Cigar Aficionado

Yamaha Tyros2 Arranger

Perhaps you have a symphonic arrangement floating around in your head that might rival the classic Star Wars theme if it ever came to fruition, but unlike movie music maestro John Williams, you don't have access to a philharmonic orchestra. Not to worry. The Yamaha Tyros2 workstation keyboard can flesh out your musical vision with an inexhaustible array of realistic instrumental sounds and then arrange them all as though it were a music studio in a box.

Among the most striking features is something called Super Articulation, a technology developed by Yamaha that adds nuance and dimension to certain sounds by assessing your playing style and then intoning each note in real time with convincing effects. For guitar sounds it allows finger slides, while saxophone measures may be breathy and orchestral maneuvers can be intermittently resonant or brooding depending on your execution. One Super Articulation preset called Concert Strings, for example, responded to my playing by intuitively cropping up the cellos and bases as I slowed the tempo and descended to the lower registers. Or at least that's how it sounded. I felt as if I were scoring that summer blockbuster. Voice banks are easy to navigate thanks to a back-lit, adjustable LCD that conjures sound libraries. They include a data bank solely dedicated to vintage organs, which allows you to electronically adjust the virtual organ flutes just as you would with the real thing for complete control of timbre and character.

But built-in sonic realism is just part of the Tyros2's identity. This machine lets you record the sound of an acoustic instrument or your own voice directly to an optional hard drive, then fine-tune the quality of your sample with editing tools and store it within. Once your sounds are in order, you can lay down your composition and record it on the built-in 16-track MIDI sequencer that can be upped to 32 tracks via one of two USB ports. If you want a safety backup of your sounds and songs, the data can be dumped straight to your computer and vice versa. Technological evolution to the casual techie, however, is moot without Web connectivity. An Internet Direct Connection (IDC) enables you to download sounds, editing programs, stylized musical accompaniments of all genres and entire songs from the Web without a computer.

The 61-key Tyros2, which retails for $4,095, does not come with built-in speakers, however. Yamaha offers an auxiliary three-piece speaker system with a subwoofer, although the keyboard hooks into performance amps or stereos and has a headphone jack.