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Everyone that knows anything about keyboards will know, without a shadow of a doubt, that the Tyros range is their pride and glory. I actually had the pleasure of playing one, a couple of years back, but I spend much more of my time on models like these. In all honesty, as a Licentiate Diploma-standard keyboardist (with VCM), I feel like this is the next best thing. The Tyros was a dream to play, sure, and it was sort of overwhelming.
But, other than that, the rest of Yamaha's advanced PSR models (I'm thinking of the likes of the PSR-S550, here) are all geared towards keyboard functionality, as opposed to user-oriented functionality. The S550 can therefore brag numerous features that the 3000 cannot, however this is at the price that the S550 is extraordinarily difficult to get to grips with (my keyboard teacher owns both models, has had the S550 for several months now, and still does not know how to set up a file from a USB without consulting her manual).
This is what, in my opinion, makes the 3000 so good: perhaps it's not as 'advanced' in some senses as these newer models, but it's one of the few where Yamaha have maintained a good balance of technology to usability.
VOICES: Yamaha's ever-expanding collection of voices now includes those such as 'sweet', 'cool' and 'mega'. To my awareness there are also 'live' voices for some of the strings, though I admit I may be confusing myself with a different model (you'll understand this happens when you work with 3 models at once). in any case, for the most part, the voices are fantastic. My only critique comes from a professional saxophonist and close friend of mine, that has, and always will argue that keyboards are an insult to him as they never seem to get the saxophone voice right. Actually, whether he'll admit it or not, Yamaha have come along way from the voices on the old PSR-8000 model, and they're getting increasingly better. The best selection of realistic voices can be found in the strings section: Yamaha provides an array of solo and orchestral sounds to suit the user, and these are often useful for adding depth in songs, as a dual sound, and such.
REGISTRY/ONE-TOUCH: The 3000 offers both one-touch settings and an 8-bank memo registry (per file). These are preset by users prior to playing; accompaniment, backing (including the texture of the backing), voice, and volumes of the aforementioned can all be adjusted and then saved into the memos my pressing and holding the memo button along with whichever memo the data is being saved into. Similarly, data can be transferred cross-memo (useful if you've tweaked backing settings and don't wish to waste time by inputting manually) by pressing and holding the memo that presently stores the data, and then pressing the memos into which the data needs to be transferred. The whole system is very intuitive, making it quite easy to learn how to use.
What I find bizarre about all the Yamaha keyboards I've used is that the memos are placed to the right hand side of the keyboard. Fair enough this may be considered practical when not playing the piece, however when playing it often requires the player to cross their hands to access the next memo with their chord hand, whilst maintaining their melody with the right. For slower or simpler pieces, this is not so much a problem, as it is fairly easy to change memo with the right hand, however sometimes in more vigorous, quick-paced pieces, the player is faced with this situation.
LOOPS: The 3000 also comes with a bank of loops that can be played on top of the backing. These are good as they can really add to the piece being played, if well-chosen, however in this model of the keyboard, I've found the loops to be pretty limited, and the loops themselves are hardly ones I'd imagine anyone wanting to use (save for a couple of guitar and piano ones).
BACKINGS: There is a wide variety of backings available to users; this should be a given since it is a keyboard. However I always find that march backings are particularly lacking, as well as thinking that some of the rock backings have been mislabelled (the 'hard rock' is certainly not, by any means, reflective of hard rock music). However, new backings can be downloaded onto the keyboard, providing a remedy to this problem. For popular pieces of music, users are able to search the keyboard's database, which allocates certain sounds to certain songs as recommendations. This proves to be quite a useful guide, however it is, as is to be expected, rather limited.
OTHER COMMENTS: The internal sound system is a little weak, in my opinion, in terms of sound projection. This is what drew me to the newer Tyros models (among other amazing features): the sound projection is FAR better, with the way the speakers are set up on the keyboard.
Further to this the music stand which slots in behind the screen is particularly feeble and small. We remedied this problem by putting a fairly long piece of wood over the stand, meaning that we can have about 7-8 pages clipped up at once (there is only space to stand around 3 A4 sheets maximum, at a push, on the Yamaha stand).
I was first introduced to keyboard playing in the form of a piano when I was around 6 years old. My two elder sisters were both learning to play with a local music teacher and whilst they practiced I was fascinated by the sounds coming out of our old iron-framed piano and couldnt help but play along with them on the lower or upper part of the keyboard, much to their annoyance. My parents decided that it was obviously in my blood and thought it best that I go to lessons also. Within a couple of months I was playing a few simple tunes and even came second in a local kids talent contest!
I kept to my lessons going right through all my exams, but at the age of 16 decided that a career as a classical concert pianist was not for me. My ear was definitely bent towards modern jazz and improvisation and then in the mid-sixties, I was really getting hooked on the likes of Jimmy Smith (a jazz organist), so I turned my attention to the electric organ.
My first instrument was a small Lowry Holiday followed by a small Hammond (great keyboard sound, but rotten base). In my twenties, I turned professional and purchased a small Yamaha with Leslie speaker - (a sort of spinning speaker inside a cabinet that produced a rich sound). Because of its light weight for portability and reasonable prices compared to most other organs, I have stayed loyal to Yamaha ever since. I now own a HE 8 (old technology now, which I will soon be updated no doubt) and a PSR3000 a 61-key electronic keyboard, which is the focus of this review.
What I Like About The Yamaha PSR 3000 is the sound quality and a huge range of voices these are synthetic sounds that even the most critical of music lovers would be hard-pressed to distinguish from the real thing. For example, grand piano, electric pianos, "live" and "cool" nylon guitar, tenor sax, alto sax, baritone sax. Pan flutes and a large range of different flutes and wood-wind instruments. Far too many others to list here These sounds are so authentic, that you can hear for example, the wind as it is blown into a wind instrument and the subtle sound of the fingers being applied to the strings on the frets of a string instrument. These authentic sounds come about because the keys are touch sensitive. That means, that just like a conventional acoustic piano, the harder you press and hit the keys more expression and volume you get out of the tone.
You can listen to some of the instruments capabilities by simply pressing a button marked Demos and allowing it to play it is like listening to a group of musicians.
At around £1,000 the PSR 3000, is the penultimate in professional keyboards, known also as work-stations, the Tyros being the Yamahas flagship costing from around £2,000 to just over £3,000. As a trained musician, I find the PSR 3000 more than adequate for my needs, but it can also be a excellent instrument for beginners too, as on the mounted colour TFT screen, the user can select from a variety of songs, have the instrument play them and have the music score play along and watch a bouncing ball indicate what notes are being played and even permit the player to play along with it. An excellent way to practice.
To top all this, the instrument can connect to the internet via USB to a broadband modem and download songs and styles (explained below) from the Yamaha website full instructions are included with the keyboard and are also on the Yamaha website (http://music.yamaha.com). When I registered on the site, Yamaha was sending free a USB to LAN adapter necessary for connection.
A floppy disk also connects to the USB port so that the user can save his/her sound combinations - for example, piano or any other instrument chosen as lead instruments backed by strings or any other of the thousands of sounds available the combinations are endless. On the front of the keyboards is a slot for a smart media card that can store a lot more information than your standard floppy disk.
There are also full *MIDI connections, to connect to another MIDI instrument so they are networked, like two PCs and share their sounds, files etc. and enable to players to work together or one player to access both instruments the creative possibilities are endless with this.
*MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. It can also be connected to a computer this way, but the USB connection is a far more modern and convenient way to do it. Your musical masterpieces can then be saved to the computer, converted to MP3 files which can then be e-mailed or put on a website. With midi software, which is not too expensive, midi files can be manipulated, mistakes corrected etc. and converted to different musical formats.
Styles of which there are 240 on the PSR 3000 are like the backing tracks (or automatic orchestrations) that play along with the melody line and include rhythm (a drum beat or tempo) and backing instruments such as strings, brass, guitar, pianos etc., that also play along. The key of the backing is determined by the chords and notes the musician plays with his left (accompaniment) hand. If he/she wants, the styles can be switched off of course and the instrument will only play the sounds that are played with the fingers like a conventional piano or organ, or whatever other sound is selected.
From ballroom dance, to disco in the style of the 70s, 80s, house, acid, to country and western - you name it, these are available as styles. You can even get it to sound like a vocal choir singing away in the background. The feeling to be got from playing this instrument can be quite awesome and can be likened to conducting your very own orchestra with one difference, you are the musician playing each of the instruments. All tempos can be slowed or speeded up and styles can be customised.
Also you can record any of your creations and play it back afterwards. The controls for this works just like a tape recorder. Your recordings can be saved to disk or card, loaded onto your computer, and edited.
To a musician like myself, the instrument can be as challenging as I want it to be, yet to a beginner, it can have him/her playing some wonderful songs and sounds with some fantastic built-in styles in no time at all which in my opinion, provides the impetus to learn even more about the world of music.
For those who feel that spending £1000 on an instrument is too much, Yamaha have PSR keyboards that produce fairly decent sounds from under £100 and there are many on-line dealers selling second-hand instruments, but you will need to ensure that you get a good guarantee, know something about the age of an instrument, and if spares are available, and what happens if something should go wrong. But Ive got to say that I have found Yamaha instruments to be very reliable.
If you love music, you will love the Yamaha PSR range of instruments, but before buying, you might wish to go to your local musical-instruments dealer and discover whats available, you never know, you may even get it there cheaper than you can on the Internet.
The PSR3000 is a breakthrough product, and includes 128 notes of polyphony, a huge wave ROM including Sweet, Cool and Mega Voices (for the most realistic guitar sounds youll ever hear). Computer connectivity is cutting edge with USB hosting for storage devices like USB Hard Disks and Thumb Drives, a Smart Media card slot and USB MIDI connections. On top of that, Yamahas new Internet Direct Connection feature allows the PSR3000 to connect directly to the Internet and download content directly via broadband connections. The 320 x 240 colour LCD not only makes the PSR3000 a breeze to use, but has the ability to display scores and lyrics. You can even use the video-out to connect an external monitor or projector.