Hands-On Review:A complete accompaniment and production tool
Yamaha has a strong track record in creating music production devices. A whole series of QYs have been serving as outlets for musical creativity for years, and now, with the QY100, Yamaha has added new features that bring more versatility, depth, and sound quality to the QY series. This new QY is more powerful, more fun—a more complete music-making machine.
It can serve as an inspiring accompaniment for singers, guitarists, or other instrumentalists. For songwriters, it can serve as a sophisticated and versatile, yet easy-to-use tool for capturing and working out new song ideas. The QY100 is also a complete music production tool capable of creating music of remarkable quality. It can be used in conjunction with a MIDI controller, or linked into a Mac or PC computer. Yet it is small, highly portable, and self-contained, so you can write songs and create music anywhere, anytime.
It takes a little while to get a handle on the QY100, but the manual is excellent. It talks you through the controls in an orderly fashion. ?Try This? sections are provided along the way so you get hands-on learning. Eventually you get to the built-in demo songs designed to show you what it can do. In short, I was blown away. These are tracks put together by experts to show you where you can go with this unit.
Quick, easy, eight-track sequencer
As an accompaniment device, it provides an eight-track sequencer with an extensive database of more than 4,000 phrases, 128 preset styles, and 99 chord templates or progressions, covering many songs you're already familiar with. To create a backup track, you just select a chord pattern, select the key and the style, and use the library of phrases to create great backup tracks for you to play or sing along with. Once you get the hang of it, this can be done quickly. No programming required. Then you plug in a mic, guitar, or your MIDI keyboard, and play or sing along with the tracks and mix or match them for nearly limitless combinations.
To make your practicing even more fun and satisfying, the QY100 also contains a guitar amp simulator for dialing up killer guitar tones and a mic pre-amp simulator for smooth, full vocal sounds. For guitar it offers presets to use as-is or you can tweak them, adjusting the gain and parameters in a pre-amp block, chorus block, and reverb block. Vocals can be adjusted by changing reverb and delay parameters. A chorus block also lets you thicken up vocals.
If you're out in the boonies somewhere and don't have an axe with you, you can play live parts along with the tracks on its mini keyboard. Though small, the keyboard is a larger one than those on previous models (two octaves with octave up and down shift). It is also polyphonic so you can play harmonies or chords. It's especially handy for recording song ideas quickly without having to set up other equipment.
With the QY100, you have more than just a sophisticated accompaniment and sketch pad. It also can be used for creating more complex compositions. In addition to its eight-track accompaniment sequencer, it has a 16-track linear sequencer that allows more sophisticated music creation.You can use the 547 voices and 22 drum kits, edit them extensively, and mix or match them for nearly limitless combinations. The demos show you the impressive possibilities, and it's 16-bit CD quality all the way.
The step-sequencing process is somewhat more complicated. There's a learning curve, but if you're committed to your music, you'll have it wired in short order. The instructions walk you through every stage, and as you become more familiar with the machine, the process gets easier. In time you'll find it easy to turn your musical ideas into something you can listen to and develop further.
If you need connections
Other features make it even more powerful for music production. It can be connected to a MIDI controller, so you can play in parts on a full-sized keyboard, and to a computer (either PC or Mac). It comes with QY Data Filer software that allows you to import and store data from the QY100 onto your computer. Connected to a computer, the screen also gets a lot bigger. There's a Smartmedia data card slot so you can download your creations once you're finished.
The QY100 doesn't record vocal and guitar tracks. If it did, it would be a full-blown digital studio and would cost a lot more. It can make complete, full-blown recordings as long as they only use its internal voices, but for recordings with vocals, acoustic instruments, and guitar, you need to involve other recording equipment. You can use the QY100 for its effects and simulations, recording live through it to whatever setup you have. If that recording setup is 16-bit digital, you end up with a CD-quality product. Even if it's only a two-track cassette recorder, you can come up with very credible results. For composing and practicing, the QY100 is without equal among the many devices created for these purposes.
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