You’re right on time for our in-depth review of the Yamaha MX49. This keyboard/synthesizer has generated loads of positive reviews. And today, we want to find out if those reviews are justified or not.
However, knowing the brand and seeing their impressive track record, it’s hard to think how all the good reports can be unfounded. The brand has so many good digital pianos and keyboards to its credit. And so it’s easy to see how many people have come to learn to depend on Yamaha for quality keyboards.
In our opinion, the MX49 is a pretty good workstation with terrific sounds and other impressive features. But it also comes with its own limitations, of course.
So, what’s the real story of the Yamaha MX49? You’d have to stay with us to find out…
Yamaha MX49 Specs
- 49 touch sensitive synth keys.
- Keys come semi-weighted.
- Sound Engine: Motif.
- Max polyphony: 128 notes.
- Other Controllers: Mod Wheel, Pitchbend.
- Presets: 61 drum kits, 8 user drum kits, 128 voices, 1106 voices.
- Effects: Phaser, Wah, Flanger, Vintage Modeling, Delay, Reverb. Delay is expandable using iOS FM app.
- Arpeggiator included.
- 48 insertion effects plus 267 presets.
- 20 x 2 backlit LED display.
- 2-track stereo recording.
- Sequencer: SMF Format 0, 208 patterns.
- 5-Band Master EQ.
- Connectivity: Audio Inputs, Audio Outouts, Headphones, USB, MIDI I/O, Pedal inputs.
- Software: Cubase AI (included), Yamaha YC-3B, Steinberg Prologue.
- Dimensions: 32.68 x 11.7 x 3.58 inches.
- Weight: 8.38 pounds.
Features Of the Yamaha MX49
The Yamaha MX49 comes with a really impressive sound engine so the array of sounds here are simply phenomenal. Well, Yamaha calls them voices and on this keyboard, the brand categorizes these voices into 16 groups.
Some of the voice categories include the AP which is short for “Acoustic Pianos”. And then there’s the gamut from keyboard – KB. KB includes voices like the Clavinet, Wurlitzer, and Rhodes. And of course, you’ll also find various other categories for instrument voices like…
- Synth leads-pads-comps.
- Chromatic percussion.
- Ethnic sounds.
- Sound effects.
- Multi effects.
Now, besides the built-in voices, you have the option of including voices you edited yourself. This keyboard comes with 128 slots for user memory. So, with these slots, you have more than enough space to store your creations.
Besides the 128 user memory slots, there are also 8 slots for drum patches.
The Performance Section Of The Yamaha MX49
By the way, this might be a good time to mention that the Yamaha MX49 does not come with a “Patch” mode like other keyboards you might be familiar with.
Instead, the makers save all the voices on a different section called the “Performance”. This section is one of the MXX49’s strongest features. For each Performance section, you get 16 voices. And you can choose to play these voices either directly from your keyboard. Or you could choose to play from your DAW. With your DAW, though, you’ll be able to play the voices in a myriad of ways.
Now, another thing to keep in mind is this: Yamaha does not call the voices in the Performance section a voice. It calls it a Part. It might be a bit confusing at first but once you get used to it, you’ll find it easy to use.
But back to the parts, they each have an individual channel on the MIDI. Plus, you’ll be able to play Part 1 and Part 2 automatically either using them as single sounds or using Layer/Split mode. You can’t play the parts 3 -14 using the layer/split mode, though.
At this price point, we’ve got to say that the sound effects of the MX49 sound really good. However, generally speaking, this isn’t Yamaha’s finest work when it comes to the overall output of the keyboard.
You can use the chorus and reverb to increase each part of the Keyboard. Also, you’ll be able to assign individual effects to 4 different parts at the sane tine. While the reverb, chorus and EQ can be assigned to all 16 parts at a time.
The back panel of the Yamaha MX49 is actually quite simple and straightforward. There you’ll find all the connectivity jacks as usual from MIDI to USB ports.
Now, even though the USB here does not come with an MIDI Thru option, there are still ports for “To Device” and “To Host”. Or what you call the types A and B USB port.
That said, you can actually use this keyboard to monitor your DAW setup. This is very convenient for beginners and musicians who are always on the go.
You can easily record using your MX49 straight into your DAW through your USB and get professional level results. And you don’t even need to work with the audio i/o interface. Maybe this is the reason Yamaha skimped on this aspect of the keyboard.
Anyway, besides the USB and MIDI, you also get a jack for your headphones, Then there’s a 1/4inch input on the left and right hand side (the input on the right side can also double as an output). And finally, you’ll also find an aux in jack, plus jacks for standard foot/sustain pedals.
There are 15 categories of Arpeggio on the MX49. And these categories are further broken down into Voices, Primary Controller Data and Drum Kits.
The Voices are further broken down into chords/notes, by the way.
Moving on, the arpeggios of the MX49 are fully customizable. So, you can program them in such a way that high MIDI velocities activate them.
Lastly on arpeggios, they are all fully recordable. Yep, you can record them just like MIDI tracks/data. Now, this is one handy trick that makes us ecstatic.
We are thankful that the MX49 comes with an LED display. However, we’ve got to say that we’ve met more user-friendly displays. This could have been a lot better done – the display, that is.
The way the editing menus are arranged, it would definitely require a learning curve to get used to navigating them. Well, nevertheless you’ll get used to it over time. And it does take some time to develop the memory capacity for this to become intuitive.
As for the LED display, our general opinion – it could have been a lot more user friendly.
Nearly all features of the MX49 are editable, except the waveform parameters and the oscillators. We find this kinda weird. Well, maybe it’s because of the price point, though.
But if you care for those, there is quite a number of 3rd party editing software that you can use to run some editing.
These software programs navigate the heart of your keyboard so you can work on it using your computer. By the way, these editing programs are practically as complex as editing directly on your keyboard.
But we guess you’d have to acknowledge the advantage they bring by way of performance/voice storage to even want them. Furthermore, if you do appreciate their importance then you might be willing to go the extra mile (learning curve) to use them.
On the top panel of the Yamaha MX49 is where you find the assignable pitch wheels, as well as the Master Volume, of course. Perhaps the most interesting part of the top panel is the section where you find 4 assignable knobs.
These assignable knobs help you to control resonance, cutoff, reverb, chorus, sustain, attack, release, decay, pan, ASSIGN 1 and 2, and volume real time.
But that’s not all, you can also use the controls on the top panel to do other stuff like…
- Activating DAW remote.
- Transpose by 1 or 2 steps or by octaves.
- Accessing utilities and files (like MIDI and some other parameters).
- Split or layer voices.
- Alter effects and arpeggios.
- Switch between sounds like piano to pad for instance.
- Start, pause, and stop rhythm pattern and arpeggio.
Pros Of The Yamaha MX49
- You get access to 16 amazing patches/parts from your DAW, great for recording.
- You can split or layer in one performance and, at the same time, still access 14 other patches/parts.
- Quite affordable.
- Lightweight, compact, and portable.
- Comes with LED display.
- Great keyboard for beginners and traveling musicians.
Cons Of The Yamaha MX49
- This keyboard has severe issues with USB interference noise and latency.
- For live performances, this keyboard delivers a very low output, volume wise.
- Keys do not have the best feel, plus, they don’t sense after touch.
Altogether what do we think of the Yamaha MX49? Well, it is a great little 49-key keyboard with mostly great sound. If you put in just a bit of time, you should be able to get all the patch levels balanced so the keyboard sounds fantastic.
Of course, we won’t forget the fact that this keyboard is super affordable. And even though the keys aren’t the best in the world, they will suffice for Rhodes, strings, organ, and some other voices. But all the same, heavy players might have to deliberately adjust their play to get the best results.
Fact is, this keyboard syncs effortlessly with a DAW software so it’s a great model to get for your studio as well.
Finally, if you can cope with the learning curve involved in navigating the editing menus and stuff like that (NOT a deal breaker for most), you have a useful instrument here.