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The era of the portable beat box accordion karaoke machine -- to paraphrase Yamaha product specialist Jim Presley -- is upon us. Ushering in this new age is the Yamaha DJX-IIB, the boxed version of the new DJXII keyboard -- which proves that anyone can be involved with making music, regardless of experience. Indeed, as long as you can push a few buttons, you have all the talent necessary to play back any combination of several hundred preset patterns, covering most modern dance styles.

Who wouldn’t have fun with this?

Patterns can be mutated with effects, a resonant filter, and a 3-band "Isolator," which handily balances or kills the low-, mid-, or high-range frequencies. A bank of ten DSP effects is stocked with ring mod, flanger, phaser, auto pan, lo-fi, slice, distortion, and more. Passable onboard speakers and a novel Scratch Pad round out the feature list. When rotated manually, the CD-style scratching wheel plays one of the 74 scratchable sounds, delivering a reasonable facsimile of vinyl scratching.

The DJX-IIB will put a smile on your face. True, you can’t realistically compose original songs with it, but the patterns and sounds are funky, and if you have the inclination, you can access the 180 voices and 23 drum kits via MIDI, with 32-voice polyphony. Additionally, the stereo outputs, a tap tempo button, and an audio input -- that can detect and sync the unit to the incoming BPM -- make it easy for DJs to use the DJX-IIB in tandem with their records. It is scheduled to ship in October for $299.95.

The DJX-II

A little more creative potential in housed inside the DJX-II. It’s still centered on pattern playback, but the keyboard can be used to mute individual instrument parts within the pattern, as well as trigger one-shot phrases. It loses the scratch wheel from the box, but adds a ribbon controller, performance recorder, parts mixer, and a rudimentary sampler.

Portable keyboards can look cool!

Six samples can be assigned to three loop pads and three one-shot pads, but you only get six seconds of 22kHz/8-bit sample memory. Look for the DJX-II in September at a list price of $399.95.

PSR Keyboards

Product Specialist Presley also noted that portable keyboards have advanced at a rate similar to that of personal computers in the last ten years. This is evident in four brand new portable keyboards, all of which include the Yamaha Education Suite 2, an automated instruction system that helps beginning players learn chord voicings and other things by playing back spoken messages, which are designed to ease the learning process.

PSR282’s bag is chatting with its player.

Each of the four new PSR keyboards has MIDI In and Out, and either battery or optional AC power -- making them a great choice for a portable MIDI controller. Both are scheduled to ship in August.

The PSR262 has 61 full-size touch-sensitive keys and 100 AWM voices for $219.95. The PSR160 is a scaled-down version of PSR262 that loses an octave of keys and the touch sensitivity for $149.95.

On those speakers, the PSRGX76’s stereo piano sounds grand.

The PSR282 also has 61 full-size touch-sensitive keys, but adds 128 AWM voices, 128 GM voices, 33 digital effects, and a six-track sequencer for $299.95. A souped-up version of the PSR282, the PSRGX76 ($399.95), sports a 76-key, touch-sensitive board, and adds an enhanced sound system and a pitch-bend wheel.

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