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PSR-70 At a Glance
Released: hell if I know
User rating: 3.2/5 | Read reviews (9)
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Take the usual kiddie board you'll see in radio shack, and slap the most basic of midi controls to it, and you've got yourself a psr-70. it's so frustrating to see this thing and know that with 20 minutes more design work it might have a passable beginner's board, but what the hell do i know? It's got two banks of preset sounds, and that's all you have work with. the odd thing is that the sounds are are arranged into i guess what you'd call two channels. One bank is 'orchestra', and that just means it's got a slight sustain and duet/trio option for each sound. the other is 'solo' and it's got an incredibly weak sustain. you can't use sounds from one bank on another's channel (other words, you can't give 'solo' sounds 'orchestral' effects, and you can't use two sounds from the same bank at the same time. It's got well...uh...a sequencer, i guess. you get one chance to get it right, as there's no editing. if you screw up, you start from scratch. Programming the drums is a pain in the ass, as it misses beats, and overquantizes, screwing rythym all to hell. The only way this would be in any way useful would be as bargain basement master board (no aftertouch or velocity), or as a bribe to keep the kids off yer system.
I've got one that someone left in my house, and I wonder why I haven't taken a hammer to it yet. -KT
THe PSR-70 was the first really decent auto-accompaniment keyboard. Before it your only option if you wanted a reasonably passable-sounding drum machine and auto accompaniment, was to shell out for a $2000 Electone organ.
It incorporated a DX-7 derived sound source, which gave you 16 quite good basic tones, called "Orchestra" tones,to which you could add effects such as Sustain and what Yamaha called "Stereo Symphonic" On top of this there were another 16 tones classed as "Solo". These were monophonic, and most were pretty garbage on their own, but you could however layer any combination of ann "Orchestra" and a "Solo" tone together to create something more substantial.
You could assign the Orchestra tone to the left hand side of the keyboard split, which could be set at any one of three fixed locations. This allowed you to play, say, electric piano chords over the top of the accompaniment.
There were no numerical displays, just shedloads of LED's next to each of button. In fact, the PSR-70 sported the most LED's I have ever seen on one front panel.
The auto-accompaniment section was pretty primative; you got 16 basic drum patterns based on all the usual genres, such as Swing, Rhumba, Disco, etc. Each had two variations, giving you 32 styles in all. The accompaniment itself was pretty basic -- all you got was a rather thin bass line, overlaid by a feeble (and naff sounding) chord part. This was all done to the often overlively boom-chick-a-boom beat of the drum machine. It did all the usual auto-accompaniment stuff as well such as intro, ending, fill in, and single-fingered chords. There was even a "build your own accomapaniment" feature -- something which is omitted by some $1000 auto-accompamniment keyboards even today!!! A little sequence recorder was thrown in for good measure as well.
Despite its obvious faults in the sound department, the PSR-70 was a mighty impressive bit of kit by 1985 standards. Although primarly designed as a home-only synth, (you could even run it on batteries) it started the craze of the one-man band, going out to the local clubs for busking purposes. The familiar electronic pattering and horribly synthetic brass sound of the "Big Band" rhythm can still be heard coming from a dusty old PSR-70 abandoned in the corner cupboard of bowling clubs and old-folks homes up and down the nation.
Since the halcyon days of the PSR-70, its successors (revoltingly overpriced, occasionally) have not shone in the way that their '85 ancestor once did in its day. Ever since the 70 beat its way into our hearts, subsequent PSR's have always seemed to be playing catch-up with the likes of the Roland E-Series, the Technics KN-range, and more recently, by Korg's i-series interactive workstations.
Nice sounding Orchestra sounds, portability, ease of use, general purpose sounds. Primitive multitimbral ability. Versatile range of features. Some basic MIDI capability. Surprising sounds can come out of it with a bit of fiddling.
Cheap-sounding accompaniments, Solo section sounds garbage. Myriad of sliding volume controls get troublesome with old age. You need a power supply to run it off the wall socket. Down-market image.
4 out of 5
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