Yamaha EX-7 - a traditional synth too?

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Yamaha EX-7 - a traditional synth too?

Post by Jexus » Mon Sep 15, 2008 11:08 am

So how would you describe this model?
I've read reviews but the guys pee in their pants out of excitement due to its great 'acoustic' sounds, pianos better than Korg Triton's and whatever.
What is interesting for me, is - can I use it as a synthesizer? Digital, VA, FSDP whatever. "SYNTHESIZER" in the extreme, traditional meaning of this word, like you would use a MS2000 or Ion. Various patch creation from scratch, with editable envelopes, filters, oscillator ranges, and all. Or is it more of a 'gig' piece of gear, designed with a view to deliver live multi-layered pop/jazz performances ?

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Re: Yamaha EX-7 - a traditional synth too?

Post by 23 » Mon Sep 15, 2008 11:33 am

One of the greatest workstations ever made point blank.

Before Reaktor, before the V-Synth, Nord Wave, and blah blah blah....
synth that fused VA and sample based synthesis into a singluar system. All be it it was limited, but this definitely is something Yamaha can claim as another first (to the best of my knowledge).

Topping it off, multiple synthesis engines under one roof....
When it comes to workstations, I'd say they arguably gave a first here (unless you get really picky and say like "well the Fairlight was additive and sampling...." or some other such thing).
This thing was the Oasys before the Oasys was the Oasys.
The Alesis Fusion arguably was nothing but a 21st rendition of this thing.

Was it capable of "traditional" stuff.
Yeah sure.

Unfortunately it's VA capabilities were limited, as it was pretty much only a monosynth.
But eh, it was there (very akin to the An1X as a VA....may have even been the AN1X engine for all I know).
Sample wise it broke from a two wave slot system and went to a 4 slot system (nice).
There was some damn nice effects implementation (on a pervoice basis).
It's PM abilities were unrivaled and still are unrivaled (IMO) for the two areas it covers (VL-1 engine).

I forget exactly how the VA + Sample system worked, but I recall that you could only have it act in a monophonic OR duphonic type means. And I think it did something like where you could only essientially have what one might consider a 3 osc system....
Mind is kinda blurry there (been something like 10 YEARS since I worked with one of these)

Really nice piece though.

In all honesty, I think Yamaha went backwards in their workstations since then. This was the best workstation they ever produced IMO.

Oh yeah, the sequencing ability was bit limited....
but whatever
as a synth the thing was AND IS a work horse.

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Re: Yamaha EX-7 - a traditional synth too?

Post by Yoozer » Mon Sep 15, 2008 12:11 pm

23 wrote:One of the greatest workstations ever made point blank.
That's the EX-5. The 7 misses several juicy options (monophonic AN, no VL). The CPU of the 5 is underpowered. To quote SoS:
- AN synthesis has less polyphony than the AN1x.
- Insertion effects on only one Performance part when an AN, VL or FDSP Voice is used.
- Only one FDSP, AN or VL Voice can be used in a Performance, Pattern or Song.
Using it as a synthesizer should not be a problem, it's just that you'll have to do your work using a menu.

Try to get the 5, not the 7.
23 wrote: synth that fused VA and sample based synthesis into a singluar system.
D-50 ;).
"Part of an instrument is what it can do, and part of it is what you do to it" - Suzanne Ciani, 197x.

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Re: Yamaha EX-7 - a traditional synth too?

Post by 23 » Mon Sep 15, 2008 12:49 pm

yeah, I don't count the D-50.
it generated saw and square, but I don't know that Roland was seeking to emulate analog results as much as just throwing in a saw and square/pwm generator. (I think the waveforms were perfect and didn't shoot for analogue imperfections and what not).

and huh, they dropped the VL from the 7 eh...
that blows.

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Re: Yamaha EX-7 - a traditional synth too?

Post by shaft9000 » Mon Sep 15, 2008 3:15 pm

i remember lusting heavily for an EX-5 in the late 90's...feature-wise it's ace...but was a dissapointed by the bright very digital sound at the time.
Also it was EX-pensive :P at the time. So I bought a Prophecy instead for the PM/FM/VA experience.
Yamaha does usually produce the best keybed and all-round 'keys' (organ/ep/piano) out of the 3 big Nippon workstation makers.

SynapseCollapse had one at his pad when I was there, but alas I was more interested in his V-Synth & uWave XT !
2600.solus.modcan a.eurorack.cs60.JP8.Juno6.A6.sunsyn.volcakeys.jd990.tb303.x0xb0x.revolution.
999.m1am1.RY30.svc350.memotron

shaft9000.muffwiggler.com <- singles & mixtape
shaft9000.bandcamp.com <- spacemusic album
youtube.com/shaft9000 <- various synth demos and studies

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Re: Yamaha EX-7 - a traditional synth too?

Post by Jexus » Mon Sep 15, 2008 4:13 pm

23 wrote:
Unfortunately it's VA capabilities were limited, as it was pretty much only a monosynth.

(...)

as a synth the thing was AND IS a work horse.

Should I see any contradiction here ?... #-o
You mean only the VA synthesis type allows one voice for usage? Other synthesis types have full polyphony?

I believe I read somewhere that due to its multi-layered nature and being a workstation, sometimes you are restrained and deprived of some possibilities at the cost of others. How's that synth-wise? Can I 'disable' all the fancy stuff like arrangements, drums, and thus have an unlimited synth-engine capabilities?

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Re: Yamaha EX-7 - a traditional synth too?

Post by 23 » Mon Sep 15, 2008 6:10 pm

Jexus wrote:
23 wrote:
Unfortunately it's VA capabilities were limited, as it was pretty much only a monosynth.

(...)

as a synth the thing was AND IS a work horse.

Should I see any contradiction here ?... #-o
You mean only the VA synthesis type allows one voice for usage? Other synthesis types have full polyphony?

I believe I read somewhere that due to its multi-layered nature and being a workstation, sometimes you are restrained and deprived of some possibilities at the cost of others. How's that synth-wise? Can I 'disable' all the fancy stuff like arrangements, drums, and thus have an unlimited synth-engine capabilities?
Excuse my memory some here, as like I said, it's been some years since I've dealt with it.
But:
1. It's VA, VA+Sample, and VL aspects all had limited poly. But also remember the synth was 16 part multi-timbral, and the poly limitations were on a PER PART basis.
So, in this essence, I suppose if you somehow worked out some weird instance where every key you pressed triggered it's own individual midi channel, you could in essence make it a single timbral 16 voice VA, Stringed PM synth, etc. But then again, you could do some weird c**p like that with any multi-timbral synth that only allowed a monophonic voice on each part.
The poly on offer for when a part was using the straight up sampling engine was significantly higher.

2. Can you disable all the stuff to end up with more VA or VL poly? Nope, doesn't work that way.

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Re: Yamaha EX-7 - a traditional synth too?

Post by Gianni » Mon Sep 15, 2008 6:55 pm

An Ex-7 is great, but an EX-5 is awesome. I'd really miss the VL function, and if you're looking for some jazzy stuff you could use some fluty sounds for Chick Corea like stuff. On the other hand it has great piano/elec-piano like most Yamahas.

I've also made awesome monoleads with the Wah+Overdrive+Distorsion on a 2AN+2AWM patch. And some drony stuff sounded way too digital/bright for my taste.

It's been years since I've seen one, but it would be awesome if you make a vid with and EX. [-o<

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Re: Yamaha EX-7 - a traditional synth too?

Post by Hugo76 » Mon Sep 15, 2008 7:55 pm

From what I've read, the EX5 was seriously underpowered, which led to much frustration.
Also, the SCSI was extremely slow.

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Re: Yamaha EX-7 - a traditional synth too?

Post by aeon » Mon Sep 15, 2008 8:30 pm

23 wrote:1. It's VA, VA+Sample, and VL aspects all had limited poly. But also remember the synth was 16 part multi-timbral, and the poly limitations were on a PER PART basis.
So, in this essence, I suppose if you somehow worked out some weird instance where every key you pressed triggered it's own individual midi channel, you could in essence make it a single timbral 16 voice VA, Stringed PM synth, etc.
This is incorrect. The poly limitations for the AN, FDSP or VL (EX5/5R) voices apply to the whole of the synth, because the AN, FDSP or VL (EX5/5R) voices are limited to one part per performance. From p. 157 of the EX5 manual:
You cannot use two or more AN, FDSP or VL (EX5/5R) voices for a performance.
Polyphony works as follows:

AWM/Drum Voices: 126 (EX5/EX5r) / 64 (EX7)
VL+AWM: 1+AWM (EX5/EX5r) / --- (EX7)
FDSP: 16 (EX5/EX5r) / 8 (EX7)
AN(Poly)+AWM: 2+AWM (EX5/EX5r) / 1+AWM (EX7)
AN(Layer)+AWM: 1+AWM (EX5/EX5r) / --- (EX7)
AN+FDSP: AN: 1; FDSP: 8 (EX5/EX5r) / --- (EX7)

So on an EX5 you get 126 notes of "ROMpler" AWM poly, with up to 4 layered per "voice." You get the VL engine monophonically, with up to 3 AWM layers added per "voice." Each AWM layer in a FDSP "voice" will eat 16 notes of poly, e.g., (from EX5/5R/7 Additional Performance Setup Tips):
Part 1 uses an FDSP voice with 2 elements. This voice will use 2x16 = 32 notes maximum (if 16 notes are actually played at the same time - a relatively rare occurence). In this case, you have 126 - 32 = 94 notes (or 48 on the EX7) available for additional AWM voices in Part 2 and subsequent parts. Each additional FDSP element will reduce the polyphony by another 16 (or 8) notes.
You get AN duophonically (monophonically on EX7) with up to 3 AWM layers added per "voice." You get dual-layer AN monophonically with up to 2 AWM layers added per "voice." You get AN+FDSP monophonically for the AN, with up to 3 FDSP layers added per "voice." (with each additional FDSP element reducing the polyphony by another 16 notes from the original 126 voices.)

Simply put, the EX5/7 are only multitimbral for AWM voices. If you use an AN, FDSP or VL (EX5/5R) voice in performance mode, that voice will operate on a single channel only, with the other channels using AWM voices.

cheers,
Ian

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Re: Yamaha EX-7 - a traditional synth too?

Post by aeon » Mon Sep 15, 2008 8:37 pm

Hugo76 wrote:From what I've read, the EX5 was seriously underpowered, which led to much frustration.
Yep. It even warns of this in the manual when using the SCF (Static Control Filter) because of DSP load.

If I were to own and use an EX5, I would use it in Voice mode only so as to use the depths of the engine without (much) timing slop. IME, the EX5 sounds great, but it is not a multi-timbral workstation by any means.


cheers,
Ian

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Re: Yamaha EX-7 - a traditional synth too?

Post by aeon » Mon Sep 15, 2008 8:49 pm

23 wrote:One of the greatest workstations ever made point blank.
In terms of synth voicing, yea. In terms of timing when multi-timbral sequencing, not at all. User-sample handling was also poor.
23 wrote:It's PM abilities were unrivaled and still are unrivaled (IMO) for the two areas it covers (VL-1 engine).
The Yamaha VP1 supassed the EX5 before the EX5 was released as it concerns VL polyphony, and the VL1 supasses the EX5 simply because you have full access to the VL engine params, as well as duophony.

The Korg OASYS PCI has dozens of physical models which are polyphonic, and they go way beyond the driver + resonator model of Yamaha's VL. The same can be said of Tassman, Reaktor, and Kyma.

VL still sounds great, but in terms of physical modeling, IMO it has been long-surpassed by other systems, both in architecture and polyphony.


cheers,
Ian

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Re: Yamaha EX-7 - a traditional synth too?

Post by 23 » Mon Sep 15, 2008 9:15 pm

For the areas they dealt with, I always liked the VL, still do.
Tassman is a favorite of mine, in the overall I think it's a much more powerful PM system....in fact in an overall basis, I can't say there is anything I've encountered that I think matches up to Tassman (on an overall basis); but within singularity, I still like the quality of the VL strings more than anything else I've encountered.

actually...you know what.
For all I know I've romanticized the darn thing.
Cause aside for my rememberance of how it blew me away, as I noted earlier, it's been somewhere around a decade since I actually dealt with the EX5. I very well may think differently of it now. *shrug*

either way, GOD DAMN WERE THOSE STRINGS GOOD. Of them being damn good I am certain. I'll admit that I might waver if I were to put up to some other things nowadays.

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Re: Yamaha EX-7 - a traditional synth too?

Post by synapsecollapse » Tue Sep 16, 2008 4:05 am

i had an ex7 for several years, and its a pretty serious synth.

it makes some awesomely thick/weird sounds and rather nice traditional ones too, especially with the sampling/re sampling and 4 tone generators per patch.

as for the VA engine ... i wasn't superbly impressed personally, but the menus are pretty straightforward. i think it was overall the interface that became a bit limited in reference to quick editing.

as mentioned above, the engine did get a bit slow at times. i decided early on that multi part sequencing kind of sucked, as you were limited to use less of the patches and less of the effect engine.

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