Yamaha Reface YC A Mobile Combo Organ

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2015 Summer NAMM Show: Yamaha today officially introduced its new Reface Mobile Mini Keyboards line, with sound engines based on four of the company’s classic keyboard lines.

The Reface keyboard form factor was inspired by the Yamaha CS-01, a mini synth that featured a built-in speaker. The new keyboards use a updated form factor, but have sound engines designed to recall Yamaha’s YC, CP, CS and DX keyboards.

Key features of all the keyboards in the Reface line include:

  • built-in speakers
  • 37 keys with HQ-Mini action, derived from Yamaha’s flagship Motif XF
  • battery-powered portability
  • USB & MIDI connectivity
  • Yamaha Reface Capture – an iOS patch librarian app
  • SoundMondo – a web MIDI patch librarian and social patch sharing site

The Reface YC synth engine recalls Yamaha’s classic combo organs:yamaha-reface-yc-back

Yamaha Reface YC Features:

  • reface YC reimagines the YC Yamaha Combo organs, introduced in the late 1960s and used by Pink Floyd, Tangerine Dream and others.
  • The YC offers the expression of drawbars, rotary speaker, percussion and effects.
  • It includes five retro organ sounds — ranging from tonewheel to transistor to the original Yamaha Combo organ.
  • 128-note polyphony.

Here’s a video overview of the Reface YC, via sonicstate:

The Yamaha Reface DX is expected to ship in September 2015, with a street price around US $500. See the YamahaSynth site for more info.

23 thoughts on “Yamaha Reface YC A Mobile Combo Organ

  1. This one is my favorite – I’m bananas for combo organs. The tonewheel side is less important – I’m all about that “96 Tears” 1960’s combo organ tone.

    I like everything but the DX – too old to overcome my entrenched anti-FM bias. But the combo is great. The only other options for decent organ emulations are the Korg and Nord stage pianos, which are huge and expensive. Roland has one but it does not have much in the way of transistor combo sound and control.

    1. I agree. This is oddly the one i think I like the most, even though I’ve never really needed an organ for anything.

    2. I’m kind of frustrated that the dude focused almost exclusively on the “Hammond” setting. The couple times he switched to one of the transistor organ settings, he played so fast and staccato-like that I couldn’t even get an idea of what the organ is supposed to sound like. No doubt there will be better demos soon…

      Does anybody know what the “A” setting is supposed to emulate? My best guess is Ace-Tone (early Roland!), though that’s kind of an odd choice when I think about it.

  2. The YC sucks. For better organs, twice the keys and tons more features you could get a Korg MicroArranger for $500.

    1. There are definitely lots of keyboards out there with better bang for the buck. The MicroArranger is one. So is the Yamaha MX49.

      But we’ve been awash in workstations and romplers for so long that I think the Yamahas are doing something brilliant. They are giving us purpose-built, tweakable, touchable keyboards with easy-to dial-in sounds. In my opinion, that makes them more usable and lovable than the busy-ass “do everything” keyboards.

      You grab the YC, you are thinking organ. You grab the Microarranger or the MX49 , you have to figure out how to get to the organ and how to tweak it.

      More than the difference between workstation and synth, I think what we have here is the difference between a generic keyboard and an instrument.

      1. You average ROMpler might have a combo organ sound and a couple of tone wheel samples. But do you get control over the footage drawbars? Multiple organ types? Real-time organ controls, sliders, rocker switches, effects?

        Purpose-built is a great way to describe these. Your phone can also do a million things but for organ sounds I’d like a dedicated organ-like organ emulation that sounds and feels and looks like an organ. You know, for organs.

    2. Jim Eshleman:

      Don’t you have anything better to do than sh*t-talk the Refaces multiple times on this site? Weren’t you “The Pro” on Keyboard Corner? Haven’t seen you post there in a while. Considering your foul attitude, I’d say you did that forum a favor.

  3. I just can’t get over the mini-keys 🙁
    And then the price… just makes it worse.

    And something Roland have just learnt & fixed with the System-1 M: just sell us sound modules if you can’t afford to put decent keyboards on your sound units. At least like that we can play it with a large controller keyboard (with aftertouch to boot!) plus your unit then costs less and takes up less room.

        1. You can ebay the Oberheim Organ modules from the eighties for around $300.

          They even have drawbars.

  4. Hammond players will all trade in their Hammonds for this thing.
    How the hell can you play organ on that tiny keyboard?
    Why is everything going backward?

  5. Can people please get over mini keys it’s getting quite tiresome, there’s ways in and around these things, or can we start a mini key hate page so they can all go over there and leave the rest of us to talk about more important things ????

  6. It’s not just the mini keys. How well can you play a polyphonic instrument with only a 3-octive range?

    As far as using a full-size midi keyboard with this unit you have to understand how awkward it is trying to play and then reaching over the mini keyboard to adjust the knobs.

    You are paying for something you don’t need – mini keys, and you are forced to take 2 keyboards to your gigs, instead of one. In the studio it doesn’t take up less space because now you have two keyboards, instead of one master keyboard and one module that fits in your rack.

    Yamaha – Offer a rack unit and most of this negative feedback will disappear.

  7. might seem a stupid question to some but would this feature ADSR? i have an old combo organ that i always liked but wish i could mess with the sounds a bit more. id love this for spacemen 3 type stuff

  8. I’ve been a combo organ player for close to 30 years, starting with a Farfisa Combo Compact Deluxe, then adding a Vox Continental, an Ace-Tone Top-8, a Panther and more, but when I got introduced to the Yamaha YC combo organ line in the late 90s, I knew I’d found my favorite. The YC-20 remains my favorite combo for gigging, with the YC-30 just behind it. (I also own a -25D…and would love a YC-10 and a -45D…and an A-3, for that matter, but those things can wait.)

    Since I read about the reFace YC, I wanted it. And now, thanks to a birthday gift from my wife, I have one. It’s fantastic. Do I think all of the sounds are perfect creations of what they’re meant to be? No…But they are pretty darn good. More importantly, they’re excellent *combo organ* sounds. So if you don’t think that the V sounds *enough* like a Vox Continental, just ask yourself if it’s (a) close enough and (b) if it’s a good combo organ sound. As I’m not in a cover band, this philosophy works great for me.

    As to the mini-keys…They’re not really bothering me. I’m finding it quite playable. Would I prefer full-size keys? Yep. Will I use a controller if I want to gig with it? Probably, although I can foresee some situations where I don’t find it necessary. Do I wish it were more than 3 octaves? Yep. I’d LOVE for Yamaha to do a 61-key key version of this with full size keys. That would make this perfect. Perhaps we can all prevail upon them to do just that. Maybe if we all talk to our various friends at music stores and bug Yamaha ourselves, this can happen. (One can hope.)

    My only other issue so far is that everything from Vibrato on over has the *increase* being a *push UP* of the controls, while the drawbar equivalents, of course, *pull DOWN*. This seems counter-intuitive. Of course, this may simply be because I’m used to the original Yamaha YC line, which increases (for instance) vibrato as you pull down towards you (just as the drawbar equivalents do).

  9. I LOVE combo organ sounds! BUT, I am not a very good keyboard player at all and I do very little material which requires organ sounds. For me, this offers plenty of tonal variety and just enough controls to satisfy my slim requirements and limited dexterity and has a small footprint as well. I’ve had the YC-45D in the past and it was too much instrument for my needs. The Viscount d9e was great if you really wanted a tiny Hammond emulator for gigging (the Oberheim / Gibson OB3 (squared) was the same unit with a white paint job). Other than that, been programming similar things into an Alesis Ion, not quite enough oscillators to support a complete tonewheel/drawbar sound. Definitely looking closer at this over the coming months.

  10. I’m pretty much crazy about this keyboard. Maybe because it’s the first drawbar organ I’ve had access to since I sold my original 70’s Yamaha YC. (By the way this Reface model is EXACTLY the same off-pinkish-lipstick-red color as the old YC. Nice touch.)

    I don’t like the keyboard itself much either, and they really tout how “quality” it is in all the blurbs. Just another mini-keyed synth, no better and no worse than a hundred others. Get over it guys.

    On the other hand the drawbars are just great. So much flexibility and nuance. Love that about this keyboard. And while I enjoy the cheesey retro organs like the Farfisa and Vox for their nostalgic character and vintage vibe- in the right setting- I can’t often integrate them into my own arrangements. Guess I’m not ironic or self-referential enough. Hey I’m no hipster. But the “H” sound is very usable and better than any of the half-dozen other organs I’ve been using for years, whether they’re in a module or a vintage Casio or whatever. I just recorded an organ track using that setting and every time I hear it I’m pleased with how precisely I was able to sculpt that tone to fit and shine in the arrangement. I did have to use a pedal, but more on that later. The result, though, was perfect.

    Now whenever you get a modeling amp (I know, I know, bear with me haters) you’ll probably notice that if it’s, say, a Vox VT or a Peavey Vypyr, the models that sound the best are the models of that company’s other instruments, amplifiers, whatever- for instance the AC30 is probably the best sounding amp in the Vox, the Classic 50 will be the best amp in the Peavey and so on. Same here- the YC setting is a recreation of Yamaha’s own classic combo from the 70s. We used that organ to cover a wide variety of tones in those days. The “Y” organ here is probably the deepest and most accurate selection this keyboard offers. It probably won’t be your first choice when you’re searching for the right tone, but give it a try.

    One final note, and this is not a rave: I find the onboard rotary (“faux Leslie”) to be less than satisfactory. If you want to get the most out of this keyboard and you’re not doing the ironic “combo organ into a guitar amp” thing, turn the onboard rotary Off and run your signal through an outboard rotary speaker system if you have one, or a rotary simulator pedal if you don’t. I have a (discontinued) Line6 Roto-Machine pedal that I think is one of the best out there and it’s so much clearer and more resonant, and has a much wider selection of tones than the onboard rotary. It’s like night and day. Without that, if I was limited to the onboard rotary simulator, I’d never have discovered how good this organ can sound.

    And hey the price!

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