Yamaha Intros 16-Part Multitimbral MX BK/BU Synthesizer, FM Essentials iOS App

Yamaha has introduced the MX BK/BU Synthesizer series, offering over 1000 voices from the MOTIF series, plus deep computer and iOS integration in a compact, lightweight keyboard.

Here’s what they have to say about it:

The MX BK/BU series synthesizers feature carefully selected sounds taken from the Yamaha MOTIF XS. That powerful sonic palette is packed into sleek packages (available in 49- and 61-note versions) that fit today’s on-the-go life style. But the MX BK/BU Series aren’t just synthesizers; they are designed to bridge the gap between hardware and software. By adding extensive audio and MIDI USB connectivity, advanced DAW and VST controller features and a suite of powerful music production software, the MX BK/BU integrate hardware reliability with controller flexibility to give you the best of both worlds at a ground breaking level of affordability.

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  • Over 1000 Sounds from the MOTIF Series – The MX BK/BU series contains more than 1000 Voices derived directly from the Yamaha MOTIF XS music production synthesizer. From realistic acoustic sounds like piano, electric piano, strings and drums to complex 8-element synth sounds, the MX BK/BU puts favorite MOTIF XS Voices at your fingertips. The newly designed category selection makes it easier than ever to find the Voice you need. You can even edit and store your own sounds right onboard.
  • Class-compliant, “plug and play” USB audio/MIDI – The MX BK/BU series features class-compliant, “plug and play” USB audio/MIDI with iOS, Mac and PC. Just plug it in and your MX BK/BU synthesizer becomes your audio and MIDI interface for the rest of your music studio. Monitor all the sounds from your computer via the headphone output of the MX BK/BU or listen to your DAW tracks by connecting the MX BK/BU to external studio monitors or PA gear. The audio converters on the MX BK/BU are made for professional music applications so everything on your computer — even games — will sound better when using the MX BK/BU as the output. The MX BK/BU interface is bi-directional for digitally recording your MX BK/BU directly to your computer or iOS device resulting in high-quality audio.
  • Plug and Play, “FM Essential” – “FM Essential” is an FM synthesizer app for iPhone and iPad with real-time synth performance and editing. Connect your iOS device to the Yamaha music synthesizer MX BK/BU, and you can do following:
    • Play all 271 high-quality Voices consisting of preset sounds from the V50, TX81Z and DX100 Legacy FM PLUS presets and combination Voices specially made for the MX BK/BU series.
    • Change Voices of FM Essential and control various parameters via the MX BK/BU onboard controllers.
    • Store your changes
  • Easy Split /Layer Performance Mode  – Performance Mode on the MOTIF has always been the place to find instant inspiration and the MX BK/BU is no different. You can easily combine two Voices to play on the keyboard using the dedicated Split and Layer buttons each with their own intelligent arpeggiator and a dedicated Part for a drum track to create evocative Performances that feel like a whole band is playing. The 128 Performances on the MX BK/BU are all user editable so you can customize them for your style of music.
  • 16-Part Multi Timbral and 128-note Polyphony – In addition to Splits and layers, the MX BK/BU features full 16-Part MIDI for creating entire arrangements using DAW software. This also lets you create live performance sets where you can switch between parts without any sound cutoff.. With 128 notes of polyphony there are plenty of notes to play even the densest sequences from your DAW. These features make the MX BK/BU the perfect tone generator solution for live performance and live playback of DAW MIDI tracks.
  • Extensive Hands-On Controls for VSTs and DAWs – The MX BK/BU also features solid knobs and durable buttons for controlling internal sounds, DAW parameters and VST instruments. The deceptively simple interface is combined with a remote template editor on your computer so any VST you own or any new VSTs you buy can be easily setup to be controlled by the MX. There are advanced integration templates for use with a variety of DAWs. When used with Cubase, there is even an AI knob so any parameter can be controlled by the large rotary encoder just by mousing over it. It’s never been quicker to take full control of Cubase.
  • Complete Suite of Music Production Software Included – The MX BK/BU series is the only hardware synth in its price range to come with a complete suite of music production software tools. The included Steinberg Cubase AI features 48 audio tracks and 64 MIDI tracks, notation, built-in VST effects, so with just the MX BK/BU and AI you can do complete productions. But we didn’t stop there; it comes bundled with Steinberg Prologue and the Yamaha YC-3B organ emulator so you have some compelling VSTs to get started. Plus there are Remote Template editors for setting up controls of VSTs.
  • Cubasis LE – In addition to Cubase AI, the MX BK/BU series is compatible with Cubasis LE, a DAW app for iOS. Connect MX BK/BU to your iOS device (requires Lightning to USB Camera Adapter) and unlock USB audio and MIDI recording between MX BK/BU and Cubasis LE.
  • Complete Analog and Digital Connectivity – In addition to the USB audio/MIDI port, the MX BK/BU has a USB TO DEVICE port for external data storage to USB flash drive. You can even play back .WAV data from the flash drive. If you want to add a tablet or an MP3 player to your system just connect to the AUX input using a mini stereo cable and you are ready to go.
  • Lightweight Design with a Quality Keyboard – While almost all other keyboard controllers use inexpensive OEM keyboards, the MX BK/BU series features an expertly crafted keyboard that only Yamaha — the world’s largest keyboard manufacturer — could produce. Weighing only 3.8kg (MX49 BK/BU) or 4.8kg (MX61 BK/BU), either synthesizer can be carried easily with one hand. MX synthesizers have a compact design so they are easy to carry to the gig and also fit easily into today’s compact home music production studios.
  • VCM Effects – MX BK/BU synthesizers come equipped with VCM (Virtual Circuitry Modeling) effects, which simulate vintage effectors at the circuit level. The sounds of the ‘70s are brought back to life, through simulating the hard-to-find vintage sounds of equalizer, flanger, phaser, and wah effects introduced by the keyboard legends of the era.

Yamaha also introduced FM Essentials, a free iOS FM synthesizer:

FM Essentials is a free download from the App Store.

Pricing and availability are TBA. For more info on the MX BK/BU Synthesizer, see the Yamaha site.

22 thoughts on “Yamaha Intros 16-Part Multitimbral MX BK/BU Synthesizer, FM Essentials iOS App

  1. I’ve always been a fan of Yamaha’s classic streamlined 4-op FM synth architecture, ever since I got my brand new DX21 back in the mid-1980s. So I’m excited to download the free app.

    Unfortunately I think the controller is a bit of a bust – this is apparently designed to work with iPhones and iPads, so I can’t help but wonder why our player needs to use a USB adaptor, and then precariously perch his phone and umbilical combo on the corner of the keyboard. It looks like it could really easily fall off! Forget about using a sloped stand if you want to play it like this. And if you use a tablet, where are you supposed to put it?

    To me this needs a recessed area or clamp to somehow hold your docked iOS device, and I think the keyboard should have a direct lightning cable connection that charges your phone while you play.

    1. I agree. That phone is going to end up on the floor from mashing on the keys. The CS1x series had a nice little ledge that would have worked nicely. I only reference that because the blue color reminds me of that synth.

  2. > so everything on your computer — even games — will sound better when using the MX BK/BU as the output.

    Pretty much explains the target audience. Not turning my nose up—just seems that it ain’t for most people that read (or at least comment at) Synthtopia. Fair enough. Good luck Yamaha.

    I’d personally be slightly more interested if it was sized like the reface and had the same feature set perhaps with the added ability to act as a USB MIDI host via that jack. At 49 full-sized keys, it doesn’t really shout ‘mobile’ to me.

  3. How is this different from the existing/older MX 49/61 that came out a couple years ago? Is it a different
    soundset? Looks like a re-launch of the same synth with the option of blue. I would buy one of these in an instant if
    it had onboard sequencing.

    1. The USB is now class compliant, so it can work with iOS. Previously Yamaha has required drivers for USB operation. That is actually a nice change. Over at yamahsynth.com they have stated that the HW is “new” (MX came out in 2012) with better converters.

      1. well it was class compliant, but lost it when ios7 come, so i wonder how long this will be, to ios10?
        anyway, good move but a little lait and i was waiting for an os upgrade, not a new maschine
        anyway it has some good components…hm

  4. “In addition to Splits and layers, the MX BK/BU features full 16-Part MIDI for creating entire arrangements using DAW software. This also lets you create live performance sets where you can switch between parts without any sound cutoff.. ”


  5. wonder if you can unlock sound sets in the app WITHOUT buying another keyboard

    some of us like the sounds but already have keys

    cough cough, reface

    1. Yeah, just downloaded it. If you don’t have the MX keyboard, you only have access to the first 10 presets.
      Granted, you can edit them pretty extensively, but you can’t save anything…

  6. 49 keys is a great size for a modern instrument. This is a super smart move, and puts a beefy synth that stands out from the analog crowd into the hands of everyone at a reasonable price. All the best to them. And a huge thanks for skipping the mini-keys!

  7. It’d be interesting if this leads to someone creating an iOS MIDI-only sequencer – like Logic/Cubase before they added audio and VSTs. I’d buy that to use with my older hardware synths and modules, and it would be an interesting add-on to the Korg M1 app.

    1. Perhaps you’re looking for ModStep. Or Genome. Auria Pro and Cubasis both have a nice MIDI spec as well as the audio stuff.

  8. When will Yamaha put their newest Motif stuff in a 19″ rack mount box ? Their current rack model is many many years old.

  9. The converters were better on the old MX? Are you sure?166 mg of sound ROM isn’t exactly generous but then again the MX has the extremely useful arps which can drive other sound sources through MIDI. I would have loved to seen it work on batteries but then again you can always buy a REV battery pack for cheap. I’m seeing a lot of justifiable complaints re Yamaha’s FM essentials app being tied into the hardware but if this is only the first of many iOS apps to come, I would think about springing for an MX, depending of course on the quality of the new apps to come .

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