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For those who don't know, "Saisho" was an own-brand of the Dixons
electronics/photography shops, once a common sight on high streets all
over the UK, but now relegated to the Web and some small outlets at
airports and similar locations. The brand was usually used on budget,
low-quality consumer electronics gear, such as radio/cassette players,
VCRs, TVs and stereo systems.
This keyboard was also sold as the "VTech Rhythmic 8" outside the UK
(thanks to Johanes Emmanuelli for this information).
This keyboard seems to be the big brother to the MK
(VTech Rhythmic 6), and the 10 main voices sound very similar,
so again is
probably based on Yamaha sound generation hardware. As with its smaller
sibling, there are manually-selectable Sustain and Vibrato effects, and
There the similarities end, however. The MK 800 is a much more
sophisticated instrument, even offering a rudimentary manual
synthesizer. Well, it's not truly manual - you just get a choice of
five pre-set waveforms, which can be combined with any of four pre-set
ADSR envelopes, both selected by sliding switches. So basically the
synthesizer offers a library of 20 possible sounds. These can either be
used independently, or mixed with one of the 10 pre-set voices, so you
can actually achieve 230 possible combinations.
The four percussion sounds consist of dull pops and clicks and can be
played manually using the four drum pads, or custom drum loops can be
constructed by setting the frequency with which each drum sound plays
per bar. Pretty basic, and not terribly useful.
The auto accompaniment section, however, is unusually flexible for a
keyboard of this type. There are 10 selectable rhythms, each of which
has three selectable bass lines, and three independently selectable
chord patterns. The voice with which the bass and chords are played are
also both independently selectable from three possible options. So,
doing the maths, you have a range of 810 possible auto accompaniment
variations (I think!). Chord and Rhythm volumes are also independently
adjustable using analogue sliders, giving even more options, and each
rhythm has a percussion-only fill-in pattern.
The pitch bend wheel is smooth and feels high-quality. It acts on both
the main voice and the accompaniment, but does not affect the tempo.
The tempo itself is adjusted using up/down buttons, and is fairly
As is typical with such keyboards, and sadly unlike the MK 500
, the MK 800's Stereo function is nothing
more than a boring "Stereo Chorus" effect, which has three selectable
speeds, or can be disabled, rendering the keyboard mono. The effect is
very subtle, and it's often difficult to tell whether it is switched on
or not, even on headphones.
The built-in speakers are pretty good, but curiously, the right-hand
channel seems to have a very different filter profile from the
left-hand channel, making it sound distinctly thinner and more muffled.
Whether this is intended to be part of the stereo effect, or if my
example is slightly faulty, I am not sure, but the effect is present
even when the keyboard is switched to mono mode. Headphone and
Auxiliary outputs are provided on the back, but unlike the MK 500
, neither of these reverse the stereo
effect, and the Aux output seems to be at a slightly higher level.
In summary, this is quite a nice sounding keyboard, with a highly
configurable auto accompaniment section, but the Stereo effect is
something of a disappointment.
Music Maker MK 800 Demo
(medley of classical pieces, played in
Stereo 2 mode)
Sorry, I do not have an instruction manual for the Saisho Music Maker