Features

Yamaha Tyros3 Keyboard Review

So the moment many of you have no doubt been waiting for. The new Yamaha Tyros3 keyboard, the latest in the line of popular flagship models that have shaped the future of all other keyboards and digital pianos in Yamaha’s range.

Fortunately, I have been one of only a handful of people to experience the new flagship keyboard from Yamaha before its official release and yet more importantly, I have also had this new musical delight positioned comfortably in my own home, allowing for some very close scrutiny indeed!

At First Glance

Tyros3 doesn’t look a whole lot different from its predecessors; it is after all still a Tyros, however there are changes worth noting. The sliced angles that Tyros2 introduced have gone and in its place we have much sleeker curves. The features that your eyes will immediately jump to though are the addition of 9 sliders positioned under the LCD screen and the 2 extra buttons located to the left of the keyboard sitting next to the Pitch Bend and Modulation wheels. I will come to these later in my review…

The FSX keyboard continues the lovely feel the Tyros2 gave us with now enhanced after touch response. There are no new speakers available for Tyros3, however Tyros2 speakers are fully compatible as all the connections and speaker slots remain intact.

The button layout is only slightly different, however spread out more liberally around the keyboard. The buttons also have a slightly lower profile resulting in a cleaner perspective.

The Sounds – The Journey to Tyros3

[ Main Demonstration Audio Preview (325 hits) ]

There is no doubt in my mind that the Tyros series of keyboards have been a huge success and have certainly warranted our musical affections. There are those of you who may also remember that it was due to my love of the original Tyros, I decided to start ‘Yamaha Personal Keyboard Owner‘ and none of us have really looked back since have we? Tyros(1) will be fondly remembered for its introduction of MegaVoices, which gave accompaniment styles real sounding guitars, including fantastic strums and many other characteristics that we may today take for granted. There was just one issue though. Naturally owners expected to play MegaVoices themselves, especially as they are listed in the voice selections. Unfortunately though, MegaVoices are instead intended for talented accompaniment style programmers, who could carefully add these nuances when they saw fit.

Tyros2 appeared and answered this request by many Yamaha enthusiasts and featured playable MegaVoices, known as Super Articulation. We all welcomed Super Articulation with open arms as a fleet of new instruments including guitars, brass, strings and many others were added with the same characteristics we loved in MegaVoices, however now playable live.

The latest buzzword on the Yamaha Tyros3 is Super Articulation 2, but what does this bring to the table?

Super Articulation 2

Just like Super Articulation on Tyros2, each voice featuring the technology has an impressive number of recorded samples, therefore creating a very satisfying realism from a multitude of options the keyboard brain can select from. Essentially the more samples the better, but the clever part is the keyboard working out where they fit together in a performance. Super Articulation 2 however goes much further with a larger array of instrument characteristics available the keyboard can trigger automatically based upon your timing, pressure, while also taking into consideration which keys are pressed in relation to the previously triggered key, but probably the most exciting part is you can (if you wish) have total control over this.

There are 5 core ‘Super Articulation 2′ voices, however these are extended to 11 by adding unique characteristics and other subtle changes. These include:

  • Jazz Trumpet
  • Classic Trumpet
  • Jazz Sax
  • Breathy Sax
  • Clarinet
  • Ballad Clarinet
  • Romance Clarinet
  • Irish Pipe Air
  • Irish Pipe Dance
  • Harmonica
  • Blues Harmonica

[ Romance Clarinet Audio Preview (269 hits) | Jazz Trumpet Audio Preview (244 hits) | Irish Pipes Air Audio Preview (245 hits) ]

There may not be a huge selection of Super Articulation 2 voices, however the 5 core selections available take a whopping 1/6 of the internal wave memory capacity! So we are talking about a really large range of new instrument samples available. As you may have noticed already, they are all wind instruments and using the new Super Articulation 2 technology, the keyboard can now fully express legato and staccato-like nuances that are found in the sound the real life counterparts feature.

Art. 1 and Art. 2 Buttons

Tyros3 has two new buttons located to the right of the Pitch Bend and Modulation wheels named Art. 1 and Art. 2. If we take the new Super Articulation 2 Clarinet as an example, you can control the samples played at both the beginning and the tail end of the note.

[ Super Articulation 2: Clarinet Audio Preview (296 hits) ]

Using these additional buttons, Tyros3’s automatic computer brain can be momentarily overridden while you apply effects when you so desire. Be it a glide, glissando and other characteristics depending on the voice selected. The Art. 1 and Art. 2 buttons can be selected either before you press a note or just before you release, giving the player a full array of selections to mimic their favourite tunes and the result is both rewarding and quite astounding.

[ Super Articulation 2: Irish Pipes Air Audio Preview (604 hits) ]

However for those of you who don’t wish to be pressing these two new buttons during a performance, the keyboard will also tirelessly fill in the gaps based on your style of playing. So really you have the best of both worlds.

[ Super Articulation 2: Breathy Sax Audio Preview (603 hits) ]

If you are unsure how the buttons are used, you can also call up a page on the screen which will detail exactly what will happen:

It is also worth noting that Super Articulation (1) voices new and old also can use the Art. 1 and Art. 2 functionality when available. The biggest alert to this is when both the buttons are illuminated green, indicating that they can be used with the voice selected.

Digital Sound Processor (D.S.P.)

The feature of Tyros3 that is responsible for the overall audio improvement has to be the new D.S.P. effects. Now boasting extremely high quality reverbs, both voices and accompaniment styles have a far richer sound. Styles more than any other section of the Tyros3 seem to make the most of this and the compression, but it is certainly not the only benefiting section of the keyboard. Of course this also adds to the realism, especially when the era of styles change. You will notice that drum kits and bass in particular will have different effects applied depending on the genre the style is based around adding to the authenticity.

[ Digital Signal Processor (D.S.P.) Audio Preview (246 hits) ]

It is not just limited to new effects though… There are two exclusive D.S.P. effect blocks for accompaniment styles, providing rich aural sensations no matter what rhythm you select. This means where Tyros2 had 3 D.S.P. effects on offer, Tyros3 has 5 available. You certainly notice the difference when you jump back to Tyros2 as it sounds less dynamic and dare I say weak after playing the new flagship Tyros3. This of course is technology moving on and no matter how much I love the Tyros2, the successor takes us beyond yet again.

The Sliders

Organ players will no doubt rejoice at this one new feature alone as it allows them to tweak theatre organ footages on the fly. No more fiddling with up and down buttons and then saving to a registration, now you can control it all in real time with just a little bit of skill and effort. There is also a button added to the panel layout so you can immediately jump to the screen with all the footages displayed.

The sliders can also be used to control other on screen elements. For example, when the balance display is shown on the LCD screen, you can control all of the volumes with the 8 provided sliders. It works just as well on other areas of the operating system as well.

There is also a ninth assignable slider, that can be used to control a multitude of functions including style volume, microphone volume and many others that you can select from a list.

The Styles

Tyros2 featured an impressive 400 styles, however there is always the desire for more from the community. Tyros3 boasts a whopping 450 styles, all utilizing the new features of the keyboard. Many old favourites remain, but every style has been enhanced overall and some intros and endings have also been changed. There is of course a great selection of completely new additions to wet our appetitive for something completely different.

[ Modern Big Band Shuffle Audio Preview (704 hits) ]

The backing styles on Tyros3 also use a new programming technology designed primarily for the guitars and as a result, are far more realistic when trying to match the most awkward of chords you may invoke.

[ Dreamy Ballad Audio Preview (310 hits) ]

If we take the Movie&Show category as an example, there are a few new styles here that feature prominently in the Tyros3 repertoire. One style is perfect for anyone who has loved the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ films and another captures the awe inspiring work of Hanz Zimmer, another movie this time from the blockbuster hit ‘Gladiator’.

[ Movie Soundtrack (294 hits) ]

As exciting as these styles are, the most invigorating has to be Ethereal Movie’. Usually with any style, you are locked into the tempo, which can make it difficult to add a real sense of emotion, particularly with voices you play slowly. Ethereal Movie however changes this premise and allows you to play freestyle as you are not locked into a set speed for the majority of the variations. The metronome is certainly not a requisite here!

A resonating sound erupts as you trigger the style and you can change chords whenever you wish and not when the tempo dictates. It certainly gives you a whole new experience on the Tyros3, however it is a shame that this seems to be the only accompaniment style that features this new freestyle’ ambition. Hopefully more will be available in the future!

Other Voices

Of course there is a lot more to Tyros3 than just the new Super Articulation 2 technology. The classic Sweet! designation remains and fans of the orchestral sound will no doubt celebrate with the fact that the Tyros3 includes a brand new Orchestral Flute, Oboe, Clarinet and even Bassoon. All sound fantastic and there is even a new Orchestral Harp that really does sound delicious. There are also new Super Articulation (1) and MegaVoices added.

[ Sweet Orchestral Flute and Sweet Orchestral Oboe Audio Preview (244 hits) | Orchestral Harp Audio Preview (210 hits) ]

For those who were hoping for new piano voices will also not be disappointed, as there are an additional 5 voices named; Concert Piano (equivalent to a piano voice from the CVP-400 range), Pop Grand, Rock Piano, Ambient Piano and Cocktail Piano. Each piano voice has its own distinctive sound and therefore should match many of your intended sheet music selections.

[ Tyros2 Verses Tyros3 Piano Voices Audio Demonstration (308 hits) ]

For those who adore their organ voices (and that would be a lot of you!), Yamaha have added to the repertoire, while also taking full advantage of Super Articulation. In Tyros2, the aim was for a pure representation, taking out any of the audio segments that were deemed rough. Now in a bizarre yet understandable twist, the nuances such as the generator leakage sound that Yamaha before painstakingly removed, have all been recaptured and added for authenticity.

[ Whiter Bars Audio Preview (224 hits) ]

There are also new drum kits added, featuring a more powerful rock kit, while also not forgetting the Dance category and extending this section too.

[ Rock Kit Audio Preview (223 hits) ]

Older voices that are now deemed to be less important are now placed in a new folder called ‘Legacy’. This can be found by selecting one of the voice panel buttons on the right hand side of the keyboard and selecting ‘Up’, which also of course reveals the famous GM&XG folder. The reasoning behind this is quite simple really as Yamaha want you to use the newer updated voices available in your performances. It is also worth noting that the newer voices will be featured on page 1 on each voice section.

The Motif Influence

This is probably an area you won’t hear mentioned very often or at all by the traditional publications; however I do feel as one of the younger Yamaha enthusiasts, that it is of importance. Tyros3 has a bucket load of new Synth and Pad voices that have been taken directly from the Motif and when I say a lot, I really mean a lot!

[ Various Pad Examples (640 hits) | Various Synth Examples (241 hits) ]

While this area of the keyboard may not get the attention of your typical Yamaha owner, it is actually very exciting for those of us who like to experiment with the Dance’ selection. Of course the pad sounds can also be used within other style genres. This on top of the fact that there are now sliders to adjust volumes on the fly, makes it more than just a little appealing for fans of this genre to really expand their enjoyment.

LCD Screen

The Tyros2 LCD screen took a fair bit of flack from the community and although it did the job happily enough, it wasn’t as good as a lot of enthusiasts would have hoped for. The Tyros3 screen will blow you away then…

It is not just better, but absolutely stunning. Utilising TFT technology, the screen is incredibly vibrant, clear and viewable from many angles. So confident are Yamaha with this new viewing device that the contrast wheel is now nowhere to be found, it really is that good!

Yamaha are also confident that the screen will perform much better for those who perform outside.

Operating System

For those who have experienced the Yamaha range already in the last few years, will no doubt notice a comforting familiarity with the Tyros3. For those who are migrating from either Tyros(1) or Tyros2, there is very little difference in functionality and layout, however the overall presentation has been improved. Now sporting a soft blue colour scheme, all the areas are easy to read, pleasing to the eye and edges far more rounded than ever before.

New information screens are available for One Touch Settings (O.T.S.) and the Registration Memory section. If we take the O.T.S. information screen as an example, you can now see on the LCD display what voices are used within each ‘One Touch Setting’. No more shock horror when you jump to an unsuspecting voice selection as you now see in advance what will be triggered before selecting the button.

New Features

For those who like me use the Internet Direct Connection (I.D.C.) feature, will be happy to know that an adapter is no longer required for those who use a wired connection. There is now a built in LAN port around the back of the keyboard. I.D.C. allows the keyboard to connect to Yamaha directly on-line, which gives you the opportunity to purchase new premium quality styles, download free additional Music Finder records and much more.

I personally love to create my own multipads, however timing is crucial when activating them during a performance otherwise your multipad that is intended to begin on the first beat instead triggers too late causing a right mess. Sometimes you wish you had an extra hand and to get around this, I would cheat by adding an extra break or intro in-between so I had time to trigger one of my custom selections. On Tyros3 however, the process is made far easier with the synchronisation button. Simply hold this new button, select a multipad that Yamaha have provided or you have created yourself and happily it all matches up perfectly. Very handy indeed!

If the hunt for an officially recognised compatible hard drive was causing a few headaches with Tyros2, well you no longer need to reach for the paracetamol. The Tyros3 comes pre-installed with a massive 80GB hard drive. This is certainly plenty to store your registrations, additional styles and of course the real hard drive space grabbers, which include wave files (*.wav) and expandable voices.

Hard Disk Recording has also seen an enhancement in the way of a new two track feature. This allows you to record one track, followed by another separate track and then allows you to adjust each one independently before combining them.

I have also found that larger USB sticks that didn’t work in Tyros2 (in this case 8GB), work perfectly well on Tyros3 (this may of course not be the case for every USB stick available!)

Expandability

Tyros3 includes USB 2.0 support. This means that loading new wave samples (additional voices you can purchase on-line from third party manufacturers) is far quicker than that of Tyros2.

Minor Niggles

Multipads are crying out to be updated! Very little has changed in this area and the selection remains virtually identical to the ones that arrived with the original Tyros. With all the new Synth sounds in particular now knocking on our door and much of dance music relying on loops (which Multipads cater for perfectly!), I hope that Yamaha have a look at this area in particular in the near future.

The sliders sometimes need a larger nudge so they realise you are triggering them and this seems to be the case when the position shown on the screen doesn’t match the physical slider itself below the LCD display. The sliders are not motorised (which actually means there is less to go wrong with them!), but it does mean you need to adjust the sliders initially.

The power button has now moved to the rear of the keyboard, which is completely different from the Tyros(1) and 2. This actually is incredibly minor; however it is not the perfect solution so only just barely worthy of mention in this section.

Conclusion

Tyros3 has yet again extended the boundaries of what is possible on a keyboard. The new D.S.P. effects add far greater authenticity to the style selections and this totally changes the overall feel all on its own, but of course it doesn’t stop there…

The sliders are bound to impress the organ enthusiasts and for those who wish to adjust other parameters such as volumes on the fly, will feel a sense of control the up and down buttons could never quite match.

It certainly seems that Yamaha has listened to a lot of what the community were looking for in a new flagship keyboard as well, including USB 2.0 support, new Grand Pianos, crystal clear LCD screen, faster expandable voice loading and much more.

Hopefully third party voice creators will for the first time find extra vigour within themselves to create extremely high quality voices of their own, now that loading times have vastly improved thanks to the USB 2.0 feature.

Tyros3 is a whole lot grittier than its predecessor. Tyros2 aimed for a very pure recreation of whatever it was trying to mimic, however Tyros3 goes for the more accurate and dare I say more dirtier representation, which completely enhances the styles and voices tremendously in such a positive way.

Let’s be clear, this is not a Tyros2 with just a few bits bolted on to keep people happy, in fact the better description would be Tyros2 further refined and given a swift kick up the backside pushing it ever closer to perfection. Perfection may be unattainable, but Yamaha are certainly edging ever closer to this goal. Tyros(1) owners will no doubt experience a gigantic transformation moving to Tyros3 and even those with Tyros2 daring to upgrade will feel an inner warmth in their musical soul after a couple of hours with the new flagship.

As always, get yourself down to your local dealer when Tyros3 is available and give it a whirl for yourself. I am certainly convinced after just a few weeks! Even with this extended review, there is so much more to explore on Tyros3, but hopefully I will have pointed out many of the highlights for you.