After lots of deliberation I decided to go the arranger keyboard route and bought a Yamaha PSR S-710.
My reasoning was that I was aiming to replace my old keyboard (a 20 year old Roland E70) with something newer that had the capability of recording multiple songs. Reason for this is that I played some Carols at Xmas for the local residents association and found it better to pre-record the more difficult ones so I would not suffer from nerves on the night and mess them up.
I looked at a whole range of keyboards and focused down on the Roland Prelude – and the Yamaha PSR S710 and its bigger brother the S910. I also looked at the Yamaha Clavinova CVP range. I was very tempted by the Clavinova CVP range since you get fully weighted 88 keys and the arranger keyboard capability in one instrument. But the lack of portability – and the price (Â£6000 for the top of the range machine)! Locked out that option. One day maybe I will make the leap – the CVP Clavinova’s are truly beautiful.
The Prelude fell down because it is nigh on impossible to change voices (instruments)whilst you are playing a piece – amazingly my 20 year old Roland had this facility but it has been dropped on the Prelude. Also only a handful of the arrangements are usable, to my ear anyway. However, the plain piano voice is better on the Prelude than the Yamaha – again to my ear.
That then left me with the choice between the S710 and the S910 at £900 and £1500 respectively. What you get for the extra £600 is a colour screen, the ability to write MP3’s (however both machines write WAV files) , and the ability to plug a microphone or electric guitar into the S910 and play it through the instrument. You also get the higher grade super-articulation voices where you can hear he keys being pressed on the saxophone etc. I can’t sing so the former was not of interest – I do however play the guitar – and the Mega voices which you get on both machines sound so much better than my old machine. In the end the price difference was I felt too high to make the step up so I ended up with the S710.
I am very pleased with the instrument. The backing accompaniments are superb – and its flexibility to create and recall setups is brilliant. Add that to internet connectivity to access Yamaha resources on line such as new accompaniments. The voices are brilliant . You might be overawed by all the buttons at first – however they are all pretty intuitive and you get to be able to use them very quickly.
Only weakness is the lightness of the key touch – and perhaps a lack of depth of the grand piano voiceâ€¦.but for the price a fantastic piece of electronics which produces wonderful sounds. I would certainly recommend that anyone looking for an arranger keyboard should go and try this one out in their local music store.
Review by Peter Franklin, London SW15 (23/03/2012)