Summer NAMM 2014: Yamaha's 40 Years Of Synthesisers

Celebrations kick off with a limited edition MOTIF XF in white   17-Jul-14

Summer NAMM 2014: Yamaha's 40 Years Of Synthesisers

40 years is a milestone worth commemorating and to mark this auspicious occasion Yamaha has created the limited edition 40th Anniversary MOTIF XF Music Production Synthesizer. This is what they have to say...

In 1974 Yamaha produced its first portable analog synthesizer with the SY-1. The acceptance of synthesizers in the mainstream rock/pop genre just began to grow at this time. Over the past 40 years to date, there have been numerous new developments from Yamaha in many variants that revolutionised the synthesizer market with milestones such as the CS80, DX7, SY77, and the VL1 up to the MOTIF series – used today by over 150,000 musicians worldwide. Yamaha synthesizers and workstations were and still are the first choice for professionals and amateurs in the multi-faceted music business.

In 2014 Yamaha takes this successful history as an occasion to celebrate, and to honour this anniversary there will be a year of new products, bundles, promotional items, as well as plenty of interesting information. For starters Yamaha releases a 40th Anniversary MOTIF XF Music Production Synthesizer Special Edition. This limited edition of the MOTIF XF series with the suffix "WH" is all dressed in white, symbolizing the dedication to the development in the past 40 years.

The MOTIF XF WH is - of course - a fully up-to-date MOTIF XF with the latest OS 1.5, featuring the new HD Reverb effect algorithms and the new Amplifier Simulation and Multi FX. In short: The MOTIF XF WH is that one machine you need to produce and perform your musical ideas.

In addition, two special Anniversary Boxes offer great value for the MOTIF XF and the MX series of synthesizers, each containing a USB stick with sound-sets that will help to get the most of these machines. The Box for the MOTIF XF adds a Flash Memory Expansion Board and a row of discount coupons for products of third party developers like Arturia, FXpansion, Sonic Reality, John Melas, and KARMA.

Furthermore Yamaha is set to release five booklets throughout the year that give a detailed overview of the history of Yamaha synthesizers and prepare extensive information and images from the depths of the archives.

Check out Yamaha's Special 40th anniversary Site.

Pricing and Availability:

MOTIF XF WH will begin shipping in the UK from mid-August.
MOTIF XF WH will be priced the same as current MOTIF XF (Black) with all three models available.

More information:


All Summer NAMM 2014 News |  Videos |  Live Blogs |  Follow us on Twitter and Facebook
More From: YAMAHA
Even more news...

24 Comments... Comments are closed while we transition to Disqus

Tribrix    Said...

Wow, 5 booklets . . . what about some classic synths for the anniversary? Yamaha seems even more out of step than Roland here.

In fact, the Aira line points the way to a cool CS-80 reissue idea . . . why not do it as a digital hardware simulation, especially if it was a hybrid with some analog circuitry. It'll never happen, of course.

17-Jul-14 01:49 PM

WorknMan    Said...

Wow... release a different colored version of a synth that was outclassed 3 years ago. Way to bring your A game, Yamaha :P

17-Jul-14 02:04 PM

Champ    Said...

40 years and they ended up with Motif.

I would laugh so hard if it wasn't so sad. :(

17-Jul-14 03:28 PM

Jullian    Said...

Wow Yamaha is so out of touch. The Motof XF is a great board, but it's outdated. People are seeking a modern Motif, not a warmed over XF with a new paint job. Pathetic.

17-Jul-14 10:09 PM

lazerez    Said...

How about a reasonably priced reissue of the VP1? The computer-power needed shouldn't be too expensive nowadays...

18-Jul-14 02:38 AM

Kevin Nolan    Said...

I think it is hubris in the extremen that Yamaha, who have today abandoned all synthesizer development (since the EX5) and who do so brutally and aggressively over the past 10 years, feel they can claim any association today with their stunning synthesizer legacy. The CS80, DX1, SY77 and VL1 (all of which I own and use) are indeed stunning instruments. However, they were developed by visionaries no longer with Yamaha, and whom were literally 'shut down' by Yamaha. If you read any annual reports form Yamaha over the past 10 years, you see absolutely no mention of the word synthesizer - and the current 'crop' of managers and designers in Yamaha have absolutely no clue whatsoever what a synthesizer is - and worse still - no clue as to what makes their own legacy special. Not a notion. And here we go, yet again, Yamaha plundering their legacy to sell workstations and home keyboards. Those running this company today aught be be totally ashamed of themselves. They had wrecked what was a 30 year legacy in favour of profit, and I find it utterly deplorable with their 'neck' in even daring to bring up their past legacy which they actively dismantled of late. With the size of this company, they are surely in a unique position, resource wise, towards developing synthesizers; yet they choose to do absolutely nothing in that regard - and here they claim to celebrate their legacy? Hypocrisy in the extreme

18-Jul-14 03:20 AM

blingo    Said...

I agree with some of the posts. To add fuel to the fire, the Yamaha reps and associates over at their forum website adamantly support Yamaha's decision to stay rompler and laugh down/bash anyone who even remotely requests a new generation AN1X or DX7 or workstation with various synthesis technologies. Even earlier generation Motifs had option for analog modeling and FM. Sad, Yammy!

18-Jul-14 07:21 AM


I am thinking Korg should buy all of the designs and rights to rebuild the classics by Yamaha and Roland - as far as I'm concerned they have both lost complete touch with their heritage.

So sad.

18-Jul-14 11:16 AM

Blake    Said...

I hate the Yamaha sequencer and don't know any professional that actually uses it but it is a fine sounding instrument. As a matter of fact, the Motif is the choice instrument for many blind musicians and that it itself says a lot to the quality of sound and attention to detail that is put into this romper. All this bashing to relive the past is unwarranted in my opinion. Especially when there are SO MANY options to get all of these "retro" requests. I don't work for Yamaha but the Motif XF is a top notch instrument that delivers for "performing" musicians. Keep that in mind. Whether or not you just have to have it in white is up to you. :D

18-Jul-14 01:13 PM

Kevin Nolan    Said...

@Blake. This is not Yamaha bashing. Nobody was saying anything, even though we are thinking it, until Yamaha hypocritically claim to be celebrating a 40 year legacy; which they are not - they dismantled that legacy, actively and brutally (internally).

And its essentially on the record - even by Yamaha themselves - that they see no merit in synthesizers.

Furthermore, nobody is criticising the Motif.

It is indeed a nice workstation. However its underlying technology is the same as the Korg M1 of 1988, with improvements. Even the SY77 or 1989 / 1980 was a huge step up from the rompler; providing AFM and RCM synthesis - still a pinnacle.

This is a music technology site we're on here; and that means innovation, the future, and a responsibility to all of that, especially if you're a company with vast resources - and a vast legacy - like Yamaha.

So all well and good if they do not want to be involved in synthesizer development - but they don't have the right to falsely mislead in promotions on sites like this and claim they are celebrating a legacy they actively dismantled, limb-for-limb, over the past decade, and allow their current engineers and freelance programmes sneer at those calling a return to the types of development that only Yamaha are capable of (I've come across it time and time again - they don't give a damn).

Yamaha is in the doldrums in this regard, and I can be confident that in the future, when they do return to extraordinary synth development, that the current personnel will be discredited as a bunch of irresponsible, visionless hacks who hijacked the company for profit.

Good luck to the Motif, but it is not a synthesiser.

And Blake - the Motif is not better for blind people than other workstations - I don't know who you are or why you're making such a claim, but it, in my opinion, a low blow to try to falsely elevate the Motif as some sort of saviour, using blindness as your argument. All workstations are equally capable in this regard and there are no specific design features on the Motif for blind people.

Finally, Blake, you would serve yourself very well by seeking out a CS80, CS40M, DX7, SY99, VL1 and AN1x and sit at them and learn a little about how exquisite they are before you start comparing them to the Motif.

18-Jul-14 01:45 PM

Blake    Said...

@ Kevin Nolan.....I did not in any way say that the Motif is better for blind people. It is often chosen by blind musicians because of the audio quality.

The technology of the Motif is in the audio quality of the samples presented and yes it is a synthesizer. It's an S+S synthesizer or sample and synthesis. I've used my far share of vintage synths and have reached a point where I only use what's good for my music or to meet client needs. Actually owning that bunch doesn't qualify.

Now Kevin, you would serve and present yourself very well by reading what's actually there and NOT jumping to conclusions.

18-Jul-14 06:29 PM

Peter K.    Said...

The Motifs sound very good. I love the CP4 Stage a lot. When it comes to both workstations and discovering new sounds, I'm inclined to go with the Kronos. If you want FM, you should check out their MOD-7 engine. And their VA stuff is really great - particularly the AL-1 is a BEAST.

Anyway, just putting it out there that there are other great options.

18-Jul-14 07:42 PM

LagrangeAudio    Said...

A few unfair comments here, Yamaha knows their history. Chapter 1 is significant and I know what's coming in chapter 2 ;)

19-Jul-14 09:10 AM

Gregio    Said...

I think they have lost their touch in synth design, their last synth was EX5 with FDSP motifs might be good but they are not actual synthesizers in heart and they are products that can not serve people that want adventures in sound design , Motifs are good as general serving synths may be for jazz musicians general machines one for all needs I also have SY-99, VL1m , AN1x , DX7II, EX5R but not any motif , i was working for YAMAHA when the first MOTIF appeared and then said to my self : well this is the end of their legacy let's hope that it is not we'll see ...

19-Jul-14 05:20 PM

Kevin Nolan    Said...

@LagrangeAudio: I won't be holding my breath; nor will the world or music / synthesis technology be, I can assure you.

19-Jul-14 08:17 PM

FS1R    Said...

The FS1R is the pinnacle of Yamaha synthesis. I love mine. I also like my Motif-Rack XS. I don't love it. It's just handy. I think the "failure" of the FS1R scared Yamaha. Folks in Japan do not like failure. Think about all of the famous Japanese start-ups in the last ten years. Oh wait. There are none.

19-Jul-14 08:46 PM

selercs    Said...

Yamaha Motif sounds better than Roland or Korg in my opinion for a lot of stock sounds (both acoustic and electronic). Yamaha seems to sound more realistic.

However, Korg and Roland give far more flexibility in sound design. Motif is a fine synthesizer no doubt, you can program some wacky stuff with its LFOs and EGs but the lack of FM (like in AN1X), or modulators like in DX7 makes flexibility of unique sound designing more scarce.

Yamaha has shunned the requests of countless people for an upgraded workstation with AN, DX, FDSP, maybe even FS1R type.

19-Jul-14 09:35 PM

CI    Said...

Well, you still haven't had learned your lesson. Here's a single line summary :

Yamaha real customers are its shareholders. Therefore : Profit divided by Investment should be at its maximum.

20-Jul-14 09:33 AM

vanille-ijs    Said...

I save you some time, the sex is here:

20-Jul-14 05:03 PM

Peter K.    Said...

The Motif IS a synthesizer. They have great filters and LFO's. Lots of great filter types - 17 on even the old ES, and they have an LFO which is really more like a step sequencer.

If an analog modelling synth had that many filter types (well, some do), we'd all be jumping up and down. If you dig in, the Motif range is really quite controllable.

The newer ones have up to 8 oscillators in a patch. That's pretty good!

What don't you get? Sources can't frequency modulate each other, you can't cascade filter types, no sync, or things like PWM that you'd expect with a VA. To be honest, very few pure Romplers can do that - some Roland stuff can. The Kronos can do it by sending audio from one engine into another, but that's pretty unexplored territory.

They ARE great synthesizers, but no, they don't allow you to do some of the things you get to do in an AN1x, for example. Although I've moved over to the Kronos, I used an ES7 for many years on major shows for most of the 2000's and it played and sounded great.

To be fair, I didn't upgrade because I felt the loss of the PLG boards in subsequent versions was a real setback. I DO use FM and VA a lot, but I know most keyboard players don't and they still have great careers and get the job done.

20-Jul-14 10:02 PM

Kevin Nolan    Said...

Peter -

Nobody's knocking the Motif - even some of the most disappointed by Yamaha like me!

There is broad agreement that the Motif is an excellent instrument for all sorts of genuine reasons - built like a tank, sounds great and so on. That's not the issue.

The issue is with Yamaha hijacking their own legacy here for what many of us can see are quite dubious reasons. That is - using the amazing legacy of the company to sell more workstations. Again, no problem there - they are entitled to make a profit - but - it's the genuine hypocrisy that is going on.

Yamaha actively dismantled entire sections within its company in the past 10 years. They actively obliterated all 'synth design'. They destroyed their legacy.

Seriously - just do a little investigation into the caliber, originality and sheer hight or innovation in all of the following, and imagine the genius, effort and vision that must have been needed:

GX1 SY1 & 2 CS80 (and variants) CS15 & 30 CS40M GS1 DX1 & 7 CP80 SY77 & SY99 VL1 and VP1 EX5 AN1x FSR1


Investigate the vast and awesome legacy that that constitutes.

Now - look at the company today:

- Stunning Pianos - Stunning Digital Mixers - Stunning Silent Range - Stunning Acoustic Instruments - Stunning Arranger Keyboards - Synthesizers for the past 12 Years: Motif

While Motif is a very mature and nuce instrument, its the complete lack of development of any sort in synthesis that has been a shock and disappointment from a company that could, at the drop of a hat in the past, revolutionise the status of synthesis instruments.

So the bottom line for Motif is - it is not an advancement in thinking, innovation or technologically beyond the Korg M1 of 1988.

Have you tried the SY77 with AFM and RCM synthesis? As a synthesizer, the SY77 puts the latest Motif to utter shame.

That's the point. There's no innovation, no advancement, and there has been a conscious, purposeful and deliberate disbandment of that entire division within Yamaha since around the time of the EX5 in 1998.

So for Yamaha to now come along that claim they are celebrating a legacy they have long since destroyed, is nothing short of dishonest.

The most that can be given to them credibility wise, is that their current personnel are simply ignorant of their rich past!

21-Jul-14 05:03 AM

Kevin Nolan    Said...

One final point Peter - I own the Korg OASYS which is by nor 9 - 10 year old technology; and it still puts the latest Motif to shame in terms of its technological innovations:

- Hard Disk - 16 Track HD Audio Recording - 2 GB Ram - 176 Note Polyphonic - 7 Synthesiser Engines - Touch Scren

and so on.

So - given the minimal amount of development from one Motif to the next, I envisage at most a few dozen people - if that - working on the Motif. So as far as Yamaha is concerned, virtually nobody works in workstations, let alone 'synthesis'. It's just not important to the company. They have achieved less development on that entire range in 10 - 14 years, to the current dat, than Korg managed on just one instrument in 2005! Think about that, and how much Yamaha values their 'legacy'.

21-Jul-14 05:16 AM

Peter K.    Said...

I agree with you there Kevin. They aren't pushing any envelopes or boundaries in that way. I do own a few of the instruments you mentioned. I have a pair of EX5r' modules, and have owned theFS1r, SY77&99....


Had a moment there, sorry....

Yeah they've definitely done some incredible stuff. The Motifs sound great and are great functional tools. My CP4 Stage is amazing. I felt it was important to say that although they are basically straight up romplers, the Motif series really does have a great compliment of tools for manipulation under the hood. People can get deep and creative with them if they so wish.

Perhaps with all the innovation happening in soft synths, they decided to simplify their focus and concentrate on simplicity and function. That's great, but that's also why I moved over to the Kronos. I feel it gives me the best of all worlds at once.

24-Jul-14 04:56 PM

Skinmechanic    Said...

I've just received the 40th Anniversary Motif. 17 Filter types and the fact you can stack up to 20 Oscillators in a performance setting it has a lot of power under the hood. For me I've had most of them, Korg M3, Roland Fantom X7, Roland JP80, Roland FA08 but out of all of them the Motif sounds much better in the most part. It's a great multitimbral synth and works well with the editor and built like a tank. I've had workstations with HDD in them it's not the way forward for me, you might as well have a laptop with Kontakt (which I do). The Kronos has some great sounds, but I hate the operating system and build quality for me if your spending that amount of money it's not always about the amount of synthesis engines you can cram into a synth. I have the Korg Legacy collection anyway to take care of the synth engines that excite me from the Kronos.

I think the Motif XF is not marketed well by Yamaha and the excellent deep synth engine isn't explored fully by Yamaha. I also think they havent explored or for me done enough with the flashrom expansions.

02-Nov-14 07:29 PM

Comments are closed while we transition to Disqus