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 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 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
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