Yamaha Reface Keyboards In Action

This series of videos, via Yamaha partner Doctor Mix, demos the entire Yamaha Reface line in action.

The first video, above, is a synth jam that puts all of the new Reface keyboards to work. 

The next video takes a look at sound of the Yamaha Reface DX:

This video demos the Yamaha Reface YC combo organ:

Here’s a demo of the Yamaha Reface CS analog modeling synthesizer:

Finally, the video below is an overview and demo of the Yamaha Reface CP mini-stage piano:

Pricing and Availability

The reface YC, CP, CS and DX mobile mini keyboards (MSRP: $799, with the street price expected to be closer to $500) will ship in September 2015. See the YamahaSynth site for more info.

65 thoughts on “Yamaha Reface Keyboards In Action

  1. It’s interesting that the DX synth sounds more like a CS-80 than the CS synth which has, in this demonstration, very little character.

    1. No character!? I’ll agree the preset sounded like a cs which implies it includes a filter, but if you’ve ever owned a dx and compared it to ANY software fm you will understand it has character that the plugins don’t even try to emulate, the dx7 is gritty because of its da’s and aliasing and has a lot of functional limitations that force you to make creative design decisions, especially with only four operators. Now we will have to see if this new one sounds more like an old dx or fm8.

      1. Re-read the sentence, Matt. I wasn’t impugning the DX’s character. The most colorful and expressive synth in the demo is the DX. The CS, which I expected to sound more like a CS-80 and less like a CS-01, seems to be dragging up the rear in the demo.

          1. Really? If that’s the case I’m hard-pressed to understand why Yamaha would set their sights so low and raise the expectation so high.

            1. Yeah they did actually say in the promo the CS 80 was the dream synth. But while this video doesn’t do justice to this little CS, the Sonicstate video is much better.

              And I really am shocked by how good the dx sounds, I HATE the dx7. But the ability to get in under the hood makes a big difference, also the low noise!

    1. So would a Casio mt-65 but I’d still be stealing it off them. Actually a sub 37 would also be an awesome gift for a child. I’d have LOVED one!

      1. I know lots of guys that started with a Moog Prodigy or Rogue, even the Realistic MG-1 as kids.

        No serious musicians wanted those keyboards at the time.

        Look what they cost now.

    1. You (and I, and anyone else motivated enough) can make endless music with a computer / daw, without the need of any other tools. It’s hopeless to compare that level of power to any other single piece of hardware. While the reface keyboards may not at all be your thing (I personally swore off hardware a long time ago for space and financial reasons), try seeing these 4 simply as musical instruments, with all of the inspiration and limitations that brings. I can see where they would be fun in that regard, even if very limited and/or short lived.

    2. And you’re more likely to end up with RSI, and good on you for having the stamina to sit in front of a computer all night. Myself I can’t stand the things once I’ve clocked off for the day.

  2. This just enforces the impression that it should have been a single keyboard, with a switchable engine a la roland. Even the name suggests this was the original concept, but as 4 separates units with so few keys… I struggle to think when I would reach for one of these. The DX does sound nice, but I’d want it as either a desktop or a full 61 key. I have no quibble about the price, I just can’t picture where this fits in my studio.

  3. Yamaha’s marketing promised us a CS-80 and gave us a VA with less control and no presets. It could be the greatest sounding synth in decades, but the teaser video killed before it was even out of the box. The CS-80 was the ultimate in expressiveness, with it’s polyphonic pressure sensitivity, I challenge Yamaha designers to actually play one, then they will realize the injustice that have done.

    Manufactures confuse user-friendliness with dumbing down to obscurity. User Friendly means managing complexity with simple controls. The big mistake here is Yamaha underestimated the musical intelligence of it’s customers. We want more control, with knobs that make more meaningful changes to the sounds we make.

    Electric pianos and Organ players want full sized keys and plenty of octave to play. We are all about creating sound with emotional impact and being able to sculpt sound to a precise degree is most important to us. Yamaha give us more freedom and we will take your instruments to new heights.

    Maybe these keyboards were Yamaha’s answer to iPad synths, having physical keys, even smaller ones are better that trying to play a glass screen. When a device is dedicated to producing just music as opposed to a tablet designed to do many things, it can do a much better job. Yamaha would have had much better success in introducing theses portable synths as a iPad alternative or enhancement.

      1. They mentioned the CS legacy, not specifically a CS-80.

        People were naive to think they would get a budget CS-80.

        1. The first reface teaser promo absolutely mentions the CS80. In fact that is the only legacy instrument that they name dropped.

          In the same video somebody said that it was as though it was designed by a piano player, which is equally absurd.

      2. someone with a 400$ ipad and a 150$ qunexus or something already has a way better sound selection, unlimited kinds of mixing and effects, and more intuitive interface than these things i’d say. plus then they have an ipad.

  4. It’s weird how lots of us play and wobble our fingers on the keys when we want vibrato, but this has never really been a common feature of the synths. So its seemingly not a learned action, it’s natural.

    What I’m saying is: synth manufacturers, give us key wobble vibrato!

    And yes, I know, Linnstrument 😉

  5. At 0:43 in the CS clip:

    “…inspired by the bigger and older CS-80…”

    (Dramatic pause) Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha…

  6. I feel like they should have just built the mock ups that they put out, they appeared to have better control options. That being said, I thought these sounded great and the repurposed Floyd track was fantastic.

    1. The design concepts weren’t Yamaha’s, they were from a clever forum participant.

      Look at them again though, and you’ll realize they’d be $1,5000 synths – but awesome ones.

  7. These videos are really annoying.

    Who the hell are these guys? Is this just an add for their mastering company?

    1. I’d actually really love a decently-made 76 key minikeys. I could gig and practice and travel with that as my main board no problem.

    2. Tons of musicians? Which is why mini key controllers sell like crazy, and all companies (Korg, etc.) have mini key instruments out?

      We’re not all piano players, and most of us in electronic music could not care less about full sized keys and weighted actions…

    1. Love it, they can just chuck these into the back seat of the Refacemobile, then after they catch the bad guys, haul them out and play a little tune!

  8. Cool demo, great sound, but who wouldn’t rather have an ultranova which also sounds great and would give you 80-90% of those sounds in one small package (and cheaper!) with far more control options?

  9. I cannot understand why they just did not build all 4 of them in one and give us some more keys… and at that price roland is making a small synth with 2 digital, a drum machine, and an analog synth all in one…. I just feel overall disappointed in these.

  10. not sure why they are doing the bassline from “On the Run” on this crap

    it sounds like total shit compared to the floyd version.. (which used an EMS Synthi, so good luck topping that)

    1. I thought it sounds very good and I am amused by your words as though ‘Floyd’ are above being copied?
      This demo is really good and the synth (for a virtual) sounds great.

  11. I have extremely mixed feelings about these. I’m a synth guy as in i like to make my own patches but oddly the only one of these I’m interested in is the CP. I have nothing against mini-keys but I am very tired of miniature gear. I get that it’s what the “kids” are buying these days but it’s getting old for me.

    I was waiting to see what Yamaha was up to before pulling the trigger on Rolands new JDXA and my mind has been quickly made up. Even though I think Yamaha has something big to show us down the road, I think this range will be a total flop.

  12. Yamaha has given me a tough choice… which of my current keyboards by itself can do what it takes all four ReFace’s to do in this video demo and for less money? Hmmm…

  13. The only way Yamaha can prevent hari-kari is if they release a rack and/or full-size keyboard version that contains all 4 synth engines for less than $1500 US.

    1. Because you really want a large package that combines these limited engines together?

      There are lots of options already that feature everything but the FM, and some that have that as well.

      I don’t think the product you describe would sell at all.

      1. JEALOUS???? What an absolutely ridiculous comment/argument!

        These “instruments” are getting slated in all quarters mainly because of Yamaha’s stupid teaser videos promising us the world and delivering us toys, as much as the simple fact that they’re just not very good/nothing new/overpriced/crap….(take your pick!)

        But ANYONE being jealous of THESE???? My very FIRST synths back in 1982 (aged 14) were a CS10 and a CS15…. both of which make THESE look exactly what they are 33 years later….

  14. though i wont be lining up to buy one of these i think they’re kind of neat. while all of you old, closed minded, fat fingered synth dinosaurs complain about things on the internet and your gear collects dust in an unused room or storage unit real musicians are busy making music with whatever they can get their hands on. the internet used to be a fabulous place for information exchange and communication but people just seems to use it to whine and complain like little children. if your going to find fault in absolutely everything and nothing in life will ever be good enough for you why keep bothering? use your fingers to make music and stop yer bitchin.

    1. haha 🙂 please, tell me more about this magical time on the internet when people did not use anonymity to spew lies, sarcasm, and vitriol at one another, I love reading fantasy novels.

    2. I would absolutely be making music right now but for 8 hours a day I work for the man …

      I can’t very well work on tunes at my desk here, but I can most certainly go on forums and bitch about gear. I’ll work on music when I get back to my home studio.

      … Which brings me to my real point: WHY are people so upset that they want to bitch? It is because Yamaha is the one true corporate giant in the synth industry. Motorcycles, generators and watercraft aside, they are the only major player who has made musical instruments since long before there were synthesizers, and they still make high-quality acoustic instruments (including prestigious grand pianos) and audio equipment. They have a legacy of incredible synthesizers, many of which are among the most sought-after in the vintage market. If anybody has the R&D power to develop truly desirable instruments, it is Yamaha.

      Yes, they are allowed to release turkeys and budget equipment. But given their prominence not only in this industry, but in INDUSTRY ITSELF, It is absurd that they would use this type of marketing to create a such buzz about such unremarkable products. The Gearslutz thread reached 60 pages from the first teaser video until the products were unveiled!

      Frankly it’s insulting. We have a right to bitch, because we’ve been played. Reface is not bad, but it may well the least favourable ratio of product hype to product merit I’ve ever seen in this industry. In other words, it is a colossal let-down.

      1. I have to second the above comments, +1 for being let down by Yamaha’s poor and deceptive marketing. If mini-key instruments are your thing then knock yourself out, not here to insult and yes, while they can be played via MIDI from a larger instrument that isn’t the point. Either you like these things or you don’t, honestly nobody cares…but these products should not have been positioned as successors to the originals, as they clearly were. Remarks in the videos alluding to piano keys and CS-80s were, if not meeting the legal test for deceptive advertising, in bad taste and an insult to the musicians who contributed to the building of the Yamaha brand in the first place. Many, many references were made to classic records and artists, who would never and did never use anything remotely like a Reface…THEY brought up ELP and Stevie Wonder, not us. Why not reference the great mini-key playing artists…or have they yet to emerge? And speaking of their other products…would they have pulled this shit with a motorcycle or a watercraft? Or a piano? Really? I cannot imagine Yamaha Japan violating its honor code in this way, this crap rings of Yamaha Marketing in California, who seemingly will say anything in order to generate clickbait, no matter how misleading. They baited the enthusiasm of long-time fans and players who have been waiting for legitimate, groundbreaking innovation and expressive instruments a la the vintage CS and DX lines, and instead delivered something that those of us who still own, play & cherish those instruments regard as a toy. Many of us are keyboardists and producers who may have learned on and grew up with Yamaha pianos, organs and pro synths. Again, if you’re into these things then please enjoy…but if Yamaha is reading this, then please know that we who regard them as toys spend money too, we’re looking for larger, full-featured instruments and our response to what you call Reface is predictably negative.

      2. Yeh man Im getting tired of these kids coming in here to say “DONT CRITICIZE!! I would never do that because im so much fucking better than you!! Im a fucking bad ass! stop doing shit i dont like!! I make more music than GOD! waaaaah!”

        fucking put up or shut up you sniveling douchebags… go cry to mommy about it

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