Synth Site: Yamaha: SK-30: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.4 out of 5
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Patrick Coleff a part-time user from cleveland, OH writes:
I picked this huge beast up on ebay for pretty cheap ($175), which is weird considering Arp Quadra's go for about 4 times that and have less features (and in my opinion, a thinner sound).

But the SK30 is pretty rare, so if you see one for a good price, I'd pick it up then. The SK is the big (with case the thing weighs 90lbs) brother of the Sk20. Basically it's a 20 with a mono-synth added. I am not aware of any sonic differences, but I don't have any of the others of the series to compare. I am aware there is a SK-50D, which apparently adds a second keyboard and this scares me. Here's a review of each section and some general specs below.

Mono-Synth: This section is comparable with another old Yamaha, the CS-5. Doing an A/B comparison, most non-resonant sounds were pretty similar. There are some major differences overall though. The SK30 lacks the smooth portamento that the CS has. I'd even go so far as to call it whiny and, for the most part, unusable. The resonance is also very different. The SK's has a more liquid quality and an increased effect on the overall sound. Lastly, the LFO is sine only, unlike the CS's 3 shapes. All of that in mind, for what it was intended for (bass and leads), it does very well. The overly simple modulation throws it out of the race for complex sounds and FX, but the bread and butter sounds are all there with a good punch in them.

Poly-Synth: Though it is a very solid sounding section, I would not use the word "beefy" to describe it, more like "spacey." It lacks any bite whatsoever and, even in normal attack mode, has way too slow an envelope to be used for any bass or percussion sounds. But, the pads and strings you can get certainly shine and glitter like Bowie a'la Ziggy Stardust (especially when layered with the String-Synth).

String-Synth: As a solo instrument, this is the worst of the sections. With very limited editing capabilities and a rather thin sound, it's only real purpose is to layer with the Poly-Synth. If you're looking for a string machine, you can do alot better than the SK.

Organ: Not being a fan of organ sounds, I was suprised at how much I liked this section. Its sound is all about the 70's era rock organ, especially with the Ensemble effect in use. The tone sliders give you quite a deal to work with in the way of synthesis. Within minutes of turning it on, I was able to get everything from mournful goth stuff to some tones which made me want to poof my hair and get some tightpants. The percussion is okay, I'd like to have a bit more "click" to it, but that's just me.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Friday-Sep-21-2001 at 08:13
henner henrichs a hobbyist user from germany writes:
at least i got my first "analog", it was cheap and it is BIG and HEAVY and it has lots of KNOBS and SLIDERS, hm... but, as far as i can say after two days with it in one room, its sounds are very...nice... too nice...its got so many possibilities to modulate all of its parts, but if you try to work on the edge of distortion and outer-space-sounds, well, too soon you'll reach the end of the sliders. but WHAT you get are wonderful poly/strings and organ sounds that will make the sun shine immediately, you can mix them alltogether and add a heavy monster-solo-bass to them. but still it will sound like sitting on a sunny meadow but never like a moonquake on uranus.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Saturday-Aug-11-2001 at 08:37
C.A. Todd a professional user from USA writes:
I'm really surprised at the lack of posts here. This 4 voice has got some kickin filters. Put it through your favorite fuzz box, turn up the resonance, and make their ears bleed in solo synth mode. Since this one was out in the pre-MIDI days, a good CV to MIDI box will turn this thing into something altogether different. The organ is pretty weak in the pipe dept. but if you're into reggae/dub its got a nice decay mode. If anyone has the bass pedals for this I'll buy them... and if you can find one of these for under $250 get it, it will make you a better person (somehow).

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Thursday-Apr-20-2000 at 06:31
Matt Jasper a part-timer user from usa writes:
Set VCA to "hold" and plug your bass into the cv input! Adjust a few sliders and you'll be triggering the monosynth section and sounding like a noisy Roland GR midi bass. (I thought bass would just trigger the synth, but it actually tracks pitch) Great monosynth section for speaker destroying bass & strange noises. Good analog strings (especially when layered with the polysynth section) and a deluxe harmonic slider organ that fits into my studio a good deal easier than a Hammond Phoenix did. I got this based on ILIKEMIDI's review here (he also suggested the bass trick) and wasn't disappointed. Fun to mix layers from different sections. I'll email sounds to anyone who asks.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Sunday-Mar-07-1999 at 07:46
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