I have always been a synthesizer nut.  Back as a kid in the ’70s I’d meet my band in downtown Toronto to jam.  I’d usually arrive early hang out in the keyboard department of Long & McQuade on Bloor.  The guys new me there and would let me play around on all the wonderful keyboards.  Now they’re all Vintage and can be found on eBay for thousands of dollars.

But I never actually owned a synthesizer until I purchased a Yamaha DX-7II last year.  That was an eye opener (or more appropriately ear opener) when it came to sound.  Sure you could use your computer to produce VST Instrument sounds but in the end it was still a computer pretending to be a synthesizer.  I was stunned by the difference in sound quality even when comparing the synthesizer to more costly VST Instruments.

With our band Fizzbin working on our live show I wanted to bring something more sonically to the table.  I started researching music workstation keyboards.  These included the Roland Fantom, the Korg Kronos and the Yamaha Motif series of workstations.

I chose the Motif series as I’ve always been a Yamaha fan plus I really like the feature set.  There is a deep FireWire integration similar to my Mackie Onyx mixers.  This is done through an add-on board which I plan to purchase shortly.  Through this feature you could route VST effects into a channel’s insert while the signal remains completely digital.  It also allows you to record each track played by the Motif digitally on your computer.

The Motif is a Sampler which comes with 128MB of user RAM for Samples.  You can add up to 2GB of Flash Memory to the Motif which will allow the unit to continuously store samples even when the unit is powered off.  This dramatically speeds up start-up time.

I’ve reworked most of our songs to route their MIDI tracks to the Motif.  The keyboard can play 16 simultaneous tracks, each in a different voice.  It really gives a new dimension to our songs.  The trouble is there are so many preset sounds to choose from I seem to keep changing up the instruments on each song’s tracks.  No worries though.  I’m sure I’ll find something to make me happy.

The Motif is a very complex music creation system.  I can store MIDI tracks internally and play them multi-timbrally without even needing a computer.  Sounds can be diced, sliced and turned into samples.  I plan to work on doing that down the road.  There is just so much to learn and I’ve only had the Motif for a week.  I haven’t even plugged a microphone into its vocoder yet

Incidentally, the Motif XF series come in 3 flavours; 6, 7 & 8.  The guts are the same on all 3 models.  Completely the same.  Where they differ is in their  keyboards (and consequently their width).  The Motif 6 and 7 have 61 and 76 keys respectively.  They both use the FSX keyboard.  The Motif XF 8 contains an 88 Balanced Hammer Effect keyboard.  The difference from top to bottom of the line is a spread of about $2K.

So, Wooo Hooo!  New toy!  Let the learning curve begin.  Stay tuned as things progress…

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