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Other Yamaha YDS-150 Digital Instrument in a Sax-like Body

There have been plenty of demos and discussions about this, and much of the discussion has been negative.

I do not consider this a saxophone at all, any more than my midi keyboard is a piano.

Keep reading through, there are many comments and updated information. Nearly four months have passed since I got the YDS-150 and much has been learned. There are now 25 audio tracks of several music styles, and 13 YouTube videos after several days with the YDS-150.

(Original post): I have had about two hours total to play around with this, and I intend to do several other tests, but this is an initial first look.

The instrument has its weak points, amply discussed elsewhere (sounds aren't particularly good, it doesn't do MIDI, it doesn't have a lip sensor, etc.), but I will try to discover the less obvious things and hands-on feature evaluations. It's obviously a solution to practice when your living conditions don't allow you to play your saxophones. I think practicing with this is useful, but others may not. What you are able to practice is fingering and coordination between breath and hands.

The YDS-150 Digital Instrument


[EDIT: it does MIDI via USB and it works very well, especially via USB]

It comes with a soft case, an extra 'reed' and a set of three 'O' rings for the neck that holds the mouthpiece.

For all the technical information, you can get the owner's manual PDF in several languages from Yamaha. I will try to answer any questions anyone has.

There's a tube in the bell that releases the condensed moisture, see the little round thing in the photo. I mention this because certain trumpet or soprano stands, like the Hercules have a knob at the top that will interfere with the tube. I bought the K&M "Legs in Bell" trumpet stand which is a good fit. The tube is flexible and will move a little to accomodate the stand.

TDS-150 moisture outlet tube

The feel of the instrument

It's nice and light, but feels very sturdy in build quality. In the hands, it's very close to the feel of a saxophone. I find it feels very nice. I also think that it should have been in a bright color, but I can think of many reasons they wouldn't do that. The mouthpiece seems to identical to a Yamaha 4C alto piece. Pulling the mouthpiece off reveals no cork, but three O rings holding it on. There's a reed and ligature. The manual tells us not to use any other mouthpiece, so naturally, we tried, and it plays fine with my Syos 3D printed piece. I mention this because maybe some players would prefer to use a mouthpiece they are used to. It makes no difference to the sound, because the reed isn't vibrating or controlling the sound. In fact, it played the same with a one centimeter gap between the tip and the mouthpiece tip! Disconcerting, but nothing matters but wind.


Pairing needs to be fixed.


Setting up with the app

I had and still have trouble pairing the bluetooth connection in order to make changes to voice settings. I don't know if it's normal, but the app re-pairs with the instrument every time you try to connect. There is a check box asking if you want the YDS-150 to have access to your contacts and call history. I can only think that this is something to do with standard Android apps, because it would be insane to check that box!











Sound (voice) parameters YDS-150
You can save sets of voices and fingerings

Because the YDS-150 has space for user-configured sounds, it also has a way to save them under a name, so it's possible to have several sets of user sounds. Unfortunately, this would only be of interest if they update the firmware some day with better or different sounds or effects.

The interface to set these voices (user sounds) is pretty buggy and glitchy. Buggy in that the transpose thing doesn't always update the number of half steps of transposition. Glitchy, because it's easy accidentally hit the extreme end throwing you to the highest or lowest note. This needs to improve. The sliders should be replaced by someother mechanism.

I'm guessing the app itself will be updated for that, and hopefully soon. This is how beta products usually evolve. Picture the size of a phone and your finger on the transpose gadget in the voices settings in the screen shot below.






The Sounds

Well, here we are. Only a few are usable as is, and unhappily, they do NOT include a saxophone! That's right, there are a couple of flutes and harmonica sounds that I actually like. The rest are far inferior to a Yamaha sound module like the VL7m, but then, that's a box you have to drag around with a power supply, an amp and a proprietary cable. The YDS-150 is, if nothing else, very portable!

Playing with the speaker and Recording with a microphone

The effects don't appear to be on when using the speaker. I recorded two short segments for demonstration. They are probably as good (or bad) as any first-day tests. I added reverb and distortion to get sounds I "like". But they're not really saxophone sounds, are they? Also, note that when recording with a microphone, there may be key click sounds because the TDS-150 speaker output level is much softer than a saxophone, even at low ballad levels.

https://soundcloud.com/randulo%2Fsets%2Fyds-150-files-by-randulo View: https://soundcloud.com/randulo/sets/yds-150-files-by-randulo/s-H2B8GuhKKA4


Practicing with the speaker is handy. You don't need headphones, but you don't disturb the other people around even playing through the built-in speaker, because it's not loud at full volume, and you can adjust it even lower. I believe practicing with the instrument is helpful, but many will probably not find it so. I tried playing with headphones, and that sounds better, as you have the effects. Unfortunately, like the sounds, the effects are not great. And one really bad thing is that vibrato automatically comes in on longer notes on most of the patches. There are only a few that do not do this, and they're all saxophone patches. This is a terrible idea, there should be a switch to turn that off! I understand that it would be more fun for beginners, though.

The Keys

The keys feel great. Surprise, there's a low A 'key'. Also surprise, you get low A by using the bottom part of the octave key. The WX5 has octaves both up and down, but the YDS-150 is up or low A. The YDS-150 plays an A when you finger it that 'key' with a low Bb. Another bad decision in my opinion, although I do like having a low A. The octave key takes a lot of getting used to, which is why first day trials won't be briliant, but I know you can get used to it.

Analogue controller
The Analog Controller

This is how you can bend notes, but that effect is definitely in synthesizer land, not a scoop. It's at 1 half step by default, but you can go full synthetic and set it to more distance. This is going to take a lot of practice, as it is next to the thumb rest. I found it harder than the WX-5, but it is certainly doable after some practice. I'd like to see Yamaha add a 1/4 tone and maybe even an 1/8 tone option to this parameter. That would make falls and scoops more realistic.













Odds and ends

I don't know how long the batteries last, but you can adjust the time before the instrument goes into standby mode. This is important, because if you go to answer the door or turn off the kettle, you might forget the instrument is on. There are several other things
I want to test and will add to this review:

  • Use with a wireless transmitter/receiver pair.
  • Use with effects pedals
  • Getting familiar with using the keys for configuration. I only was able to turn on bluetooth with difficulty! There are other configuration parameters like breath strength-related settings, tuning, etc.
  • Using the app in all possible ways
 
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Cimarron

New Member
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11
Location
North Carolina
The answer to this question may already be around but I haven’t found it. There is a post about wireless guitar receiver and transmitter but this is what I’m looking at. YDS-150 to guitar wireless rec/trans to looper effect pedal to amplifier. (Yamaha THR5 amp)
Phones out on YDS-150 with cable to guitar wireless transmitter . I’ve tried the guitar receiver to effect pedal then out to amp via 1/4 cable to 1/8 plugged into Aux on amp ... nothing. I would have thought the 1/4 from the effect pedal would work to the 1/4 in on the amp but no not even a direct line from the YDS-150 to amp 1/4 in. Any suggestions? I’m planning on going back to guitar center with every thing and see what they think. Their interested as they have not seen one
Yes the direct line YDS-150 to aux amp works
Problem solved it was simply a bad adapter in the chain
 

Cimarron

New Member
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11
Location
North Carolina
Here’s another issue. I’ve used a battery pack that the power would cut off when you wait a moment after playing. Yamaha Repair doesn’t know about it after talking on the phone just now. Guitar center says It’s over powering the instrument therefore shuts off
Yds label “Battery 6V or 4.8v. 5V
Battery pack=output 5vdc. 2.4A max
Any recommendations as to what to get? Runs from instrument usb to pack with a 3 foot cable
 

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Päng

Member
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Sweden
Hi gang,
a question about the bell, when you opened it up, is it possible to remove it? I would really like to know if it functions without the bell? This would make the size slightly better.
 

Cimarron

New Member
Messages
11
Location
North Carolina
Hi gang,
a question about the bell, when you opened it up, is it possible to remove it? I would really like to know if it functions without the bell? This would make the size slightly better.
It can be removed. Three screws with cap nuts hold it. As you probably have read in a post of mine there is no worries about opening it up. You’ll have to disconnect the circuit boards so you can remove three larger screws from the triangular mount at the bell in order to access the three screws holding the bell to the aluminum triangular mount . There’s a white plastic piece that you actually see looking up from the end of the bell. Remove that for access to the screws you need to remove. Take your time. It’s not difficult, take pictures for reference, don’t loose any thing, Yamaha Repair said she may have to take parts off of hers to fix mine had I sent it in
 

Päng

Member
Messages
32
Location
Sweden
Hey Cimarron, thanks a lot. That sounds great. I definitely would like to get the size down for flight travel. Although would probably still get stuck in the security check. Had to play a bit on my AE-5 for security once.
 

Yansalis

New Member
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28
Location
USA
Enquired with SYOS about an adaptor for the YDS150 and they quote 60 euros including shipping to UK,bit too pricey for me
I speculate hopefully that they may use more advanced printing tech i.e. laser-sintered. The cheaper 3D printing which is widely available is perhaps all of the standard 'heated and pushed through a nozzle' style.

Hey Cimarron, thanks a lot. That sounds great. I definitely would like to get the size down for flight travel. Although would probably still get stuck in the security check. Had to play a bit on my AE-5 for security once.
No doubt you already know about the Travel Sax, which pulls ahead of the Yamaha on this one issue.
 

Yansalis

New Member
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Location
USA
I see Vadda prefers the No. 1 design for the neck accessory--which one is closest to an alto or curvy? Also does anyone have an idea for how to get a sop-sized MP onto the neck? Grind out a cheap one? Design one for 3D printing?
In case this was missed, with apologies if it wasn't. :)
 

shamba504424

Member
Messages
109
Location
Edgworth near Bolton
Hi randulo,yes that might well be the case,will try after the weekend to get a quote,I noticed that SYOS sent you one of their adaptors,how did you find it in comparison to the one you had printed if you don't mind me asking
 

shamba504424

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109
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Edgworth near Bolton
I do think the YDS is overpriced but have to say I really love it for practicing,the keywork I find very nice and although overall very light in weight, there is a feeling of sturdiness about it, really does need an adaptor to angle the mouthpiece though and for the price I think that Yamaha should have included one to give you the option,particularly for alto players used to the angle of body and mouthpiece when playing
I did have a Roland AE-10 until just recently and when you compare prices there isn't much between them however I thought the ergonomics on the Roland where absolutely awful and was very hit and miss when trying to play the palm keys but with the YDS everything seems to fall into place with just a short amount of practice so all in all I really am happy with it.
It takes a little time to familiarise with the app and turning bluetooth on etc. using the instructions provided in the manual, but once that was sorted I found quite it straight forward to change settings and when using the short cut keys on the yds itself, it made changing parameters and voices very easy.
Have yet to sort out connecting it to a DAW etc. and playing around on that side of things but it only arrived yesterday so that's tomorrow sorted.
 

randulo

Living the dream
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Hi randulo,yes that might well be the case,will try after the weekend to get a quote,I noticed that SYOS sent you one of their adaptors,how did you find it in comparison to the one you had printed if you don't mind me asking
The Syos adapter is identical to the one from the local store.
 

randulo

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Have yet to sort out connecting it to a DAW etc. and playing around on that side of things but it only arrived yesterday so that's tomorrow sorted.
Here's a quick bit of free advice about use with a DAW.
Get a long USB cable and set the DAW audio input to "Digital Saxophone". Works great, it outputs a good signal without effects. If you are prone to punch in, i.e., to fix a segment or whatever, you'll never have a problem with level or sound, unless you can't play it the same way. MIDI has its own foibles, but it works fine for my use, which is mostly notation.
 
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shamba504424

Member
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109
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Edgworth near Bolton
Well that was easy enough,got it working with Reaper no problem and was able to use the effects from various VST plug ins as well,there is one free VST from Spitfire Audio that sounds really nice and its the BBC symphony orchestra,sounds good with headphones particularly and you can select individual sections of the orchestra,trombones for example and sound pretty good,we are so lucky today to have an amazing amount of "stuff" to access and a heck of a lot of it is free.
Going to see if I can try it with Cakewalk as well.
 

Mutley

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Can a control be mapped to more than one uh, MIDI thing?

Also, I see Vadda prefers the No. 1 design for the neck accessory--which one is closest to an alto or curvy? Also does anyone have an idea for how to get a sop-sized MP onto the neck? Grind out a cheap one? Design one for 3D
Thanks for that,so I just download that and send as an attachment in an email to the printer?
Hi I just sent the website link to a 3D printing on they sent a quote, ordered it, arrived today and works a treat!
 
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Mutley

New Member
Messages
8
Location
Lincoln
Hi I have a tenor and alto, been playing for 9 months now so wanted the YDS to silent practice on in the evenings as my husband is learning piano and it gets a bit noisy in our house
 

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