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#320372 - 03/28/11 10:17 AM My Full PSR-S700 Review!
squeak_D Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 10/08/00
Posts: 4683
Loc: West Virginia
After spending the entire weekend digging into the features of the PSR-S700.., I feel comfortable at this point to give my full review on this arranger keyboard. Some may be a repeat of my "mini review".., but I'll go more into detail here.

Cosmetics: I have to hand it to Yamaha. IMO.., I think they've outdone themselves with the design of the newer PSR series. These newer models are very sleek. The panel layout is easy to understand and many of the key functions have good placement on the panel.

What I find very pleasing is that the S700 uses buttons that do not have a dimple (click) set up. The buttons are rubber with LED's, and feel good to the touch. I personally like these types of buttons on Yamaha arrangers because (at least from what I see).., they last longer.

I'm a little curious however as to why the style and voice category buttons are so small. Yamaha really decreased these in size. They're not unusable, but take a more "precise approach" when using them.

The overall construction quality (when taking into consideration that it's designed for the home player) is quite good. Naturally it's all plastic.., but for home use this keyboard is built very well. Sure you can use it to gig with, but obviously you'll need to take a little extra care with the unit as it's not really built to be "road worthy".

Key Action: What more can I say here that hasn't already been covered countless times on this forum. The key action is best described as "Yamaha". I'll leave it at that smile

Speakers: I think the speakers on this unit are amazing! Just an overall very good and well balanced sound comes from them. I don't even use the preset EQ settings, or even a custom set up. I'm very surprised at how good they sound on the default FLAT setting.

Now some of you may wonder why I don't use the EQ.., and I have a very good reason for this. As many of you know.., I dig into any and all editing tools a keyboard provides for tweaking patches. When I create/edit patches I "ALWAYS" do it with the raw sound "uncolored". All the fluff gets in the way of sound editing IMO. So I leave my EQ set to Flat for this reason.

Sounds: Overall the sounds are great. Pianos are what you'd expect from Yamaha over the years. You either like them or you don't. The pianos are on the "bright" side. However.., I've found that typical of EVERY Yamaha I've owned over the years (including their workstations). You get a good assortment of acoustic pianos and EP's. Plus it's SO easy to edit a piano patch to your liking. Within a few minutes of owning the keyboard, I realized it was missing a piano I need.., and that's a Dark Grand. It took me less than 5 minutes to make a really good one using the patch editing.

Organs I don't really feel comfortable with trying to give an opinion on them. I'm not an organ player.., so I won't insult the organists here with some half-assed lame opinion on this area that I feel I have no business rating.

Brass is good.., nice clean brass patches. Very expressive too. I however only found one brass patch that would really work for modern styles though. No biggie either as some editing can be done to fix this.

Reeds are amazing. This is an area where Yamaha has always excelled IMO. The saxes are great. The Sweet Soprano Sax is still IMO the best in the industry. You're not getting SA saxes on this arranger.., but the presets are more than adequate.

Strings are a mixed bag for me. Some of them are really good and some are just so so. Again.., I've yet to find a string patch that I can't edit to my liking. I've created a Solo Slow Violin that IMO is much more usable than the presets. The Sweet Violin is alright.., but not for solo work.

Guitars/Basses are very good. An excellent selection in this area. I would say thus far.., my only gripe within the bass selection is the limited synth basses. You have to go into the XG or GM2 patches for a wider selection.., and even those are only so so.

Synth sounds aren't too bad. You're obviously not going to be banging out Moog emulations on this thing. Some of the preset are usable, and with editing it opens up many more options.

Drums IMO are a good improvement. Yamaha is listening folks. These newer models are using a lot more velocity switching in the kits. Plus there are obviously higher quality samples within some of these kits too. The standard kits are covered very well. I'm a bit disappointed in the electronic kit selection. It's very limited.., but I honestly wasn't expecting much in this area as it's not really one of Yamaha's strong points in the arranger line.

I will say however.., that the Dance Kit has been improved. What I find odd though is that it appears Yamaha has "condensed" the Dance Kit here. It's more of a combination of a Dance/Hip Hop kit. Personally i would prefer to see a separate kit for each one though.

Trumpets are also good with a nice selection to choose from.

Flutes and woodwinds are hit and miss. You get the good Sweet Voices.., but again some of the other presets in this area are so so.

Choir/Pads are decent. The choirs aren't the best.., but again I've yet to run into a wall with the editing. The Pads aren't anything to write home about.., but they're there if you need them.

Styles: This is going to be an easy category. When you look at the styles provided.., Yamaha (as usual) delivers in the Standards and Classics. I'd say that 99.99% of the time, Yamaha really nails this area. Yes.., they sound like CD quality styles (no need to beat that horse to death again). You either like this type of sound or you don't.

The modern styles are an improvement over the previous models IMO. What I think has helped out the modern styles a great deal is the addition of new samples within the drum kits AND the use of Mega Voices. You're not going to get chart topping modern beats within the presets.., but you can certainly make some darn good ones using the Style Creator. I did however have a good laugh when I heard the intro to one of the more modern styles having a nice throwback to the original DJX smile

Sequencer/Style Creator: What an absolute breeze to use. The sequencer and the style creator IMO are very well done. Easy to understand, and very logical. You're not getting workstation sequencing power here.., but it's more than adequate. There are many good and useful tools within the sequencer and style creator. I was recording my own songs and user styles in no time on this keyboard.

The rear panel has the standard connections. Thankfully Yamaha hasn't started dropping standard midi jacks on these models smile It's nice to have USB storage as well. I really don't have any complaints with the connections. Everything I need is back there.

The OS: Hell.., I don't think it can get any easier than this. Yamaha IMO has always had a very good OS in their arrangers. The menus aren't confusing. Functions are easy to get to. It's a just a very easy OS to navigate. I've yet to get stumped by it.

Conclusion: The S-700 is a winner in my book. For the price these things went for new.., I think they're a good bargain. You get a feature packed semi pro arranger keyboard that'll keep you busy for a long time.

I've said in the past that people often don't outgrow their arrangers. They just have a set distance they plan to go with them and once they reach it.., it's on to the next. The S-700 has enough to keep me busy for a long time. I'm one of those people who doesn't just scratch the surface. I grab a shovel and dig baby smile


Edited by squeak_D (03/28/11 10:23 AM)
_________________________
GEAR: Yamaha MOXF-6, Casio MZX-500, Roland Juno-Di, M-Audio Venom, Roland RS-70, Yamaha PSR S700, M-Audio Axiom Pro-61 (Midi Controller). SOFTWARE: Mixcraft-7, PowerTracks Pro Audio 2013, Beat Thang Virtual, Dimension Le.

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#320378 - 03/28/11 11:06 AM Re: My Full PSR-S700 Review! [Re: squeak_D]
ianmcnll Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/27/05
Posts: 10598
Loc: Cape Breton Island, Canada
Great review, Squeak...I like the S700 a lot myself.

For a nice orchestral-type Strings patch, try layering Live!Strings with Strings, using equal amounts of volume, the same octaves, and the same reverb...you can also try panning one Left, and the other Right a small amount.

Ian
_________________________
Yamaha Tyros4, Yamaha MS-60S Powered Monitors(2), Yamaha CS-01, Yamaha TQ-5, Yamaha PSR-S775.

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#320379 - 03/28/11 11:11 AM Re: My Full PSR-S700 Review! [Re: ianmcnll]
squeak_D Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 10/08/00
Posts: 4683
Loc: West Virginia
Originally Posted By: ianmcnll
Great review, Squeak...I like the S700 a lot myself.

For a nice orchestral-type Strings patch, try layering Live!Strings with Strings, using equal amounts of volume, the same octaves, and the same reverb...you can also try panning one Left, and the other Right a small amount.

Ian


Thanks Ian.., I've actually already created some layered custom patches. I combined one of my string ensembles with one of my violin patches. Did some minor adjustments to the panning, volume, DSP.., and got a really nice orchestral patch.
_________________________
GEAR: Yamaha MOXF-6, Casio MZX-500, Roland Juno-Di, M-Audio Venom, Roland RS-70, Yamaha PSR S700, M-Audio Axiom Pro-61 (Midi Controller). SOFTWARE: Mixcraft-7, PowerTracks Pro Audio 2013, Beat Thang Virtual, Dimension Le.

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#320382 - 03/28/11 11:50 AM Re: My Full PSR-S700 Review! [Re: squeak_D]
ianmcnll Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/27/05
Posts: 10598
Loc: Cape Breton Island, Canada
It's cool that the s700 meets your needs so well...

Another neat sound combination is to layer Sweet Trumpet with itself...volumes the same, panning in centre, octaves the same.

It gives a very effective "Mute Trumpet" sound, that is even more expressive than the on-board Muted Trumpet...try experimenting with Mono on each or both.

Post any combinations you find useful, Squeak, there are a lot of S700 users who would love some interesting layered patches. Have you done any synth type sounds?

Ian
_________________________
Yamaha Tyros4, Yamaha MS-60S Powered Monitors(2), Yamaha CS-01, Yamaha TQ-5, Yamaha PSR-S775.

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#320383 - 03/28/11 11:54 AM Re: My Full PSR-S700 Review! [Re: ianmcnll]
squeak_D Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 10/08/00
Posts: 4683
Loc: West Virginia
Originally Posted By: ianmcnll
It's cool that the s700 meets your needs so well...

Another neat sound combination is to layer Sweet Trumpet with itself...volumes the same, panning in centre, octaves the same.

It gives a very effective "Mute Trumpet" sound, that is even more expressive than the on-board Muted Trumpet...try experimenting with Mono on each or both.

Post any combinations you find useful, Squeak, there are a lot of S700 users who would love some interesting layered patches. Have you done any synth type sounds?

Ian


By the end of this week I'll have a pretty good group of user patches put together. They'll be a combination of edited presets.., and some using layered. Will probably throw a few layered splits together too. The Synth area is a category I plan to hit up hard. Some decent raw samples there to start with. With some creative editing and use of the DSP.., I have a feeling that it will not be that difficult to produce some synth leads and pads that'll suit my needs.
_________________________
GEAR: Yamaha MOXF-6, Casio MZX-500, Roland Juno-Di, M-Audio Venom, Roland RS-70, Yamaha PSR S700, M-Audio Axiom Pro-61 (Midi Controller). SOFTWARE: Mixcraft-7, PowerTracks Pro Audio 2013, Beat Thang Virtual, Dimension Le.

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#320397 - 03/28/11 02:33 PM Re: My Full PSR-S700 Review! [Re: squeak_D]
Diki Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 04/25/05
Posts: 12861
Loc: NW Florida
Nice review squeak... 'fair and balanced' in the non-Fox sense of the words!

Just curious why the extra for a 910 wasn't worth it for you? I think for me, one of the MAIN reasons to get a Yamaha would be those SA voices. I know cost IS a consideration, but some things are worth it, perhaps? Even for synth sounds, there's some tricks the SA voices can do that raise the bar quite a bit.

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#320399 - 03/28/11 02:51 PM Re: My Full PSR-S700 Review! [Re: squeak_D]
ianmcnll Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/27/05
Posts: 10598
Loc: Cape Breton Island, Canada
Diki, the S910 was a few years after the S700; the latter's higher-end partner at the time would have been the S900.

Squeak could probably get an S900 for considerably less than an S910, although I believe his main reason for buying the S700 was a price he simply couldn't refuse.

Ian
_________________________
Yamaha Tyros4, Yamaha MS-60S Powered Monitors(2), Yamaha CS-01, Yamaha TQ-5, Yamaha PSR-S775.

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#320405 - 03/28/11 05:16 PM Re: My Full PSR-S700 Review! [Re: Diki]
squeak_D Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 10/08/00
Posts: 4683
Loc: West Virginia
Originally Posted By: Diki
Nice review squeak... 'fair and balanced' in the non-Fox sense of the words!

Just curious why the extra for a 910 wasn't worth it for you? I think for me, one of the MAIN reasons to get a Yamaha would be those SA voices. I know cost IS a consideration, but some things are worth it, perhaps? Even for synth sounds, there's some tricks the SA voices can do that raise the bar quite a bit.


Diki.., the S910 was out of my price range. I knew that I would eventually be picking up another arranger..., and man did I get the S-700 for one hell of a bargain. The unit is literally brand spankin new, and had barely been touched by the previous owner.

My goodness the price I got it for is unreal.... It would have just been foolish to pass up on it.


Edited by squeak_D (03/28/11 05:17 PM)
_________________________
GEAR: Yamaha MOXF-6, Casio MZX-500, Roland Juno-Di, M-Audio Venom, Roland RS-70, Yamaha PSR S700, M-Audio Axiom Pro-61 (Midi Controller). SOFTWARE: Mixcraft-7, PowerTracks Pro Audio 2013, Beat Thang Virtual, Dimension Le.

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#320428 - 03/29/11 05:09 AM Re: My Full PSR-S700 Review! [Re: squeak_D]
montunoman Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 10/20/09
Posts: 2658
Loc: Dallas, Texas
squeak- my I be so bold as to ask how much you paid?
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It not the keyboard, it's the keyboardist.

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