YONGMEI MS-210B - 44 Keys Electronic Keyboard
squarewave tablehooter with unique percussion

This extremely rare squarewave tablehooter is based on an odd monophonic variant of Hing Hon EK-001 sound generator. Interesting is that the preset sounds and the great impulsive POKEY percussion timbres are different. Unfortunately the instrument is detuned by 5 full notes(!) and the plastic is terribly fragile. Also the leftmost 2 keys and the 5th drumpad are fake.

Regarding the cable mess inside, this keyboard was likely a direct predecessor of the MeiKe MK-320B. In opposite to this it has a sustain button, a simple record/ playback sequencer, 12 demos and a slide switch that muffles the main voice. The 3 step volume slide switch can not be set really low, but unlike older Yongmeis it is at least sufficient not to hurt your ears.

warning: Never send a keyboard with this case through mail without multiple centimeters(!) of padding (styrofoam, firmly crushed paper, fanfolded cardboard or similar), because the plastic is brittle like glass and will unavoidably shatter into a zillion of pieces as soon they toss it around in the mail. (Older Yongmei keyboards original packaging contains no end padding at all and thus is absolutely unsuited(!) for mail shipping.)
My Yongmei MS-210B arrived with its right end smashed to about 30 small debris because the vendor didn't pad the case end properly but despite warning only wrapped the original box in a thin layer of bubble wrap, which is in no way sufficient. A year before that I had ordered a MS-110A with identical case, that was shattered similarly, but when I reported that damage in a Deutsche Post post office, the spirt- nosed post office clerk smeared a few words across the damage report form (instead of filling out the entries), intentionally smashed the remains of the wrapped keyboard with a huge 20kg parcel on a trolley and sent it back to the sender despite I explicitly requested to sent it back to me after damage analysis. I never saw that keyboard again nor I got any money back. Thus I did not report the incident with the shattered MS-210B to a post office again, but puzzled it together with a lot of superglue, which took a full day.

The case style of the MS-210B still looks very much like a Yongmei transistor tooter (see Golden Camel-7A) despite it already contains digital hardware. Interesting is that the letters "MS-" on the control panel here suggests the abbreviation "Musical Source", while they normally are associated with Miles, MeiKe, Meiker or the genuine name of the manufactures Meisheng. Like with other Yongmeis, also here the manual contains a lot of false claims, and this one is especially ridiculous, thus I quote it here since the text proudly advertises this tablehooter in the style of earliest 1980th ads for a Roland TB-303 ("computer controlled"...) or similar:

Thank you for purchasing MS-210B Luxury Computed Electronic Keyboard. Wish you to enjoy yourself with MS-210B and have a wonderful time forever.

MS-210B is a portable instrument with varieties of beautiful tones. Its multifunction is flexible and easy to operate. The following are the features:

  • Multiple Realistic Tone Quality

  • With noise absorbing circuit, sustaining circuit, and dual channels of tone generator*, the MS-210B provides you with accurate pitch**, beautiful tone quality, sustain, vibrato, and excellent stereo effect***. There are 8 different instruments and 4 kinds of percussion.
  • Record/Playback/Autostop

  • The MS-210B can record 62 notes and can playback. If the keys are not touched within 5 minutes, the power of the computer will stop automatically.

*) In fact it is completely monophonic. **) It is genuinely detuned by 5 full notes (i.e. 500 cent; 'C' is on 'G') instead of having "Tone Quality < 3CENTS" like claimed in its feature list. ***) In reality the amplifier is completely mono.
There is a big button with the fancy name "computer start" and 12 white keys are marked with cryptic looking green letters (which awakes memories to the great age of of Casio's early 1980th keyboards). Unfortunately this mysterious button turns out to be only the standby on/ off switch, which needs to be pressed additionally to the normal power switch to turn the instrument on, and the standby not even turns off the internal amplifier, which voids the wannabe auto- power off feature of the "computer" to save batteries. The manual also mentions a mysterious "Encircled Sound" button, which in fact seems to be the 3rd slide switch which simply makes the main voice duller by a capacitor. (I could imagine that the name "Encircled Sound"  was genuinely the Chinese to Engrish translation for stereo chorus - a feature that would make no sense in a mono keyboard anyway.)

At least there are schematics on the back of the manual; unfortunately the CPU pin numbers are missing and also the amplifier IC seems to be different, which limits its use badly.

main features:

CE, A.C. Germany, DC 9V, 6xD 9V

Apparently the batteries were early planned to the right,

a lot of cable mess inside,...

and what the fuck - an iron weight!



Like with the old Yongmei transistor tooters (see Golden Camel-7A), the hardware contains a horrible cable mess; the switch contacts are of sheet metal scratching on bare copper PCB traces, and also the key contacts employ such leaf switches. At least there are polarity protection diodes to prevent battery explosion during mains operation. Very bizarre is that the lightweight plastic case is weighted by 2 thick iron bar weights, those serve no other purpose than making it even more fragile during shipping. The mono amplifier PCB looks like with MeiKe MK-320B. The operation of the 5 slide switches is very confusing because they are totally mislabelled. Switch 1 is the power switch. Switch enables the 2 leftmost fake keys for one key play (when off, they do nothing). Switch 3 makes the main voice duller (using a capacitor). Switch 4 apparently does nothing. Switch 5 is the 3 step master volume control. Very annoying is that the main voice is detuned by 5 full notes, which can be fixed by changing the CPU clock resistor.

The preset sounds employ the same multipulse squarewave sound generator with capacitor envelope like Hing Hon EK-001, but the timbres are programmed differently. The continuous tones (like flute) have all a slow attack phase and contain all at least 1 second of sustain (like a pipe organ). The sustain button adds a long 3 seconds sustain (or disables it where enabled) and the vibrato button adds a 6Hz vibrato. The "trumpet" has enabled sustain (3 seconds) and sounds rather like a bright metal pipe organ rank. The "ukulele" has a buzzy harsh timbre with 8Hz mandolin ring. The "piano" has enabled sustain and ignores key press duration. The "saxophone" corresponds to "organ" on EK-001 (the classic sonorous multipulse squarewave pipe organ timbre with enabled sustain). "music box" and "flute" sounds like intended. "oboe" corresponds to "violin" on EK-001 (another sonorous multipulse timbre). "church bell" is a metallic multipulse timbre with sustain.

The percussion has the same wonderful impulsive POKEY style like with Hing Hon EK-001, but the sounds are slightly different. The "bell" is a little lower, the "base" is a little lower and decays faster, the "snare" is more impulsive and decays much faster (i.e. more realistic). The close hihat is the same and also most rhythms of the MS-210B are the same; many are simply renamed. The "rock" corresponds to "pop" on EK-001, "8 beat" to "disco", "beguine" to "rhumba". Only "chacha" replaces here "tango".

The primitive sequencer is always in record mode and records all notes until it runs out of memory. The recording can be played back with "playback" button or note by note with the leftmost 2 fake piano keys (labelled "RECORD TEST"). To enable these keys, the 2nd slide switch must be in the "on" position. Although the sequencer is fairly useless since played notes always append to its contents, it is impressive that it does not interfere at all with rhythms, thus you can start, stop and change rhythm or tempo without any effect on the playing sequence. The tempo setting has no effect on the playback speed.
The demo musics of this instrument are monophonic with standard rhythm. The demos are started by pressing the rightmost fake drumpad button (which turns off the green power LED). Other demos can be selected through 12 of the white keyboard keys those are marked with green letters. A little funny is that written over 2 adjacent of these keys stands here "DEMONSTR  |  ATE SONGS". When I read it first, I though: "Huh, what demon monster ate songs?!". ;-)

The 12 demos of this instrument are:

  1. American Patrol
  2. It Is A Small World
  3. Old Macdonald Had A Farm
  4. Yankee Doodle
  5. This Old Man
  6. Wooden Heart
  7. Happy Birthday To You
  8. Silent Night
  9. Home Sweet Home
  10. Symphony No. 9
  11. Mary Had A Little Lamb
  12. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
A direct predecessor of this instrument was the Yongmei MS-110A. Another monophonic Hing Hon EK-001 variant with 12 demos was the Playskool - Kid Keys PS-635.
 removal of these screws voids warranty...    
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