Reviewed: Vox Continental

Yamaha Australia | au.yamaha.com | Expect To Pay: 61 Key - $2499, 73 Key - $2699

Unlike so many other keyboards that use the same controls to handle all the functions, the VOX Continental is designed with separate control sections for each of its four modes, and as a musician this is something that really helps you get into the right headspace for each musical situation you’ll find yourself in. It’s like having four separate keyboards for four totally different purposes.

The Continental is available in 61 and 73-key versions, each of which has the same brain loaded with about 10.5 GB of sounds. There are four main sound options: Organ (with CX-3, VOX and Compact modes), E.Piano (Tine, Reed and FM modes), Piano (Grand, Upright and E.Grand) and Key/Layer (Key, Brass, Strings, Lead, Synth, Other). The mode you select determines which control bank is active, so in Organ mode you have access to touch-sensitive illuminated drawbar controls. Switch to E.Piano or Piano mode and these lights go off because you don’t need them, while in Key/Layer mode they become various sound controls. The bend lever also does something different depending on which mode you select: in Organ mode it’s a Rotary slow/fast control, in E.Piano mode it’s Tremolo on/off, and in Key/Layer mode it’s your pitch bend. And since pianos don’t have bend levers, it’s not active at all in piano mode.

 

There are various master delay and reverb effects, an insert-effects bank with chorus, phaser, flanger, compressor, drive and wah, a nine-band EQ, a dynamics knob, and perhaps most exciting of all, a Nutube 6P1 vacuum tube. This new technology is a vacuum tube that looks like some kind of a chip, but functions just like a real preamp tube. It’s been employed to great effect in various VOX amps, and in the case of the Continental you can use it to add warmth and to sprinkle harmonic fairy dust over your sounds.

 

In their marketing, VOX says, “The VOX Continental uses a simple and intuitive interface that allows quick accessibility of every function. The high-quality sound engine section is centred on organ, electric piano, and acoustic piano, and provides a wealth of stage-ready sounds.” What they should say is “Dude, y’know how an iPad ‘becomes’ whichever app you’re using at the time? Well depending on which button you push, the Continental is either your grandma’s church organ, an electric piano with a glass of whiskey and an ashtray sitting on the top while a mysterious middle-aged guy in a suit plays Steely Dan songs in a dark club til 3am, a beautiful acoustic piano in an auditorium, or a rad synth.” It’s geared towards great sounds that are easily accessible, and the Nutube really helps to sell the illusion that you’re playing a real organ, electric piano or analogue synth.

Hits and Misses

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Genius user interface design

Incredible organ sounds

Nutube adds a whole new layer of mojo

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None. It’s perfect and this reviewer misses it already

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