Yamaha PSS-160 (squarewave keyboard with accompaniment & realtime timbre slider)

This keyboard from 1986 was the cheaper brother of the Yamaha PSS-260. Like the latter it has unusual OBS controls with easy moving and quick responding slide switches those can be used for interesting live play tricks to make bizarre granular sounds. But the sound engine here is simple squarewave and resembles much the Letron MC-3.

Unfortunately it lacks the great drum computer of the PSS-260 and instead features only a simple record/ playback sequencer. Instead of fingered chord there is only a nice single finger accompaniment with variation. The 10 OBS preset rhythms have fill-in.

(Note: This keyboard sounds nice, but don't buy one of these so far your only intention is to get a keyboard with faithfully imitated natural instrument sounds. Remember, this is a squarewave instrument and thus many of its sounds sound not even remotely like what is written on its buttons, though bought with wrong expectation it may disappoint you.)

main features:

SER. NO. 38098


The (not really pretty) case style of this instrument has similarities with the small Yamaha TYU-40 and likely inspired the Letron MC-3 case design. A bit disturbing is the battery alarm, which plays 2 notes after a minute (using the current preset sound) even when a power supply is used. Despite the behaviour of this instrument resembles very much the Yamaha PCS-30, the hardware is much simpler, and like MC-3 it employs only 2 main ICs. But it is also worse to repair due to very short foil cables, those make it necessary to remove the speaker and keyboard PCB to reach the component side of the main PCB. Also this instrument still has a sheet metal frame keyboard. (I haven't analyzed the hardware closer yet.)

The main voice preset sound are made from squarewave with different pulse widths and simple volume envelope; they strongly resemble MC-3 and thus most are not remotely realistic. "clarinet", "flute", "violin", "vibes", "cosmic" have a delayed weak 6Hz vibrato. "organ" is a simple squarewave tone without envelope that has a noticeable start and end click. "vibes" is made from plain squarewave with long sustain and delayed vibrato; "cosmic" is the same with harsher waveform (different pulse width). "popsynth" is like "vibes" without vibrato and sustain. The easy moving "orchestra" OBS slide switch can also rapidly change the timbre of held notes, which can be used as a nicely grainy sound effect for live play. (Moving the switch truncates the sustain phase of decaying sounds and re-triggers held notes.)

Also the percussion sounds much like the MC-3. The tempo of most rhythms can be set very slow, but not really fast. The single finger accompaniments all employ the same envelopeless squarewave organ timbre. Unfortunately there is neither a fingered accompaniment nor manual chord mode. At least the accompaniment patterns are nicely made and remind to Testron CL-60910 , but by the lack of fingered accompaniment they sound a bit over- orchestrated and thus are less versatile. Only the variation button switches between 2 versions. During the rhythm fill-in the accompaniment track keeps playing without change.

The demo melody plays monophonic with standard accompaniment and cycles through all sounds and many rhythms. The accompaniment mutes every few bars, which reminds to the Yamaha PSS-30 demo.

 removal of these screws voids warranty...    
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