Yamaha Reface

The Yamaha Reface Synthesizer Keyboard: Best Official Review

Yamaha Reface Review

Yamaha began asserting its dominance on the electronic keyboard landscape decades ago.

The Reface range stands out as one of their more interesting series of products.

There were four Yamaha Reface models and each one epitomized a particular aspect of the company’s history.

Yahama Reface DX

The DX7 defined the synth sound in the ’80s. The Yamaha Reface DX mobile mini keyboard puts the iconic sound of a 4-operator FM synth right in your hands, along with a host of modern features like onboard multi-effects and straightforward editing. Manipulating parameters is a breeze, thanks to the Reface DX’s multi-touch control surface, and storing your patches is just as easy. Whether you want classic electric pianos and bells or modern dubstep and EDM sounds, the Reface DX has got you covered.

Pros

  • Great sounds, quality for the price
  • Great interface
  • Free downloadable iOS Capture app
  • Built in Speakers

Cons

  • 8-note polyphony

Yamaha Reface YC

The Yamaha Reface YC mobile mini keyboard provides you with authentic, great-sounding organ sounds that you can carry under your arm. You get five different organ models ranging from vintage tonewheel to transistor to classic YC combos, as well as a full assortment of drawbars, rotary speaker, percussion, and effects to add depth and expressiveness to your performance. The Reface YC makes it simple: pick an organ model, tweak the drawbars, add reverb and distortion, plug in an optional expression pedal, and enjoy a realistic, totally awesome organ experience. 

Pros

  • Great fit and finish
  • Excellent sounds
  • Battery powered
  • Built in Speakers

Cons

  • None

Yamaha Reface CP

Inspired by the iconic keyboards of yesteryear, the Reface CP puts a contemporary reimagining of the legendary Yamaha CP80 electric grand piano right at your fingertips. In addition to classic combo piano sounds, the Reface CP’s Vintage Keyboard Sound Engine also provides you with six incredibly detailed vintage keyboard types including Tine, Reed, Clavi, and Toy electric pianos. 

Pros

  • Includes superb effects implementation
  • Classy-sounding compact keyboard
  • Battery Powered
  • Built in Speakers

Cons

  • Effect switches are a bit flimsy

Yamaha Reface CS

Inspired by the iconic CS-80 polyphonic analog synthesizer, the Yamaha Reface CS mobile mini keyboard evokes the very essence of the legendary synth of yesteryear. Packed with five types of synthesis and onboard effects, the Reface CS provides you with a variety of lush pads, fat basses, and solo leads. Of course, the Reface CS wouldn’t be a CS if it didn’t give you tons of tweakability, that’s why each type of synthesis has its own set of Texture and Mod sliders that take simple oscillator types and let you turn them into gentle soundscapes, mangled sonic carnage, and everything in between.

Pros

  • USB and standard MIDI compatible
  • Aesthetic Design
  • Built in Speakers
  • Batter Powered

Cons

  • Using the looper can be tricky

+DX

Yamaha Reface

The DX Keyboard is an easy FM Synth with 8 notes of polyphony, 32 patch memories, octave (up/down) sliders, pitch blend, and volume controls.

With four operators and 12 algorithms, you won’t experience the limitations that comparisons with the DX7 normally highlight.

The multi-touch sliders are not quite as appealing as their physical counterparts but the makers provide a guide that details all the techniques you can use to master them.

The display is blue with white text.

You can use the FM Buttons to access the various aspects of each operator (Feedback, Frequency, Level, Algorithm, velocity response, multi-stage amplitude envelopes, keyboard).

You can turn the eight patch selection buttons into menu access points for deeper editing.

The DX provides graphics that attempt to keep you informed of your position within the FM arena as you navigate through the pages.

The patch options include echoing acoustic guitar, electronic pianos, and brass, to mention but a few.

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+YC

Yamaha Reface

The Yamaha Reface YC is the prettiest of the bunch.

Though, it is also the narrowest, emphasizing the organ and little else.

The keyboard is designed to deliver five sounds (H, V, F, A, Y), with each sound boasting very distinct attributes.

You get nine drawbars that enable you to creatively shape your tones.

With the on-board save locations, you need not worry about losing your results.

You will appreciate the percussion switch which increases the mechanical attack effect whenever you press a note, not to mention the Leslie speaker sound that the rotary speed section produces.

The front effects include distortion and reverb.

Most Yamaha Reface reviews agree that the YC is the one model that encourages you to keep tweaking and experimenting.

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+CP

The Yahama Reface CP isn’t quite as complex as the DX.

It has six piano sounds (No Presets), a dial that selects the sounds, sliders for the octave and volume, and the drive dial.

The six effects are paired into three sections, with each pair boasting dials for the Depth/rate/speed/time.

Naturally, the reverb dial isn’t far.

The CP has an impressive tendency to dramatically change the sounds you are playing.

It encourages you to spend hours fidgeting with the notes, trying to blow your own mind with the guitar-like notes and the other surprises that skilled hands can squeeze out of the keyboard.

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+CS

With the Yamaha Reface CS, a lot of the magic starts at the oscillator section where you will find a series of waveform combinations (FM, Multi-saw, ring Mod, Pulse, and Osc Sync).

You are supposed to use the texture slider and the mod slider to increase major parameter values, with your control further augmented by an LFO which enables greater refinement.

If you don’t understand synthesis, the CP might confuse you.

Elements like the Resonance Slider and the separate filter won’t do you any good.

Though, many Yamaha Reface reviews also argue that the CS isn’t that hard to master if you put in the time.

There is no display.

So you have to make do with the lever.

This is what you use to switch between recording, pausing, playing and the like.

There are no onboard preset locations, proper presets or discernible starting points, and that is bound to annoy some people.

But the CS creates amazing sounds none the less.

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+Conclusion

All these models have their strengths and weaknesses.

The CP is the simplest. It also enables you to perform the most dramatic tweaking.

But with enough time and effort, the DX can produce the same sonic results as the CP.

The CP is hands-on and it encourages you to keep playing but the DX is far more flexible.

The YC technically fairs favorably when compared to the other models but it is very narrow with regards to its target audience.

Do not forget the CS.

While weaker than the DX in many areas, it actually has the most amazing sound of the bunch.

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