Hands-On Review:MO6 and MO8 Keyboards

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Seductive MOTIF sounds for the masses

By Mike Fitch


Seductive MOTIF sounds for the masses

Yamaha's MOTIF ES synthesizers dazzled with a huge collection of killer sounds, super-realistic "Mega Voices," and a contemporary phrase-based approach to sequencing. Yamaha's new MO6 and MO8 keyboards retain the MOTIFs' vaunted sounds and much of the sequencing firepower in slimmed-down designs that offer keyboard players on a budget very attractive options. The 61-key MO6 and the 88-key MO8 keyboards both contain the entire MOTIF sound ROM. The MO8 borrows its keyboard design from the Yamaha S90. The sound set has been upgraded with the latest cutting-edge voices. Powerful composition tools and the ability to seamlessly fit into computer-based music systems make them perfect for players and composers who are looking for a set of keys that will handle both composing and live performance.


Computer spoken here


The MO Series integrates easily with computers more quickly and easily, saving your creative energy for the fun stuff – like making music.


Global templates let you configure the keyboard to work with popular sequencing software. MO is compatible with Studio Connections, a standard that Steinberg and Yamaha evolved to allow the hardware and software in your studio to communicate with each other. Studio Connections includes Total Recall, which remembers the settings of all your gear when you save a given song in applications like Cubase SX and Nuendo and returns these settings to their saved state when you open the song again.


Studio Connections also includes a remote control function that lets you control your sequencer software from the MO, or control your MO like a virtual synthesizer plug-in from your software. This allows you to specify parameters on your MO keyboard such as audio connections, driver settings, and MIDI port settings from within your software.


Savvy songwriting


Tools abound to assist you in writing and arranging tunes. The phrase-based song sequencer includes 700 preset phrases to chain together and use as you please with plenty of room to create and store your own phrases.


Yamaha M06
Yamaha M06 Synth

The arpeggiator includes over 1,700 preset rhythm patterns with room to store 256 of your own. When used with drum or percussion patches, the arpeggiator patterns create intriguing and unusual rhythms. Remix controls allow you to totally customize the patterns for a more human, flowing feel – a subtle effect that makes a big difference in the finished work.


Master Mode lets you control a fleet of outboard gear from the MO. The keyboard can be split into independent zones, switching between Voice/Performance and Song/Pattern modes for live use. 32 mixing templates allow you to capture and save various combinations of voice assignments, levels, effects, and more for recall later.


Sound and fury


Yamaha M08
Yamaha M08 Synth

The MO workstations hold a whopping 175MB of sound, including 1,859 waveforms. All this sound power is distilled into 512 presets plus 64 drum sets with an additional set of GM voices and drums. The sounds can be shaped with precision filters that are controlled in real time with knobs. An extensive, high-quality effects bank includes reverb, chorus, EQ, master, and three insertion blocks.


A number of "Mega Voice" guitar and bass patches inherited from the MOTIF Series feature expressive nuances like hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides, fret noise, and other effects for a heightened sense of realism. The 88-key MO8 features Balanced Hammer action, a technology based on Yamaha's acoustic piano designs that feels and responds like a real acoustic grand.


On the road & in the studio


If you're into computer-based recording, the MO's sequencing and remote capabilities make them a particularly appealing choice. And though they're packed with songwriting tools, these keyboards are sleek and lightweight, making them ideal for live performance. If you've ever wanted to trigger sequences, phrases, loops, or songs on the fly during gigs, the MO is right up your alley. Tapping into the power of some of Yamaha's most celebrated synth technology just got a lot more affordable.


Features & Specs:




  • MO8: 88 keys, Balanced Hammer action
  • MO6: 61 keys, LC Keyboard
  • Tone Generator: AWM2
  • 64-note Polyphony
  • Multitimbrality: 16 parts
  • Wave ROM: 175MB (16-bit linear)
  • 1,859 waveforms
  • Voices: 512 presets + 64 drum kits
  • GM: 128 presets + 1 drum kit
  • User presets: 256


Filters & effects:


  • 18 filters
  • 20 reverbs
  • 49 chorus
  • Insertion (A, B) x 116 types x 3 blocks
  • 8 master effects
  • Master 5-band EQ
  • 3-band part EQ
  • Approx. 226,000-note capacity
  • Note resolution: 480 ppq


Recording tracks:


  • Pattern: 16 phrase tracks
  • Song mode: 16 sequence tracks
  • Preset phrases: 687 phrases
  • User phrases: 256 per pattern




  • 64 songs, Mixing voices: 16 per pattern (256 maximum)
  • Mixing templates: 32




  • 1,787 presets
  • 256 user
  • MO6: 3'4"W x 4"H x 1'4"D 23 lbs.
  • MO8: 4'6"W x 6-1/2"H x1'4"D x 46 lbs.




Yamaha's awesome MOTIF sounds are now within your reach. Order an MO6 or MO8 today!