Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Yamaha RX7

Just got a near mint, fully functional RX7 and really happy about it..the overall condition: LCD, drum pads, sliders, everything are amazing for a 22 yo device :D a great example of a drum machine which built to last.

The samples are from great to ooh yeah (seriously!), but I like the overall sound character. The Simmons style BD/SD are nice, as well as the FM percussion, fx, hi-hat and some other. But the Latin Percussion and Cymbals are classy 12 bit goodness.
There are 100 samples (94 plus 6 reversed version): 52 are from the RX5 and the included WRC-01 Basic Percussion Cartridge which is hard to find. It's mentioned that the rest are a kind of the best selection from other harder to get Cartridges: the WRC-02 Jazz & Fusion, WRC-03 Heavy Metal, WRC-04 Effects. I used to want a RX5, for it's ability to use those cartridges. To know that most are already built in is wonderful. There supposed to be another cards for the RX5, not sure if it's from Sound Source Unlimited or Metra Sound, those are sought after for the 808/909 samples.
Hardly hope for more samples or at least throw those silly (useful when edited) samples such as vocal/guitar, and replace em with more kick and snare. But with the effective sound editing, the unit can be wonderful for what it is.

Editing is surprisingly straightforward and fun to work with and actually one of the most enjoyable to me.
- Bend: controlling Rate/Range, works well with the single value data to produce real time sound experiment. Other thing that I like is that the quality of the pitches sound are somehow very nice and useful in a "quality" way instead of just weird or trashy. Supposed to be some quality processing for this.
- Pitch and Decay: the same can be said for the pitch parameter, while the decay will instantly turn a boring snare into a nice bass&drum type of sound..or unique percussion fx.
- Voice Level and Pan: These are self explanatory, but clearly the part where I miss the RX5 volume sliders.
- The LFO: this little part is my favorite and where the unit shine. Other than the usual vibrato and tremolo this parameters would create some cool tweaking what Yamaha called AMD (Amplitude Modulation Depth) and PMD (Pitch Modulation Depth) a bit extreme, it will colored or mildly "distort" the edited sound. Don't expect heavy distorted sound as if using a dedicated distortion unit, but some "lo-bit game" style noise might be produced. Combined with the pitch/bend edit, it can create instant blip and unique percussion or game fx.
- The FX: almost a combination simple delay and a pitch shifter. with a creative use, it can be useful. sounds a bit analogish to me.

The whole save, clear, drum kit assignment, are very easy and fast. Snappy is what I call for the unit processing and operation process. It is nice to see small red lights for almost every functions such as: Pattern - Song - Sync - Multi - Effect - Damp - Run. Also dedicated sliders for volume, click level, tempo and data. Even there's a foot switch feature.

Real time recording in the pattern sequencer is again, both easy and straightforward. As well as the quantize, swing, tempo change, click volume control, delete, etc. But the non graphical step recording might need a lot of training. The song sequencer is simply a pattern chain sequencer. It can be fun working with the sequencer, but also can be very confusing sometime. But I'm more into the sound and realtime pattern sequencing anyway, while relying on other machine/pc for deeper sequencing.

What's missing from the RX5 are:
- Sample Cartridge slot: not really miss this, since most of the Yamaha Cartridge samples are already built-in and I'm not looking for another 808/909 samples in it anyway. Plus, those are so hard to find
- Individual outs: not really a problem for what I'm going to use it, but 4 outs are going to be better
- Individual volume sliders and bigger unit size: Those Sliders are nice..but again, the RX7 is smaller
- Attack parameter: do not miss this, the LFO trade off is worth it

In short, a wonderful 12 bit drum machine for what I'm currently looking.

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