Monday, March 4, 2013

Yamaha CS01, MA10, MH10 and MM10 Producer Series "Before. After. Affordable Alternative..." ad, Keyboard 1982

Yamaha CS01 Synthesizer, MA10 Headphone Amplifier, MH10 Stereo Headphones and MM10 Stereo Mic/Line Mixer "Before. After. Affordable Alternative..." Producer Series two-page colour advertisement from page 8 and 9 in the October 1982 issue of Keyboard Magazine.

Okay, it definitely wasn't Yamaha's original intent, but I *really* want that synthesizer the dude in the bucket is playing in the "Before" illunstration. It's like a cross between a Kord MS20 and some computer panel from an early James Bond flick that some anonymous henchman would be controlling. It actually brings back some great memories of a time when all my available income would go towards that one... special... synth (which would change when the next best synth came out). A time when I would honestly consider wearing a bucket if it meant I could buy it. Although I'd never not pay for a good haircut.

But Yamaha once again does a fine job of literally illustrating their point - the Producer Series gear wouldn't cost an arm and a leg. It was truly an "Affordable Alternative".

This was the third and final ad in this particular series of "Producer Series" ads. If you recall, each in the series dealt with one particular advantage that the gear held over its competitors. The "Rolling Sound" ad was all about the mobility of the gear, and the "Private Practice" ad pushed the idea of being able to practice without disturbing others. 

Rolling Sound.                             Private Practice.

Each of these ads appeared only once - June, August, and October 1982. And its a shame, because the illustrations are really nice and they all deserved more airtime. But I'm sure part of the problem was that Yamaha was pumping out tons of gear all the time, and needed to advertise all those products. To make the point, during the time these ads were running, Yamaha was also throwing advertising dollars at Keyboard Magazine for the CS70m, Electone 7000, CE20 combo, CP11 and CP12 electric pianos, and PS10 and PS20 portable keyboards. They were running two to four ads per month.

All those different products probably made it a little confusing for the consumer. And I'm not the only one who thought so.

Dominic Milano says as much in the introduction of his March 1983 Keyboard Report on three Yamaha offerings - the PC-100, MP-1 and the lovely CS01.
"Companies, as they get larger, tend to split themselves up into smaller divisions internally, for administrative reasons. This may make perfect sense for their own purposes, but it can be confusing for anybody from the outside who deals with them. Case in point: Yamaha International (which is itself a division of Nippon Gakki Co., Ltd.) has no less than three separate divisions selling keyboard instruments. Depending on what instrument you want to talk about, your phone call may be routed to either the Keyboard Division (pianos and organs), the Combo Division (rock and jazz keyboards), or the Special Products Division (portable battery-operated keyboards)."
Over-lapping departments in a large organization is never a good thing. It just leads to silos. I've not just seen it, I've experienced it.

So, guess which division the portable, battery-operated CS01 synthesizer was a part of. Nope, not the Specialty Products Division which specialized in portable, battery-operated keyboards. It belonged to the Combo Division, which includes rock and jazz keyboards. Go figure. Well, enough griping about that. 

Dominic's report on the CS01 is pretty standard, concentrating on the functionality of the synth. And he did touch on one aspect of the CS01 that really interests me - the breath control. The VCF and VCA can both be controlled with Yamaha's $35 breath controller accessory.
"This handy little accessory, which you blow into, turns the CS01 into a very expressive lead instrument. The amount of signal from the breath controller that is opening up the filter or VCA can be continuously adjusted with a pair of knobs at the left end of the keyboard. Thus you can easily use the ADSR to control the loudness while your breath controls the filter cutoff, or vice-versa. Or you can mix the two for some subtle inflections."
Yeah, sure, you might look a little odd running around the stage with the CS01 around your neck and a giant soother in your mouth... wait... actually, now you wouldn't look that odd.

I'm going to have to investigate that breath control a little further...


▓▒░ TORLEY ░▒▓ said...

I've been enjoying your lively commentary for some time now, and this post is a particular highlight — big smiles here! I think I first came here upon finding your Jan Hammer ad, I appreciate how you sort entries by date. I find so many gems in these vintage ads of techniques and features that've since been lost.

Incidentally, breath controllers are still an underrated niche item. I suspect more of an awareness push could have sold more units and lowered costs for a broader audience (emphasizing a cultural cool), but they've been relegated to an odd curiosity of a controller for keyboardists. I had an ol' Yamaha BC3A, many fond memories.

Recently though, I discovered something you may be interested in, the TEControl Breath Controller which — unlike Yamaha and others — does not require retrofitting with adapter boxes. It just plugs straight into your computer's USB port, and from there you can load up your virtual recreations of classic synths and blow!

RetroSynthAds said...

Thanks for the nice words and the info! Always appreciated. And I'll definitely check out the TEControl - sounds interesting. R!

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