REVIEWED: YAMAHA GENOS DIGITAL WORKSTATION

Yamaha Music Australia | au.yamaha.com | Expect To Pay: $6999

Yamaha’s Tyros5 Workstation was designed as the ultimate performance keyboard, but Yamaha keeps redefining what they mean by ultimate. So meet Genos - the next generation in digital workstations. Now, Tyros could be quite an investment, and Genos is very much up there in terms of cost too, but from the second you sit down behind one, you’re going to get the feeling that not a cent of your cash has been wasted. The very first impression you’ll get is that this is a serious, pro-level piece of kit that takes what made Tyros great and reimagines it.

For starters, every voice is enhanced beyond even the previously incredible Tyros sound quality. Yamaha’s ARM (Articulation Element Modeling) technology appropriate samples in real time according to what and how you play, getting you closer than ever to sonic realism. There are 1,750 instrument sounds, including a huge amount of variation on particular instruments, and over 500 backing patterns that come in equally handy whether you’re building a new song or looking for an appropriate feel for an existing one you’ve been called on to cover at a moments’ notice. There’s also a newly sampled C7 Grand Piano voice and Revo!Drum/SFX, which intelligently varies the nuance even when playing the same key multiple times, a crucial element to giving your keyboard-originating percussion performances a sense of realism.

 

It’s natural that any new evolution of digital technology will have better sounds than what came before. One of the most important updates in this case is a comprehensive touch screen which is easy to see, easy to navigate, and easy to operate (and the serene scenes that it displays along with various song styles are kind of hilarious in a cute way). Compared to Tyros, the nine Live Control faders are moved away from underneath the main screen and now have their own individual VGA LCD displays above each slider, updating in real time as you change functions or settings. Taking this function away from the main screen really helps to unclutter the interface. There’s also a new joystick which operates in both up/down and left/right modes, giving you much more lifelike pitch and vibrato control over glissando and fretted instrument effects.

 

Speaking of uncluttering, a Genos speaker system is available, with a subwoofer and two high frequency drivers. The subwoofer attaches to Genos via a single cord, and the drivers attach to Genos and are then plugged into jacks just behind where they’re mounting. It’s incredibly neat, and the speakers have incredible clarity, stereo imaging, and depth of field.

 

This is only the tip of the iceberg. Yamaha Expansion Manager lets you install and arrange expansion packs with new sounds, styles SongBook+ music library apps, and MEGAEnhancer to convert standard MIDI files to song data optimised for Genos (and it automatically extrapolates authentic guitar and bass sounds). Knowing Yamaha, the expansion possibilities aren’t going to stop there. This is the ultimate, state-of-the-art workstation for songwriting, producing and performing, and it'll be a long time before even Yamaha can top this one.

Hits and Misses

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Incredibly lifelike sounds

Super-useful touch screen

More ‘in the moment’-friendly layout

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Costs more than many used cars

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