Sonic LAB: Yamaha MOX6 Review PT1

Synth engine, audio in and USB      17/06/11

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Yamaha’s latest MOX Music Production Workstation borrows heavily from the Motif synth engine - actually it IS the same engine as the  Motif XS, but with reduced polyphony and no sampling.
 
We’re looking at the Yamaha MOX6, the 61 key version - its got a nice solid synth action key-bed - though no aftertouch. The build is not super hardcore solid, but its plenty sturdy enough  - Yamaha's thinking was to cut the weight down and make it something you could move around quite easily (MOX6 weighs around 6kg) - as the MOX is definitely a performance machine - as well as a workstation.

In this part of the review , I’m looking at the synth engine, effects and the USB interface - as there is just too much to fit into a YouTube -friendly time. The synth engine is  AWM2 with XA - eXpanded Articulation - essentially its got a wave ROM (355MB) for oscillator source,  plus Yamaha’s subtractive synth engine with five DSP effects to dial in. You do need to install the MOX editor as part of the Studio Manager 2 package - this is free (mac/pc)which will give you access to all the synth parameters - these are not accessible via the front panel.

Engine
The starting point is the Voice - this is like a single program mode - although we can have up to 8 Elements (Oscillators) which can be split and layered and mixed and routed to the effects in a variety of ways. Each Element has a single wave with pitch envelope, multimode VCF (18 types) VCF envelope,VCA and envelope plus a single LFO. There's a second LFO at the common voice level - with some interesting user defined waves as well as all the usual.

You have plenty of waves to select from - covering pianos, orchestral, drums, synths and more - a  total of 2,670 waveforms, many are multi-sampled and sound pretty decent.

Next we have the Performance mode where up to four Voices can be combined  - good for live playing and arpeggio setups. Finally, there’s the Song  mode gives you up to 16 multi-timbral parts for use either with the on board 226,000 note capacity sequencer or via your DAW using MIDI either from the USB interface or MIDI ports.

There’s a good selection of sounds here it definitely has a Yamaha character - I think it has something to do with the quality of the waves and digital to analog convertors on the stereo audio outputs, but to my ears plenty to browse with the Category and Favourite system - as well as enough synthesis for  creating your own unique patches.

USB or Not To B
Built in to the MOX is a USB audio and MIDI interface - in fact there’s a dedicated VU meter showing the signal level of the A/D input (stereo jack only) or mixed synth and A/D. You also get a dedicated DAW return fader and A/D gain knob on the top panel.
Sample rate is fixed at 44.1kHz 24-bit which is a shame, but as I said, they do sound pretty decent to my ears - would have been nice to see Combi connectors for plugging a mic directly in mind..
The audio interface can function as a stereo IO or a 4 in two out - 2 from the Synth engine and 2 from the A/D input which can have  its own two insert effects independent from the synth parts.

FX
Speaking of effects, you get up to four insert effects - A and B on the synth and A/B on the input, these can be routed series or parallel, plus two System effects on sends plus a Master effect - which is applied at the end of the synth engine chainand is useful for mastering and finishing type effects. There’s a good selection of Yamaha’s algorithms, including some from their VCM library which we’ve seen in their  digital consoles. They sound pretty good and there’s quite a selection - with the insert effects providing an integral part of the sound of the synth engine. You can also modulate and route a number of the parameters from various synth elements.
One criticism I had was that there is limited hardware control - from the 8 roatary encoders you only get to assign two to parameters of your choice, and not all at that. I wasnt unable to find a way to control the FX send on the A/D input for instance - useful if you want to control the effects level on a mic input...

Part 1 End
The Yamaha MOX 6  has a lot of features to get through, so I have decided to split the review into a couple of parts - initial impressions are extremely favourable - initially i was a bit overwhelmed - but as I have become familiar with Yamaha’s way - its become fairly straighforward to use. I think the synth engine is actually fairly powerful, albeit you need the MOX editor to get in deep but there’s plenty to keep you occupied once your inside.

So any further questions, please leave in the comments below.
coming up in Part 2 - performance and song modes, and DAW control.

Yamaha MOX 6 - £1051, $1499 RRP - you will find it cheaper if you shop around.

 

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27 Comments...  Post a comment    original story
D    Said...

Would vst mode be controlled by a plugin version of the editor ?

17-Jun-11 09:59 AM


Nick B    Said...

Quite possibly, but I think it has to do with the audio routing - awaiting confirmation from Yamaha.

17-Jun-11 10:31 AM


mcpepe    Said...

Can you do a patch extra-review? Like you did with the Ultranova?

17-Jun-11 03:31 PM


DarkVince    Said...

Great review (part1)! Thanks Nick. Got my Mox6 and I'm impressed with the sound quality and capabilities. FX sounds are terrific. I would also be interested in a demo showing the integration with Cubase and the use of the editor as VST. Seems to be for Cubase 5 only according to the manual...Can't check that cause I have only cubase studio 4 and I've got no more USB bandwidth to plug the mox6...the virus Ti already takes 62%, the other devices need 22% and it seems the mox6 needs 23%...reached my USB bandwidth limit...arrgg

17-Jun-11 04:50 PM


Nick B    Said...

I dont have Cubase either I'm afraid - will see if I can get it going in Reaper

18-Jun-11 04:38 AM


selercs    Said...

Amazing sound!

18-Jun-11 10:15 AM


Andy V    Said...

Nice review Nick. Have already preordered the Kronos but have to wait til late august for delivery.

The mo x 8 might tie me over until then. Look forward to part 2.

20-Jun-11 02:07 AM


SEQfx    Said...

Hi Nick: Can you show setting up a multitimbral sequence with an external DAW (not necessarily Cubase, or show if there is any difference w/ Cubase vs. non-Yamaha DAW)? Particularly interested in EFFECTS in such an applicaiton. Great review so far! Thx.

20-Jun-11 03:00 PM


SEQfx    Said...

Hi Nick: Can you show setting up a multitimbral sequence with an external DAW (not necessarily Cubase, or show if there is any difference w/ Cubase vs. non-Yamaha DAW)? Particularly interested in EFFECTS in such an applicaiton. Great review so far! Thx.

20-Jun-11 03:01 PM


SEQfx    Said...

Hi Nick: Can you show setting up a multitimbral sequence with an external DAW (not necessarily Cubase, or show if there is any difference w/ Cubase vs. non-Yamaha DAW)? Particularly interested in EFFECTS in such an applicaiton. Great review so far! Thx.

20-Jun-11 03:01 PM


SEQfx    Said...

Hi Nick: Can you show setting up a multitimbral sequence with an external DAW (not necessarily Cubase, or show if there is any difference w/ Cubase vs. non-Yamaha DAW)? Particularly interested in EFFECTS in such an applicaiton. Great review so far! Thx.

20-Jun-11 03:01 PM


SEQfx    Said...

Hi Nick: Can you show setting up a multitimbral sequence with an external DAW (not necessarily Cubase, or show if there is any difference w/ Cubase vs. non-Yamaha DAW)? Particularly interested in EFFECTS in such an applicaiton. Great review so far! Thx.

20-Jun-11 03:02 PM


   Said...

Bollox!! Sorry abt. the multiple posts! I kept clicking go and not seeing anything happen and thinking that I was not doing the CAPTHCHA wrong! So I kept redoing it. D'oh! I would delete them if I could!

20-Jun-11 03:05 PM


Bjarne D.    Said...

The display looks a lot like the interface of the good ol' Motif ES. :-)

21-Jun-11 02:52 AM


Edoardo Marcora    Said...

I would love to hear your assessment on the internal sequencer. Given the small display and the Cubase integration, I am wondering whether Yamaha has sacrificed the sequencer functionality compared to the Motif's one.

Also, I would make it clear to people that the VST editor is only VST 3.5 and therefore it cannot be used in most DAWs (except Cubase of course and a few others).

That really sucks!

21-Jun-11 04:54 AM


Cheapside Player    Said...

Since this is obviously a more budget-friendly version of the MOTIF, could you summarize what this unit lacks as compared to the full, current, top-O'-the-line MOTIF? Thx, Nick!

21-Jun-11 08:03 AM


Brian from USA    Said...

Cheapside, what's "missing" from a Motif XS or XF is half the polyphony (64 vs. 128), no sampling, no FW audio/MIDI interface option (but only MOX offers USB audio), no Ethernet for saving files to PC, no aftertouch on keys, no ribbon controller, no sliders, one less pedal input (XS supports two expression pedals, two switch pedals), no onboard PS

21-Jun-11 01:18 PM


Nick B    Said...

Thanks Brian, I dont think I made the no sampling part all that clear int he review, but yes, you are correct. However, its still got a lot to offer

21-Jun-11 04:41 PM


Brian from USA    Said...

Nick,

You're 100% right about lots to offer in the MOX. The list of missing features is a lot shorter than the list of included features and the price of an MOX6 is only half that of the XF6.

The integration is fantastic...one USB cable between MOX and computer, plug two powered monitors into the MOX and you've got a very powerful production setup...and Yamaha gives you Cubase AI so you don't even have to buy a DAW.

The MOX is certainly the entry level workstation to beat.

21-Jun-11 08:53 PM


Phil    Said...

Hi, I have a question about the MOX6. I understand that you can set up your own layers, splits, combinations and then save them in a favourites list. But how many user pre-sets can be defined? Could I, for example, save the settings for my band’s entire repertoire? Also, can the user pre-sets be called up via midi. I currently use my stage piano (Roland RD-700) to change the pre-sets on the second keyboard. I need to be able to have a ‘one-touch’ change of sounds for my keyboards! Thanks!

26-Sep-11 08:34 AM


erastic    Said...

If i put an eGuitar to A/D and record this on daw, what fx can the mox do and what fx can cubase ai do (heavy metal like distortion ect.) ?

01-Nov-11 09:07 AM


erastic    Said...

Say, you as a (semi)profi musican, are the 64 poly-voices enough to, make an complex erasure alike sound ? I read the reference-manual and oh oh 'remember the mox had a maximum of 64 voices - one voice can build of 8 elements'. So playing one voice within 8 elements there are only 56 voices left ?

01-Nov-11 09:16 AM


Tushar B.    Said...

Does it have indian music instrument sounds as sitar, santur, sarangi, indian babboo flute etc. can we load sounds in mox6

14-Dec-11 11:11 PM


Tushar B.    Said...

Does it have indian music instrument sounds as sitar, santur, sarangi, indian babboo flute etc. can we load sounds in mox6

14-Dec-11 11:13 PM


Juan Felipe    Said...

Hello, I´m looking to buy me a synth, and right now I have three options: Yamaha MOX6 (New): Best sounds, only 64 poliphony

Roland Juno Gi (New) Recording voice and effects included, 128 poliphony.

Roland Fantom X7 (Vintage like new): Sampling, aftertouch, 128 poliphony, 76 keys, 4 srx cards.

The three are very similar in price.

I would use it for composing and playing live different rhythms: from electronic to ethnic music. I could use DAW but not necesarily.

What do you think about the second hand Fantom X7, in your opinion (if it is in excellent esthetic and functional contidion) is it a reliable keybord to compete with the other ones, is it better or what or do you think ?

I would appreciate your advice before making this important decision.

Thanks in advance and best regards,

juanfelipecordoba@hotmail.com

10-Feb-12 11:45 AM


TIX    Said...

Nick...Great , I luv your reviews (laughed over the Magic Castle Voice Over...facial expressions) Keep up the subtle humor up. As far as the MOX6...Luv it too, I just cant get my brain around the Cubase DAW & its driving me nuts (Im no comp wizard) I even bought a tutorial but so far I fail with that too. I have only managed to record one thing & whenever I change voice on mox the that voice replaces the original sound recorded. Imagine listening to 'LET IT BE'..originally recorded with piano & piano then replaced with drums...now that sounds weird. I will keep trying but this is hard for someone not familiar with DAW recording. Any suggestions on how to approach the learning curve ? I sold my Tascam...possibly a mistake but I will persist.

01-Mar-12 07:06 PM


Al    Said...

Hi Nick! I used to have the Motif ES and the Xs. I just Bought the Mox6, When it's in pattern Mode the effect insertion button is not working. but In voice mode it works. By default the Motif es,xs,xf the insertion effects are already on in the pattern mode, is there something not enabled! Please Help! the effects are like tremolo/phaser/ and wahs. Thanks!

05-Jun-12 02:28 PM


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