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.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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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 ES: 2003
Motif MO: 2006
Motif XS: 2007
Est. Value - $1,000 - $3,000