Yamaha Motif

Yamaha Motif 6 Image

Motif 6

It's not a vintage synthesizer, but it has definitely earned a place in history! Originally released in 2001 by Yamaha, the Motif is a music workstation that really has it all and has grown over the years in polyphony and waveform memory with the ES (2003) and XS (2007) series. Its features include Yamaha's AWM2 tone generators, massive polyphony (62 to 128 notes), an excellent sequencer, a sampler, A/D Audio inputs, AIEB2, mLAN compatibility, and stereo inputs. Between the various models, it has anywhere from 84MB to 355MB of sounds for thousands of waveforms. Its mLAN compatibility works great with Cubase LE (which usually comes included in the package). The Motif Classic, Motif ES, and Motif XS all came in 61, 76, and 88 key versions, and the 88-key models are always balanced hammer-action as well. The Motif is a perfect synthesizer/workstation for studio use as well as live applications.

Yamaha Motif ES7 Image

Motif ES7

The sounds found on the Motif are conveniently arranged into categories according to their type, such as Piano, Organ, Strings, Leads, Pads, FX, Drums, etc. It has preset voices which are made up of up to 4 of the available waveforms which can be edited individually or all together. There are plenty of drums kits, and 128 to 384 user voices that you can use to create your own sounds or save edited presets in. The workstation also includes Yamaha's "Megavoice" technology which adds immense realism to its acoustic sounds such as its guitars, basses, pianos, brass, strings, and so on. Megavoice technology provides realistic expressions such as hammer-ons, ghost notes, slides, and fret noises which are all activated depending on how much force you apply to the keys. The quality of the voices will leave you stunned, the acoustic sounds are extremely realistic and of excellent quality and the synthetic sounds are mind-bending. All of the voices can be edited in just about anyway you want as well, such as Cutoff, Resonance, standard Attack/Release. Of course, you also have your Octave Up/Down buttons (not included on the 88-key versions), Pitch Bend wheel, Modulation wheel and a Ribbon controller (ES, XS, MO models), which can be assigned to do different functions. The tone generator is also compatible with Yamaha's Modular Synthesis Plug-In boards which you simply install and you instantly have a vast array of even more new sounds.

Yamaha Motif XS-8 Image

Motif XS8

The sequencer is just awesome. Once you get passed the user-interface (which we'll come back to shortly) the sequencer has all the great features you need to compose your music without having to get up from your seat. There are 16 tracks which you can record the voices on the synth itself or that you can transfer MIDI data into which is particularly good for percussion tracks if you aren't that good with keeping rhythm, though it does have a built in clicking/flashing metronome. It has multiple sliders which normally act as faders, and there are knobs to adjust different parameters. You can also plug another instrument like a guitar, bass, or another synth into it and use the synth's numerous effects like Chorus, Celeste, Flanger, Phaser, Distortion, Overdrive, and so many more.

Yamaha Motif-Rack ES Image

Motif Rack ES

The disadvantages: When compared to its rivals (Roland Fantom-X and Korg Triton) the major disadvantage is the user-interface, as mentioned above. The screen was left as a simple LCD screen in order to keep the price a decent amount whereas the Roland Fantom series and Korg Triton series have large color LCD displays. The XS model does, however, have a much improved large LCD screen to address this issue. The Korg Triton's display was also touch screen. Fortunately for Motif users, the controls were easy to learn after a short amount of time.

I'm aware that I'm leaving out a lot of features such as the Arpeggiator and Remote/mLAN features but there's just so much to explain and so many things this workstation is capable of. You'll just have to try it out yourself! There are so many models to choose from, it should not be hard to find one that works for you - in terms of keyboard size, polyphony & waveform memory, or pricing. While on the topic of different Motif models, here are all the different models:

Motif: The workstation that started the series in 2001:

Model Year Number of keys Key action Polyphony Waveform ROM Waveforms Memory
Motif 6 2001 61 FS 62 84MB 1309 348 presets + 48 kits, 128 user, 128 performances, 128 master
Motif 7 2001 76 FS 62 84MB 1309 348 presets + 48 kits, 128 user, 128 performances, 128 master
Motif 8 2001 88 balanced hammer-action 62 84MB 1309 348 presets + 48 kits, 128 user, 128 performances, 128 master
Motif Rack 2001 N/A N/A 128 84MB 1309 640 presets + 48 kits, 256 user + 32 kits, 59 performances, 65 multis

Motif ES: The successor to the original Motif, featuring more voices, polyphony and more studio features:

Model Year Number of keys Key action Polyphony Waveform ROM Waveforms Memory
Motif ES6 2003 61 FS 128 175MB 1859 768 presets + 64 kits, 384 user + 32 kits, 128 performances, 128 multis
Motif ES7 2003 76 FS 128 175MB 1859 768 presets + 64 kits, 384 user + 32 kits, 128 performances, 128 multis
Motif ES8 2003 88 balanced hammer-action 128 175MB 1859 768 presets + 64 kits, 384 user + 32 kits, 128 performances, 128 multis
Motif Rack ES 2003 N/A N/A 128 175MB 1859 768 presets + 64 kits, 384 user + 32 kits, 128 performances, 128 multis

Motif MO: A sort of "lite" version of the Motif ES which had less polyphony and waveforms, but of equal quality. It also lacked the studio features such as mLAN connectivity, sampling and multiple foot controllers and only came in 61 and 88 key models:

Model Year Number of keys Key action Polyphony Waveform ROM Waveforms Memory
Motif MO6 2005 61 FSX 64 175MB 1,859 640 presets + 64 kits, 256 user + 32 kits, 256 performances
Motif MO8 2005 88 balanced hammer-action 64 175MB 1,859 640 presets + 64 kits, 256 user + 32 kits, 256 performances

Motif XS: The latest version of the Motif series with more voices, nearly twice the amount of waveforms and ROM, and the much needed larger, full-color LCD display plus more sliders and knobs:

Model Year Number of keys Key action Polyphony Waveform ROM Waveforms Memory
Motif XS6 2007 61 FSX 128 355MB 2,670 1024 presets + 64 kits, 384 user + 32 kits, 384 performances
Motif XS7 2007 76 FSX 128 355MB 2,670 1024 presets + 64 kits, 384 user + 32 kits, 384 performances
Motif XS8 2007 88 weighted hammer-action 128 355MB 2,670 1024 presets + 64 kits, 384 user + 32 kits, 384 performances

The Motif (as a series) has been used by countless famous artists: Daisuke Asakura, Infected Mushroom, Oliver Palotai from Kamelot, Michael Pinnella from Symphony X, Hip Hop/R&B producer K.O.B.R.A. of The Association and Audio Assassins, Paul Wickens from Paul McCartney's band, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, John Legend, Aryan Nazari, Alicia Keys' band, Elton John, Robert Lamm and Bill Champlin from Chicago, Green Day, Ray Charles, Chick Corea, Die Sektor, Michael McDonald, Clemo of Calif Records, Kenya, Bon Jovi, Mariah Carey's band, David Bowie's band, Justin Timberlake, Barry Manilow, Gary Numan, Beyonc's band, Lonestar, Brian Wilson, Scott Storch, Tim Freedman, Pink's band, and Nick Carter.

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Comments

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52 Visitor comments
J Sebastian Perry
April 23, 2009 @ 5:48 am
I'm sorry, but the XS piano pales in comparison to the Fantom X's "UltimatGrand".
Tonewheel Jackson
April 22, 2009 @ 10:55 am
>I use the Motif rack, the one before the ES and XS. The grand piano is, I > believe, the best I have heard!

I just had to post a comment to agree with that. I also have a Fantom XR and S90ES, both of which have excellent pianos which, according to the specs, should outperform the old motif rack, but I keep going back to the motif rack for that "Power Grand" patch. It just sounds "right"!
Ashe37
April 20, 2009 @ 4:59 am
However, it should be noted (important to some) that the Motif XS can NOT take the modular plug-in boards. No AN or DX boards on the new Motif, folks.
aymat
March 24, 2009 @ 4:10 am
I own a Motif Rack ES. I'm not familiar with any of the previous or later models, however I can definitely say absolute conviction that it is the centerpiece in my studio. This is one module I simply can not live without.

Not much I can say that hasn't been said already about the Motif series. Overall they are some of the most well thought out and extremely flexible synthesizers available today. Well rounded to fit just about any need you could have and then some.

One thing I would like to mention is that if you are looking for Motif sounds in vst format, Halion One's soundset is built on multisamples from Yamaha’s first-generation Motif workstation (which sounds great btw). However, I personally feel they are not nearly as impressive as the sounds from the Motif ES.

If you're in the market for a motif workstation, you cant go wrong. Highly recommended.
Randy
March 12, 2009 @ 9:56 pm
I use the Motif rack, the one before the ES and XS. The grand piano is, I believe, the best I have heard! I rate this against my Roland JV-2080, Kurzweil, E-Mu Proteus 2000 and Alesis - the Yamaha grand is the best in my humble opinion. The flutes are extremely realistic, great B3 organs and church organs and the Moog emulator for the voice "Lucky" (ELPs "Lucky Man") is dead on! I found this model a bit difficult to program and the manual reads like it was written by a quadruple PhD in MIDI architecture. Like another person who posted, I too spent hours on the Motifator site looking for clues.... If you have the time to figure out the programming, this is one fabulous sounding unit! There's a reason you see these units (Motif racks and keyboards) on stage so often, they do sound great!
 
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  • Check Price
  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony -
    Motif: 62 Notes.
    Motif ES: 128 Voices.
    Motif MO: 64 Voices.
    Motif XS: 128 Voices.
    All models expandable with Modular Synthesis Plug-in System boards.
  • Oscillators - AWM2 (sample playback).
    Motif: 84MB Waveform ROM (1,309 mutisamples and drum samples).
    Motif ES: 175MB Waveform ROM (1,859 mutisamples and drum samples).
    Motif MO: 175MB Waveform ROM (1,859 mutisamples and drum samples).
    Motif XS: 355MB Waveform ROM (2,670 mutisamples and drum samples).
  • Sampler - 4MB (expandable to 64MB via 32MB SIMM x 2 Slots); Sample Rates: 5.5125 - 48kHz, 20-bit stereo.
  • Sequencer - 16-Track, 110,000 notes, 64 songs, 1024 patterns; 128 ROM/256 user phrases; 480 ppqn; SMF import/export. Formats: Akai S1000/3000, Yamaha A3000/4000/5000, AIFF, WAV.
  • Arpeggiator - 256 Preset Patterns, 128 User Patterns.
  • Filter - 1 4-pole resonant multi-mode with 21 types.
  • Effects - Reverb, Chorus, Insertion FX types, Master Effects section, Master Equalizer (5 bands).
  • Keyboard - 61, 76, and 88 key versions. The 88-key version are weighted/hammer-action. All models feature velocity and aftertouch.
  • Memory -
    Motif: 348 presets + 48 kits, 128 user, 128 performances, 128 master
    Motif ES: 768 presets + 64 kits, 384 user + 32 kits, 128 performances, 128 multis
    Motif MO: 640 presets + 64 kits, 256 user + 32 kits, 256 performances
    Motif XS: 1024 presets + 64 kits, 384 user + 32 kits, 384 performances
  • Control - MIDI In, Out, Thru (16-parts multitimbral)
  • Date Produced -
    Motif: 2001
    Motif ES: 2003
    Motif MO: 2005
    Motif XS: 2007

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