Motif XS sounds in a box. But whereas a lot of hardware 'boxes' feel somewhat isolated from today's computer-based environment, the Motif Rack XS offers old school sonic power in a new school package. Five real-time control knobs on the front panel so it's quick and easy to tweak sounds and effects. More importantly, this module comes complete with its own software editor and, using the Motif-Rack XS Editor VST you can even assimilate the Rack XS into your DAW environment so it behaves like a VST (3). Essentially, aside from the lack of sampling or sequencing facilities, frankly neither of which you're going to need in a tone generator, you have all the sonic glamour of the world’s best-selling keyboard.
And if that's not enough, there are also dozens of third party voice libraries at Motifator.com, making this an extremely well ‘supported’ instrument to boot.
As with its keyboarded brethren, the Rack XS basically blows away the competition. It just sounds better than everything else. Pianos, strings, basses, drums, woodwinds, synths vintage and modern... the Rack XS has a power and clarity the envy of the world’s keyboard manufacturers. Standouts are certainly the keyboards (acoustic and electronic) but also there are flutes to die for, punchy basses (acoustic, electric, and synth), and enough pads and strings to melt the hardest of hearts. And of course everything is editable if you need to indulge (software editing is both available and advisable).
If you’re already a 'Motifated' Person the only slightly strange thing might be the Rack XS's offer of 'Multis' in place of Masters and Performances. Because this is a rackmount instrument you don’t have the exact same level of keyboard interaction as you do on an XS6/7/8. Multi's are just places to store groups of 16 Voices (as 'Parts'), multi-timbrally if you want, with all the attendant parameters you'd expect including whether each Voice is under the control of one of the Rack XS's seemingly endless collection of groovy arpeggios. Out of the box, the Rack XS 128 Multis have been imported from Performance Bank 1 on the XS keyboard.
The Rack XS offers both Insert and System effects, which basically means you can add specific effects to individual voices, or you can apply master effects to combinations of Voices in the Multis. And there's tons of effects to choose from including a Virtual Circuit Modeling collection that re-creates (aurally - there's not the visual bang for the buck as there is on the keyboard XS's color LCD) vintage effects processors from compressors to chorus boxes to EQs. The XS's reverb is taken from the Yamaha SPX2000/REV-X. This both sounds like and IS expensive technology, right at your fingertips.
As a rackmount unit the knobs and display are small-scale, obviously. That said, the screen is very clear and generally informative plus the five real-time edit knobs are life-savers. So too is the audition button. Nice touch. As with everything Yamaha, the feel is smooth and professional.
You’ll need to keep your wits about you in order to understand how the Rack XS relates to your DAW (the Rack XS forum on Motifator.com will almost certainly contain the answers to any initial questions you’ll have) but everything's there and once you do it'll give you years of trouble-free service. Rackmount synths may not be the hot ticket items they were 15 years ago before VSTs but there’s still nothing quite like the luxury of having hardware sound generation at your disposal.
|Tone Generator: AWM2 with Expanded Articulation|
|Polyphony; 128 notes|
|Multi-timbral capacity: 16 Parts (internal)|
|Wave ROM: 355MB (when converted to 16-bit linear format)|
|Voices: 1,024 Preset (64 drumkits) 128 General MIDI (1 drumkit), 128 x 3 User|
|Performances (Multis): 128|
|Effects: Reverb (9 types), Chorus (22 types), Insertion (A, B) x 53 types x 8 blocks, Master Effect x 9 types, Master EQ (5 bands), Part EQ (3 band stereo)|
|Preset Arpeggios: 6333|
|User Arpeggios: None|
|Knobs 1 – 5|
|Display: 160 x 64 dot graphic backlit LCD|
|Outputs: L/MONO, R (standard phone jack), Assignable L, R (jack), digital, mLAN (when installed)|
|USB: To Host|
|Dimensions: 480 (W) x 379 (D) x 44 (H) mm|
|Weight: 4.2 kg|
Single Coil Guitar
Memory of the King
Founded by Keyfax NewMedia in 2001 for the original Motif and still in full swing. Join 30,000+ other Mo’Bros and Mo’Sis’s in this friendly, free-access community with forums, videos, tutorials, sound libraries, demos, and more.
There are pages and pages of support tutorials and documents – mostly written for the keyboard version but still largely applicable to the Rack XS.
The best product web support on the planet and even other manufacturers think so!
Yamaha’s own ‘synth-based’ site embracing keyboards, digital pianos, and electronic drums. Here you’ll find all the necessary drivers, software updates, manuals, brochures, and even some spectacular videos from around the world. Spectacular in the ‘What were they thinking?’ sense, that is.
Commanding the Yamaha Motif: Vols 1 & 2 have been updated to include the XS series. Focused on the keyboard versions there’s a lot of valuable insight into the inner workings of the entire XS platform in these cost-effective e-books.