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Microphone Month 2

Yamaha S90 XS 88-key Master Keyboard Reviews

4.5 stars based on 17 customer reviews
  • from Arizona May 20, 2016Music Background:
    Professional recording artist

    Seems Like Old Times

    I wrote one of the previous reviews. It's been a few years and i had to sell my last S90XS due to unfortunate circumstances. I've gone through a lot of other keyboards since...and many have been great such as the Kurzweil PC3A8, among others. But in retrospect, I was always more productive with this board, and I feel this is an important and often overlooked component to what makes a keyboard great. So I just recently bought another new one from Sweetwater. It should arrive in a few days...I can't wait to get back to work - it will certainly seem like old times :-) I suspect this board won't be around too much longer since its been a few years since its release and now Yamaha is coming out with the Montage series...but who knows, they never let you know when they're making a change. If you want one, I suggest not waiting too long or you might be out of luck.
    -best

  • from Tallahassee, FL February 4, 2015Music Background:
    Music minister, studio musician, music teacher

    Totally Satisfied

    This board is everything I wanted in a weighted keyboard. The action is great, the sound library is wonderful, and although I'm not using it as a road instrument (it stays pretty stationary in the production studio), the portability is an improvement over the RD-500 it replaced. I absolutely love it!!

  • from June 21, 2014Music Background:
    Long time solo, session and band keyboardist.

    Need a PHD for this instrument

    I thought long and hard about this purchase. I have an older synth, my favourite piano (a P30) and Hammond's XK2. For the best piano and tone-wheel sounds, the S90 doesn't come close to either: I thought it would. I knew it was heavy to lug around, but I thought it would be worth it for the arps and voices... but I'm unhappy with the S90XS.
    Part of the problem is that the documentation is horrible. Horrible.
    Another issue is that most voices need stereo, even the pianos, to sound right. And stereo is not always or even usually an option with band gigs.
    For solo gigs I thought I'd use some of the features of this board more than I do - again lack of documentation.
    For multi's and other 'pre-sets' If you find something pre-set that works for a tune, then great - but try to edit or build one and you are on your own.
    I'm overall disappointed and wish I'd gone with a pure synth (lighter, not weighted keys) as I still take my piano and organ to gigs - now I take this too :(.
    Multi-purpose boards like this never seem to match sinlge-purpose boards, it seems.
    I really think better docs would make me happier as I know there is lots I don't know about this board.

  • from United States February 25, 2014

    100% Satisfaction!

    Easy to navigate through, an incredible bank of sounds to choose from, and the quality that is expected from Yamaha. Could not be more happy with the decision to purchase this keyboard.

  • from Milford, MA February 18, 2014Music Background:
    Pro Musician, Recording artist, Worship leader

    GREAT value

    The Motif XS engine - a HUGE collection of usefulness - is made live-friendly with this keyboard. You give up the color display with its larger real estate but gain playable controls that allow for wonderful phrasing, inter-verse variation and just very cool and powerful real-time options. I feel like I've only delved into about half of what it can do but it's already more than I need. Fabulous design, straight up.

  • from Kansas, USA November 21, 2012Music Background:
    Pro Musician

    Amazing set of keys

    This synthesizer feels amazing to play! If you are used to playing piano, you will likely appreciate the feel. With weighted keys, playing feels natural, and, in my opinion, better then many stand up pianos I have played.

    The sound quality is superb. There are wonderful piano patches that sound absolutely authentic, to me. The fantastic variety of voices is great, and they sound quality.

    The UI is reasonably poor, in my opinion, but after you get used to it, and figure it out, one thinks nothing of it. It seems to handle performances very well, and one can quickly change setups with just a button press or two. One inconvenient thing is you have to move the slider to the default volume setting then change the volume. For example, if you change to Performance mode, all the sliders will have default volumes, and if you desire to change that, you must move the slider to that position before it registers movement. So if I had a synth pad at a default volume of 50, but wanted to change it to 100, I would have to move it to 50 first (no matter if the slider was all the way down or up) then change it. Not a big deal, just something to cope with.

    One thing to mention. If you plan to get a hard shell case, this keyboard is taller then most, and I actually ended up purchasing a custom case (in the $400-$500 range) as the only other stock case that would fit it was over $500. It is possible there are soft cases that would fit it better.

    To keep things more brief, I mostly mentioned the things that could be improved slightly. This is an AMAZING instrument. It is extremely powerful, realistic, and fun to play. Absolutely fantastic product!

  • from November 12, 2012Music Background:
    Former bar band rocker turned home Jazz studio hopeful.

    Simply Amazing

    I have purchased a lot of gear over the past few decades and I can say - by far- that the S90xs is one of the most amazing pieces I have purchased. The vast array of high quality voices, the integration of arpeggios, and I also had it quickly up and running to control my DAW (in my case, Logic Pro).

    I demoed the S90 to some friends and it always is a jaw dropping experience.

    This synth takes some study to get the most out of - and I am still discovering more - endless array of possibilities.

    One other thing to note is the feel of the action. It's the smoothest feeling weighted keys I have ever put my hands on.

  • from Orchardville, IL. USA September 14, 2012Music Background:
    Church Worship Director

    Yamaha s90 XS

    Three different players play this at our church and they all fell right in and felt very comfortable after just a little training they all could navigate and find what they were looking for on it. The keyboard sounds great. We have two of these now at two different branches at our church and everyone seems to like it very much.

  • from N California September 11, 2012Music Background:
    pro recording artist

    The best so far...

    After having owned three generations of Roland RD700s, with great trepidation I sold my Roland RD700GX to get this Yamaha S90XS and I have no reason to look back. It is a wonderful musical instrument! A joy to play and explore! I'm real finicky about my sound and loved the Pha III keyboard on the Roland but was looking to make a change to explore new things. There is a great debate between whether this is better or a step back from the S90ES model. Although it is subjective and I respect the opinions of others my take on it is that this is a step up. I'm referring to the piano voices available among many other things - all of which i consider to be improvements. I've recorded with the ES and having played it extensively I can say that, in my opinion, this board is a distinct improvement. The piano tones are more balanced and richer in their ability to convey nuance and dynamics without becoming harsh. This was a problem I kept encountering with the ES in the studio - too brittle. Depending on your needs, if you're looking for a great professional stage piano I suspect you'll be very happy with this Yamaha S90XS.

  • from Burlington, NC USA December 1, 2011Music Background:
    music student, worship leader

    Amazing!

    This keyboard makes playing enjoyable. It is somewhat a pain to transport so it isn't good to move around a lot but when I'm on stage it really delivers. Very heavy but such good quality! If you are serious about playing, this is a good set of keys.

  • from Temple TX August 16, 2011Music Background:
    Singer/Songwriter Rock infused praise and intimate worship.

    Great Keyboard

    I love this keyboard! It feels great, and the interface is pretty simple. The sounds on it are fabulous, especially the piano's. I use it in a praise and worship setting at our church and I was told that this is the keyboard to get for that purpose. They were right. This is a great instrument!

  • from Decatur Il August 19, 2010Music Background:
    Performer, composer, producer

    Really great instrument!!!

    I bought my first synth in about 1990 and have owned at least a dozen since. I also played piano for ten years before that. I've had this unit for about 5 days. It is really nice. I just recently sold a Fantom Xa, XP-30, Korg X-50, and a Yamaha AN1x. Now I have only this board and I can pretty much get any sounds I had before out of just this one board. It is a great sounding synth but the pianos are the best I have ever played in hardware. In fact, I own software pianos that aren't as nice or versatile as this board. They sound great and there are several of different styles. None of them are bad and the good ones are pretty much great.

    I have been in a cover band for the past three years that plays a lot of 80 pop and I am also a huge Van Halen fan of the synth-era stuff. I immediately prgrammed sounds for Love Walks in, 1984, Jump, Subdivisions, Tom Sawyer, etc. No real problems getting all the tones I want and I am a tone snob when it comes to programming. THese versions I have made have lots of sweet punch and sizzle. Love it!

    So why 4.5 stars instead of 5. Well, two reasons and this may or may not bother you. For one, the deepest patch editing (element level) has to be done through the VST editor. Not a big deal for me because I keep my baord right there at my PC anyway as my main controller. You can edit quite a few things without but I like to be able to fully dig in when I want to. For two, as great as the arpeggiators are and all of the 6000+ patterns, they are not programmable...... at all. Not from the board and not in the editor. There is one song, "Hella Good" by No Doubt, where I need a really standard little step sequence of 3 notes and a rest. Nope, cant do it. This is the only thing that I am having a hard time dealing with. Otherwise, I am totally satisfied with the tone and my ability to make about any sound I would ever want.

    Bottom line, I love it. I dont think I've ever had my fingers feel so connected to the sounds that they are triggering. The action is sort of buttery smooth. Love it love it love it!!!

  • from Ontario Canada May 6, 2010Music Background:
    recording and live performance.

    HAPPY HAPPY JOY JOY

    The musicality of this board is amazing............its easy to sound great.
    People tell me i sound like a whole band live.
    I would like to see the ability to make or import your own beats n grooves and drum patterns
    The only thing I dont like is scolling through 6000 arpegios... its pain staking.........other than that its a joy to use. I use this through QSC K12s and a PRESONUS STUDIO LIVE......... its sounds stellar

  • from MI December 16, 2009Music Background:
    Home Recording - Beginner

    s90XS

    This is an exceptional piece of equipment. At this price you can't do better. Put a software sequencer to it and you have pretty much everything the Motif has. The sounds are great, the feeling on the keys quite piano-like. I am no expert at this, and there is a lot to learn, but I have every intention of keeping this instrument around for a while.

  • from Boston, MA USA November 12, 2009Music Background:
    Keyboardist, Organist, Recording Engineer, Student - Berklee College of Music

    Want a Motif XS8? Think about the S90 XS!

    This is a great piece of equipment. Not only is it much lighter than its big brother (Yamaha Motif XS8,) it features the Yamaha S6 Grands, and has a great user interface. I upgraded from a Roland Fantom X8, and am loving this keyboard!

  • from Castaic, CA October 26, 2009

    Amazing!

    This synthesizer is one powerful piece of equipment. The action and sound quality are exceptional!

  • from Indianapolis, IN USA October 21, 2009Music Background:
    Music Director/Instructor

    Amazing!

    An outstanding keyboard. All the sounds of the Motif XS8 plus audio record/and playback. Amazing piano samples(Natural Grand). This would be a perfect fit for a worship/church setting. Thanks Yamaha and Sweetwater.

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