PSR 9000: the second review

Posted by: Marek

PSR 9000: the second review - 12/20/99 07:56 AM


This is my second review to the PSR 9000 (the first I posted on 13.12.1999 after having spent a weekend with this instrument). Now I have learned many additional features, spent much more hours with the keyboard and found some shadow features of the PSR 9000, that were not mentioned anywhere.

I will not bore you with remarks, that the PSR 9000 miss some features from the PSR 8000 (as full voice edit and others), because Yamaha officially said, that these features will be available in the next operating system's version. I noticed other drawbacks:

1) Multi Pads: they are synchronized to one measure (4 beats). If you turn on repeat for a short phrase (e.g. 2 beats long) and start it in the middle of a measure, in the next repeat it will be played from the beginning of the measure and NOT in the middle as you would expect.

2) Fill-In and Variations: the usual concept how to change a variation is that you push Fill-In and immediately thereafter an another vatiation. In the PSR 9000, if you press the variation too quickly after Fill-In, Fill-In will be canceled and accompaniment jump directly to the new variation. If you want to change variation with Fill-In you have to push Fill-In, wait one beat and then push variation. For many songs it is impossible! I personally want to concentrate on the the playing and not on counting the beats.

3) Flash memory: there is 1.8 MB Flash memory reserved for the flash memory styles. There are 120 banks in the PSR 9000, that means Yamaha developer allocated 15 kB for a style. As I saw, the styles are usually 20-40 kB big. The PSR 9000 has 85 factory set flash styles. If you want to keep that styles in the memory and load in the next 35 banks new styles (or create your own style) you have only 64 kB (!!!!) available memory. So, I could load 3 (!!) styles and then I got a message 'insufficient memory'. 32 banks stayed empty because of insufficient memory! As I know there is not a possibility to extend the flash memory.

4) MIDI file playback - the biggest flaw: the MIDI files instruments are mapped to the XG voices, which are from decent to not well sampled (I think they do not sound better than the voices on my Technics KN 930, which cost less than one fourth of the PSR 9000). The perfect and the best sounding voices I have ever heard - the panel voices - are NOT used by MIDI playback!! So MIDI playback on the KN 930 and PSR 9000 sounds almost
identically. The same go for the imported styles, they also use XG voices.

I spoke with Yamaha hotline man and got following answers to my remarks:

1), 2) "I will said it to our Yamaha technician and probably a change can occur in the new operating system version."

3) I will reproduce a part of our discussion:
Yamaha: "That true. Apart from 85 Yamaha's style, only another 3 styles can be loaded."
Me: "Why are there 120 banks, if only 87-90 styles can be loaded?"
Yamaha: "It depends on the style size."
Me: "Your styles are as big, that for the next 35 banks only 64 kB memory is available."
Yamaha: "You have to delete some factory styles, if you want to load more of your styles."
Me: "I want to keep them."
Yamaha: "There is no expandibility and no other solution."
Me: "Why did you provide the PSR 9000 with only 1.8 MB, when the flash cards are nowadays very cheap compared to the whole keyboard."
Yamaha: "I am sorry I cannot give you an answer."

4) Again the discussion:
Yamaha: "In the version 2.0 a MIDI file editing will come."
Me: "I have about 2000 MIDI files, I do not want to edit each MIDI file
before every playback."
Yamaha: "There are people, who wants to hear the MIDI file with XG voices."
Me: "Yes, but there are people, who wants to hear the MIDI file in the full quality with the better sounding panel voices. You should implement a switch function for either XG voices or panel voices playback."
Yamaha: "I will forward it, maybe it occurs in the next version of the operating system.

I did not want to say that the PSR 9000 is a worse that a week ago (I still love it), but after the first enthusiasm I am a little bit disappointed, because that
mentioned points are important for me. And for you?


Posted by: Jer

Re: PSR 9000: the second review - 12/20/99 08:45 AM


Thank you for your most interesting review of the PSR 9000.

It seems as though all the factory engineers talk to each other - but completely ignore the keyboard players.

That goes for Technics - Yamaha and Solton.

The first factory that develops a set of engineering ears that listen to the "players" will have a great deal more commercial success -

Many people are staying with their older keyboards... and I dont blame them.

I have a note hanging problem with the Solton X1 - which is yet unresolved -

Posted by: DonM

Re: PSR 9000: the second review - 12/20/99 09:43 AM

Doesn't the PSR9000 automatically fill to the variations? Is it necessary to hit a fill button and then a variation button?
Posted by: Sam Noels

Re: PSR 9000: the second review - 12/20/99 06:50 PM

I can't believe my eyes. Why are they SOOOO stupid? I would say - my opinion, however - that like Microsoft is releasing beta versions for consumers before the final release of their software, the same way, or something like that, should Yamaha do. They should hear opinions from people, show the image of the new model, and all information about, so everybody will be able to say his mind and opinion!

But they don't do so. I've e-mailed Yamaha about 10 times before the releasing of PSR-9000, and sent them some suggestions, but I never received back anything. Altought a few things I asked them and they followed me. (For example: to add the "Touch Response" button on the control panel, for easy operating).

After I've seen the first image of the PSR-9000, I was shockes to see the Pitch-bend wheel a 1/2 mile (Almost...) from the keys, with some mic settings in between. I e-mailed Yamaha, and they answered me: "A technician will contact you shortly". But I'm still waiting for a contact, HA!HA!

I would recommend NOBODY should buy the PSR-9000! at least the current version! This is NOT WHAT WE PAYING FOR OVER $3,000! I too will probably stay with my PSR-8000 which is not so bad. Not so heavy as the PSR-9000. I'm playing on parties, how is it possible to travel with a 50 Lb. keyboard plus a good case?

I don't know what to say. I'm very disappointed! Why are they all such dummies? They don't WANT to understand what their customers want. We are at Y2K, and still no complete good keyboard on the market. Each company with his advantages and problems!

I don't know what to say about such a crazy problem! You can not record more than 3-4 styles on the PSR-9000! So it's nothing better then the $1,000 PSR-740?

OK I will finish off, because, as you all see, I'm very tired now and maybe over-tired, and I'm writing what I'm dreaming about.... Sorry if you find mistakes in my overtired spelling or grammer. I dream to open a new keyboard company and produce the best (OK, at least one before the best) keyboard on the world!... Do someone intrested to help me??? Chhhh... Oh I'm sleeping so sweet... Please don't wake me up, guys!
Posted by: Alex K

Re: PSR 9000: the second review - 12/20/99 09:35 PM

Thank you for keeping us informed about your discoveries. I hope that as they promised, the new software release will fix some of these problems. It is pretty disappointing to read about the lack of flash memory (I can not see a way to solve this problem with the sofware revisions, unless they introduce a Disk Link function like Roland).
Please let us know about your further impressions of this keyboard - this is the type of information that one can not learn from playing with an instrument for an hour in the store.
Best regards
Posted by: Per Ostrup

Re: PSR 9000: the second review - 12/20/99 10:58 PM

Hi Marek

A flash memory that holds from 50 big to a maximum of 120 smaller flash styles is much more than most keyboards have. Yamaha could have delivered the PSR9000 with an empty flash memory and 145 extra styles on diskettes. Instead they have chosen to put 85 of these into the flash memory and only provide 65 on diskettes. If you want to have all the flash memory free for your own custom styles, all you have to do is back up the internal flash styles to 2 diskettes. They can allways be played direct from disc.

Regarding fill-ins and style change: As I see it from reading the manual (I have not yet received my own PSR9000), you can press one of the fill-keys marked with an arrow. This should give you a fill-in and change the style to the next variation, up or down. However, you can not go directly from variation A to C or B to D this way.

Posted by: Marek

Re: PSR 9000: the second review - 12/20/99 11:58 PM

Hi all,

probably I formulated my review too critically, because I was very disappointed after last weekend. I did not want to say that the PSR 9000 is a bad instrument. It has very nice features, perfect voices, superb styles, but on the other hand, it also has small disadvantages, about which you experience only from the players.

I would NOT say "Do not buy PSR 9000" (Sam, it is too steep) I would say: "Try the PSR 9000, but keep in mind, that no keyboard is without flaws."

For DonM:
There are two Fill-Ins (Fill-In Up, Fill-In Down), which automatically change the variation. But there are many songs, where e.g. 'Break' is suitable by changing the variation. It is very often used by playing with Music Database (that is really a great feature: for one and half week I arranged no own registration, I have been playing only with Music Database). E.g. the song 'Sailing' consists of three parts (3 various registrations). If you want to change from one registration to another, you have to push a Fill-In, otherwise the accompaniment changes abruptly in the middle of the measure from silent to orchestral. If you press Fill-In and change the registration too quickly, Fill-In is cancelled and accompaniment changes from silent to orchestral (if it happens with some 3/4 beat songs I have to wait fot the next measure, otherwise I would not be synchronized with the accompaniment).

For Alex K:
The PSR 9000 has something as Roland's disk link - it is called "disk direct". You can play styles "directly" from the disk (the style is loaded directly into the style memory instead of to the flash memory). And another perfect feature: you can choose another style from the disk while playing the old one. Even by loading the old one will not be interrupted, after loading the new one fluently continues playing accompaniment (with the same tempo). A great feature!!!

For Per Ostrup:
You told me the same as I heard from the Yamaha hotline's man: "You should be happy, that at least 90 styles can be load. It is more than in another brands!"
My feet!! And what about e.g. X1??! X1 can hold 200 user styles if you buy 4 MB Flash Card. But they write about Flash Card in the documentation!
Fill-In: Per, you should know, that if you push "Fill-In Down" twice resp. three times, you can change directly from A to C, resp. from A to D.
But, please do not tell how should I play. If I want to change with "Break", do not tell me, I should change with "Fill-In Down"!!

I sent a fax with a description of my remarks to the Yamaha hotline and I am very curious if my complaints will be considered in the next version of the oprating system.
I will inform you.

Posted by: DonM

Re: PSR 9000: the second review - 12/21/99 07:11 AM

O.K., I undestand what you're talking about it now, and it does seem to be a limitation. Even so, the X1 fill-ins and variations are much harder to use. For one thing they are on the wrong side of the keyboard and must be accessed with right hand, or awkwardly with left, or with footswitch. They don't have the option of "fill up" or "fill down" unless you have the Jump feature on. When it is on, then you don't have the option of NOT filling up or down. Also, with OS 3.0A (US), the Jump feature doesn't work entirely anyway. I understand it does with the European version, but Solton says there is a reason for disabling it with the Harmonizer installed. I'm not sure what the reason is, though.
As Jerry says, if they would just talk to us BEFORE releasing these keyboards, we would either make them perfect, or have the biggest foul-up in history!
Posted by: Paul Ip

Re: PSR 9000: the second review - 12/21/99 08:30 AM


In your reply to Per Ostrup you mentioned "My feet!! And what about e.g. X1??! X1 can hold 200 user styles if you buy 4 MB Flash Card.". The statement is incorrect because the Solton X1 pattern expansion flash memory is only 2 MB not 4 MB. You are confused by the 4 MB sequencer expansion SIMM. With 2 MB of pattern expansion memory I still can hardly load 200 user styles becasue of the big user style sizes - approximately 180 user styles so far. In X1 there is a feature called "single registration" that is similar to Roland G1000's disk link feature, up to 999 registrations per hard disk folder, very handy for on stage performance.

Paul Ip
Posted by: tonin

Re: PSR 9000: the second review - 12/21/99 10:36 PM

The 9000 have a fast microprocessor. A style compressed in zip format is about 50% the original size. Could be possible that yamaha store the styles in flash in a compressed format? (About 400 styles at all ...)
Posted by: Marek

Re: PSR 9000: the second review - 12/22/99 01:07 AM

Hi Paul,

I apologize, I really mistook the Pattern Memory for the Sequencer Memory. I do not own X1, I only read a review, that without Flash Card extensions approximately 40 user styles can be loaded and with 2 MB Flash Card all 198.
On the other hand internal pattern memory + 2 MB extension is more memory than Yamaha provided the PSR 9000, which was developed almost a year later than X1 (and X1 has 198 factory styles, Yamaha only 125).

Posted by: Paul Ip

Re: PSR 9000: the second review - 12/22/99 06:58 AM


198 user styles with 2 MB pattern expansion flash memory is just the maximum number of user styles X1 supports, but in reality user style sizes are larger and so it is almost unlikely to get all 198 user styles loaded in pattern memory, not for me at least.

Paul Ip
Posted by: Marcos

Re: PSR 9000: the second review - 01/06/00 09:58 AM

Hi Marek
The keyboard PSR8000 have the same problems that PSR9000?
The sound is very different or are almost the same.