Yamaha MM8 Review
The Yamaha MM8 represents an evolution of Yamaha’s workhorse workstation line according to the original MOTIF synthesizers, which have quite a reputation for being quality products.
Overall, I managed to confirm most of the suspicions of mine about this particular product, but truthfully, I did discover some elements of the product that genuinely surprised me. There is truthfully a great deal to like about this workstation, together with some great sounds in the stock library, a rich arpeggiator setting, and also some intuitive controls.
The keybed is actually pretty excellent. The keys are weighted, and have a really solid, yet tactile action. They’re actually weighted unevenly, with the greater keys being lighter and the lower notes being more firm. A few appear to dislike this, but I really found it was pleasant to play both pianistically and in a synth style equally.
The arpeggiator is almost the standout feature of the whole workstation, so I feel the desire to deal with it first. You will find a whopping 213 different rhythmic arpeggio’s to select from, that is much more than many pro level synth workstations have to offer. Included are a wide range of bass patterns and drum loops to play over to be able to get ideas down.
Above all of this, 1 of probably the coolest features I played with was the guitar emulator. If perhaps you have used a synth guitar patch before, you know it typically sounds uninspired at best, and definitely fake and horrific at worst. Nevertheless, the moment I loaded the guitar patch up and began playing, I was taken aback by just how incredible nuanced and smooth it sounded; I will say it is probably the closest I have heard to replicating the real action of a guitar in a long time.
You are able to even load the patch up in the arpeggiator and make incredibly convincing strumming sounds, which really blew the mind of mine. Were the price reduced, I would say this feature on its own would almost be well worth the expense of admission.
The control knobs here offer fairly standard fare, but every one of the fundamentals have been covered. There’s a lot of customization to be had based on what kind of sound you’re playing, and everything from filters to attack and release may be controlled relatively easily. I discovered that interfacing these with a DAW was easy enough; Logic had no problem assigning the different parameters I wanted when being used in MIDI mode, so the factory sounds came pre assigned to the different effects and modulations readily available for each.
The performance settings on the Yamaha MM8 allow you to transition between sound sets immediately, even when in the midst of holding down a note. You are able to store individual settings such a keyboard layout, drum patterns, sound presets, effects and more. You are able to save a total of sixty four performances on the computer keyboard itself, with the choice to save much more via a USB drive.
You are able to also save five whole songs on the unit, or perhaps 400 from a drive. This enables you to upload entire compositions to a DAW for further processing, that is obviously a must have feature today. Lastly, you are able to make use of the MM8 as a MIDI controller keyboard via USB cable, enabling it to get your soft synths along with other software elements stored on the pc of yours.
The top issue with this keyboard for most is going to be the extremely limiting 32 voice polyphony. While for casual players, this’s not really a serious issue, someone looking to make use of this keyboard for live performance will have to deal with a lack of flexibility with regards to creating and layering textured sounds. This’s essentially a deal breaker for me, and I know many who’d say the same.
Nevertheless, there is a lot to enjoy about the sounds the engine is able to create. I discovered that the pad and string sounds in particular were really good quality, and I have previously gone in depth into the amazing guitar emulation going on inside this unassuming keyboard. There’s also a large array of effects which could all be individually controlled, providing you with a simple way to take command over the sounds you need to hear.
You are able to apply EQ settings to enable more focused sounds, and also apply the regular set of yours of reverb, flanger, chorus, and much more.
There are many worthy competitors for the Yamaha MM8, including several by Yamaha themselves. Let us look at 3 of these keyboards below, breaking them down by their primary differences.
The MOXF8 represents Yamaha’s pricey product line, bringing a broader array of better quality sounds and features based on the expensive Motif sound banks.
The MOXF8 adds full 128 voice polyphony, which compared to the thirty two voice on the MM8, is an enormous step up. The effects suites will also be a level up, utilizing Yamaha’s Virtual Circuitry Modelling technology to its maximum extent. At $2000, this’s certainly a step up in price, and if all you are searching for is a quality piano, the MM8 will likely serve you fine.
If, nonetheless, you are searching for a fully kitted out synth workstation with legendary sounds, you may want to go up another level.
The Yamaha MM8, all around, is a fantastic keyboard. There are several great sounds on this synth, from the ultra realistic guitar tones on the rich sounding strings and pads. The arpeggiator works really well, and I enjoyed playing around with the different effects and settings.
Some will definitely find the thirty two voice polyphony to be very limiting for the tastes of theirs, and I definitely agree. Furthermore, a few competitors make similarly priced workstations with arguably better sound libraries, polyphony, and features.
Ultimately, Yamaha has tried to deliver a great value synthesizer piano, and I believe they have succeeded. Whether it will be for you or otherwise will mostly depend on what you plan to use the keyboard for.
Little for a full size, 88 key weighted piano keyboard
Easy to use interface and controls
Fantastic synth sounds, like an incredible guitar section
Lots of control over the effects
Real-time control of sounds via knobs
Arpeggiator works very well
Great value for money
Only has thirty two voice polyphony
Several features are a bit outdated compared to present day options
You are able to only upload one custom rhythm track
The Bottom Line
The Yamaha MM8 packs great sounds, classic look and powerful synthesis into an affordable package that delivers on every one of the primary features you would expect in a value workstation. That said, there are lots of items still to be desired, and with many inexpensive solutions today, time will tell just how long the MM8 is able to remain a viable offering.
- 88-key graded hammer keyboard (GHS)
- Super-high-quality sounds
- Dynamic music creation tools-including automatic Pattern and Arpeggiator generators
- Performance Memory for instantfull-panel setting changes
- Versatile song recording features-with eight normal tracks and one Pattern track