(toy keyboard with light effects, realistic samples & nice demo melodies)
This quite big toy keyboard is another modern successor of the My Music Center hardware family. Its special feature are 2 rings of red LED lights those flash in various walking light patterns during rhythm. Unlike My Music Center, the 16 sample- based preset sounds are fairly realistic (more like a Sankai 01504H) and with the "edit sound" button additional an echo or a siren- like howl effect can be added to them. The 8 preset rhythms have each a fixed- key accompaniment that can be switched off; the accompaniment styles differ quite much. There are also 4 drumpad buttons and 8 quite nice demo melodies.
The semi- OBS preset sound buttons play their sound when pressed. Very unusual is that a press on their bank switch button (labelled "inst. switch") does not change the currently selected sound, but only exchanges the sound set on the preset buttons (those need to be pressed to hear the change). The preset sound names of the 2nd bank are neither written on the control panel nor in the manual, thus the here mentioned sound names were chosen by me. The preset sounds of this instrument are made from medium resolution loop samples and sound quite realistic for such a toy keyboard, thus I only mention the unusual ones here. The sound quality is comparable with the Sankai 01504H and has noticeable analogue(?) distortion; most sounds (e.g. "piano") employ a key split with a duller sample at its highest keyboard octave (likely to circumvent the aliasing noise known from the famous My Music Center "trumpet"). The "music box" sound rather like a vibraphone without vibrato. "bass" resembles an e-bass. "e.piano" resembles more an acoustic guitar. "jazz guitar" is a steel string one. The "pipe organ" is a metal pipe organ rank with percussive attack phase and only very little sustain. The "guitar" resembles an acoustic one, while the "clavinet" resembles a steel string e-guitar (undistorted). The "e. organ" timbre sounds brassy with percussive attack phase; the timbre could be also another metal pipe organ rank.
With the "edit sound" button the preset sounds can be modified with echo or howl effect. The "echo" adds 7 echoes, those start with 3Hz and turn slightly faster at the end (like a clanger bouncing on a string); it ignores key press duration. The howl effect makes the pitch of a new played note howl down by about 5 semitones during 0.5s and then keeps howling up and down like a siren by about 2 semitones with 2 Hz. As soon a 2nd key is pressed (2 note polyphonic play), the sound instead immediately howls like a strong vibrato with 4Hz; when one of the keys is released, the remaining note howls like described with 1 note. (If you like such wicked siren effects, watch out for a Casio SA-35; it has lots more of them.) The "edit sound" button can not be combined with rhythm or sequencer (it stops them); likely it needs their timers for its own effects.
The rhythms always start with their default tempo and after a stop come up with accompaniment enabled. The accompaniments have nice latin and rock styles and differ much, but unfortunately they are fixed- key and thus of little use for melody play. With the "chord" button they can be switched off. The 4 drumpad buttons mute the rhythm percussion for 1 bar.
The "beat mode" button was likely intended as something like the "samba" mode on My Song Maker, but this one is almost completely useless, because it only assigns patterns from 4 of the given preset rhythms (with accompaniment always on) to the 4 drumpad buttons (each pattern repeats 2 times after a button press), while it plays a lullaby- like newage/ waltz accompaniment monoto (chinking "musicbox" + bass) when no drumpad is pressed. The lullaby pattern can be regarded as a 9th preset rhythm ("chord" button does nothing here).
The monophonic sequencer is as useless as with other My Music Center variants since it looses its data when any other function is selected. This one stores even only 19 notes, ignores note duration and always plays a rhythm (without accompaniment).
The 8 demo melodies are nicely arranged, and like with My Song Maker they can be played in a "one key play" mode, which makes the accompaniment (when enabled) repeat in a loop; the resulting monoto patterns may be interesting for tekkno- like things. The demos also can be played to, which automatically mutes their melody voice for a bar.
The 8 demo melodies of this instrument are:
Someone e-mailed me that a close variant of the SongMax HMP-138
was released as HMP-139, which has a slightly different sound set
with a "jar" sound instead of "clavinet" and no "e. organ". A variant of
these instruments may be also the Deluxe Teaching Keyboard HMP-188,
which has also 16 preset sounds, 8 rhythms and 8 demos, although it has
different controls (more like the Cyber Keyboard), 5 drumpad buttons
and a blue case with a silver control panel and a red, rectangular LED
bar (seen on eBay). An instrument with a quite similar case like
the SongMax HMP-138 (same LED rings but 44 keys, no silver parts)
was released as Yongmei YM-238C,
thus possibly the HMP keyboards were made by the same company.
|removal of these screws voids warranty...|