Over the past year the Synthesizer department at Yamaha Music US quietly built a room celebrating over 40 years of synth innovation. The idea was not merely to house a museum or build a studio. Rather, it was to make a space to continue to create and inspire. That place is the Synth Space. In the interview below, the Yamaha US Synthesizer team discusses the Synth Space concept, the cool gear inside and the design of this amazing room.
Blake Angelos (BA), Product Specialist, Yamaha Synthesizers: This room is so great! What was the idea behind creating a room like this?
Nate Tschetter (NT) Product Marketing Manager, Yamaha Synthesizers: We really wanted to tell the story of our almost 45-year synthesizer history. There are many Yamaha Synthesizers that dramatically influenced popular music and we thought it be inspiring to have a place where people could experience them in a cool room with great sound and a hip vibe.
Keith Hersch (KH) Marketing Specialist, Yamaha Synthesizers: Between our department, the customer support team and CRD lab (Content Research and Development) we knew we had a lot of vintage Yamaha synthesizers. It was just a matter of collecting them, having our service department go through them to make sure they were in working order and most importantly setting them up with a great sound system so they could be played and experienced.
Mission accomplished! All of the Synthesizers in the room are connected and playable?
KH: Absolutely. There are 130 total audio inputs split between seven A-frame keyboard stands and four racks. Each A-frame has its own MG10XU mixer which is then sub mixed into a TF Rack TIO system. The racks all run into patchbays which then have dedicated sends back to the TF Rack.
BA: Let’s talk about each of these stations. Right in the middle is an impressive centerpiece: A mint-condition CS-80 Analog Synthesizer that just sounds and plays like a dream!
NT: That’s right and this particular CS-80 has a Kenton MIDI retrofit making it ripe for sampling with SampleRobot! The idea was to tell the story of Yamaha Synthesizers in a historic way as you go around the room. The 70s are at the front of the room with the CS-80, SY-2 and CS-30 right up front. As you move around the room to the right you get to the early 80s with a DX5, original DX7 plus RX5 drum machine and QX3 sequencer (we have pretty much every QX sequencer for truly vintage 80s sequencing!) Then we have the mid/late 80s with a rare DX7 Centennial Edition (in silver with glow in the dark keys) DX7II FD and DX11. Next is the 90s with the SY99, SY85, VL7 and a bunch of rackmount gear. I think the only thing we don’t currently have in our rack is the TG77.
BA: The rack gear really took off during the late 80s and early 90s. I see the VL-1m, the A-series samplers (A-3000/4000/5000), EX-5R…
KH: Yeah, and all the MU modules, FS-1R and more! Moving around on this side you have the late 90s with the EX-5, AN1X and the RM1x and RS7000 Synthesizer/Sequencers. Then it’s the aughts and 2010s with the age of MOTIF: MOTIF, MOTIF ES, MOTIF XS and MOTIF XF. The circle comes together with today’s line up of MONTAGE and MODX.
BA: And all the instruments are playable and ready to record?
KH: Absolutely. Each of the MG mixers have USB audio connectivity to Mac, PC or iOS. Anything can be played and instantly recorded easily.
NT: This was a major component of the Synth Space. We wanted to provide a creative environment for our artists, influencers, friends and staff to create and record music in a room filled with amazing synthesizers. It is a one-of-a-kind place featuring instruments that are difficult to find much less experience.
BA: Well, it certainly sounds great and the gear is in great condition, but the look and feel of this room is also great with the sound treatment, lighting and set up.
KH: I like to talk about what’s not in here. The first thing I wanted out of here was the fluorescent lighting because of the awful hum and “hospital” quality We replaced it with beautiful multi colored LED LIFX system that is controllable with iOS. We can really set the mood in here with that. We also did some sound treatment of the room to reduce slap back echo and isolate it from outside noise just like a recording studio.
BA: What do you see as some of the uses of the Synth Space?
NT: Well, we could do livestream sessions from here that show different use cases for our synths. It would also be cool to turn some of our artists loose in here and see what they come up with. I also think it would be interesting to do some retrospectives on the older products. To me, the CS-30 is a fascinating machine. I think people would be interested to learn about the unique way one can create with these instruments.
BA: I could also visualize the Synth Space as an educational resource. A masterclass on FM Synthesis to MONTAGE owners or a series focusing on a particular instrument like the RS7000.
NT: Exactly. The goal of the Synth Space is to both provide awareness of the history of Yamaha Synthesizers and create cool content with our current lineup. We now have a great space to cover all of those bases. Going forward I think our YamahaSynth.com community will be duly impressed with what we have planned. There will be so cool things coming from the Yamaha Synth Space!
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