For keyboardists needing great sounds, computer connectivity and integration along with full-sized keys in an ultra-portable package, the MX61BU is a lightweight synthesizer featuring sounds from the legendary MOTIF series and computer integration. Unlike dedicated keyboard controllers with no internal sounds or hardware synths that require a separate audio interface, MX61BU features a powerful synthesizer engine, deep computer DAW and iOS APP control and an integrated, class-compliant USB Audio/MIDI interface.
Over 1000 Sounds from the MOTIF Series
The MX BK/BU series contains more than 1000 Voices derived directly from the world famous Yamaha MOTIF XS music production synthesizer. From realistic acoustic sounds like piano, electric piano, strings and drums to complex synth sounds, the MX BK/BU has...
Over 1000 Sounds from the MOTIF Series
The MX BK/BU series contains more than 1000 Voices derived directly from the world famous Yamaha MOTIF XS music production synthesizer. From realistic acoustic sounds like piano, electric piano, strings and drums to complex synth sounds, the MX BK/BU has all your favorite MOTIF XS Voices at your fingertips. The MX BK/BU even has a streamlined interface for instant hands-on selection of all those great Voices. The newly designed category selection makes it easier than ever to find the Voice you need. You can even edit and store your own sounds right onboard.
Class-compliant, "plug and play" USB audio/MIDI
The MX BK/BU series features class-compliant, “plug and play” USB audio/MIDI with iOS, Mac and PC. Just plug it in and your MX BK/BU synthesizer becomes your audio and MIDI interface for the rest of your music studio. Monitor all the sounds from your computer via the headphone output of the MX BK/BU or listen to your DAW tracks by connecting the MX BK/BU to external studio monitors or PA gear. The audio converters on the MX BK/BU are made for professional music applications so everything on your computer -- even games -- will sound better when using the MX BK/BU as the output. The MX BK/BU interface is bi-directional, so you can record the internal sounds of the MX BK/BU directly to your computer, without ever going to the analog domain, for the highest possible quality.
Plug and Play, "FM Essential"
"FM Essential" is an FM synthesizer app for iPhone and iPad with real-time synth performance and editing. Connect FM Essential to an MX BK/BU series synthesizer and unlock a full set 271 Voices.
Easy Split /Layer Performance Mode for Instant Inspiration
Performance Mode on the MOTIF has always been the place to find instant inspiration and the MX BK/BU is no different. You can easily combine two Voices to play on the keyboard using the dedicated Split and Layer buttons each with their own intelligent arpeggiator and a dedicated Part for a drum track to create evocative Performances that feel like a whole band is playing. The 128 Performances on the MX BK/BU are all user editable so you can customize them for your style of music.
16-Part Multi Timbral and 128-note Polyphony
Each Performance contains not only the three sounds described above, but all the settings for a complete 16-Part Multi setting for multi-part sequencing with a DAW. You can switch between any of the 16 Parts without the sound cutting off.
With 128 notes of polyphony there are plenty of notes to play even the densest sequences from your DAW. These features make the MX BK/BU the perfect tone generator solution for live performance and live playback of DAW MIDI tracks.
Extensive Hands-On Controls for VSTs and DAWs
The MX BK/BU also features solid knobs and durable buttons for controlling internal sounds, DAW parameters and VST instruments. The deceptively simple interface is combined with a remote template editor on your computer so any VST you own or any new VSTs you buy can be easily setup to be controlled by the MX. There are advanced integration templates for use with a variety of DAWs. When used with Cubase, there is even an AI knob so any parameter can be controlled by the large rotary encoder just by mousing over it. It's never been quicker to take full control of Cubase.
A Complete Suite of Music Production Software Included
The MX BK/BU series is the only hardware synth in its price range to come with a complete suite of music production software tools. The included Steinberg Cubase AI features 48 audio tracks and 64 MIDI tracks, notation, built-in VST effects, so with just the MX BK/BU and AI you can do complete productions. But we didn't stop there; it comes bundled with Steinberg Prologue and the Yamaha YC-3B organ emulator so you have some compelling VSTs to get started. Plus there are Remote Template editors for setting up controls of VSTs.
In addition to Cubase AI, the MX BK/BU series is compatible with Cubasis LE, a DAW app for iOS.
Connect MX BK/BU to your iOS device (requires Lightning to USB Camera Adapter) and unlock USB audio and MIDI recording between MX BK/BU and Cubasis LE.
Complete Analog and Digital Connectivity
In addition to the USB audio/MIDI port, the MX BK/BU has a USB TO DEVICE port for external data storage to USB flash drive. You can even play back .WAV data from the flash drive. If you want to add a tablet or an MP3 player to your system just connect to the AUX input using a mini stereo cable and you are ready to go.
A Lightweight Design with a Quality Yamaha Keyboard
While almost all other keyboard controllers use inexpensive OEM keyboards, the MX BK/BU series features an expertly crafted keyboard that only Yamaha -- the world's largest keyboard manufacturer -- could produce.
Weighing only 3.8kg (MX49 BK/BU) or 4.8kg (MX61 BK/BU), either synthesizer can be carried easily with one hand. MX synthesizers have a compact design so they are easy to carry to the gig and also fit easily into today’s compact home music production studios.
MX BK/BU synthesizers come equipped with VCM (Virtual Circuitry Modeling) effects, which simulate vintage effectors at the circuit level. The sounds of the ‘70s are brought back to life, through simulating the hard-to-find vintage sounds of equalizer, flanger, phaser, and wah effects introduced by the keyboard legends of the era.
Audio & Video
Yamaha Music Synthesizer MX BK/BU Series Official Movie
FM Essential Introduction
Product Development Report: Yamaha MX BK/BU and FM Essential
First of all, why did you choose to update the MX BK/BU series?
Takeshita: The series was originally released in the fall of 2012, about three and a half years ago, and the MX synths remain very popular today. Powered by tone generation inherited straight from the MOTIF XS, these amazing instruments are both compact and lightweight, and they also deliver excellent value. We are extremely proud of these synthesizers, and by updating their design, we hoped to make them even more appealing to musicians.
What specifically has been changed in the new MX BK/BU series?
Okano: We should probably start with the USB terminal's new support for plug-and-play. This functionality allows the synths to operate as audio/MIDI interfaces for iOS devices such as the iPhone® or iPad® without needing to install any drivers.
Takeshita: In addition to USB plug-and-play support, the new MX BK/BU synths can unlock the iOS app, Steinberg Cubasis LE. When an iPad® with Cubasis LE installed is connected to one of the new synths, the app's functions will be fully unlocked. And because a Steinberg Cubase AI license is also included, owners can immediately start creating music on their Mac or PC.
Okano: We have also improved the LCD, making it much easier to read text, even in very bright locations or on dark stages. The new series also boasts two new features unrelated to design specifications, and the first of these is the new colors: MX BK/BU series synths are now available in blue as well as black.
Takeshita: We have also reordered the Performances so that the first half contains mostly those suited for playing in a band.
We have just been shown the blue model, and I must admit that it is quite striking—the matte finish in particular is very appealing. I assume that other colors were considered during the development process, so why did you ultimately go with blue?
Okano: We were focused on selecting a color that would be eye-catching in a range of different situations and particularly appealing to young musicians. As we proceeded with development, this blue emerged as the best fit.
Are you paying homage to the CS1x perhaps?
Okano: No, not at all. The CS1x never even crossed our minds (laughs). They are both blue, but not the same blue.
The orange details work really well.
Okano: We think so, too. We were looking for a color that worked well with all three body variations. In fact, the details on the black model are now a different color from those of the previous MXsynths.
The new MX BK/BU series transformed into FM synths by FM Essential
You mentioned two major new features. What is the other one?
Okano: A new iOS app developed specifically to accompany the MX BK/BU series update. FM Essential is—true to its name—a software FM synth. It can be downloaded for free and used by anyone, but once connected to one of the new MX BK/BU synths, its full range of features is unlocked. The new keyboards may have inherited AWM2 tone generation from the MOTIF XS, but when combined with FM Essential, they also function as FM synths. This is the other feature.
Takeshita: When we included the synthesizer AN2015 with our Yamaha Synth Book app, many owners asked us to add support for the iPad. As a universal app, FM Essential is optimized for the iPad and all other iOS devices.
What kind of FM synth is FM Essential? Please elaborate.
Okano: FM Essential has four operators, eight algorithms, and 16-note polyphony; in addition, eight different waveforms may be selected for the operators. These design specs make it no different from a four-operator FM tone generator of years gone by, so in order to appeal to die-hard synth lovers, we have added a host of new and exciting features. For starters, FM Essential gives you a choice of tone generator models.
What exactly is a "tone generator model"?
Okano: It is a core part of the tone generator that faithfully recreates a certain classic FM synthesizer. In addition to its own standard tone generator model, FM Essential also comes with models that replicate the DX100, TX81Z, and V50, allowing owners to effortlessly reproduce the unique sounds of these definitive synths. For example, an electric piano preset may sound perfectly fine with the standard tone generator model, but switching to the DX100 model could give it a wonderful vintage feel.
Takeshita: We have carefully chosen 64 factory presets from each of the original instruments and transferred them in bulk into the app.
Okano: To ensure we gathered all the best sounds, we thought hard about the presets that were most reminiscent of each individual synth.
I feel that the TX81Z model's bass sounds are just as effervescent as those on the real thing.
Okano: By modeling the unique hardware characteristics of the day, we have made it possible to faithfully recreate the famous sounds of each synth. Also, four-operator FM synth models can sound quite unlike one another because of slight differences in how their parameters work, and these tonal variances can now be enjoyed by switching between FM Essential's tone generator models.
At first glance, the new MX BK/BU series would seem to be aimed at a younger audience, but making it also function as a vintage FM synth replica is an interesting direction.
Okano: Yet we were not convinced that this alone would guarantee excitement on release, so we added even more features. The low-pass filter, for example, is similar to that of the AN2015 and has a particularly clear sound. New feedback and transpose parameters that can be set for each individual operator have been added to the FM section, and some of the standard parameters have had their ranges expanded to allow for more precise settings. What's more, the output stage has a pair of multi-effects and a three-band EQ. In contrast to the AN2015, which had only a hard-wired delay and reverb as audio effects, FM Essential allows owners to choose two effects from a range of 15.
Takeshita: The new app also has a similar arpeggiator, chord pads, and drum machine to the AN2015, and these alone make it a lot of fun to play with.
So the new MX BK/BU synths can be used to control FM Essential parameters?
Okano: They certainly can, with no special settings needed. You simply connect via USB to enable switching of FM Essential voices directly from the MX BK/BU. And with this setup, you can also use the synth's knobs to adjust filter parameters and the like, and to control the ball controller's X and Y axes. In addition, each of the new MX BK/BU synths can be completely transformed into an FM synth by turning off Local Control.
As printed on the instrument Knobs A and B are assigned to Cutoff and Resonance. Knobs C and D of the MX V2 let you control the Ball Controller - among others.
In the [KNOB FUNCTION] position 2, the Knobs control the Volume Level of the Operators.
The Knob position 3 controls Volume, Pan, and the Intensity of the Pitch and Amplitude Modulation.
By pushing the "Select" button, you can scroll through the Voices of FM Essential by "DEC/NO & INC/YES" buttons or "DATA dial".
The ball controller at the center of the screen—is it the same as the AN2015 synth's?
Okano: Yes, it is. The ball controller can simultaneously modulate a number of parameters. The closer the parameter is to the center of the controller display, the larger its value. For FM Essential, we have very carefully selected the ball controller parameters for each Voice.
One of the features we're most excited about is the step sequencer, which is used to record and playback not note information, but ball controller positions. By positioning the ball controller and tapping the scene box corresponding to one of 16 steps, you can record the controller position. So, while parameter modulation is set to morphing by default, the individual steps can be selected to jump instantaneously between ball controller positions. Just think of the fun that can be had by combining this with the onboard arpeggiator!
Breath-taking modulation possible only with FM
We really love FM Essential, particularly the DX100 and TX81Z tone generator models. Do you think that some people might buy a new MX BK/BU for this feature alone?
Okano: We would certainly be delighted if that happened. These models are not merely replicas, though: what makes the app special is the way the tone generator models have been brought fully up to date. For example, you can now apply effects easily to DX100 Voices, or use the step sequencer to dynamically modulate Voices. We really hope that this app will open up the exciting world of FM synthesis to a great many new musicians.
Takeshita: Dedicated fans of Yamaha synths will certainly want to get their hands on FM Essential, but it's a free iOS app, so we hope that many other music lovers who may not have a lot of cash to spend on musical gear—for example, high-school or university students—will also download and play with it. FM Essential is a great way to get started with synthesizers and FM tone generation, and if this ultimately draws owners into instrument stores to try out hardware synths, we certainly can't complain. The current lineup of Yamaha synthesizers contains a number of hardware keyboards with onboard FM tone generators—for example, the reface DX and MONTAGE—and it would be great if FM Essential brought them back into the spotlight.
First the reface DX and now the MONTAGE have been decked out with FM tone generators. Add to this FM Essential, and it would seem that Yamaha is currently focusing quite a lot of effort on this particular form of synthesis.
Okano: That's probably because FM synths genuinely produce great sounds, and the degree to which Voices can be modulated never fails to amaze. Very delicate adjustments to an FM synthesizer's parameters can produce a dramatic change in sound or create totally new Voices that could never have been imagined in advance. Perhaps we have developed a new appreciation for these wonderful characteristics.
Is it true to say that FM Essential is intended as a dedicated app for the new MX BK/BU synths?
Okano: Actually, no, that's not the case. Once the app has been connected to a new MX BK/BU synth and activated, all of its functions become useable, even after disconnection. So you could, for example, easily use it to make music while on a train. And with AudioBus and Audio Unit Extensions fully supported, FM Essential can be directly linked to other music production apps.
Takeshita: However, when the app has been downloaded but not yet activated, only ten of the preset Voices can be played. The voice editor can be used, but settings cannot be saved. Once connected to a new MX BK/BU synth via USB, however, all Voices and functions—including saving—will be unlocked. From that perspective, FM Essential could be described as a tone generator app for the new MX BK/BU series.
Was any part of the development process particularly challenging?
Okano: A lot of it was, but if I had to identify one particular challenge, it would be creating Voices. We definitely wanted to make them feel new, but at the same time, didn't want to go down the path of simply making EDM sounds. By carefully combining the bright, punchy tones produced by FM synthesis with effects, EQ, and the like, we ultimately crafted an array of Voices that are a pleasure to play.
To finish up, please tell us which FM Essential functions you recommend that people definitely try out.
Okano: Definitely the ball controller and step sequencer. We meticulously programmed every preset to sound great when modulated either by very small amounts or directly in steps. Even the simplest of sounds can be pushed to the extreme using the ball controller, step sequencer, and effects.
Now that you mention "extreme" sounds, when we spoke to the MONTAGE developers, they mentioned that although parameter ranges were often intentionally narrowed on similar synths to prevent noise and the like, they didn't follow suit with their keyboards. They actually credited this approach with the synths' ability to produce incredibly extreme sounds. Was this also the case with FM Essential?
Okano: Yes, it was. In addition to classic four-operator FM Voices, the app can also deliver extreme tones that defy all expectation as well as cutting, edgy sounds.
|Keyboard||Number of Keys||61|
|Maximum Polyphony||128 notes|
|Multi Timbral Capacity||16 parts (Internal)|
|Wave||Approx.166 MB (when converted to 16-bit linear format)|
|Voices||Preset: 1,106 Normal Voices + 61 Drum Kits, GM: 128 Normal Voices + 1 Drum Kit, User: 128 Normal Voices + 8 Drum Kits|
|Performance||User: 128 (16 parts)|
|Effects||Reverb x 9 types (42 presets), Chorus x 17 types (88 presets), Insertion Effect x 48types (267 presets) x 4, Master EQ (5 bands)|
|Tempo (BPM)||5 – 300|
|Songs||27 Demo Songs|
|Sequence formats||SMF Format 0 (playback only)|
|Sequence Software compatible with the Remote Control function||For Windows®: Cubase 8 or later, SONAR X2 Producer For Mac®: Cubase 8 or later, Logic Pro X, Digital Performer 9 *Functions to be controlled differ depending on the software|
|Controllers||Pitch Bend Wheel x 1, Modulation Wheel x 1, Assignable Knob x 4, [DATA] dial x 1|
|Display||3 digit LED + 20 x 2 line character LCD (backlit)|
|Connectors||OUTPUT [L / MONO] / [R] (standard phone jack), [PHONE] (standard stereo phone jack), [FOOT CONTROLLER], [SUSTAIN], MIDI [IN] / [OUT], USB [TO HOST] (Class Compliant support)/ [TO DEVICE], [AUX IN], DC IN|
|Power Supply||9 W|
|Accessories||AC adaptor (PA-150B or an equivalent recommended by Yamaha), Owner' Manual, Cubase AI Download Information|