitating Yamaha’s on-line content, so I will just summarize highlights here.

  • Size: 48-9/16″W x 5-7/16″H x 17-15/16″D
  • Weight: 28lb, 11oz (13.0kg)
  • 9″ color touch screen (TFT color WVGA 800 x 480 pixels)
  • Live Control display (OLED 589 x 48 pixels)
  • 9 sliders and 6 knobs that are fully assignable
  • 76-key FSX keyboard
  • Joystick with modulation and joystick HOLD
  • Synthesis: AWM2 and Articulation Element Modeling (AEM)
  • Polyphony: 256 (128 for preset voice + 128 for expansion voice)
  • 550 styles total (punchy drums and DSP effects)
  • 1,652 voices + 58 drum/SFX kits
  • 216 arpeggios: instrument arps, e.g., strums and control arps automate Live Control
  • 28 insert effects including VCM effects
  • Vocal Harmony and Synth Vocoder
  • Audio recording: Audio (WAV 44.1kHz, 16-bit, stereo) and MIDI SMF
  • Audio playback: WAV (44.1kHz, 16-bit, stereo) and MP3
  • MultiPads (both audio and MIDI)
  • Internal memory: 58GBytes (approximately)
  • Connectivity
    • S/PDIF digital audio output
    • Three USB TO DEVICE ports (front panel, back panel, bottom)
    • Wireless LAN (IEEE 802.11b/g/n) depending on regional type acceptance
  • 32-bit digital-to-analog converter (DAC)
  • 1.8GBytes user voice expansion memory built-in

The Genos looks to be a nice overhaul of the now staid Tyros product line. If you’re familiar with Tyros — and I’m assuming that you are — then you are not super surprised at some of the features while being pleased (or not) to have a color touch screen, lots of assignable knobs, sliders and buttons, a secondary OLED display to show parameters, doubled polyphony, S/PDIF, wireless LAN (maybe, in your region), and a 32-bit DAC.

Yamaha have chosen to issue only a single 76-key model; no 61, no 88. This gives them interesting options for line extension. Go small and save weight, or feed the world’s almost insatiable hunger for 88-key piano-like objects?

You might also be surprised to not see audio styles. I think the original audio styles confused most users. Can I save them to USB drive? No. Did they fit many tunes other than the “reference” song? No. Handling REX format via the Yamaha Expansion Manager (YEM) should resolve these issues for advanced users. Yamaha punched up the drums to improve the live feel. (Hey, don’t Yamaha actually make drums? Just kidding.)

Featured instruments include:

  • CFX piano
  • C7 grand piano (newly sampled)
  • Kino strings
    • Newly sampled movie orchestra
    • Violins hard-panned left and right
    • Violas, cellos and contrabass center
  • Revo drums (waveform cycling)

If rumors hold true, there should be a new Strat in there somewhere as well as Gibson and Martin steel guitars and a pedal steel guitar. The electric pianos have gotten the ambient noises from the Montage EPs.

The Live Control view is nicely done. Change a knob and the display shows the new assigned parameter value. Change a slide next and the display switches to the slider settings. Good, no button needed to switch displays while playing. The knobs and sliders are integrated with drawbar settings, making the Genos could be a worthy clone competition or a close substitute for a clone. The new rotary speaker effect (from the Montage?) sounds good. But, Yamaha, you left out the chorus (vibrato only). Don’t chuck your Reface YC.

The playlist feature looks to be a very useful addition. The playlist organizes registration banks for quick access. The PSR/Tyros registration concept is a very powerful one and I wish that Montage had a similar capability. I love registrations because, bang, in one button press, I have a song ready to play. (More about this another day.)

Having a USB device port hidden under the unit is a great idea. Ever have a drunken chucklehead at a bar try to pull out your USB drive? Ever be a chucklehead yourself? 🙂 More manufacturers should do this.

A new release of Yamaha Expansion Manager (version 2.5) is planned for November 2017, roughly in sync with first deliveries. YEM will have support for WAV, AIFF, SoundFont and REX formats.

A new release of MegaEnhancer (version 1.5) will be available in November, also. MegaEnhancer changes the MIDI data in a Standard MIDI File (SMF) to use Yamaha’s MegaVoices.

The iPad app SongBook+ is also on the way. SongBook+ organizes songs with lyrics, notation, and other information. A song may also be linked to a registration — a very handy feature for performers who need to home in on the complete set-up for a song during performance. I play with charts; I like this.

The USA manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) is $6,799 and MAP is expected to be $5499.

From a hardware guy’s point of view, there are a few things to think about. The 32-bit DAC is a first for Yamaha. Even Montage does not sport S/PDIF. No mention of Pure Analog Circuit, so the audio back-end must be new, new, new.

The polyphony spec is très intéressant: 128 for preset voices and 128 for expansion voices. Hmmm, how did Yamaha arrange (pun intended) the SWP70 tone generators and NAND flash memory?

So, Yamaha have 1.8GBytes of flash left over for voice expansion. There simply is not enough information to infer waveform memory size, so we’ll all be waiting for the service manual.

Speaking of manuals, there aren’t any available at the time of this writing. No owner’s manual, reference manual or data list. Nada. The early leaks forced Yamaha’s hand to launch the Genos two weeks early and now we will wait. First deliveries are anticipated for November. Déjà vu all over again.

I am literally weighing the Genos (13kg) versus the Montage (15kg) as my next ax. There is still a huge amount to learn about the Genos as it is revealed. Has the sequencer gotten an overhaul? Does the Genos support deep voice editing? The user interface does look inviting and I look forward to seeing more.

Sometimes a little bit of information just leads to more questions.

Copyright © 2017 Paul J. Drongowski

Genos teaser video four

Alex Christensen & The Berlin Orchestra – Turn The Tide

Actually, should be titled “Turn the knobs.”

OK, Genos™ fans, here are bookmarks for the Genos video snippets:

Times are approximate.

All of the knob twiddling fits the marketing theme “Take control of your music.” This is the catch phrase for the campaign.

The soundtrack is, again, orchestral, four-on-the-floor and pizzicato heavy.

Thank heavens we’re finally getting through this tedious teaser parade and we will finally get down to features and spec on Monday, October 2nd.

News-wise, there are some unverified leaked specs floating about. Since Monday is right around the corner, we’ll see the official specs soon enough. From the specs alone, the Genos looks like a nice upgrade to the Tyros platform with 256 voices of polyphony, approximately 1.8GBytes of built-in expansion memory and drums, drums, drums. Save your pennies. (USA pricing)

However, there is a huge amount that we do not know about the Genos features.

Early word from the NYC demo — courtesy of Frank Ventresca of Audioworks CT — is “What I can tell you is I was greatly impressed, and I feel we have a new king of arrangers.”

Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow.

[Please click images to enlarge.]

Copyright © 2017 Paul J. Drongowski

Yamaha Reface YC on the go

Trumpet?

No, Yamaha Reface YC!

I finally had enough time ‘shedding with the Yamaha Reface YC to have the confidence to take the YC to rehearsal with me. [Click images to enlarge.]

I need to write a long review, but here’s a few quick thoughts.

The Reface YC makes a good, lightweight rehearsal rig. Usually, I need strings, horns and a few woodwinds in addition to organ to cover our repertoire of liturgical music. However, I dialed in 608400000 for most of the non-organ church tunes and covered things reasonably well. Slow rotary or clean were enough. For the gospel tunes, I threw in a little 1′ and 2′ to brighten the sound. Nothin’ major.

One advantage of the mini-keys is the ability to kick the SPEED switch while holding a bass note. It took some ‘shedding to get used to the narrow width of the mini-keys. Even though I had enough range for most tunes, three octaves ain’t enough. I really wish the YC had four octaves. Think Harry Connick Jr. rocking a Reface CP on Fallon: “There’s not a lot of room. But, I’m havin’ fun.”

The YC drew favorable comments from both the MD and our pianist. (Thanks John, Margie and Steve — bless you.) The small, light rig got a few envious looks as folks carried out their guitars. (Envy is a deadly sin.)

That’s a JBL Charge 2 portable speaker in the bag. I shut off the YC’s internal speakers and play it through the Charge 2. Its passive radiators do a pretty decent job of bass reproduction. I’ve been kicking simple bass lines with my left hand and the JBL Charge 2 is just enough for our (mostly) acoustic rehearsals. Surprisingly, no break-up with full organ chords either.

The whole deal is battery powered. If I had enough shed time before our annual outdoor service, I might have played the Reface YC instead of schlepping the MOX6.

More thoughts after the Genos™ craziness settles down. In the meantime, if you want to know what’s inside of a Reface YC and CP, check out my blog post about Reface YC and CP internal design. Shucks, find out what’s inside of a Reface DX and CS, too.

Take control of your music

With nine drawbar sliders, six knobs, three articulation buttons, and an assignable rotary speed button, I wonder if Yamaha are making a play against the Nord Stage?

Both products (will) command a premium price. However, with superior acoustic and electric pianos, drawbar organ using Reface technology, an incredibly expressive sample-based synth engine, and capacious expansion memory, the Genos could make a play. Might be some credibility to this assertion given the rumor of a 76-key only Genos offering. Perhaps Yamaha will eventually roll out a lighter 61-key model, if the demand is there and vocal.

We’ll see and hear. October 2.

Once the pictures hit Facebook…

I’m still not sure if we are seeing final units. Enjoy, anyway. [Please click images to enlarge.]

Copyright © 2017 Paul J. Drongowski

Genos teaser video three

Yamaha Genos™ teaser video number three: Alex Christensen & The Berlin Orchestra – Infinity

Treat yourself to the video first before reading. There is a spoiler ahead!

Another track with orchestra and the occasional driving four on the floor. The video follows up with the visual and musical themes established in the second teaser video.

Very good production values, of course!

The first commenter was kind enough to leave bookmarks for the Genos:

Was anything missed? Be sure to go over this video frame by frame. 🙂

The first snippet is the Style Control section. If you’re a Yamaha Tyros or PSR S-series player, no surprises here. We see the now well-known sliders and “cooling tower” knobs for real-time control. Was the finger hitting the MAIN D section button an important hit point in the music? Didn’t seem that way to me. [Please click images to enlarge.]

The big pan. This will be dissected in so many ways over the next week until the fourth teaser video drops. We do see Voice and Part selection buttons, One Touch Setting (OTS) buttons, Multi Pad Control buttons, six assignable buttons (A-F), six lighted navigation buttons, data wheel, INC, DEC and EXIT buttons — all to the right of a rather nice looking wide-screen touch panel. Can’t really tell if the panel tilts. The USB port for your jump drive also makes an appearance.

The lighted navigation buttons were a bit of a surprise. Leaked images did not show the button legends. I can just make out HOME, STYLE and VOICE in the teaser video. My guess is that these buttons are an alternative, fast way into the menu structure — very important for visually impaired musicians. I’ll let younger eyes or those with CIA image enhancement software make out the other legends (MENU? PLAY LIST? SET?)

The big pan got one enormous belly laugh: “USB device is disconnected.” The display shows a style selection page and what’s that? A pop-up alert box! All this money on a video and they disconnect the jump drive?

Five tabbed pages of Dance styles. About fifty dance styles? The exact number is not really significant at this stage.

What’s up with the saxophone? I hear horns. That better be Cubase!

The third video deepens the mystery created in the second teaser video. What is the exact relationship between the sounds that we hear and the Yamaha Genos digital workstation? There are quite a few repetitious musical phrases (ostinato). Did the Genos produce those sounds or were those sounds sampled as the basis for new audio styles which combine with MIDI? The same question could be asked about the melody lines. Are we hearing the Genos or were the musicians and their instruments sampled and turned into Genos voices? Stay tuned. (No pun intended.) The answer to all of these questions may be “Yes.”

That’s it for this week except for unbridled speculation. The Genos will be shown in New York City to select Yamaha dealers on September 22nd. Martin Harris will be one of the demonstrators. The fourth teaser video will be released on September 29th. Genos will finally (finally!) be announced on October 2nd.

Oh, that unverified image? It’s probably the real deal.

Update

At 02:23, we catch a glimpse of the Yamaha Genos™ in the lower right hand corner of the frame.

My European and sleepless North American colleagues on the PSR Tutorial Forum have worked out the six assignable button legends: HOME, MENU, STYLE, VOICE, SONG, and PLAYLIST. Someone should get a free Genos from Yamaha for working this out!

Copyright © 2017 Paul J. Drongowski

GENOS unverified image

The following unverified image has appeared on the Web. It seems to have been taken at a presentation.

Physical features are similar to other leaked images of GENOS™ and the teaser videos (one and two). The keyboard in this unverified image very much looks like a prototype — or at best, pre-production — model. Remember, sound developers need functional mock-ups for their work and even dealer demo units will not be available until October.

A huge warning. We are now in a phase when images and “specifications” are ricochetting around the Web. The Internet echo chamber is ringing like a bell! Plus, we have a number of individuals who are desperate and are trying to draw attention to their sites (advertising revenue, ca-ching) and Youtube videos (ca-ching). This site is independent and I do not receive money from advertising.

Beware while awaiting Yamaha’s official announcement on October 2nd! We still have two more teaser videos to survive on September 22nd and 29th.