Yamaha Corp. of America plans to take band and orchestra instruments to the next level with its YDS-150.

Yamaha Corp. of America plans to take band and orchestra instruments to the next level. The company introduced the YDS-150 digital saxophone, designed to provide the easiest way in which saxophonists of all levels and those new to playing a wind instrument can create great-sounding music from the start.

The YDS-150 effectively emulates an authentic saxophone experience digitally — from the sound and key layout to feedback from the instrument — while maintaining the sense of unity between the saxophone and musician. The digital saxophone breaks the barrier to entry for new or returning musicians by providing the ability to quickly express themselves creatively and musically, stated Yamaha.

“The thought process was very simple. The YDS-150 Digital Saxophone was designed to help fulfill the company mission to make more music-makers,” Brian Petterson, senior marketing manager, Yamaha Winds & Strings, told the Music & Sound Retailer. “Due to the forgiving interface and high-quality sound samples, there has never been a more accessible wind instrument for beginners or hobbyists. In terms of the sounds of the YDS-150, our confidence in our modeling capabilities was very high for several reasons. No other company in the music industry can match the expertise of Yamaha’s research and development staff to collaborate together and create truly innovative new products. For the YDS150, a state-of-the-art, full-scale sampling process of popular professional and custom Yamaha saxophones playing in multiple musical styles was used.”

Unlike MIDI wind controllers, the YDS-150 incorporates a key structure that replicates that of a traditional saxophone, offering players the natural feel to which they are accustomed, stated Yamaha. A genuine brass bell enhances the acoustic presence of the instrument thanks to the company’s new proprietary Integrated Bell Acoustic System technology. The sound and vibration of the speaker unit at the top of the instrument are transmitted to the bell through the sound pipe, and in turn, the instrument itself vibrates similarly to a traditional saxophone. Vibrations are carried to the mouth and fingertips through the mouthpiece and keys to give players authentic instrumental feedback. In addition, the Digital Saxophone “sings” with longer reverberation thanks to the brass bell, making it possible for musicians to play in a naturally expressive way.

Proper embouchure, breath control and good technique are essential components for learning to play a traditional saxophone. While the YDS-150 can also measure breath pressure and sense articulation, it delivers a consistent sound regardless of how the musician blows into the mouthpiece, stated Yamaha. This allows musicians to focus more on proper fingering and creative ideas, serving to make the playing experience enjoyable from the first time they play. Additionally, the musician can choose from more than 50 onboard sounds, including emulations of popular Yamaha Custom Z and Custom EX saxophones, as well as the 62 Series baritone saxophones.

The instrument is also Bluetooth equipped, enabling it to be paired with mobile devices via the YDS Controller app. Using the app, players can edit voices, customize saxophone fingerings, and adjust instrument settings such as resistance and response, as well as tuning. And the YDS-150 can be used with headphones, giving players the ability to practice anywhere, any time of day or night, without disturbing others. There are 73 sounds users can select from and play, including the basic saxophone types of soprano, alto, tenor and baritone. In addition, the user can create up to 20 customizable preset sounds. Settings can be personalized, as well as sound adjustments, fingering and other controls. The YDS-150 also comes with a neck strap, mouthpiece, synthetic reed and case.

Petterson told the Retailer he believes the YDS-150 can boost interest in wind instruments, in general. “Absolutely,” he responded. “In fact, the YDS-150 Digital Saxophone is specifically designed to make it easier to learn to play the saxophone. Many people have wanted to learn to play the saxophone but were intimidated by the process of learning to make a high-quality sound or just didn’t have the time to spend practicing. The YDS-150 has recorder-like playability out of the box and can help remove some significant barriers for new music-makers. Also, people who played the saxophone at an earlier time in their lives can now reconnect with their musical roots in a new, fun way.”

With this said, will Yamaha design more digital instruments in the future? “The YDS150 Digital Saxophone is a first-of-its-kind digital wind instrument, and we’re really excited at the reception it has already received in a short amount of time,” concluded Petterson. “The company’s current focus is growing awareness of the YDS-150 and making playing a musical instrument more accessible and fun for non-musicians. However, it is safe
to say that the ingenuity of the Yamaha research and development staff knows no boundaries. And it’s safe to say the products Yamaha will continue to create won’t either.”

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