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  • #46
    The "Rock of the 80s" performance features a wa-wa guitar solo over drums, bass, and rhythm guitar. The trill effects are from working the ribbon controller; the rest of the pitch changes are from the pitch wheel.

    "Body Pumping" is more of a fusion-oriented piece. It also has a really cool guitar sound. Incidentally, those harmonic effects are not something I had to add; they're built in to the patch.

    "80s Young Gun" should probably be called "Hair Band Meets Van Halen." This has arpeggiated drums, bass, and rhythm guitar; I played the OB8-ish keyboard part over it.
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    • #47
      "East Sider" really makes me wish the bit rate was higher, the high end on the XS6 is great and it doesn't come through here. Check out the almost Kraftwerk-like lead line, reminds me of the sound in "Neon Lights" (then again, there always was a connection between Kraftwerk and hip hop).

      "Coastal" has a pretty typical rhythm section, with a funky little guitar part and a sort of "flute filigree" going on over it.

      I couldn't resist putting an Eminem-type clav/harpsi part in the "Hip Hop Girl" performance. It wouldn't surprise me if you hear some of these XS6 performances lifted direct into commercials and who knows, maybe even some hit records.

      BTW if anyone wants some higher-res versions of particular sounds, let me know. I can run them in mono and use shorter examples to keep the bit rate up.
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      • #48
        The XS6 is excellent at creating long, evocative sounds that evolve over time. I call this "cinematic" for reasons you'll understand when you listen to the files

        "Abyss of the Sea" is taken from about 2 minutes of playing, and it never repeated itself. The original had a whole bunch of atonal swells, you can get a hint of that at the very beginning. Then a sequenced section kicks in...this is all very visual stuff IMHO.

        "Semi Finale" has tympani, so how can you go wrong? This file is also a great example of how the MP3 format murders lows as well as highs. You'll also hear some of the XS6 string sounds in the process.
        Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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        • #49
          I've been making it a habit to download all these bits you do for the Pro Reviews. Loop fodder!

          Although some of the guitar sounds in the DD Heavy Mental review were quite scary! (Not my cup of tea!)
          RIP: Nite Owl Jazz

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          • #50
            These are sort of chill/new agey performances, but don't let that put you off, the sounds are still cool

            "Chilln Keys" has a really nice keyboard sound, part piano, part something else layered in the background (haven't quite figured out what). Notice how the character of the drums is quite different from what we've heard before.

            "Dark Continent" is, I suspect, an homage to Toto's "Africa" period. Again, nice keyboard sounds, particularly the pseudo-analog synths; the drums are very straightforward and effective.

            "Motif XSperience" is what comes up when you turn on the XS6. I like the sort of Kraftwerk-meets-world music vibe. Note the bass, there are some really solid bass sounds on the XS6.
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            • #51
              I've been making it a habit to download all these bits you do for the Pro Reviews. Loop fodder!


              I was wondering when people would start tumbling to the fact that most of the audio examples I'm doing are cut to be loops...

              Although some of the guitar sounds in the DD Heavy Mental review were quite scary! (Not my cup of tea!)


              That's the part of me that listens to Nine Inch Nails, thought the Damned were way underrated, and paid to see the Clash...
              Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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              • #52
                I'm more of a techo/trance/electro kinda guy, and maybe I'll do some examples of that, but I was really taken by these more house-oriented performances.

                The lead line (well, actually lead chords) in "Dry Wash" go through all sorts of tonal permutations thanks to the arpeggiation. It sounds a lot more interesting than my playing actually was

                "Nasty Dirty Funk" is kind of like electrohouse or some other mutant dance genre. Check out the sound effects, fun stuff.

                "Double Dip the Funk" is really more funk than dance, but it has sort of a disco drum part that fit in with the dance genre. All that wa-wa action is NOT me - the XS is doing it all by itself.
                Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                • #53
                  And finally (at least for today!), some solo instruments.

                  "Full Concert Grand" is your basic piano sound. Well hey, if we're talking about a synthesizer, we HAVE to include a piano sound, right? After all, it's the law.

                  "Nylon Guitar" shows that the Motif XS can sound really expressive with an acoustic instrument; check out the dynamics.

                  "Mega Steel" uses the arpeggiation to give really cool strumming effects where you can easily change the key.

                  "Killer Whammy" complies with the Congressional Mandate on Audio Examples to be Included with Synth Pro Reviews: It offers your basic nasty distorted rock guitar sound.

                  (Sorry Stranger, none of these were designed to be loops.)
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                  • #54
                    Obviously I could create and post sounds from this thing for the next year, so next I'll cover the search function for patches, and the general architecture. But if you have any specific requests ("Is there a bitchin' Kalimba sound in there?") let me know, and I'll try to oblige.
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                    • #55
                      Thanks for the valuable information, Craig. I was realy impressed with the nylon guitar. Wow, that sounds like the real thing. What's your opinion on the orchestral voices?

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                      • #56
                        Thanks for the valuable information, Craig. I was realy impressed with the nylon guitar. Wow, that sounds like the real thing. What's your opinion on the orchestral voices?


                        There are other nylon string guitars, too; they're all pretty tasty. I agree it's pretty impressive, but do note that I voiced the chords like a guitar, which helps further the illusion. I think that what you may be picking up on is the excellent use of velocity-switched samples within the program.

                        I have not had a chance yet to get really deep into the orchestral voices. I'm one of those people who believes that instruments like violins are devilishly hard to synthesize/sample convincingly if you're going for a solo voice; probably the best I've heard is done with a dedicated software instrument, Garritan's Stradivari. For massed sounds, the XS6 does fine. However, I did get what I feel were some convincing solo violins and cellos as I checked out the various sounds.

                        How about I proceed with a bit more description, and then we can re-visit the orchestral patches? I have to say this is a somewhat overwhelming keyboard - there's LOTS to explore. Even spending a few hours each day, I feel like I've hardly scratched the surface...I think many users would perhaps gravitate to particular "favorite" sounds and functions, but given that this is a review, I feel like I really need to cover as much as possible. That's a lot to learn, but I'm not complaining - this is a fun synth!
                        Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                        • #57
                          Thanks Craig! We are all enjoying this review.

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                          • #58
                            The Category Search function is designed to help you find instrument voices rapidly. Like all such systems, it has its limitations (your idea of what a sound represents may not be the same as the person who set up the categories), but of course, also has its strengths when you're thinking something like "Okay, I was asked about the orchestral sounds...let me find some violins."

                            The first image shows where the search button is located, right below the logo in the upper right...whoever was responsible for ergonomics at Yamaha obviously figured this was something important. The second image shows all the category buttons.

                            The way the function works is fairly obvious. When in Voice mode, you hit the Category Search button, then one of the Categories. From there you can pick a sub-category with one of the sub-category buttons shown in the second image, or you can use the standard navigation buttons (lert/right/up/down to scroll around the display among Categories, Sub-Categories, and Voices.

                            For example, suppose you pick the Bass category. The sub-categories are Acoustic, Electric, Synth, and Arpeggiated (depending on the category, there can be up to 5 sub-categories). Upon selecting a sub-category, a list (often very long) appears in the right pane of the screen...and while taking a photo of an LCD screen is always an exercise in frustration as there's no "house sync" out from the screen or "house sync in" on the digital camera , the third image is definitely good enough to show what's going on.

                            Although the search function is helpful, for many sub-categories there are a huge number of patches to wade through, and you can only step through them one at a time (using the data wheel or up/down buttons). I would really like to see an option to jump one screen at a time, like the way QWERTY keyboards have PageUp/PageDown keys (Athan, if there's a shortcut for this, lay it on us!).

                            One great feature is that it seems the patches take no time to load; as soon as one is selected, you can play the keyboard and audition it. Again turning to my wish list, though, I'd like to see the ability to program a short musical phrase into the search function that would play as soon as you selected a patch. With 1,920 patches, I found myself playing a lot of repetitive phrases as I listened. Maybe there's some way to use the sequencer in conjunction with finding voices...I guess I'll find out.

                            However, one feature that is extremely helpful is that it's easy to tag patches as favorites, so they show up in a separate pane under a particular category - for example, all your favorite acoustic basses. It's also easy to "unfavorite" something in case you find something you like more. I found myself turning to this function whenever I found a cool sound, thus building up a large, but manageable, selection of patches I was sure I would return to in the future.

                            So overall, category search is quite helpful - particularly the way favorites are handled - but I think including the enhancements mentioned above would make it even easier to get around.

                            Which actually brings up a question to Athan/Yamaha - I'm assuming that because the Motif XS series is software-based, it would be possible to add updates...or did the engineers use up every single byte in the available flash RAM to the point where there's no room left for changes?
                            Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                            • #59
                              Thats a nice feature, i see alot of positive things about this synth. i cant wait till their in stock again so i can get one.
                              Conklin Groove Tools Bill Dickens Signature model for sale.. buy it damnit!

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                              • #60
                                "Which actually brings up a question to Athan/Yamaha - I'm assuming that because the Motif XS series is software-based, it would be possible to add updates...or did the engineers use up every single byte in the available flash RAM to the point where there's no room left for changes?"

                                The OS can be updated by USB memory. There is room in the design for new features and updates. In fact, in Europe the XS shipped with 1.04. This did not have sampling with note and some other key features. In the US, we updated all the units in our US warehouse before we shipped to 1.05.

                                So the first update with new features is already available. We just updated all the units in the US before we shipped as a convenience to our US customers.
                                Athan Billias
                                Director of Marketing
                                Pro Audio and Combo Division
                                Yamaha Corporation Of America

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