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Yamahas most current professional XG rack-mount unit, the MU100R (see Fig. 8), offers a large number of sounds (based on the companys AWM2 technology) with a surprising degree of flexibility. Notable features include mono mode operation, VL voices, auto harmony, and detailed voice editing. This module has plenty to investigate.
GM sounds. The MU100R boasts impeccable XG material throughout. The basses, both acoustic and synth, are particularly good. The acoustic pianos are great, although the electrics, especially the Rhodes types, are thinner and more nasal than on the rival Sound Canvas. Difficult instruments like fiddle are handled well.
The MU100R deals well with all styles of Standard MIDI File playback, from filter-tweaking techno to cool jazz. Compared to the equivalent Sound Canvas unit, the MU-100R sounds more open, perhaps less flattering, but a bit more realistic and natural.
Other sounds, features, and drums. The MU100R provides A/D inputs (two front panel input jacks) that allow you to patch in a vocal mic or guitar and process the signal or blend it with the internal sounds. Users can even process vocals with Vocal Harmony effects, vocoding, and the like. In addition, XG permits precise, in-depth editing of parameters with software.
The MU100R doesnt offer many drum kits or much in the way of dedicated hip-hop, techno, or dance sets. Nevertheless, Yamaha offers a good assortment of additional sounds and alternatives outside the defined GM drum map. They allow musicians to construct customized dance kitsit just takes a little time exploring the instruments that reside at the outer reaches of the keyboard.
Effects and controls. The MU100R has a full range of highly controllable and editable XG effects to choose from, including four types of insert effects.
Because its an XG module, NRPNs for filter cutoff, resonance, envelope attack, and release are supported, along with standard control over such things as pan, volume, reverb, chorus level, and portamento. With little in the way of front panel controls, these capabilities are important added benefits.
Bottom line. The MU100R is an instrument easy to overlook, but no one should. Underneath its plain exterior lies a world of interesting features and creative possibilities. They may take some effort to figure out, but theyre well worth discovering. The basic operation, however, is easy, and thats important.
The MU128 (see Fig. 9) is a big box of tricks that offers high-level GM capabilities and a host of features and facilities that are way beyond most needs. The unit houses two Yamaha sound engines: a TB300B sound set for GM1 operation and an XG sound engine for enhanced GM sounds, effects, and other features.
The MU128s busy front panel is full of dedicated buttons that give the module a daunting air. Those who dont give up will quickly get hooked on features such as access to any GM instrument group from a dedicated panel button. With more than 1,000 patches to choose from, anything that speeds up the audition and location process has to be good.
Reprinted with permission from Magazine, February, 2001
© 2000, Intertec Publishing, A Primedia Company All Rights Reserved
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