Yamaha PSR SX700 - Analysis From A Different Angle
Recently I figured out that I have a soft corner for arranger keyboard. Cause they offer so much features and allows you to modify and control sounds from the very roots. Luckily I got my hands on the new PSR SX700 for more than 2 weeks on October of 2019.
I have jot down a lot of my points on my notebook and today I'm here to share with you what I think about this latest keyboard Ranger from Yamaha PSR SX700.
There are actually a lot things I love about the keyboard and a couple of things I don’t love at all.
These key points are just my personal opinion and I am not reviewing PSR SX700 for product endorsement TBH.
With all these advantages and disadvantages you may get confuse to come at a final conclusion about SX700.
This is why I have also come up with three different conclusions about this keyboard to help you to take the decision in the veracious direction.
So lets begin this analysis of PSR SX700, first I go through all the features which makes stand out among its peers.
The Assets Of Yamaha PSR SX 700
Premium Build Quality - Good
The first thing that strikes you when you see PSR SX700 for the first time is that it feels premium.
It doesn't feel cheap at all and that's a good sign especially for the hefty price you are paying it.
No more thumbing sound - Good
If you have used the earlier version of PSR S series keyboard especially the PSR S770, S775, PSR S970 or S975 you may have heard the irritating and unnatural thumping sound from the keyboards.
So, the great news is that the unnatural thumping sound is gone from the system finally and SX700 has a lot better and natural sound.
The unnatural thumping bass sound was a real bad issue you can go check out in the forum's there’s a lot of people had same complain from the keyboards.
KeyBed - Good
The key bed has been significantly improved over when compared with earlier version. The keybed is is barely noisy and it offers a greater resistance too.
However it is no-where near like that of Genos Keyboard and is now very comparable to the Korg PA 700 which is very similarly priced too.
Perfect Tuning Out Of The Box - Good
Another thing I love about the PSR SX700 is right out of the box every sound, every style, has been tuned to be sweet to the listeners ears.
So it does not require very much tweaking to be done, if you're trying to cater to the ears of the majority public.
From my personal experience I can say that this is quite a big difference if you compare it with Korg PA series.
Because the Korg PA series is actually technically superior to SX series (from my perspective).
However you need to tweak it a lot you, need to put in a lot of work, as it has more features for you to bring out yet little nuance over sound (Not just right out of the box).
So if you want something out-of-the-box ready to use and that sounds good on its very first keypress then PSR SX700 is the one we recommend.
But if you want to have a keyboard which is deeper, more superior, more complex and takes more commitment from your end then of course Korg PA series keyboard is much better.
The touch Screen Display - Good
The touchscreen is one of the unique selling point of the SX700 keyboard.
There’s a huge upgrade when you compare it with earlier PSRs series.
But to be fair The Korg PA series has touchscreen for almost a decade but finally Yamaha has closed the gap and we have a touchscreen.
The touchscreen is very quick and responsive and reflects good quality and you are getting your value for your money.
The layout of the screen is also very intuitive. If you are familiar with the keyboard of previous S series you will feel right at home within just a couple of hours of familiarizeation.
One Touch Setting - Good
The one touch setting on the PSRs x series is very well programmed
Right out of the box the OneTouch setting allows you to just call out a style and have four sets of registration just matched for the style perfectly.
The volume as well as the effects are all just very well balanced and you can start playing straight away without doing much work to it.
If you One Touch with Korg PA series I think the Korg’s OneTouch setting is not as well program as the one found on the PSRs X series.
Layout of the Mixer Panel - Good
The next feature I'd really like and I think Yamaha has done very well this time is the way the mixer panel is laid out.
The layout is very intuitive and every effects that you will need when you're playing live will be found with just a single touch.
Whether it’s the sliders, the panning, literally on/off switches for the channels or for the instruments they are all easily on the mixer panel.
I think this is one of the best implementation of a mixer panel I have seen in a synth workstation or even an arranger keyboard for a very long time.
Playlist Feature - Good
The next feature I am enjoying for the first time on the PSR SX range is the playlist feature.
Like on the Korg PA series the same is known as the songbook function which has been around for more than a decade.
This is really useful if you're trying to pull all your favourite pieces or the pieces that you will be playing in your gigs for a particular set all at one place.
So this playlist is a very good step in the right direction and has been missing for the longest time especially in an arranger where it is used very much in a live playing scenario.
File Search Option - Good
PSR SX700 has a file search facility and trust me it’s a huge beneficial add-on and eliminated the problem that performers with hundreds or even thousands of songs face more often.
Just imagine this when you're trying to look for a particular song you have to swim through your entire database of thousands of songs to reach the specific file.
So the file search capabilities is very much needed feature and allow you to hand out that particular song you're looking for.
However it is not as granular in its parameters as that found on the Korg pa series but this is a good start anyway.
Qwerty Input Keyboard - Good
This is a very tiny add-on in the PSR SX series that finally we get a QWERTY input keyboard.
You can really imagine the difficulty one has to face for just writing a word. You need to press a ton of button to just write down a file name.
Style Creator Feature - Good
Let's have a glance on the style creator feature on PSR SX700 keyboard.
It is also one of the unique selling points of the PSR SX series versus the PSR E series which is more of a learners keyboard is the ability to build your own styles from scratch.
However not everyone has the ambition to immediately create your own styles from scratch.
So just for explanation the new tweak to the style creator allows you assemble different parts different tracks from various different styles into a brand new style of your own.
A Fast Audio Player - Good
I love the PSR SX 700’s new audio player which loads a lot quicker and the layout is also a lot more intuitive.
All the features that you will need to manipulate the audio file whether it’s a good time stretch or audio cancel feature or the rest of the features is right within reach on the same menu.
The Reasons to avoid Yamaha PSR SX700
I have left the things I don't really like about this keyboard to the second part of this post on purpose.
As a lot of my visitors on my site think that I am being overly unfair to the PSR series and feel that I'm bashing it against Korg.
I don't think you are getting the right impression, I am NOT sponsored by any brand and I give an unbiased view cause these musical instruments don’t come with a cheap price tag.
And I really don’t want that you spend your hard earned money on some hyped up products from these big brands with huge marketing budget.
I just sincerely want to help music lovers. As when I started my journey I fell for every shining musical instrument and has lost a huge $$$ in just the learning process.
Money has always being a struggling issue in my earlier days and I wish that someone at that stage of my life have guided me with truth rather than just making a quick buck from my vulnerability.
I don’t want you to suffer from same pain as I suffered in my foundation stage.
Coming back to PSR-SX700, As I said earlier there are also lots of things I don’t like about the SX700 so let’s cover them up too.
Missing Metronome Button - Bad
The first thing is the dedicated metronome button is now missing this is one of the features I use a lot.
Whether you're trying to learn a new song, or you're trying to program a new style, or you're trying to just get into the groove of things a metronome helps a lot .
It is no longer a dedicated button but is now an assignable button feature and something I don't liked a lot. I and lot of my students and other performers I know use the metronome very much when they are not performing live.
Screen Not Visible Clearly - Bad
It may confuse you that earlier I said the display is awesome and few text later (read in spongebob’s voice) now I am saying no it is not, Why ?
While the screen is a good step forward there a couple of things I am not too hot about. And I hope that a new firmware update in future can sort this out.
Actually the issue is the touchscreen looks washed out a bit. In reality it is not but from the keyboard player’s point of view actually looked washed out. It should have been tilted towards the player more.
So when you change your position a bit it just looks beautiful and the colors are vibrant too but from player’s direction it just looks washed out.
Just imagine viewing it under certain lighting condition it can be quite hard to read as well.
And the bezel actually completely blocks the lower portion of the screen from the players point of view.
Assignable Buttons - Bad
I love the assignable buttons but it can be better because initially the player has no idea what the assignable buttons are until you go into the function and see what has been assigned to.
The six assignable buttons can be configured differently for every single registration and there's no way to remember that what are the 6 functions you have assigned to these assignable buttons.
If you look at the screen you will find that it has a lot of space. Yamaha actually has photos of the instrument that is selected for. Aesthetically it looks good but it is not very functional.
I wish that they would have removed the photos and instead given us a row of icons to tell us what features has been assigned to this assignable buttons, which you cannot see immediately from the homepage.
The placement of USB slot - Bad
The USB to device slot should have been placed in the front panel of the SX700 instead of the back of the keyboard.
The USB placement at front makes really helps the player to easily move in and out their flash drive. Instead of stretching out and trying to fumble where the actual connection is on the back.
No USB Audio Out - Bad
What really pis*es me off is the missing USB audio out.
If you follow up on Yamaha’s forum you will find that the Geeno's players has been complaining that they paid $ 5,000 for an instrument whereas a $300 PSR E series instrument has a USB audio interface.
No synth engine - Bad
PSR SX series will able to deliver more fun if it can create sounds and synthesized sounds from scratch.
However at this price I'm just really disappointed that we don't get a single synth engine in it.
Voice Editing Feature - Bad
The Voice editing feature on PSR SX-700 is still somewhere behind when compared with Korg PA series.
No doubt, You can apply effects and you can just do a bit of voice adjustment but you cannot significantly alter the voices.
No after touch – Bad
This issue really makes me mad that in such an expensive keyboard why is there no aftertouch ?
Even a $200 MIDI controllers has after touch and the Korg PA series had after touch for literally the longest time around on the keyboard at this price range.
And I strongly suggest that aftertouch should be a standard item on keyboards at least at this kind of price range.
No MIDI to Styles Converter
Now tell me why is there still no MIDI to Styles converter. Is this feature outdated or upgraded?
A big NO as you know there are a lot of MIDI files which makes very good styles.
I understand it may not be perfect but it is something to start with and allows players to be more creative and makes PSR SX700 more customizable.
Registration are not Backward Compatible - Bad
The bad news is registrations are not really backward compatible with SX series.
So, if you were to take your registrations that you have accumulated over the years from the PSR S series and you try to put it in SX700 it doesn't do that voice matching for you that very well.
super articulation voice - Bad
In PSR S series when you select a super articulation voice you go to the voice info.
The voice info will tell you what are the super articulation that is attached to their voice.
However there's no way to find out the info in PSR SX-700.
You have to guess it or if you are already previously familiar with it in the older models.
Otherwise you actually have to really go and try out and see what are the super articulation features that is attached to their super articulation voice.
My Experience With PSR SX 700 and Brief Conclusion
If you're not going to use the arranger functions of the SX-700 then there is really no reason for you to get this keyboard.
You are better off buying a Korg Krome or Yamaha mod X which it's a lot better for the sounds and the sounds editing as well as the synthesis of new sounds.
If you intend to connect PSR SX700 to a DAW and do most of your work in the computer then you'll be doing music production and less of life playing.
Then in my opinion you're better off getting a good MIDI controller like Arturia Keylab 88 MKii and use it as DAW rather than buying arranger keyboard.
Although SX700 support a few of MIDI controller functionalities but it will not be as good MIDI controller because there isn't enough sliders and knobs and the MIDI implementation is just not as good as a MIDI controller TBH.