Introduction to the CP4 Stage Piano

The structure of the CP4 is certainly quite different for those used to synthesizer architectures where you store a bunch of individual programs (User Voices) that can be recalled and used in combination with others. That is not exactly what is happening in the CP4 Stage. There is no separate, “traditional” User Voice mode and […]

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The structure of the CP4 is certainly quite different for those used to synthesizer architectures where you store a bunch of individual programs (User Voices) that can be recalled and used in combination with others. That is not exactly what is happening in the CP4 Stage. There is no separate, “traditional” User Voice mode and hopefully this article will serve to introduce you to exactly how to approach this instrument. It is simply the best Stage Piano we have ever built!

You are basically provided complete multi-samples of three very expensive Yamaha acoustic pianos: the CFX, the CFIIIS and the S6. You are also given actual physical models of the classic tine pianos (FenderRhodes/Rhodes), the reed pianos (Wurlitzer), and the electro acoustic pianos (Yamaha CP80). Meticulous samples of the classic FM electric piano sounds (Yamaha DX7).

The Rhodes is represented with several different versions… Which if you were there and remember, were quite distinctive… From the original felt hammers to the neoprene rubber hammers… 1971, 1973, 1975, 1978, even the ‘Dyno’ modification. There are the 1969 Wurlitzer and the 1977 again markedly different… And Yamaha’s own classic CP80 preamps.

Also included are a variety of Voices (deemed useful for the gigging piano player on the job) based on Yamaha’s AWM2 sample-playback engine.

So truly the CP4 architecture is a combination of technologies… Both in the sound source end and the processing end. To understand what a Voice is technology-wise is to understand why some parameters are available for one Voice and are unavailable in another.

You are working with a STAGE piano, the concept being that when you recall a single program, which are referred to as a PERFORMANCE, you are recalling more than just a single Voice. In the CP4 Stage with each Performance you are recalling three internal PARTS:


Plus whatever you setup in the “Master Keyboard” area for your connected external devices. Up to four external Zones. The Zones address the external devices – and you have a Master Keyboard setup for each of your PERFORMANCES.

The MAIN Part is always active, the LAYER Part can be selected and stored in the Performance but set to OFF, “in waiting” (you can always have your second sound a LAYER button press away). The same goes for the third or SPLIT part. For example the first Performance has the CFX piano as the MAIN Voice, a string as the LAYER in waiting, and an acoustic bass as the SPLIT in waiting.

You are always in a Performance. You do not go to another mode to try out or audition sounds. Everything is geared toward you setting up to perform on stage… If it seems that when you select a Voice you inherit some things, that is true. And should not be surprising once you see the full picture that is the CP4 Stage’s architecture.

Think of the Voices as individual instruments; think of three players being connected to the channels of a mixer. Certain settings belong to the individual musician’s instrument, while other settings are found on the mixer channel handling the signals.

A VOICE in the CP4 STAGE is either an acoustic piano engine, a physical model of a vintage EP or an AWM2 sample playback tone source. Each of these Voice architectures has certain functions and parameters that ‘come along’ with it when you recall it.

While a VOICE brings along its pre-programmed Insertion Effects, it does not bring along its System Effects. Let’s see if I can make this clear… The pianos use an Insertion Effect that was developed specifically for the acoustic piano sounds, called DAMPER RESONANCE. It works in conjunction with the Sustain pedal to recreate the soundboard resonance within the piano, when the sustain pedal is pressed. This is an Insertion Effect and for all intents it is apart of the VOICE. An example of a SYSTEM EFFECT would be the Reverb Hall effect. It is not apart of the instrument, it’s apart of the outer environment… The room acoustics, shared by everyone in the ensemble.

Insert Effects belong to the individual musician, they are the personal effects that can be considered apart of the instrument sound. No one else shares them, they belong exclusively to the player. The INSERT EFFECTS include some of the most advanced technology in the CP4 featuring specially develop models as well as the VCM (Virtual Circuitry Modeling) recreations of classic stomp boxes, EQs and compressor/limiters

System Effects on the other hand, are typically involved in recreating the outside environment, the room acoustics, if you will. They are not apart of the individual sound in the same way. Just as the soundboard reverberation is apart of the piano, while the Hall or room its in is shared by the entire ensemble. The Reverb and Chorus (Time Delay) processors are route to via a Send/Return scheme, like aux sends on any mixer.

When you recall one of the physical models, say a “RdI” model, you are recalling certain Insert Effect components that are apart of that model… Like the preamp of the 1971 or 1973 Rhodes which have been mathematically modeled and are faithfully recreated by one of the two INSERT EFFECTS. When you recall one the “”RdII” models which have recreations of the 1978 and Dyno versions of the Rhodes with two different preamp models. These are automatically assigned as an Insert Effect in your current workspace.

Part of editing the physical models of the Tine (Rhodes) piano is the STRIKE POSITION… Basically *where* on the tine the hammer is set to strike – for those who have ever worked on their own Rhodes you will have to smile while you toggle between the seven positions… As you recognize that each click represents about 3-4 hours of painstaking adjusting and pecking. Each click is dramatically different and has a profound effect on the resulting character of “your” Rhodes piano!

This parameter is not apart of the language for the other models, nor for the sampled Voices. So depending on what type of technology you select for a Part, the CP4 makes the relevant parameters available.

Rather than lock the user out of the programming… When you recall a Voice, it brings along the components that make it work. If you were to recall the RdII 78 model, the 78 Preamp is, of course, brought along. That is a critical component of the Voice. If you inherit effects, you are inheriting the Room Acoustics (System Effects) of the Performance slot you are editing… That is you are inheriting the Reverb and Chorus (time delay) processor settings, as these are responsible for the outside acoustics. All the instruments (each Part) will have a SEND to these effects. They remain because they are technically apart of the mixer, not the individual musician’s axe.

From Scratch
“From scratch” on the CP4 Stage is not a bank that you go to… Instead you can start anywhere… It’s where you STORE it that matters.

Press [SHIFT] + [ENTER]
This is called a Quick Reset.

From here you can start to either audition Voices and/or start building your own performance. You are always in the Performance frame work, always.

There are over four hundred voices in the CP4 Stage Voice Library… Most of them are like books sitting on a shelf… Raw material for you to build with. Don’t think of any of them as finished voices … They are very detailed oscillators. They are the raw sound that you place in one of three PARTS (Main, Layer, Split), while in the Parts, you can further dress them up.


This is possibly the best thing about the CP4 STAGE – it is designed to be extremely customizable. Whether using the stellar sample data that makes up the three main acoustic pianos (with the powerful tone adjustments within the Insert engine), or the physical models of the classic electronic pianos of the twentieth century, or any of the other sounds… All the modeling effect components can be used on any instrument.

Want to run a 1977 Wurlitzer through the silky smooth Dyno preamp! or a DX through the old 1971 Rhodes preamp? Hey you can run an acoustic piano through whatever. Working with these multiple technologies the CP4 does not make you feel like you’ve left the planet just to tweak a sound… You want to change what normally gets brought along with a Voice… And this is the point of this whole thing… You can! Change the preamp that comes with the 1978 Rhodes model to the 1969 Wurlitzer, when you want to store this, you store the changes to a PERFORMANCE… Not to a User Voice. All edits are documented to a Performance.

The PERFORMANCE will retain the changes/adjustments you have made to the model. They do not go to a USER VOICE location as in a synth, your newly edited sound gets stored to a Performance.

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