Yamaha EX5 Silver Beast in Japan

Yamaha Silver EX5S
Yamaha Silver EX5S

This is a three part story about acquiring a Yamaha EX5 “Silver” Beast Edition in Japan today.

Part 1: At a Japan used music shop that I frequent in Nagano-city there is a Silver EX5 that has been sitting there for about one year. The price in Japanese yen at the moment is 65,000 which equals about $772.642 USD according to today’s exchange rate. The condition is “good” but not excellent. There appears to be no expansions, modules, SCSI interface, or whatever attached to the EX5 other than a hard shell case. Just the basic version. Furthermore, in some areas the paint appears to be rubbing off slightly. The EX5 definitely appears to have been used in performance or practice, but is still fully operational I believe. I haven’t played it, but the shop is offering a 3 month guarantee against problems or I can return it. It’s standard policy for them.

This past week I picked up both a Yamaha V50 and an SY77 which I’m really happy with. I really don’t see myself picking up this EX5 and I’ve obviously had a year to think about it, so I suppose I’m seeking closure…laugh.

What I’m curious about is whether this appears to be a good deal among EX5 users and enthusiasts. The guys at the shop may consider lowering the price since I am a frequent customer, but if I recall correctly, they already dropped the price about two months ago from 85,000 yen ( $1,010 USD ), so I doubt they will drop the price anymore this soon.

I’ve heard there is little or no difference between the Silver version and the regular version.

Just curious on whether it’s a potential diamond in the rough, or better to move on but maybe keep an eye on it.

Part 2:. I went back to the used music shop here in Japan and tried out the Silver EX5 I mentioned above. I found two problems with the synth.

1. There was a “Change Internal Battery” error message when powering up the unit. I suppose that is an easy fix by simply replacing the CR2032 internal battery. I was able to continue playing the synth though.

2. There is a dead “E” key at the upper most octave of the keyboard. This is probably most bothersome in that I can’t seem to find success stories about how to fix that. I have no idea if it simply would require cleaning the contact or what not. So, I would have to consider the notion that the EX5 could permanently have a dead key there.

There are no options as indicated with the exception that there was the 64MB extra memory in the EX5, but no flash memory of course. I pushed the “Sample” button and found that info.

The asking price is basically $750. Being in Japan I have to consider the cost of shipping should I buy overseas which I generally don’t. So $750 could be reasonable if buying abroad, but being that I’m down the street from the store, the keyboard “silver edition” seems to be priced pretty high.

I’ll probably continue checking about whether I can fix the dead key or not. If I can, I may go back to the store and see if I can talk him down. This may be the best opportunity to get a much better deal. However, if I fail, I then really have to consider whether I want it bad enough.

The sound is incredible and it was a joy playing through the presets. Even if I can talk the owner down, it’s greatly upsetting that there’s a dead key. I really wanted the full working 76 set of keys. Crap!

Reasons for wanting the EX5:

1. FDSP Synth
2. VL Synth (I have an ES Rack but no breath controller except with the CS6r, but I have two PLG-AN boards in that. The ES Rack has the PLG Drums and PLG DX. Could switch around and by the PLG-VL I suppose.)
3. RHODES – I am an EP freak and most of my playing “foundation” wise is with the Rhodes or EPs.
4. Multi-Sampling. Owning a Roland W-30 and S-760, I do lots of multi-sampling but with very “small” samples. Contrary to most EX5 users perhaps, I don’t mind loading my samples from floppy. I also have an A3000 with SCSI should I need that. I use other phrase/loop gear for large samples.
5. Programming Options! The thought of all those synth patch possibilities has me intrigued.
6. Pattern Sequencer. I am an active keyboard learner and “jam” artist so I prefer to create Sequenced patterns with drums, bass, and maybe some strings. I then like to practice and play “rhodes” oriented stuff over that as improv or just learning theory etc. The EX5 has the sequencer inside and it seems “good enough” for basic pattern back tracks in a non-live environment.
7. Finally Speculation. With the release of the Yamaha XF, there seems to be a lot of comparison going around with Motif series. I notice that the EX5(r) keeps coming up a lot with the majority of people saying either “Get it now!” or “I’ll never get rid of it!”.

One of the things I really liked about the EX5 though was that it was 76 keys. All of my synths are either 61 keys or less. Although I’m exaggerating a bit, it seems having a dead key is almost like having 61 keys all over again.

P.S. – Perhaps someone reading this will simply feel that I’m whacked for considering the EX5 given my current Yamaha gear setup. Maybe I need to hear that as well from someone….

Part3: I went back to the store and managed to “surprisingly” talk the owner down to $375 for the Silver Yamaha EX5 with hard shell case. He asked me if there were any problems with the keyboard and I honestly told him that I had to:

(a) change the battery,
(b) figure out how to fix the dead “E” key in the upper octave, and finally
(c) upgrade the rom chip as the synth had V1.06 and TG V1.07 if I remember correctly. I think that’s what I saw when I pressed “Voice + H + Bank8”.

I also indicated that there may be other things wrong like the floppy drive, LCD Display, and Unresponsive Knobs although they checked out just fine when I tested the EX5 in the store. I wasn’t trying to give him any crap, but rather just sincerely let him know that the EX5 had been in the store for over a year and that I’d have to likely put some and money into maintenance. ( Us Synth enthusiasts know this anyway so this probably shouldn’t be news to him. I always expect to put extra money in with synths after purchasing. ).

The owner kind of felt bad I think and knocked the price down considerably as you can see. So instead of walking out with a $750 synth, I only had to pay $375. Of course my fingers are crossed that after replacing the battery, everything will be fine. I’m not sure how to upgrade the ROM and quite frankly my testing kind of proved that I may not need it. I read on another forum some of the changes for each upgrade and thought anything above v1.06 should be sufficient for my purposes. However, if anyone does know how to get a hold of a current ROM chip, please email me. I’d greatly appreciate the consideration.

I understand the floppy drives are easy to replace should mine go bad and as I mentioned I have an A3000 with an SCSI board if needed. Probably the only other option I might need is the flash ram, but honestly, that’s becoming a very expensive option and I already don’t really want to put more money into the EX5 until I can really get a grip on what it can do.

In any event, I hope my story proves interesting for some people here. The Yamaha EX5 is a great synth and I’m excited to have finally picked this one up after seeing it for over a year in the shop. There’s just something about the EX5 that urged me to buy it now. One things for sure!! This is absolutely the heaviest synthesizer I have ever lugged up three flights of stairs!

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5 thoughts on “Yamaha EX5 Silver Beast in Japan

  1. Hello everyone,

    One of the main reasons I bought the EX5 recently is for the Rhodes and EPs that I’ve heard owners raving about all over the net. One such voice is the SkiRhodes (SkiBoats Set) which for the first time I tried out on the EX5 this evening. It sounded wonderful there for a minute but I quickly noticed some clicks and static noise that I could clearly differentiate from the bark down below.

    I quickly became discouraged and hit the search around Google looking for help to improve the SkiRhodes voice on my EX5. After a lot of searching, I managed to find the following that improved things quite a bit, but not quite perfectly.

    1. Ski Rhodes 8 proved to be the best version of SkiRhodes. The Rhodes voice is from the Philthy FDSP2.s1v collection. The Ski Rhodes from the SkiBoats Set was just too noisy during my first run through with too many clicks. Not usable in my book.

    2. I turned down the common volume from 127 to 90 which helped tremendously. When I play the keys I am very dynamic and like to hit harder if I need more volume rather than having to take it easy for fear of being too loud. It’s personal preference.

    3. Upgrade the Rom in the EX5. This is something I may have trouble with since I have been unable to find the upgrade chips, so I may be out of luck. I think my version is v1.07. I heard this can erase a bit of static.

    4. I also adjusted the keyboard response velocity curve from “Normal” to “Hard”. This helped a lot because I tend to hit the keys hard when playing as I mentioned above. I get dynamic when playing the Rhodes which is a very expressive sound. Later though, I switched my settings back to “Normal” after adjusting the volume. There is a slight sound difference when adjusting the keyboard response so you need to check your playing to see if it suits you.

    All in all, with the using the “Ski Rhodes 8” and turning down the common volume it’s now usable. Before, there was now way I could use this voice on stage. If I get too much static and can’t turn the volume down further, I then simply adjust the keyboard velocity response and that usually fixes the problem. It does make the sound a tab bit more bass sounding, but when I hit harder it barks really well.

    The Ski Rhodes voice is definitely awesome now that I’ve been able to tame it nicely on my EX5, but I still feel like there’s a tiny bit of static in there. I’m not sure if there are other effect “volume” parameters I can turn down or whether it’s simply a ROM upgrade that I need. Perhaps it’s just the nature of “The Beast”, or maybe me just me having too high expectations…laugh.

    Seriously though, when I first loaded up the voice, I thought EX5 owners were smoking something because it just sounded terrible with all the clicks and static noise. Boy, turning down that volume and finding the Ski Rhodes 8 voice turned things around dramatically. Fantastic!

    Kudos to the programmer of Ski Rhodes. The purpose of this comment is simply to indicate that it appears this voice needs to be tweaked additionally to suit personal tastes. With that in mind, I was hoping someone might have some additional tips or suggestions about how to get more out of this “classic” EX5 Rhodes voice. What “tweaks” or additional settings have you done to help remove unwanted noise?

    Thanks very much!

    Regards,
    Jim

  2. I just updated my EX5 to the latest OS version and most of the bugs have been ironed out now. I also found additional parameters that help to reduce excess noise when using the Rhodes or other EP patches.

    Yamaha EX5/R Last OS TG ROM 1.14 and MAIN ROM 1.11
    It is the last OS left for the synthetizer Yamaha EX5 or EX5R.
    It corrects all the problems of midi timing.
    TG1(L) and TG2(H) v1.14
    MAIN1(L) and MAIN2(H) v1.11

    My Yamaha EX5 performs much better now and I highly recommend getting the latest upgrade.

    Jim

    1. suenio

      Hi Jim,
      I’m also happy EX5 user however some of the bugs drive me creazy so wanted to upgrade to lates ROMs. could you let me know how you do this Where did you get latest chips?
      As you mention abow I’m also looking for following versions:
      TG1(L) and TG2(H) v1.14
      MAIN1(L) and MAIN2(H) v1.11

      Thanx,
      Wojtek

  3. I love my ex5. its got some issues but i picked it up for very little cash. it does have some killer sounds and i use it with my jamman to make some bad backing tracks to my guitar. im happy to hear that you bought and love one as well. if you record an mp3 of your playing i would be very grateful to hear it. thanks for the awesome blog. JD

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