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The Yamaha PSS-780 is a five-octave (61-key) small-key keyboard, and
was a very sophisticated keyboard when it came out in 1989.
The keyboard uses a 2-operator FM Synthesizer to produce 100 pre-set
voices, and also offers manual control of some (but not all) of the
synthesizer parameters, so the user can create their own sounds. Five
user-defined sounds can be stored in memory with single-button access.
Percussion is PCM (sample) based, and can be played manually using the
row of pads in front of the keyboard. A total of 32 percussion sounds
are available, selectable in four banks of eight, and custom rhythm
patterns can be created and looped using the "Custom Drummer" feature.
There are also 100 pre-set rhythm and auto-accompaniment patterns, each
with an orchestrated ending and three different fill-ins
available. The fill-ins are orchestrated, and are activated using
the three large purple pads in front of the keyboard, and are therefore
very easy to hit at the right moment while playing. The
three fill-ins can also be used as Intros, but when used like this they
play percussion only with no orchestration, and the orchestration
begins after the Intro. With the "Synchro Break" function enabled, you
can also add your own manual fill-ins or a drum solo (!) using the drum
pads while playing. This works with either the pre-set
rhythms, or your own "Custom Drummer" loop.
There is also a five-track sequencer, which allows independent
recording of each track using different voices (including user-defined
voices) with simultaneous playback, together with auto-accompaniment or
custom rhythm pattern, so complex orchestrations can be achieved.
There is also a pitch-bend wheel (configurable range between 1 and 12
semitones) and lots of other features and effects which I won't detail
here - get the Manual if you are interested.
While the PCM rhythm sounds each have a defined stereo "position" the
voices are fundamentally mono, and the only stereo effect comes from
enabling the "Stereo Chorus" function.
The built-in speakers are remarkably good (as expected on a Yamaha),
but my example has an unusually hissy amplifier, and there is also a
constant high-pitched whistle on the output. The hiss gets even worse
when "Stereo Chorus" is enabled. I have owned my PSS-780 since I was
bought it for Christmas in 1989, and it has always had this noisy
output, so I suspect this is a design flaw on the PSS-780.
There is an interesting easter egg in the PSS-780's firmware. If you
hold down the top two white keys at the far right-hand end of the
keyboard while switching on the power, the keyboard enters what I can
only assume is some kind of diagnostic test routine. I won't spoil the
surprise for you, but try pressing some buttons and see what happens!
Don't worry - you can restore normal operation by switching off and
back on again.
PSS-780 Demo Tune
(played with Stereo Chorus switched on).
The Operating Manual for the PSS-780 can be downloaded from the Yamaha Manual Library