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Yamaha MODX8 Synth and HS5 Speakers

It’s fair to say I’m not very good at keeping this blog up-to-date, but I will try harder from now on. (Honest!)

I’ve been lucky to invest in a few new things recently, so I’ll go through them briefly and explain what’s what.

New Piano or No?

I sold my old Kawai CN2 digital piano a couple of years ago because I didn’t have space in my flat. I wasn’t playing it regularly, so it just sat gathering dust. Fast-forward to a few weeks ago, I now have a larger 2-bedroom apartment, so there’s room for a piano again! However, I wanted something more compact to store it easily when I needed the space. Also, being a keen fan of EDM (dance) music, I liked the idea of having something I could use with my computer to make electronic music. I figured it would give me another motivation to improve my keyboard skills.

Enter the Yamaha MODX8:

I spent a lot of time researching a suitable keyboard, especially given the cost would likely be around a thousand pounds. The requirements were:

  • Full-size (88 note) keyboard
  • Weighted keys with a reasonably realistic feel
  • Good piano sounds
  • Plenty of synth sounds and the ability to create/edit new sounds
  • Within budget (around £1k)

I was given several recommendations online, including a Roland RD2000, Kawai MP7SE, Nord Piano/Stage 3, Yamaha Montage and several others. The Nord Stage 3 seemed fantastic, but the hefty price tag made it a non-starter. Likewise, with the Montage, it seemed great, but there was no way I could justify the £2k+ price tag on something I can’t even play all that well.

I eventually stumbled across the MODX on YouTube, and on learning that it was a cut-price Montage but with 90% of the same functionality, I knew I’d found the keyboard for me.

I was prepared to buy the keyboard without trying it; based purely on the positive reviews and YouTube videos, I was sure it met my requirements. On the off-chance though that I could find somewhere in East Anglia that stocked it, I had a look online and discovered PMT (the music store, not a woman’s monthly hormonal issues), https://www.pmtonline.co.uk/stores/norwich/. I’ve lived in, or close to, Norwich most of my life and had no idea this shop existed!

Sadly, they didn’t have a MODX8 in store, but they had the Montage, and I figured it would be close enough to get an idea of what the MODX would be like. I popped down one Sunday afternoon, had a tinker with it, and, as expected, thought it was amazing. All this happened shortly before my July holiday, so having expressed an interest to the keyboard guy at PMT, I told him I’d return to put the order in.

Fast-forward another couple of weeks, I returned to PMT and began ordering lots of equipment! Unfortunately, the MODX was on backorder with Yamaha, so they promised to update me with an ETA on the stock. In the meantime, I took ownership of some decent studio monitor speakers, a keyboard stand, a USB audio interface, and cables to hook everything together:

The speakers are Yamaha HS5s, recommended by PMT (and confirmed by some quick research online), and the interface is a Presonus Audiobox USB 96. The interface is so I can use the speakers as standalone for the PC and route the keyboard to them for playback and recording.

The speakers are fantastic: the volume level is perfect for my small office space (they would easily disturb my neighbours if I wanted to), and the sound quality is far better than any speakers I’ve owned.

Sadly, PMT could not source the MODX until November due to a UK-wide shortage and backlog at Yamaha. After finding this out a few days after ordering, I began searching online to see if other retailers had them in stock. I managed to find a couple of places, but the sale went to Hogan Music, who not only had stock but were £50 cheaper than PMT as well, bonus! I placed the order on a Friday, arriving mid-afternoon the following Monday.

The only slight disappointment after setting the keyboard up was discovering it didn’t come with a sustain pedal, as I’d been expecting. Not including one seems stingy for the amount it costs, but I suppose not all keyboard players use them. I looked online, and the official Yamaha FC4A sustain pedal was over £50, so I opted for a cheaper version and bought this instead:

It’s the M-Audio SP-2 Universal Sustain Pedal, and cost just £14 – a bargain. It arrived the next day (good old Amazon Prime), and so far, it’s been perfect and feels great to use.

All that’s left is learning to get the most out of the MODX. Oh, and remembering how to play the keyboard…stay tuned!

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Tags: , , , , , , Last modified: 29/01/2024