The Reface keyboard line was inspired by the form factor of the Yamaha CS-01, a mini synth that featured a built-in speaker. The new keyboards use a similar form factor, but have sound engines designed to recall four different Yamaha keyboard lines.
The Yamaha Reface CP is the combo piano in the Reface line. Of the four, it’s the least ‘synthy’, but also one of the most rewarding to play.
Here is the official intro video:
It’s a combo piano, in mini keyboard form, that lets you play the most iconic electric piano sounds.
Design & Build Quality
The Reface CP shares several features with the rest of the reface line:
- Compact size
- Built-in speakers
- Can be run from batteries
- 37 keys with ‘HQ-Mini’ action
- USB & MIDI connectivity
- Yamaha Reface Capture – an iOS patch librarian app
- Audio In
Reface CP Features:
- Six electric piano sounds including tine, reed, clavinet, toy piano and CP80
- Direct control of 1970s-style effects, including drive, chorus, phaser, wah, reverb and more
- Sustain pedal input with a half-damper response
- 128-note polyphony
Around the back, it’s got connections for a foot pedal controller, L/R 1/4″ audio outputs, a 1/4″ headphone jack, an 1/8″ stereo audio input, MIDI In/Out (via an included adapter) and USB.
The CP feels very solidly built, as mini keyboards go, like the rest of the Reface line
The Yamaha Reface CP Sound Engine
The Reface CP is combo electric piano, with a collection of six vintage sounds:
- 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
- CP, Yamaha CP80 electric grand piano
In other words Fender Rhodes, Wurly, Clavinet, CP & Toy piano – sounds that are about as iconic as they come. And Yamaha does a good job of nailing the sounds.
Here’s a video comparison, via muzykujkropkacom, of the Reface CP against a vintage Fender Rhodes:
The Reface CP doesn’t have the mechanical variations of a vintage keyboard that can affect the sound. As a result, the Reface CP’s sounds are more like an ideal ‘new old stock’ instrument than one that’s been around the block a bit.
Once you’ve selected the keyboard type you want to play, you can add effects using the five effects sections:
- Drive (adds harmonics and distortion)
- Tremolo (Auto-Pan for Rd)/VCM Wah with adjustable depth and rate
- Chorus with adjustable depth and speed/VCM Phaser with adjustable depth and speed
- Digital or Analog-Type Delay with adjustable time and depth
- Reverb with adjustable depth
The interface is all dedicated knobs and switches, so you just flip a toggle to enable/disable the effect that you want and then dial in the effects settings. The effects are tailored to the CP’s keyboard types and bring to mind some classic 70’s effects pedals and an early digital reverb.
Sound and Performance
The Yamaha Reface CP offers instant gratification – great sounds and effects, with everything very clearly laid out on the front panel.
It’s also has great playability. It’s a mini-keyboard, but it’s very sensitive and the CP’s sound engine responds beautifully to variations in how you play. Play the Rhodes 1 patch softly and the CP responds with delicate bell tones. Dig in a little, and the CP responds with brighter more metallic sounds.
The biggest downside is the mini keyboard – we frequently found ourselves wanting another octave or two of keys.
In our Reface CS review, we called out that keyboard’s lack of patch memory as potential issue for some users.
With the Reface CP, though, we don’t see the lack of patch memory as a concern. You tweak your sound just like you would on a vintage keyboard: you select the keyboard and then tweak the effects. This is faster than scrolling through a list of presets and has the benefit that the front panel settings always match your sound.
Bottom line: The Yamaha Reface CP delivers a great set of vintage keyboard sounds, plays wonderfully and evokes memories of a lot of classic recordings. We were sad to have to send this one back to Yamaha!
The Reface CP includes a couple of other unique features:
- Audio input – this lets you route the output of mobile devices and other keyboards through the Reface CP. This could handy if you want to have a minimal mobile rig – just adjust the level of the external device using its controls.
- Reface Capture – this is an iOS patch librarian. We could not test it, because it was not available in time for this review. Because the Reface CP has such a user-friendly front-panel, we don’t see much of a need for patch librarian.
- Soundmondo – a planned patch sharing web site. This was also not available in time for this review.
There are three main audiences for mini keyboards. The Reface CP is a pretty good fit for all three:
- Users that want a mobile keyboard for portability or compactness – the CP offers great sounds in a mini keyboard that you can take anywhere.
- Users that need a starter keyboard – the CP delivers five vintage electric piano sounds (plus the toy piano sound) for less than the cost of one of the originals.
- Users that want a sound module – the CP isn’t going to be an alternative to a rack sound module, because of its lack of presets. But if you want to vintage keyboard sounds to your rig, slap this on top of your full-size MIDI keyboard and you’ll have a set of classic keyboard sounds, with great hands-on tweakability, without taking up a lot of space.
- Sounds great
- Good build quality
- What-you-see-is-what-you-get interface is fast and easy to use
- Very responsive playability
- Battery power, built-in speakers and audio in makes it a fun mobile keyboard
- 128-voice polyphony
- The CP’s sounds, and the playability of those sounds, will have many users longing for a full-size keyboard
The Yamaha Reface CP is available now, with a street price around US $500. See the Yamaha site for more detailed specs and audio demos.