I have bought myself a Yamaha PSR S775 as an early christmas present. (But really for starting up a functions duo). This is the flagship “arranger” keyboard that has lots of realistic voices, auto accompaniment, USB interface, MIDI record/play and MP3 record/play.
I decided to buy this keyboard to replace the defunct BK7M (spit!!) and upgrade from an earlier Yamaha arranger keyboard that I bought in 1993. (and still works!!) The PSR 6000 was very good at the time and I used it successfully in a functions duo (keyboard/vocals, guitar/vocals). It unfortunately had a floppy disk drive to save and restore registrations and there was not enough memory to hold everything required for a gig. This meant that there was a frantic swapping of floppy disks during the gig.
Now, with a 25 year interval, you would have thought that the latest keyboard would be best in all respects, but it is not necessarily the case …..
Here are my Pros and Cons :-
- Obviously with better technology there is more memory, more and better voices and everything can be stored on a USB stick. [+]
- The S775 buttons are much smaller and spongier. There is too much use of LEDs behind the buttons so it looks like a christmas tree. The PSR6000 had nice thumb wheels to change parameters whereas the S775 has fiddly up/down buttons. The PSR775 parameter selection wheel has a really cheap feel to it. [-]
- The PSR6000 has nice rounded corners, looks more robust and is more appealing to look at. There is more space used for the controls. [-]
- The PSRS775 has two “live control” knobs to adjust effects on the fly. [+]
- The auto accompany function and styles has not really changed at all. The S775 can store a lot more styles.
- The keyboard size and touch is identical.
- The pitch change and modulation wheels on the S775 are not as good as the PSR6000. [-]
- I think that the layout and ergonomics are better on the PSR6000. [-]
- The music stand is the most cheap and nasty thing ever. Obviously just an after thought. [-]
Overall the technology has improved, but little consideration has been paid to ergonomics and style !!
Anyhow the keyboard sounds as cheesy as its predecessor and you soon get tired of the novelty of the styles. However, it is ideal for the function gig either as a one man band or a duo.
It didn’t take me long to hook up my Yamaha P120 electronic piano using a midi cable in order to provide a wider and touch weighted keyboard.
It didn’t take me long also to realise that a “MIDI mate” would allow me to have two keyboard setups with different sounds. So I have written some firmware for my “MIDI mate” that allows me to some nifty functions by simply pressing keys on the keypad.
Midi Mate with keypad
The MIDI mate is connected in between the Piano and the S775 using standard MIDI cables. No battery or power is required, as it is able to obtain a small amount of power from the MIDI interface. The next picture shows the insides. I have used my AK47M pcb. You can see it is sparsly populated with one microcontroller chip a capacitor and 5 resistors.
The next picture shows my keyboard setup with the “Midi Mate” in place. There is also a screenshot of the MIDI configuration required on the PSR S775 :-
The nifty functions are as follows :-
- Press the “#” key and the piano keyboard duplicates the PSR S775 keyboard.
- Press the “*” key and the entire piano keyboard is independent to the S775 keyboard.
- Press keys “1” to “9” and a right hand voice is selected independent to the S775 keyboard. e.g 1=piano 4=strings 5=jazz organ. The piano keyboard is split so that the left hand can control the auto accompany.
- Press key “0” followed by two digit number to select a voice as in (3). The voice is stored for key press “9”. Press key “0” three times to double up last two voice selections.
Function “4” may change as I explore what works.
This works really well by having a basic pallette of solo instruments on the piano keyboard and being able to swap quickly without any fiddling about. It also means I have a decent keyboard to play and plenty of space for the auto accompany left hand.
I mentioned the music stand was tacky – well this is what I meant ……
The Real book causes it to wobble like a demented penguin.