September 2011 Archives

New Synthesizers Have Broken New Ground

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In 2011 synthesizer ascended a ladder having extraordinary expression capability as 3 Japanese leading manufacturers introduced attractive flagship models. The Korg KRONOS, Yamaha MOX and Roland JUPITER-80 new generation synthesizers have greatly advanced combining state-of-the-art technology with unprecedented user-friendly interface. Three keyboard experts talked about what difference the new models have made.

Katsunori Ujiiye, creator and vice chairman of Japan Synthesizer Programmers Association
"They offer a kind of ultimate user interface. I say the individual manufacturers have successfully accomplished their goals in their individual approaches. In one way, these models can be described as perfected hardware synthesizers. The engineers who designed the instruments must be well experienced musicians themselves, and the instruments are really computer-friendly. For the first time in its history, they elaborately respond to feeling of keyboard players. They are exciting, and have broken new ground."

Hideki Matsutake, keyboardist, chairman of Japan Synthesizer Programmers Association
"The three models seem to demonstrate their distinctive features and design concepts to the players. They are truly attractive instruments which stimulate creative sense of musician. They feel like more musical instruments than digital gears producing sounds by controlling oscillators, amps, filters, and so on. The individual models provide highest level of expressiveness that older instruments never did. That is the greatest difference of the new models, and the most impressive point for musicians. There is no doubt that availability of inexpensive memory device has contributed to make this happen."
Shunichi Furuyama, professor of Shobi University
"These synths offer cutting edge technologies along with dedicated user interface in intriguing balance. KRONOS provides 9 synthesis engines, while the key technology of JUPITER-80 is SuperNATURAL sound engine featuring Behavior Modeling Technology. MOX is accessible at much reasonable price yet maintaining high standard of quality of the predecessor models. Individual models elaborately reflect development concepts of the designers. It's quite amazing that tonal colors of these instruments differ from players by their age and musical experience. It has traditionally been the realm of acoustic musical instruments. More than anything else, they come at astonishingly reasonable prices which we, older generation synth players have never imagined before. "

How Do Music Stores Promote the New Generation Synths?: Five sales staff talk about retail marketing

Jyunji Abe, assistant manager, Ikebe Musical Kenbando, Tokyo
"A broad line of products developed with distinctive design concepts are offered in the market. Korg KRONOS is quite popular for the rich sounds and features produced by ultra huge memory. Roland JUPITER-80 provides overwhelming musical expression with SuperNATURAL sound system, and delicate performing nuance of individual instruments. Yamaha MOX synthesizers have packed astonishing high-quality sound remarkable for the price points in light-weight bodies with easiness of use.

"Customers of these synths and stage pianos prefer 88-key models because they largely use them live on stage. Not a few users feel authentic piano key touch is vital. Nord Stage 2 is much supported by these players.

"It's true that music stores are more than ever affected by online dealers. However, we see a host of customers visiting us outside of Tokyo. More and more users love to experience real instruments at us. To better serve needs of customers, we have sales staff specialized in keyboard instruments at Kenbando, and in music production and recording at PowerRec, another retail store of Ikebe Musical. We feel it's our advantage." 

Daisuke Toyama, assistant manager, Shibuya Store, Ishibashi Music, Tokyo
"Synth market has revitalized as Korg, Yamaha and Roland introduced new attractive models. Designed for performing musicians, JUPITER-80 is characterized for easy control of the functions and voices even for entry level players. Yamaha and Korg synths provide advanced music production and they are excellent to work with computer. Yamaha MOX in unbeatable price has packaged advanced features of the MOTIF synths, and it's easy to carry around. KRONOS satisfies Korg-manias with proven control functions and sounds which are original to the manufacturer. 

"Shibuya store has a broad customer base, but we see young and female players are increasing these days. They are obviously inspired by the popular animation movie, 'K-ON (Light Music)'. Our sales staff explains them features of individual models listening to their requirements and purchasing plans. 

"Synthesizers largely come in white, black or silver bodies. They can be more eye-catching with different colors. We also expect Yamaha keytar revives. The keytar will increase choice for customers that will expand the synth market as a whole. With new attractive models joined, we are expecting the synth business very much in the coming season."

Keigo Kurabayashi, Shibuya Store, Musicland Key, Tokyo
"Yamaha synthesizers are much favored for high quality acoustic instruments voices including piano, wind and string instruments, and guitar. Demands for the middle class MOX are also high as it offers rich arpeggiator patterns. 

"Customers get excited to experience functions and controls of Roland products at us. They likely to find instruments matched to their requirements while comparing one model to another because individual products are designed under clear concepts. 

"Korg synths have won reputation for their intricate sound making. Packaging voices of the legendary Korg synths in a single body, KRONOS has become an instant hit. We have sold out the first shipment only in advanced orders.

"Musical taste of customers and their needs have greatly diversified in the recent years. Customers have access to almost unlimited information on the Internet, but are unable to get solution, for example, integration of hardware and software. Music store has an advantage giving customers consultation services by skilled sales staff on the sales floor. Also, free seminars we organize once or twice a month at the store inviting specialists from manufacturers make difference."

Shigeyuki Takahashi, Musicvox Akihabara, Tokyo
"KRONOS and JUPITER-80 are apparently contributing to attract attention of musicians. Advanced orders piled up for KRONOS in particular, and a sizable number of customers visited us to experience the instrument themselves. 

"We display high-end models of synths from the leading manufacturers at the front of the sales floor so that our customers can try and compare them.

"The recent trend is first time and female players are showing up at us. Many of them are interested in synthesizer. Female players prefer the light-weight models easy to carry around. Yamaha MOX is quite popular among the mid-priced synths. The stand-alone instrument with MOTIF XS-quality sound and perfect PC connectivity is recommendable to players of all levels. It supports step recording as well which is appreciated by seasoned musicians.

"It seems that we see no further technological break-through for synthesizer in terms of functions and voice quality. Recent popularity for Teenage Engineering OP-1 explains that musicians are fascinated by unique, fun features. Synth market will expand as new models featuring characteristic and different approaches are introduced."  

Jyun Takahara, Shinsaibashi Store, Miki Gakki, Osaka
"Female users like to buy easy to carry entry-level synthesizers these days. Roland JUNO series models are their favorite choice. Bands are likely to feature synthesizer again. The great earthquake in Northern Japan in March caused problem in inventory purchase at us, and some models are missing from our shelf. Yamaha MOX has been enthusiastically supported by customers from beginners to MOTIF users with substantial musical experience. It sells out immediately.

"I think the inexpensive synthesizer software applications widely distributed in the market may simply confuse entry-level users. They largely provide modeling sounds. We expect that those users turn to hardware synthesizer as they find real value in making music. All in all, it's good for music stores that synthesizer is highlighted again."             


Casio Digital Pianos

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PX-735 ¥88,000
PX-135 ¥63,000
Two new models joined the stylish Privia digital piano line. Inheriting Linear Morphing AIF sound engine and other features from the predecessor models, they provide 5 expanded piano voices for more versatile music performance. (photos above: PX-735 Oakwood type and whitewood type models)

In addition to the basic Modern, Classic and Variation grand piano voices, they feature colorful Bright voice suitable for pop music, and warm and deep Mellow voice matched to standard jazz.

The 88-note Tri-sensor Scaled Hammer Action Keyboard elaborately captures the player's feeling and expression.

The PX-735 features a sliding type fall board, 3 pedals, and 3 finishes of Blackwood type, Whitewood type and Oakwood type cabinets are available. While, the compact PX-135 is finished either in Pearl Black type or Cool White type. (photo right: PX-135 Pearl Black type)

Rich functions include meticulously positioned speakers so that the sound is generated from entire cabinet, acoustic resonance system which provides resonant effect of damper pedal, Duet function and 60 music libraries for practice.

Both models in sleek design with red felt under the keys like acoustic piano look great in living room.     

Further information is available from:           

Yamaha Flutes

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YFL-8x7D Ideal Silver, drowned tone holes ¥600,000 and up
YFL-8x7 Ideal Silver, soldered tone holes ¥780,000 and up 
YFL-9x7 Ideal, 14-karat gold, brazed tone holes ¥2,450,000 and up
Yamaha has refined YFL-8x4 Series hand-made flutes which have been distributed for more than 20 years since 1992. The new models developed with help of   András Adorján, former principal for Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks feature wider dynamic range, deep tonal color and delicate sounds. 

Newly developed Type A headjoint is characterized for its wider dynamic range and clear sound even at pianissimo. The gold headjoint with thicker tube wall produces deep resonant sound at fortissimo. (photos: YFL-897 top, and YFL-997CH)

Those models with soldered or brazed tone holes are designed slightly heavier employing fat undercut tone holes for colorful sound, resonance, wider dynamic range, massive tonal volume and excellent open sound to carry over the sound of full symphony orchestra.  
The new keys are designed much sturdier with carved heavier key cups for full sound. The inside of the keys are made flat for increased stability of the pads that keeps fine conditions of the instrument. The Straubinger pads provide clear and agile response, and maximum level of resonance with advanced air-tight structure.

They bear the hand-carved product name, Ideal , worthy of flagship models.

The silver models are finished with no plating to achieve open sound, and either drone or soldered tone hole models are available. While, the gold models made of 14-karat gold including special metal components are characterized for warm tonal color. There are 3 selections of brazed model. Each model comes with selections of covered keys with E mechanism, offset ring keys with E mechanism, in-line ring keys, in-line ring keys with E mechanism (pinless left hand key system), and C and H footjoints. Matched case and case pouch are standard.

Further information is available from:

Yamaha Electronic Drums

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DTX540K ¥178,000 (photos from top to bottom)
DTX520K ¥130,000
DTX500K ¥114,000
The Yamaha DTX series electronic drums have two new cost-efficient models equipped with a DTX-PAD which is standard to DTX950K and DTX900K flagship models introduced in March last year, and one model featuring rubber pads and compact rack system.

The DTX-PAD employs a Textured Cellular Silicon (TCS) head made of special composite material on the striking surface to achieve natural play feel much praised by drummers, improved stability and durability.

The DTX540K and DTX520K have a 3-zone XP80 snare drum with 2 open and closed rim shots zones. The DTX540K also has XP70 monaural pad toms with improved stick feel.

The DTX540K and DTX520K have new 2-/3-zone PCY100 hi-hat and crush pads. They work as a hi-hat capable of producing bow and edge voices or crash cymbal providing bow, edge and cup voices, and even chalk sounds, by controlling the cup switch.

The DTX500K standard model features a set of pads and rack of the established DTXPLORER, and a foot pedal.

The heart of these models is the DTX500 drum trigger module that provides 427 authentic sounds of acoustic drums, percussion and effect voices. They also offer 50 preset drumkit voices for versatile music styles.

Other features include metronome function with detailed settings of click and pitch, Groove Check, Rhythm Gate and Major Break functions for rhythm training, 41 music libraries for practice, Minus One function which mutes drum part and Bass Solo function to playback only bass sounds.

An AUX In jack is provided for session play with music player.

Further information is available from:

Morris Acoustic Guitar

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M-80 Ltd.
In response to calls for M-LTD/W-LTD which were introduced in limited units last year, Moridaira has just unveiled M-80 Ltd. Only 48 units will be distributed.

While retaining established quality standard of hand-made guitars built in Japan, it has realized attractive suggested retail price under \100,000 by eliminating unnecessary frills.

It features solid Sitka spruce top, solid mahogany sides & back, scalloped X bracing, mahogany neck, rosewood fingerboard and bridge, and cow bone nuts and saddle.

It's finished in Glossy Clear, and comes with a matched soft case.

Further information is available from:

Aria Muntjac Chamois

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ML-480 ¥4,800
Using highest quality muntjac chamois meticulously tanned in Japan, it's recommended for various instruments including lacquered, varnished and vintage models.

The 0.0000015mm micro fibers effectively and smoothly clean surface of musical instruments. Natural collagen contained in the muntjac chamois gives instruments smoothness and luster. It can be placed in instrument case as well since the material has excellent moisture level control capability. It also removes chlorine from instrument strings to prevent corrosion and discoloration.

It comes in 300mm wide and 300mm long size. Finished in black, it helps guitarists to securely hold their instruments against body in performance.

Further information is available from: