A couple of days ago I was combing through Craigslist and found a bargain price for a secondhand Yamaha RM1x. I’m a sucker for a good deal. I’m not going to lie about that. I am an even bigger sucker for gear that has lots of potential, underrated power and a robust feature set. So, I jumped at the chance to check this instrument out for myself.
My first impressions are quite positive. The interface is laid out well and the menu system is well thought out. I’m not very used to this interface just yet, but it is starting to make sense quickly. The manual isn’t my favorite, but it could be worse. Having no manual would be worse! It reminds me of something between my Alesis MMT-8 and a little of my Akai MPC’s (minus the sampling,…of course). I’ve always appreciated the tactile aspects of these types of boxes. When you throw in a 16 step grid-like matrix like the ones found on Roland XoX drum machines, I think you have a winner. I had a Roland MC-303 Groovebox many years ago and this was released around the same time-frame. I ignored it originally, but am glad I finally got my hands on one.
I’ve been thinking about how I would use it. I started looking around for ways in which people are using it to get some ideas. Obviously, there is a multitude of ways to get the maximum out of it. Just take a look on Youtube and I’m sure the ideas will just start coming. I think if you add an external sampler to the RM1x you could have one really powerful hardware sequencer. Its ability to chain sequences, create songs, and trigger them in various ways is very appealing. It’s the groove factor that makes the RM1x one very appealing machine upon first inspection.
I’ve read dozens of user reviews and the biggest complaint I found was that sounds are dated. How about layering and using some of those fx processors in your bedroom studio folks? I’ve also read the complaint about the buttons to trigger notes and just have to say if it bothers you, get an external MIDI controller. Or, you could just use it in step-mode. That’s right… it’s got step-mode recording! I haven’t found a fair price for a Roland MC-202 synthesizer. So, in the meantime, I’ll use this and try and get the most out of it.
I think I’ve just scratched the surface so far. I know this instrument has quite a bit more to explore.
# Polyphony – 64 voices
# Multitimbral – 16 parts
# Sounds – 654 sounds, 46 drum kits
# Filter – Low pass; cutoff, resonance, envelope
# Effects – 11 reverbs, 11 choruses, 43 variations
# Sequencer – 110,000 notes
# Memory – 60 preset patterns, 50 user patterns, 20 user songs
# Control – MIDI (16 parts)
# Date Produced – 1999
Here are a few videos that were motivators for my purchase:
From Youtube: simulating 4 osc synth (like korg mono/poly), or whatever; same trick layering sounds for a “mega sound” (you won’t hear that “mega sound” in demo, i’m giving you just an idea); and a few clicks to do “good life” chords. as always, nothing serious 🙂
From Youtube: midi delay, beat stretch, portamento time & control, lfo s&h
For more on the Yamaha RM1x visit Vintagesynth.com.