does the job
Our garage band needed a new portable keyboard. We couldn’t afford a “flagship” $3000 keyboard, although I was intrigued by the Nords. A lot of internet surfing led me to little consensus about “value” keyboards. Some like Rolands, some hate ‘em, some like Korgs & some hate ‘em, and the same with Yamahas.
All we wanted was something with good voices and decent keybed that is easy to use for rehearsals and performances. Yamaha’s MOX series seemed overpriced, so I was considering shelling out $500 for a Yamaha MM6, a plastic box junior synth, when the MX49 and MX61 came out at the winter trade shows. It looked like a budget MOX, with similar voices, sound engine and specs. The synth purists heaped scorn, saying the MXs aren’t “true” synths, but we will probably never even use this thing’s USB port, or use the supplied Cubase software. We wanted self-contained and minimal fuss.
In this price range I can live with the plastic unibody – you’re just not going to get the bomb-proof roadworthiness of the pro models. With the MX series Yamaha made some unfortunate aesthetic choices that needlessly enhance the cheesiness, specifically the crudity of the plastic knobs and wheels. It won’t affect the functionality, but for a few cents the tactile/visual experience could have been notably improved. I’m thinking of gluing on a wooden strip to reinforce the fragile-seeming lip beneath the keybed.
Nancy, our lead keyboardist, normally prefers to play our acoustic piano, but pronounced the MX61’s keybed fast and “fun to play.”
It will take a while to preview 1000 voices, but in a few sessions we found plenty that we liked, including piano, electric piano and organ, which critics are fussiest about. More than enough choices for a garage band – some voices obviously make more use of the 128 note polyphony. We’re playing it through four PA cabs with 15” woofers, and the synth voices rock the house. The MX series invites you to tweak and mix and match to create your own user-saved voices, “performances,” that are added to the menu. To do this I have many pages of manual yet to plow through, the same with the arpeggios.
Wish we could have done hands-on comparisons with competing keyboards, but we live in the boonies. As far as living up to our expectations, we give the MX a solid four stars. I’ll reserve the five stars for when they come out with a pure, idiot-proof stage synth that just junks the DAW components altogether in favor of a little sturdier build.