Yamaha S70XS Review – Excellent Performance Synth

Yamaha S70XSWelcome to my Yamaha S70XS review. The Yamaha S70XS is a synthesizer with a 76-note balanced hammer-weighted keyboard. It comes with all the sounds of the Motif XS plus the huge new S6 grand piano sound, totaling over 450 MB of instrument samples. It features the new Performance Creator, which enables you to arrange the sounds in layers and splits to suit your particular performance, along with associated drum sounds. It is designed for live performers, with 4 knobs, lots of buttons and 16 back-lit LEDs. You can even record audio directly to the internal memory, and there is a USB port for you to plug in a USB stick in to save your recordings or load existing recordings for playing back on the S70XS.


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Contents


PROS & CONS

Pros:

  • Weighted keys for a natural piano feel
  • Beautiful piano sounds
  • Good organ sounds
  • Guitar sounds are very realistic
  • Nice string and pad sounds
  • Excellent backing tracks
  • Wide range of sounds available
  • Wonderful arpeggiator
  • Easy to layer multiple sounds and/or split the keyboard
  • Microphone input for singing while playing
  • Easy to record your performances as audio or MIDI

Cons:

  • Weighted keys can be rough on your fingers
  • Big learning curve for the synth settings

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Video Review


So there you go, it’s an excellent performance keyboard, with beautiful piano sounds, great backing tracks, a very versatile arpeggiator, and very realistic guitar sounds. I’m sure that video barely scratched the surface of what this synthesizer is truly capable of, so let’s dive in deeper as we go through my review.


Who is the Yamaha S70XS Designed For?

This keyboard is definitely meant for professional performing musicians who want to play a lot of standard instrument sounds like piano, organ, guitar and strings. The high quality of the sounds, along with the various performance-enhancing features, make it a perfect all-in-one keyboard for all your live performance needs. The backing tracks mean that you could be a one-person band at a live event, for example, a wedding. You can even sing through the keyboard’s combo input jack and process your vocals using reverb.

I would say this keyboard is not really suited to musicians looking to make more electronic style music, as the high-quality acoustic instrument sounds will probably be wasted on them. But if you want a professional sounding grand piano, along with the ability to layer up strings and other great sounds, it’s hard to beat the S70XS.


FEATURES

456 MB of Instrument Samples

It’s no wonder that the piano sounds on this keyboard are so realistic when you consider the amount of sample space that is being used to store these sounds. 142 MB is dedicated just to the piano sounds, which are taken from the popular Yamaha S6 concert grand piano. You won’t find piano sounds quite as good as this on any other keyboard. It also has the Virtual Circuit Modeling effects that were found on the MOTIF XS Music Production Synthesizer.

Designed for Performers

Yamaha S70XS

The S70XS is ideal for live performers. You’ve got octave and transpose buttons to quickly change the pitch, a tap tempo button for easily changing the speed of the arpeggiator or sequencer. With the split and layer functions, you can arrange the sounds on the keyboard to perfectly suit the song you are playing.

You can plug a microphone or other instrument (such as a guitar) into the combo input jack and play or sing along. You can then use the four knobs to adjust the sound, for example by adding reverb. Also, the buttons on the S70XS have been arranged so that you can quickly select sounds and parameters on-the-fly while in a live situation.

Recording and Playback

The S70XS has versatile recording and playback capabilities. It can record everything you play on the keyboard as well as anything that comes in via the combo input jack. This means you can record song ideas when the inspiration hits you, or you can set up a backing track for you to sing along to later. You can either record directly to the built-in memory or to a USB stick. You can also play any audio on a USB stick, even if it wasn’t recorded to the keyboard in the first place.

Computer Control

Cubase AI
The S70XS has a special feature called DAW Remote Function. This enables you to directly control your Digital Audio Workstation or VST instruments from the keyboard itself and comes with 50 different control templates. The keyboard also comes bundled with a DAW – Cubase AI (pictured above) – which you can use for audio and MIDI sequencing. You can also edit the S70XS’s settings from the computer using the voice editor software.


PROS & CONS IN DEPTH

Weighted keys for a natural piano feel

I can really see how this has been designed with the piano player in mind. Most electronic keyboards do not have the same feel or action as classic piano keys. With the S70XS, the keys feel just like piano keys, so you can feel like you are really playing on an acoustic piano.

Beautiful piano sounds

With the very realistic piano sounds, along with the piano-like keys, you could close your eyes and imagine you are actually playing a real piano. No need to have a full-size grand piano in your house or at a concert when you can just have the S70XS which will sound the same but take up far less space.

Good organ sounds

Organ sounds can come in useful if you are performing backing keyboards to rock songs. Rock organ sounds can go well with guitar sounds for that classic rock feel. Also, if you want to use it as a church organ, I’m sure you can do that too.

Arpeggiated guitar?

In the past, guitar sounds have been difficult to replicate, but these days the digital replication of guitar sounds has come a long way. When used with the versatile arpeggiator function, you can make it sound like actual guitar strumming, which is amazing really.

Nice string and pad sounds

Who doesn’t like great string and pad sounds? Perfect for adding an emotional feel to a song, or for just padding it out with warmth.

Excellent backing tracks

I’m really impressed by how the backing track can start as soon as you start playing yourself. It’s also great how it can follow the root note you are playing with your left hand. This would be perfect if you wanted a full band sound all by yourself.

Easy to layer multiple sounds and/or split the keyboard

This is great because it means you can quickly arrange the setup of the keyboard for your particular performance. Play strings with your piano sound, or play bass with your left hand while you play chords or melodies with your right hand.

Microphone input for singing while playing

This is great if you are a singer as well as a keyboard player. Maybe you are a lead singer who plays piano, or perhaps you want to provide backing vocals to the lead singer of your band. But it is more than just a microphone socket. It also functions as a line-in for plugging in other instruments, so you can plug in a guitar if you want, for example.

Easy to record your performances as audio and/or MIDI

I can imagine this function comes in very handy for one-man-band types. You can easily record your backing tracks and then play along to them live. It could also be really useful for songwriters who want to quickly get an idea down when the inspiration hits them.

Weighted keys can be rough on your fingers

While professional piano players will be used to playing on proper piano keys, if you are new to these types of keys you could find it wears your fingers out after a while. Many synthesizer keys have much lighter action than weighted piano keys. I suppose it just depends on what you are used to really.

Big learning curve for the synth settings

So it seems that this keyboard is very easy to use for the standard sounds like piano, strings, and organ, but a bit more difficult when it comes to diving into the deeper settings. So if you want to get stuck in and start playing around with the detailed sound settings, you might need to be prepared to spend some time learning how it all works. If you want a keyboard that is easier to learn the settings, maybe you should take a look at the Korg Kross 61.


Conclusion

When you look at what the target market is for this keyboard, it is a very good choice. Yes, it is somewhat expensive, but it does provide extremely realistic piano and guitar sounds along with some excellent performance features such as the arpeggiator, split and layer modes. For musicians looking for a superb all-in-one keyboard to do all standard piano and keyboards sounds live, you probably can’t get any better than this. For people with a lower budget to spend and/or wanting more synthesizer options/controls, the Korg Kross 61 is well worth taking a look at instead.

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I hope you found my Yamaha S70XS review helpful, but if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comments section below and I will reply as soon as I can.

All the best,
Marcus.

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2 Comments

  1. Riaz Shah

    Hello Marcus,
    Again I’ve stumbled across yet another compelling review by you, you’re on fire my friend! I’m not a piano guy but I’ve always wanted to learn.

    I never had the space at home to place one so I ended up learning how to play guitar and ukulele. My brother is very interested in pianos but I don’t think he’s into the synthesizer.

    Do you have a suggestion on the best keyboard piano which is also cost-saving? Thinking of getting him one for his birthday.

    Reply
    1. Marcus (Post author)

      Thank you, Riaz. A good beginner keyboard is the DGX 230, also by Yamaha.

      Reply

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