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Probably the best new keyboard right now in 2023, Yamaha MX49


Were I buying a new synthesizer right now, it would be this one.

I remember back in the '90s when I really wanted an Ensoniq TS-10. True, the TS-12 also existed, but the TS-10 to me was King Synth because it's exactly the type of synth I like. 61 semi-weighted keys, the all-black "professional" look, and a user-friendly layout (unlike a Roland Fantom which has always been complicated).

Did I ever own a TS-10? No. Way too expensive when it was new. And even in used form today they're still too expensive.

Then there's the Yamaha MX49 and Yamaha MX61. As you may have guessed, the MX49 has 49 keys and the MX61 has 61 keys.

I actually prefer the MX49 because it's a better form factor for home use, although it could totally work for stage use as well, and because the price is oh-so nice for what it has.

What does it have? The semi-weighted keys to my fingers feel so much better than the full-weighted stuff. But on top of that it has features I'd actually use. Namely, a sequencer, patterns, arpeggios and a ton of very high quality sounds. This is stuff that makes putting a music idea together easy and quick. I also like the simple display in the middle and minimal complement of buttons.

Where the layout is concerned, I like that the MX49 has pitch and mod wheels to the lower left, just like the old Ensoniq synths. Another thing I like is that the master volume control is its own separate knob all the way on the upper left. The fact it's a knob and extremely easy to locate is just nice. Some other synths for whatever reason make it difficult to find the volume control. Not on the MX49. Very easy. I like easy.

Good for the beginner? Somewhat, because this is technically a workstation synth. You won't find any built-in speakers with this one - but that's the way I like it. It's better to call this an entry level workstation, which for most people (including myself) is all that anybody ever needs.

An example of a piano arranger with the built-in speakers is the Korg EK-50 (a 61-key). A nice keyboard, but I'm really liking the Yamaha MX49 more. It's compact but with full sized keys, and I just prefer the separated pitch/mod wheels instead of the Korg joystick and also prefer the Yamaha control layout. And yes, there are distinct differences between an arrangers and workstations. I've always preferred the workstation style synth.

It's just really nice to see an offering from Yamaha that packs in some really nice features without breaking the bank.

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