A friend of mine at a local used music store sold me his almost new Yamaha KX25 controller keyboard last weekend. I must say that I’m really having fun with the Yamaha KX25 primarily because of the fantastic built in arpeggiator function. The majority of the arpeggiated phrases are very musical and useful. Right now I’m find it really fun to control hardware synthss like the DX-7, D-50, and Korg M1.
The Yamaha KX25 arpeggiator is very much like the one found in the Yamaha Motif series which opens up a world of possibilities when linked with a hardware synth. As you control the arp with the Yamaha KX25 you can then play melodies or notes using the keyboard you are controlling which gives you kind of split keyboard feel. Thus I can call up a bass patch on the Yamaha DX-7 and choose one of the many cool arp phrases on the KX25. While I’m triggering the arp with the my left hand, I can then play other lines, chords, or runs with my right hand up top on the Yamaha DX-7. You can also press the hold button on the KX-25 to completely remove all hands from the KX25.
There are also 4 knobs that can be assigned to volume, envelopes, cutoff, frequency, etc. You can also assign a second set of four commands and toggle between the two for each knob. There also is a second set of modulation and pitch wheels, plus a pedal jack in the back to add a sustain pedal. There is also a midi in and out/thru port which can be connected to any hardware synth or sound module. The Yamaha KX-25 is a little large in dimensions, BUT it’s very light and for triggering arps and playing basslines it’s really good. Like I mentioned above, the Yamaha KX25 is superb for adding an arpeggiator to any synth that lacks one. The arp phrases in the KX25 are some of the best I’ve heard and you can modify tempo, gate, swing, category, and a few other things. The ONLY thing you can’t do is create your own arp phrases, but honestly I don’t think that is really necessary. With a total of 540 phrases/rhythm patterns in the Yamaha KX25, that should keep the creative juices flowing for quite a while.
Note that another primary use of the Yamaha KX25 is to hook it up to a computer and control different DAWS, but my intentions are to primarily use the KX25 as a Hardware controller. Having a full blown arp hooked up to an older hardware synth is just killer. It really breathes new life into older machines. If you are looking for a hardware controller with a good built in arpeggiator, I definitely recommend checking out the Yamaha KX25.
Here is a great video of Katsunori UJIIE in Japan with a demo of the Yamaha KX series controllers. He talks about the great arpeggiator it has.