All profit supporting special needs music education and Help Musicians

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

  • Thread starter Deleted member 6441
  • Start date
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
 
Last edited by a moderator:

saxyjt

Saxus Circus Maximus
Café Supporter
Messages
4,772
Locality
France
What do you mean? That they're selling it so soon? Thomann was out of stock the first day and still is last I looked so selling it on Ebay for $850 isn't shocking to me.
Not $ but £ ! Not that it makes a huge difference if you really want it bad. But that would be 1109$ at today's rate... So 259$ more! If I'm right...
 
A

Acc closed 6441

Guest
Regardless of what anyone thinks, there's a lot of interest in this instrument. Whether this one is sold quickly or not wouldbe interesting, but since I'd never buy anything on EBay, I'll never know. I avoid even looking there.
 

nigeld

Too many mouthpieces
Café Supporter
Messages
7,443
Locality
Bristol, UK
Thank you for your diverse outcome! It was nice to read the pros and cons of this digital instrument.

I'm turning soon 50 years and my hope has been a long time to start to play saxophone. What is your opinion to start playing with this to learn fingering and save wife ears and maybe later go on real saxophone? I don't have any experience any musical instruments. I think this instrument is also easier to sell than saxophone if I lose interest in playing.
@SaxJack - My gut feeling is that this would not give you a feeling for what it is like to play the saxophone. It will probably help you to learn which keys to press, but that’s not the difficult or the interesting part of playing the instrument. What’s wonderful, and frustrating, about the sax is blowing into it and feeling the noise come out, and I don’t think this instrument will give you that.

If you are not sure whether the saxophone is for you then I second the advice to hire an instrument for 6 months. An alternative would be to buy a good second-hand Yamaha that you will be able to sell for more or less the same price as you bought it for.
 
A

Acc closed 6441

Guest
One day I decided I wanted to play saxophone. I went to the store to hire a tenor. While there I told them I'd played a WX-7 and they said, "It's totally different!" They didn'thave tenors for rent, so I took an alto and I'm glad I did because I love it. But I find what they said is true for the WX-7, and it'zs even more true for the YDS-150. The similarity is fingering only. It's a fun instrument, and for a young person, for example, just to mess with it, and learn to play a few songs, it's verycool and offers many possibilities. For someone who wants to actually play a saxophone, it's less than ideal. I've now had mine and played it for several days in a row. [@saxyjt you asked me this--> This morning, I picked up the alto and played it, and was immediately thrilled to be back on speaking terms with her. There are use cases for the YDS, but it's a far cry from the real thing.
 

Koc

New Member
Messages
1
Locality
Russia
Thank you for your diverse outcome! It was nice to read the pros and cons of this digital instrument.

I'm turning soon 50 years and my hope has been a long time to start to play saxophone. What is your opinion to start playing with this to learn fingering and save wife ears and maybe later go on real saxophone? I don't have any experience any musical instruments. I think this instrument is also easier to sell than saxophone if I lose interest in playing.
Two years ago I decided to learn a musical instrument (without any music skills) than bought AE-10. After 3-4 mouths can play lots of things. But than it not satisfied enough so moved to alto. It taken 1 year to learn embouchure. But now I have alto and tenor and I dont play bad at all.
What my point is AE was very useful to me and this YDS seems to be more. However, if u wanna play instrument, you wont be play YDS after switching to real sax.
 
A

Acc closed 6441

Guest
I spent plenty of time practicing on my alto yesterday and loved it, but I want to say this: today I recorded some different kinds of music with the YDS-150 and uploaded it to Box. I played part of an original song on soprano, so I had to learn the lines in a different key (fingering, that is) than alto. What this brings home to me is that learning a song with the YDS-150 is actually a pleasant experience. You can do it at low volume or with headphones, so the constant repetition of the lines needn't disturb others around you. This is one of those use cases I see for this instrument. I spent some time learning the head for soprano.

Here is the part I learned: Bal Masqué
 
Last edited by a moderator:
A

Acc closed 6441

Guest
Battery life with Energizer Alkaline "Max Plus" was just under 5 hours, with about 5 minutes of flashing light before it cut off.
 

saxyjt

Saxus Circus Maximus
Café Supporter
Messages
4,772
Locality
France
Battery life with Energizer Alkaline "Max Plus" was just under 5 hours, with about 5 minutes of flashing light before it cut off.
I would suggest you use rechargeable batteries. Or an external battery but that may not work with the usb plugged into another device...
 

saxyjt

Saxus Circus Maximus
Café Supporter
Messages
4,772
Locality
France
I started with recharghables, but they won't last 5 hours.
Agreed, but it's not really cost effective and recycling batteries is not the best thing...
 
A

Acc closed 6441

Guest
Is it not powered by usb?
It can be powered by USB, if you want to plug it in to USB and remain tethered to the computer. Rechargable batteries are great for things like keyboards, mice, earphones, etc. Less so for instruments if you plan to play somewhere without the USB cable. Before we get too much ecological backlash, remember that it takes power to recharge those rechargable batteries and I don't know what the manufacturing process is, but neither do a lot of people talking about saving the planet. Yes, they're the same ones who have hair dryers in their homes, but want us to worry about leaving a phone charger on all the time. You want to save the planet, let your hair (and your washed clothes) dry naturally!
 

saxyjt

Saxus Circus Maximus
Café Supporter
Messages
4,772
Locality
France
It can be powered by USB, if you want to plug it in to USB and remain tethered to the computer. Rechargable batteries are great for things like keyboards, mice, earphones, etc. Less so for instruments if you plan to play somewhere without the USB cable. Before we get too much ecological backlash, remember that it takes power to recharge those rechargable batteries and I don't know what the manufacturing process is, but neither do a lot of people talking about saving the planet. Yes, they're the same ones who have hair dryers in their homes, but want us to worry about leaving a phone charger on all the time. You want to save the planet, let your hair (and your washed clothes) dry naturally!
:old::happydance::banana::confused2:

Your call!
 

Wonko

Member
Messages
536
Locality
Belgium
It can be powered by USB, if you want to plug it in to USB and remain tethered to the computer. Rechargable batteries are great for things like keyboards, mice, earphones, etc. Less so for instruments if you plan to play somewhere without the USB cable. Before we get too much ecological backlash, remember that it takes power to recharge those rechargable batteries and I don't know what the manufacturing process is, but neither do a lot of people talking about saving the planet. Yes, they're the same ones who have hair dryers in their homes, but want us to worry about leaving a phone charger on all the time. You want to save the planet, let your hair (and your washed clothes) dry naturally!
I think that the lack of a built in, rechargeable (and replaceable) battery in this day and age is a serious flaw for such a device.
IMHO, single use batteries are to be avoided at all costs. I use them only for things like remote controls where they last about 2 or 3 years. Rechargeable batteries are far better for the environment for lots of reasons (if you want to know some of them, just ask. But I won't bore you with that now).
And just to let you know, We don't have a hairdryer in our house and we dry our clothes on washing lines all the time. And we use led-lights, have solar panels, re-use rain-water, .......
 

Jeanette

Organizress
Cafe Moderator
Messages
27,186
Locality
Cheshire UK
I think that the lack of a built in, rechargeable (and replaceable) battery in this day and age is a serious flaw for such a device.
IMHO, single use batteries are to be avoided at all costs. I use them only for things like remote controls where they last about 2 or 3 years. Rechargeable batteries are far better for the environment for lots of reasons (if you want to know some of them, just ask. But I won't bore you with that now).
And just to let you know, We don't have a hairdryer in our house and we dry our clothes on washing lines all the time. And we use led-lights, have solar panels, re-use rain-water, .......
Going off topic a little I guess but I love nothing better than hanging washing out. But do have a dryer for those periods of dismal UK weather. My hair dries naturally until almost dry then 1 min with a dryer to style it.

Shall I move these to a new thread?

Jx
 
A

Acc closed 6441

Guest
I think that the lack of a built in, rechargeable (and replaceable) battery in this day and age is a serious flaw for such a device.
Only if it's replaceable, and at what cost? I prefer batteries because you can buy them in almost any store. When you can, you connect to power, like in the studio, to ther compouter, but also to any USB charger.
 
A

Acc closed 6441

Guest
Screen Shot 2020-10-30 at 09.23.31.png

Using audio out and USB power

Another tip as I get more familiar with the digital instrument in a saxophone body:

When using audio out, you'll want to longest and lightest cable to the YDS-150 1/8" audio output jack. I have several male/male 1/8" cables. What I need now is this adapter to go to an amp or mixer, both of which I use.

Actually, with regard to the previous commentsd about batteries, it would be a bit of a pain to have both audio out and USB cables, but sincve USB also gives you audio, it's not a big problem. I also have outboard USB power banks like this one.

Screen Shot 2020-10-30 at 09.29.54.png
 
A

Acc closed 6441

Guest
Could you recommend a pair of headphones to use with the YDS 150 ?
I just used what I had in front of me, probably not the best. Big, heavy Senneheiser. But I think whatever you find comfortable will be fine. I wonder if they'd work with bluetooth? I think not, because it won't pair, but I haven't tried.
 

Members online

Popular Discussions

Top Bottom