Yamaha's tag-line: "Professional performance and features at an amateur price" - And it's quite true! The PSR-550 is a medium-priced auto-accompaniment keyboard. It features high quality sampled sounds, and standard XG of a slight lesser quality (but they blend well in XG/GM sequences).
For the price, the features of this keyboard are absolutely fantastic. You get crispy, clean sounds, pro-sounding effects, realistic accompaniments, and a respectable keyboard action. Shortcomings? Well, there's a pitch bend wheel, but no modulation wheel; the output is a combined-stereo from a single 1/4" jack, and you can only load up to a few user styles at the same time - but for the price, I'm not complaining.
One of the best features of this keyboard is the utilization of the so-called "Sweet" and "Cool" voices, employed in the Yamaha Motif and higher-end accompaniment keyboards like the PSR-2100 and Tyros. The "Sweet" voices have been carefully sampled with the natural vibrato of the player; the "Cool" have been sampled using the original vintage amps and settings of classic instruments. The Sweet Trumpet in particular sounds phenomenally realistic.
Fun note: the display changes from blue, to red, to purple when the keyboard is idle (these colors are also used to identify different editing areas in the OS.
The MUSIC DATABASE includes 220 preset accompaniments that have been created following leads from real hit songs, from many genres and eras; the STYLE section includes 112 rhythms + accompaniment that are more generic but can be adapted to many genres; the VOICE section includes 233 excellent sounds, plus about 500 XG sounds.
There are five dedicated buttons to the left of the LCD panel: one turns the DSP on/off, another switches the DSP's settings from fast to slow (i.e., for organ sounds, the Leslie speed; for electric piano sounds, the tremolo speed, and so on). The third turns the keyboard velocity sensitivity on and off; the fourth toggles the sustain, and the last button is for the voice harmony/echo features. It's great to have dedicated buttons for these.
Another great feature is the ability to toggle the Voice L, R1 and R2 on and off from dedicated buttons under the screen. These allow you to select quickly your sounds on the keyboard (one for the left hand, two that can be combined, for the right).
There are also three buttons for the floppy disk drive: load, save and utility. Here you can get access to many other songs, styles and settings - which you can load and save from inexpensive floppies.
Other useful buttons include the "ACMP ON/OFF", that turns the auto-accompaniment on and off, the tempo/tap button (just tap and select your tempo, very useful in performance), and a "transpose" button, very useful when you can't sing that high in a pitch, or the original key is inconvenient for you.
The "ACCOMPANIMENT" section offers "sync start" and "sync stop" buttons (so that the accompaniment starts when you touch the keyboard), and "intro" (plays a short introduction appropriate for the selected rhythm/song), two "FILL" buttons (switch between patterns A and B, and fill in appropriately), and an "ENDING" buttons, which concludes the song for you.
Registration Memory and One Touch setting offer a convenient way to jump to your favorite presets for songs. The Multi Pad allows to play drum sounds or short melodies, to embellish your songs.
In all, this keyboard is just great: quality sounds, inspired arrangements, highly portable, and relatively inexpensive - One can create complete, professional recordings (and easily carry it to gigs). Keep reading below to hear what this keyboard sounds like.
Stream all audio examples
|Yamaha PSR-550 factory sound demos in mp3||My comments|
|1 Sweet Tenor||A nice demo showing how expressive and realistic the "Sweet!" voices can be.|
|2 SweetTrumpet||Contemporary piece - smooth jazz style, and one almost can't tell it's not a real trumpet!|
|3 Sweet Flute||Superb fusion song! The samba beat is excellent, and the flute breathy effect is phenomenal.|
|4 Spanish Gtr||Realistic and expressive.|
|5 Cool! E.Gtr||Great early Rock and Roll sound|
|6 E.Piano||Electric FM pianos have always been Yamaha's forte.|
|7 Clean Guitar||Standard Stratocaster sound.|
|8 Grand Piano||Extremely beautiful piano sound. The real instrument was probably a top-of-the-line Yamaha grand.|
|9 Accordion||Outstanding demo!!! Since this is a performance keyboard, I expected the accordion sounds to be good, but this, this is really good!!! And I loved this demo's playing style! Kudos!|
|Preset name with audio demo||My comments|
|001 Alive Fever||Excellent rhythm that reminds of Bee Gees' notorious hit song - you can see John Travolta strutting :-)|
|007 GoingMyWay 1||Setup based on Frank Sinatra's "My Way". Classy and beautiful|
|023 TitanicHeart||Obviously a word play between the movie "Titanic" and the theme song for the hit movie, Celine Dion's mega-hit "My heart will go on". Beautiful arrangement, and sounds.|
|039 PantherSwing||Based on maestro Henry Mancini's successful soundtrack for the movie "The Pink Panther". Note how great the saxophone sounds.. warm, full, and with a "soft growl". The accompaniment is also excellent, and "in the pocket".|
|073 O Sole Mio||Italy's famous Neapolitan song. Beautiful rendition, with excellent mandolins and the "sweet" trumpet showing off!|
|103 Moon Tenor||A very beautiful, tear-jerking and, oh-so classy arrangement, very 1960s. The saxophone is excellent in the PSR-550! "Moon River" is the classic song in my example.|
|120 Jump Rock||Nice jingly guitar, killer drums, and synth brass solo in this famous Van Halen song.|
|135 Melon Cat||Here we have a great, cool and extra-groovy track based on the typical '60s Jimmy Smith style that many others copied. Very hip and the Hammond sound is appropriate.|
|145 Nine PM||Probably inspired by ATB's "9pm (Till I Come) dance classic - but this is also good for "Children" by Robert Miles.|
|154 Ipanema 1||The velocity-switch flute is outstanding in this Brazilian classic..|
|173 WestVirginia||Cool "slide" guitar (obtained with the pitch bend wheel, of course), nice track.|
|177 Brazil Brass||Brass is a specialty of this keyboard! Here mixed with the sweet trumpet for a rendition of the Carnival song par excellence, "Brazil"!|
|202 Ciel deParis||A very nice waltz tune, with the excellent-sounding French accordion.|
|007 Root Rock||Raunchy early rock, with deliciously distorted guitar.|
|018 AnalogBallad||Perfect for "Woman in Red" by Chris DeBurgh. There's also a music database setting for it. Notice how clean and precise the PSR-550's analog drums sound.|
|038 BigBand 1||Perfect accompaniment! Truly sounds like a big band|
|074 Salsa||Another expertly-programmed Latin rhythm. The harmony feature on this keyboard helps the piano part.|
|092 Vienna Waltz||Nice strings, and overall Austrian feel.|
|001 Grand Piano||Nice, clean and expressive sampled grand piano. Probably sampled from Yamaha's own pianos - bright quality|
|011 Suitcase EP||Awesome Rhodes sound! The Suitcase was the model with built-in speakers.|
|018 Venus EP||A classic FM piano, perfect for ballads.|
|021 Wah Clavi||Here the DSP is being heard. Great filtering effect, to emulate a Clavinet being filtered by a Cry Baby or similar.|
|022 Jazz Organ 1||Excellent sampled Hammond sound! You can hear the key click just like in the original. The percussion effect is also reproduced faithfully.|
|033 60's Organ||Noteworthy for the cool Leslie rotary speaker effect (DSP), typical of the organ sounds of the era.|
|041 Pipe Organ||Majestic and full. Nice church reverb on this sound.|
|051 Small Accrd||Awesome, melancholic accordion sound! This sounds so warm, realistic, and expressive. It would work perfectly for movie soundtracks.|
|053 Spanish Gtr||The samples in this sound are clean, sparkly, and obviously sampled from a very high-quality flamenco guitar. A bit of delay is added to this particular preset, for ambience effect.|
|072 Cool! E.Gtr||Great velocity switch effect to switch from pizzicato to fingered sound. The "Cool!" effects are also found on the Yamaha Motif and make for extremely expressive sound performances.|
|081 Finger Bass||Fantastic electric bass, with an early 80s feel.|
|083 Bass&Cymbal||Combined contrabass and ride cymbal sound, very nice jazzy feel.|
|093 Hi-Q Bass||Powerful! Moog bass sound, with triple-oscillator setup.|
|100 Concerto Str||Nice and full string orchestra, great for film work.|
|109 Solo Violin||Outstanding violin! Expressive, classy, and certainly on par with examples found on more expensive synths.|
|117 Shamisen||Another excellent sampled rendition of this Japanese instrument. You can hear the plucking of the strings.|
|121 Choir||Very cool choir sound. Reminds me of the effects used in cartoons, when some "miracle" happens, and the angel choir starts.|
|126 SweetTrumpet||Easily one of the best sounds on the PSR-550! I don't know who the session player they used for this sample was, but the natural vibrato on this sound is fantastic! Again, the "Sweet" technique was used, as on the Motif. This sound, when properly played/sequenced, would fool many people in believing it's a real trumpet player.|
|141 Ballroom Brs||Very nice brass ensemble sound!|
|150 Sweet Tenor||Beauty! Breathy, soulful tenor saxophone.|
|165 Sweet Flute||Extremely well-programmed, with killer velocity-switch between normal and breathy.|
|175 Fire Wire||Powerful synthesizer sound - analog like.|
|179 Stardust||Meditative synth bell sound, nice for ambient, or film music.|
|187 Hi Bias||Synthesized whistle sound, good for many genres.|
|189 Sub Aqua||Cool velocity-switched effect, and lots of resonance.|
|192 Golden Age||Glossy synth pad, perfect for pop music.|
|194 Wave 2001||Very nice rising-filter synth sound|
|198 Fantasia||Nice take on the famous Roland D-50 first preset.|
|200 Area 51||Dark pad, ominous and sorrowful.|
|208 Jazz Vibes||Excellent! with cool tremolo effect like on the original instrument.|
|217 Kalimba||Happy rendition of the African original.|
|220 StandardKit1||Powerful, clean and punchy samples|
|225 Analog Kit||Standard Roland TR-808 sounds.|
|226 Dance Kit||Standard Roland TR-909 sounds, with effect tweaks.|
|276 Orgel||Gorgeous sound: hypnotic, sad, draws you in.|
|292 Santur||The PSR-550 has surprisingly a lot of ethnic sounds on board. This Santur is a good example.|
|384 Acid Bass||And here we go back to the early '90s, when "Acid House" was all the rage. A nice Roland TB-303 "Transistor Bass" emulation, complete with funky reverb - just add drums.|
|443 OrchestraHit||Classic orchestral hit - used often in Techno|
|546 Analog Pad||A beautiful "liquid" synth pad, with a vintage flavor. Nice amount of resonance and a slight impression of a choir.|
|550 Itopia||Here's the classic "Itopia" sample that was found on the SY/TG series of Yamaha synthesizers. A great sample, very "Fairlight".|
|615 Creation||Awesome sound. The programmers have utilized envelopes and LFOs to create a very nice, moving synthesizer landscape. Bravi!|
|629 Oud||Yet another great-sounding ethnic sound!!! I love the Oud sound|
from Yamaha's website: http://www.yamaha.com/yamahavgn/Documents/KeyboardsDMI/psr550.pdf
|Features at a glance|
|Year of release:||200_|
|Sound generation method:||PCM, 8MB wave ROM|
|Sound expansion capabilities:||floppy disk drive|
|Sequencer||yes, 16 tracks|
|SITE||Type of resource||DESCRIPTION|
|Yamaha PSR-550||Home page for the PSR-550||The official resource page for this keyboard.|