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  1. david
  2. Vanity Monster Sherlock Holmes The Voice
  3. YC Series Stage Keyboards
  4. Wednesday, 07 April 2021
SKpro 73 just arrived. I flew through the presents as fast as possible.

I see what people have been saying as the rotary is far more dynamic and immersive when activated on the SKpro vs YC.

Surprisingly some of the "others" voices are really on par with Yamaha and very high end. I heard some stuff that stopped me in my tracks.

I'll have to spend a lot more time with it. The keys as I knew already are organ-ish by design because it's not trying to be a piano.

I like the Yamaha std weighted on 73 better but I didn't like the YC61 keys either.

Build quality looks really good but I haven't touched everything yet to see how solid it feels. I'm totally new to Hammond.

I'll compare them side by side to really get a feel for the wow factors vs the not so wow factors.

Responses (30)
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Something you'd never get on a Yamaha board (unless a genos or Montage maybe) much, much less a stage board but the SKpro has the following waveforms:

I counted 5 trumpet & T-bone falls, gliss up, etc. in several variations.

13 percussion combos and/or variations to sync with your organ.

Pedal steel, choir and other ethnic stuff.
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Yamaha was most likely competing with the older SK version and Nord.

They could have assumed perhaps that the XK-5 technology was coming to SKpro because Yamaha also uses trickle down tech.

Another improvement was the addition of internal power so that more professional and I read that their sample resolutions were improved if not doubled.

They have certainly broken thru, crossed over and are challenging the others if not beating them soundly at the moment.

Of course they should excel at organ technology.

Yamaha releases something brand new and they are already in the rear view mirror. That's tough but many Yamaha faithful will still hang tight.

Organ purists will likely find their way to Hammond (if they don't own the real deal) and also have much else to be excited about.

Even some hip youngsters will enjoy the ole school fundamentals with new VA and high quality non-organ content all combined under one hood.

I'm not sure which artists and/or players are hyped about getting less even if they might not use every feature all of the time.

Prices are close so it's not like SKpro is in another class level. Currently it's only available in waterfall keybed for each model.

YC does offer std weighted action in the 73 which is more expensive but heavier also & yes it's about $300 less.
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
According to the link I provided, the presenter refers to the Hammond XK-5 frequently. Many of the features are not new to the SK Pro but have precedence in earlier models. In that sense, a board released in 2016 required no inside information during YC's development cycle.

XK-5 was the first Hammond with their new tonewheel modeling engine and a multi-contact emulation (though a different implementation), so in that respect, yes, it's an SK Pro forerunner, but only the organ aspect. XK-5 had no non-organ sounds. So apart from the organ, everything else about the SK Pro is either new, or an enhancement of what they had done in earlier SK models (e.g. SK1, SKx). The screen/interface, the mono VA synth, the 4-part architecture (simultaneous modeled organ, VA synth, and two sample sections), the ability to split/layer 10+ sounds, and I think even an updated rotary effect, are all new to the SK Pro.
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
According to the link I provided, the presenter refers to the Hammond XK-5 frequently. Many of the features are not new to the SK Pro but have precedence in earlier models. In that sense, a board released in 2016 required no inside information during YC's development cycle.

These two boards aren't trying to do the same thing in the same way. Whichever works for you better overall is best for you. This is going to vary from one musician to another.
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I'm sure companies have "spies" in a sense who gather intel as much as possible.
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Yamaha...only really added an organ + FM engine to the pervious CP series.
There are more differences than that. See: https://www.yamahasynth.com/ask-a-question/cp73-cp88-vs-yc73-yc88

No storage of any kind besides the 10 button panel and a USB.
I'm not seeing your point here. Isn't a button panel and USB all either of them have for storage? But yes, Hammond is more versatile in the types and quantities of things you can store.

I see why Yamaha promoted and released the YC61 ahead of the others to get the jump on the SKpro.

Had they been released simultaneously, Yamaha would have had double the stock still taking up warehouse space.
I doubt Yamaha knew anything about the SK Pro when they developed and released the YC61.
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Yes the pole position has shifted well in favor of the SKpro unless Yamaha has a magic OS wand and make some significant improvements.

Sadly it will take them years to make any such changes if they are on a bi-annual rotation and likely only will happen in the next generation of boards anyhow.

The organ focused project was commendable and I pre-ordered it instantly but is just too limited and average but has nice bells and whistles.

It probably exceeded Nord (I don't have one) but then Hammond unleased the beast with plenty of teeth. It's not as flashy as YC but its content/function is clear and present.

Yamaha spent zero on a screen improvement and only really added an organ + FM engine to the pervious CP series.

No storage of any kind besides the 10 button panel and a USB. Should they be rewarded for relative complacency?

Seems like they did as little as possible to capitalize on the pervious version which I guess others do as well.

I know a little about what the pervious SK could do but this PRO version is fundamentally improved more so than before.

If it's a game of leap frog, Hammond took 2 jumps to Yamaha's one jump.

Yamaha focused their powers on slider LEDs which I like but doesn't improve the sound/function much and didn't know what they were doing with the rotary sim.

YC is less expensive and durable with typical Yamaha quality of construction and quality of sound but still very limited.

Competition can make you curse a little which they might be doing a lot.

Hammond doesn't do much promoting or hip advertising. All I see are old farts standing around their boards nodding to the rhythm or struggling to stay awake.

This is a hip board so word of mouth and those videos is all they have at the moment.

I see why Yamaha promoted and released the YC61 ahead of the others to get the jump on the SKpro.

Had they been released simultaneously, Yamaha would have had double the stock still taking up warehouse space.

Still they are different enough to own both, great as U/L manuals but if I sell one it will be the YC, unless, unless they find their misplaced wand which still might not be enough.
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Jason, which presentation are you referring to?
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The amount of model tuning that can be done with the SK Pro is impressive. Transformer parameters. Each drawbar has settings that can be adjusted by every key. The Hammond presenter just blew past it because it was option overload for them. But I suspect this is one way the subtle differences between one (tonewheel organ) serial number and another can be mapped. It's kind of getting into the matrix of differences that can be made say by changing out single caps or resistors in the circuit on a per-key basis. Some of this was over the level of detail the presenter wanted to fool with -- but it's good to have more options that one elects to skip over ... or others choose to utilize.

Nice healthy competition.
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If they're only going to have 8 FM sounds or whatever the number is why not use samples of it for a fraction of the cost?

28 of its 139 non-organ sounds are FM (so about 20%). The FM engine is also entirely repsonsible for its (drawbar-editable) Vox and Farfisa organ models. So it's a very substantial part of the architecture of the board.

As for samples of, for example, an FM EP, it may sound the same, but it is very unlikley to play the same. Much like other kinds of piano/EP sounds, the way the sound can change with velocity is never quite fully captured through velocity-layered samples. (Similarly, the genuine FM electric piano sound of the CP1 would be expected to play better than the sampled FM electric piano sound of the CP5. A sampled copy is still a sampled copy, and good as it may be, will not be the same as the real thing.)

As for your comments about expansion, you may have it backwards. Hammond has said nothing about future expansions for the SK Pro, while supposedly, YC will be getting additional sound updates.

Personally, for a piano+organ focussed rig, I think a CP88 under an SK Pro looks pretty sweet.
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
If I couldn't own both I'd get the SKpro. The FM on SKpro sounds not that different from YC FM.

If Yamaha makes a uncontrollable/uneditable FM engine and upcharges $400, it's really more of a waste than beneficial.

If they're only going to have 8 FM sounds or whatever the number is why not use samples of it for a fraction of the cost?

Add the savings to some other improvement. A Lamborghini with a 4 cylinder engine is just silly. FM is meant for modifications like the OPsix.

The "others" voices could have been somewhat limited but FM could have been essentially unlimited if they'd planned for it like SKpro's monosynth.

An engine that only goes 20 mph makes no practical sense. It's a selling point but then you realize the cost/benefit is nearly zero and question why?

The architecture & design, lack of useful storage and/or expansion etc. in YC is a dead end.

It's a disposable unit. It's meant to be replaced rapidly with the next stage version and likely by intention. I'm not liking that philosophy but maybe others will.

SKpro can hang around a lot longer with so much more to offer in capabilities, storage, customization, expansion, synth/controls etc.

I got into the design components and built some custom patches last night. I had some fantastic results just messing around with 4 component patches.

So easy but touch screen would have made it perfect. Still have to click buttons. Might be some shortcuts I haven't yet discovered.

They might have a editor eventually which would be fantastic.

YC is fine if you want to select 1 to 3 parts, play a tune, tweak the sound on the fly, sound good and then say goodnight.

SKpro is better if you want to do the same but more than YC, control everything like a real synth under the hood, build custom patches or combinations, save stuff all over the place, have more/better 3-part controlled organs, have a monosyth with onboard real-time controls, play 10 patches/4 engines at once sound structuring etc. It's just an outside the box thinking platform. It's a lot of different things so I'm not sure how it would be classified whether organ or synth or stage or analog but it's a cross-over into all of the above. Maybe Hammond has always been this interesting, I don't know, or they decided to go beyond the typical mark.

I'm not an organ player but building layers with organs, high quality and not just sampled organs, is a blast. I enjoyed it on YC too but this is next level to me.
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
The SK Pro does look cool. But I also want to offer a different perspective on your comment, "So potentially $400 more into the YC could have made it totally awesome" --

You can't really say that for $400 more (or whatever), Yamaha could have given us everything. First, companies have different talents and technologies, we don't know that Yamaha could give you everything you like about the Hammond (nor that Hammond could give you the things you prefer about the Yamaha). Second, even if a board has something at a given price, it doesn't mean another company can do the same thing for the same price. Third, even if they can do the same things and can do them at the same price, you can't expect a company to give you everything the other board does at that price and also still do all the things the board does that the other board doesn't do. That is, if you were going to add $x00 for the cost of the things the Hammond does that the Yamaha doesn't, you also need to take out (or add even more to the cost for) the things the Yamaha does that the Hammond doesn't (like the built in FM sound engine, the USB audio interface, the LED ring endless encoders, all the effects controls).

Also, Yamaha may simply want to market the board at its current price, and not at a price that's $400 (or whatever amount) higher. That helps it appeal to a different customer. After all, if someone prefers what the Hammond offers, they already have the option of paying $x00 more and getting it, And no matter what, no board is ever going to have everything someone wants. And considering that people have different preferences and need different things, it's good that there are differences in what different companies offer at their various price points.
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Favorites: 10 banks x 10 numbers (Combination), 10 numbers (Page)
Combination: Factory: 100, User: 100, Bundle: 100, Manual
Organ Patch: Factory: 100, User: 100, Bundle: 100
Piano / Ensemble Patch: Factory: 300, User: 400
Mono Synth Patch: Factory: 100, User: 100, Bundle: 100
Custom Tone Wheel: Factory: 4 x 3, User: 4 x 3
Custom Pedal Registration: Factory: 3, User: 3
Custom Pipe: Factory: 3, User: 3
Custom Cabinet: Factory: 8, User: 8
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Lots of storage on SKpro and 100 organ programs plus 100 custom as well. On YC if you create a custom organ you're forced to store it in the only location available shared by all.

It's super simplified on YC but way too limited but then you'll have to stay organized on a thumb drive which can be cumbersome.

SKpro has "Patches" then "Factory/user/bundles" then" Combinations" and finally "Favorites"

A Patch is the individual unit of a voice (The term "Voice" is used as a classification like "Piano", "Ensemble", "Strings: etc.)

A Combination is a collection of up to 4 patches and all parameters associated with that such as pedal and manual assignments, effects etc.

The Factory/User/Bundle are the methods of storage. The definition of Bundle is strange. Says it is a Collection of "combination parameters" including organ & monosynth sections grouped together for inclusion into new patches. Kind of a contradiction in terminology since patch is only a single unit. If patch is a single unit how can we create a new one?

Then the "Tip" explanation of "Bundle" gets just as confusing and says something different without the word "New Patch" included. It shows a diagram of a combination (which already might have an organ and monosynth included) plus another organ and monosynth bundled together in a package. Key word must be "Combination PARAMETERS". Claims that this reduces the number of steps in creating a combination. Previously it said "New Patch". Contradiction again so I'm not sure how to apply it.

Once you've created a custom patch then you can include it inside a combination. I don't see how organ and monosynth could be included within a "New Patch" plus combination because you can't play more than one of those at a time.

Favorites are 10x10 storage locations for stuff you like best or use the most.

What was hard to find was "Component". A Component makes up a Patch. A Patch can have up to 4 components which are waveforms. Each component can be independently adjusted. Now we're getting down to the level of synthesizer, not totally but far more than YC allows us to do. I can create a new patch with a solo violin, string section, brass instrument and percussion and use it inside of a combination as a single patch.
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Voice counts are...139 non-organ waveforms on YC..

SKpro has 163 non-organs waveforms.

Those are not comparable figures, as I'm understanding it.

SK Pro lists the component waveform sets, some of which are complete playable sounds, some of which are not (e.g. key off noises). Yamaha has some unknown number of waveforms underlying their voices... they are not listed separately, because the YC does not include the deep editing that allows you to access them directly. Though even this is a little confusing if you were to compare to other boards (like Montage) where each component waveform is listed individually. On the SK, they appear to bundle some waveforms into sets, where different velocity layers are not listed separately, as they would be in the Montage data list, even though other components, like key off, are separately listed/selectable. When I first saw the list, I wondered if maybe that was because the sounds simply didn't have multiple velocity layers, but in hearing demos, it sounds like some of them clearly do (as they similarly did in the earlier SK series, if you listen to, for example, the EPs and clavs).

So to get back to what seems like a more direct comparison to me, In terms of the non-organ directly selectable, "factory preset" playable sounds, yes, the Yamaha has 139 (created either from samples or via FM synthesis), while the Hammond appears to have 400 (300 created from samples, 100 from VA synthesis)... plus the Hammond's are more deeply editable, and there are spaces to save your own variations of these individual sounds (as if you were able to save customized Voices in their categories on the YC, which you can't). Both boards, though, do have a separate section where you can save your own recallable setups... Live Sets on the YC, Combinations (I think) on the SK. (I'm still not clear on the SK about the distinction between "combinations" and "bundles." ) This is all just from reading the manual, though. I haven't gotten my hands on an SK yet. But it does seem pretty clear that the SK has more sounds, and more ability for the user to edit those sounds.
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
I used to have a Montage but never recall it having a pedal steel. Does it really?
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Voice counts are 145 -6 (organs) = 139 non-organ waveforms on YC. Yamaha counts up to 144 but includes "0" as one of the numbers so actually 145.

SKpro has 163 non-organs waveforms. It has 8 organs vs 6 (A-100, B3,C3, Mellow, pipe, Vx, Farf, Ace) And then a million options for customization and Leslie cabinet types, mic positions etc.

Plus the onboard monosynth that catapults the SKpro to another level.
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
For me, the Montage's pedal steel guitar is way (way) far off the mark of what I want for that sound - so I use a tweaked clean guitar sound instead. Still not perfect - but less ____ (pick your negative emotion/description/etc). Not surprising that anyone else can do better on that sound. I guess this is where Yamaha would say find 3rd party content that fits what I want.
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Pianos are very subjective. I've had many Yamaha boards and they all had essentially the same regurgitated pianos.

The SKpro sounds different for a change. Different might not mean better or worse but depends on the sound you're after but I do like it. If it sucked I'd say so.

I'll have to compare the dynamics side by side and report back.

The SKpro harpsicord is phenomenal and I don't care for that but it's so good I play it now. They have a slide pedal steel guitar which blows my mind why Yamaha never does.

Solo instruments are better on the YC however the strings, again different, sound amazing on the SKpro plus you get vocals and percussion for backing.

Brass and wind solos are better on YC. BUT, big BUT, SKpro does some combination or ensemble groups and variations that are good.

The SKpro has the MK1 and II I think and different variations. They are good but not sure side by side which is better.

SKpro includes some "toy" pianos that are actually really cool.

Wurli I don't recall but I'll see what they have. YC has real FM and SKpro has some FM/EP voices. Lots of voices in the "Free Reed" category.

It was reported that Hammond upgraded their sample quality/resolution for this model.

The guitars might be comparable. SKpro has a little more variety of other voices overall and has ethnic stuff as well.

A ton of chromatic percussion on SKpro that are good.

It's difficult to describe different as a better or best classification but solo instrument are better on YC I can confirm directly.

It's also worth noting that in SKpro you can create a new voice that only occupies a single slot that can be comprised of any 4 waveforms of your choosing.

Essentially it can play 2 organs + 4 (in piano slot) + 4 (in ensemble slot) + a monosynth voice. YC can only play 2 organs + 1 + 1.
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