Yamaha QY700 Sequencer – One of the best!

Yamaha QY700 Sequencer
Yamaha QY700 Sequencer

Back in the late 90’s I used to work with a Yamaha QY300 quite bit and really grew to like that sequencer. However I sold it a few years ago for a couple of reasons. One was the floppy disk drive had finally given out and didn’t have the means at the time to replace it. I also didn’t particularly like how the LCD screen was not backlit which made it very difficult to work with. It was a pretty solid sequencer I remember and I also knew that it had a bigger brother called the Yamaha QY700 that I had hope to find one day.

Well, shortly after I purchased the Yamaha QX3 I wrote about earlier, I received a call from the Hard Off sales clerk saying he had just gotten in a Yamaha QY700. I had spoken briefly about the QY700 with him that if he had ever got one in to give me call. I was shocked to first get a call, and second to get one so soon. He kind of chuckled and said it was lucky that someone had dropped one off just the very next day after I had bought the Yamaha QX3. He offered me a good price and so last night I jumped back into the car and ran over to pick up the QY700.

Now I totally have enough sequencers already, but I there were a few reasons why I really wanted to nab the Yamaha QY700. First, I love the midi connections it has. There are two MIDI in ports and two MIDI out ports which is fantastic. Plus the LCD screen is really nice with full back lighting and a contrast adjustment knob. What a difference a BIG backlit LCD screen makes compared to the QY300. The Floppy disk drive also accepts both DD and HD disks while the QY300 only could use DD floppy disk. Plus the QY700 can save or load ESEQ formatted songs which means I can now easily create tracks and load them into the Yamaha QX3. Or I can create tracks on the QX3 and then load them up on the QY700. Pretty cool!

The built in XG sounds in the QY700 are not all that bad for creating your songs and you can always control an external sampler or sound module to improve the sound quality. I also found the effects inside the QY700 to be really nice. There are some effects such as “early reflections” and “symphonic” that are popular in the Yamaha SPX and FX series effect modules. It’s too bad there’s no effects loop to apply the effects to other sound modules, but it’s still nice to have them for the XG sounds.

The real beauty of the Yamaha QY700 is in the sequencing. I primarily hang out in pattern/phrase mode where I like to create sketches of grooves to be used in songs later on. It’s incredibly easy and quick to lay down multiple tracks. In the past I’ve used a Yamaha RM1x and RS7000 which are both just as fantastic, but having that big LCD screen is a big bonus when trying to get an overview of your entire composition. Another feature I really like about the QY700 is that when you power off the sequencer, it retains all of the songs, patterns, and phrases in memory. You don’t lose a thing! The Rm1x also does this which is why I like that sequencer as well, however, the RS7000 does not do this. Personally it drives me nuts having to load up my sequences every time I power up the RS7000, so it’s nice with the QY700 not to worry about that.

The timing on the Yamaha RY800 is also rock solid. The Quantize and Groove template editing is outstanding. Yamaha really makes excellent vintage sequencers. The Yamaha QY700, RM1x, RS7000, and others are simply wonderful to work with. Although I really like my Rm1x, I probably would have to recommend the Yamaha QY800 over the Rm1x simply because of that LCD screen. It’s great just to be able to view everything all on one screen. If you see a Yamaha QY700, definitely check it out.

Yamaha QX-3 80’s sequencer powerhouse!

Yamaha QX-3 Sequencer
Yamaha QX-3 Sequencer

This morning I found a Yamaha QX-3 Sequencer for $10 bucks at the Hard Off used music store here in Nagano-city, Japan. ( Like the one in the photo ). I’m so excited about this because I really like this sequencer for it’s basic approach to sequencing. The program keys are awesome and there is very little if any menu diving. Everything is all spelled out in front of you and once you get the function keys down, it should be super fast to record. Yes, it’s old and big, but it works very well and for the price, it’s difficult to find a better one.

Although it has the E-SEQ sequencer format rather than saving to MIDI, there are two outs in the back and it’s pretty easy to dump the tracks if necessary. There is also a DD floppy disk drive which works well. The LCD is backlit and all of the keys along with descriptions are on the face of the sequencer. There are also two midi outputs which is great, plus the recording /quantize resolution is very good. According to the manual it was paired up with the Yamaha RX-5 drum machine and DX7II keyboard when it came out. The QX-3 is also built like a tank and seems to be very reliable if played on stage.

I first learned about the Yamaha QX-3 from Synthfreq which I posted a video from below. I don’t believe she has it anymore due to some gear lost in a fire if I remember correctly. She posted about it a while ago. Synthfreq uses the Yamaha QX-3 to play the back tracks in the video linked below.

Since then I’ve been on the look out for one and was pleasantly surprised to find one in mint shape at the store today. Needless to say I grabbed that puppy fast!

Korg ES-1 Electribe Electro Hip-Hop Sampler

Korg ES-1 Electribe Sampler
Korg ES-1 Electribe Sampler

I love this little sampler. I also have the Korg ES-1 MKII which is the same except for the color and one of the effects has changed. These samplers are fantastic for creating vintage drum kits and early 80s/90s grooves as in the video link below. The Korg ES-1 was quite often found in Japan but lately it’s getting more scarce. The one I found today was at a rock bottom price and so I couldn’t pass it up. The step sequencer and motion sequencer are also classic on this and I really enjoy how it programs. If you ever come across one of these at a good price, I seriously would pick it up. It’s so simple to use. I believe the sound quality is at 32kHz if correct which is great for those vintage sounds.

Samples are pretty easy to get into the machine and there are enough slots for some good kits and variety. I tend to put my old school samples in the ES-1 from E-MU, Roland, Ensoniq, and Akai. These work great but you will need to convert them to WAV first before dumping them onto a 3.3V Smart Media card. In addition you will name to rename the samples numerically for them to work. The Korg ES-1 makes a fabulous drum machine and percussion back drop to almost any sort of music project. I highly recommend it!!

Akai EWI 3020 3020M 3030M Wind Synthesizers

Akai EWI 3020M Analog Synth
Akai EWI 3020M Analog Synth

Today I was browsing through the used music shop I frequent here in Nagano-city, Japan and stumbled upon on something I’ve never seen before. Someone had just this morning dropped off an Akai EWI 3020 wind controller and cable along with two modules. One was the Akai EWI 3020M Analog Synth Module and the other was the Akai EWI 3030M PCM Synth Module. In addition, all of the manuals, cables, and even a hard shell case were included. Everything was in mint condition for $200 bucks total.

Akai EWI 3020 Wind Controller
Akai EWI 3020 Wind Controller

I know Akai very well with regards to sampling and samplers but didn’t know they made a wind controller with analog modules or at least I wasn’t up to speed on their product line. Now I don’t play any sax or wind instruments BUT I couldn’t pass up on the price. ( Some sax players may cringe at the thought of a non-wind player like myself finding something like this. I know I would. )

These are likely to be popular in Japan simply because it’s difficult to practice any sort of wind instrument in homes here because of the close proximity to neighbors. I also thought it would be fun to see how if at all I can “think outside the box” with this and use it with my other synths. It would be fun to try and see if I could play anything decent as well. Not to mention, both of my daughters may find it fun and inspiring to try and play, especially since you can use headphones. If all else fails then I may just end up selling everything.

Akai EWI 3030M Synth Module
Akai EWI 3030M Synth Module

Obviously the sales staff had little knowledge of what they had with this Akai wind synth setup. It’s old technology but it’s exactly what I dig as an Old Skool sort of musician. I enjoy trying to make new uses of these things and since I’m no sax player, I may be able to find some cool ways to use it. I’ll post some additional thoughts after I work with it a little bit. It may just be extremely difficult to altogether. I’m also curious how if at all you can use the Akai EWI 3020 to control other synths. There might be some interesting midi controller aspects. Stay tuned!

Roland MKS-20 Digital Piano in Japan

Roland MKS-20 Digital Piano
Roland MKS-20 Digital Piano

I just scored a vintage Roland MKS-20 Digital Piano Module today from a good friend in Nagoya, Japan. I’m really excited about this because I’ve been dealing with MKS-20 multi-samples for some time now with just ok results. I can now finally get busy with the real thing and do some sampling of my own if I wish. In Japan, the Roland MKS-20 is pretty hard to find and we all know it can be quite expensive to get one off Ebay. I got a very good price for this one and feel it should serve me well now and into the future. As I mentioned I have tried quite a few MKS-20 Sample sets but they always seem to be lacking to me. I also noticed that those who created the samples have never really gotten rid of their MKS-20 modules at all, so I figured samples would never really beat the real thing. Why would they keep their MKS-20 module then?

Incidentally, I recently passed up a working Roland RD-1000 keyboard for $60 bucks at a local used shop here in Nagano-city. The reason primarily was the thing was HUGE!! I mean I really didn’t have the space for this beast of a piano at all and it drove me nuts that I had to pass up such a deal, but oh well. I have acquired a lot of gear but the RD-1000 was just too darn big to have sitting in my room and I really didn’t want to put it in storage. So I passed it up and kept waiting for the day I would run into a Roland MKS-20. Sure enough about three weeks later I found one and it’s on the way! I did take some pictures of the Roland RD-1000 I found earlier and will post them here shortly for those curious about it. Currently they are on my cell phone which is out in the car.

In any event, I’m finally glad to have found the elusive Roland MKS-20 in full working order here in Japan. I really like the sound and will enjoy working it into my current setup. Samples are good, but I really think the real thing is better in this particular case. I only wish I had saved the money I spent on the samples…laugh.

Here’s a quick video demonstration of the Roland MKS-20 Digital Piano Sound Module found on Youtube.