Buy your Yamaha YDS-150 Digital Saxophone now, and support a small saxophone shop at the same time!
The Yamaha YDS-150 Digital Saxophone is a new kind of digital saxophone. It is more like a real saxophone than any digital saxophone that has come before, because it has regular saxophone keywork. So unlike an EWI 4000S, 5000, or a WX5, you don’t have to switch to a different keywork feel in order to play the digital saxophone anymore.
This is going to be huge for people who want to practice saxophone quietly rather than people who just want a midi or digital interface sax. You can practice with headphones on and not bother your neighbors at all hours. Or play it quietly on one of the 15 volume settings. The Yamaha YDS-150 Digital Saxophone also works fine as a digital input into whatever sound processing software that you want to use. But it feels more like a regular saxophone under the fingers. I’ve been having fun with digital saxophones ever since the Casio DH-100, and I think like the Casio, this Yamaha YDS-150 Digital Saxophone will probably become an instant classic of its genre for the same reason – it feels more like an actual saxophone to play than any similar option.
In brief (more below) are the main features of the Yamaha YDS-150 Digital Saxophone that you might care about:
- The Yamaha Yamaha YDS-150 Digital Saxophone has a speaker in the brass bell, so that the sound you generate vibrates the instrument’s body tube. As you play louder, you feel more resonance.
- The Yamaha YDS-150 Digital Saxophone has a regular saxophone mouthpiece (basically a repurposed Yamaha 4C soprano piece) and even a ‘reed’ so that it feels like a saxophone in your mouth also. The reed doesn’t vibrate though! You can even swap out the Yamaha mouthpiece for your own mouthpiece, as long as it has a similar bore to a 4C, though this won’t do much to the tone if anything. It might make it feel a little more like ‘home’ to you.
- The Yamaha YDS-150 Digital Saxophone has an advanced breath sensor that responds instantly to small changes in breath support by changing the tone that you generate. Again, you see the theme – feels a bit more like a saxophone to play.
- The sound it generates is actual sound samples taken from real Yamaha saxophones. You can switch among Yamaha soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone tones on your Yamaha YDS-150 Digital Saxophone. It’s a pretty good idea, thought it still sounds like a midi sax to me. The bari sax model is actually pretty good though.
- There’s an app that lets you further modify and control the tone you get from the Yamaha YDS-150 Digital Saxophone. The app is actually quite good! And you can also input the sound from your Yamaha YDS-150 Digital Saxophone into Ableton or Garageband or ProTools or whatever you like and modify it there, or even run the output into analog or digital pedals, like in our saxophone looping video here.
- Interestingly it’s keyed from high F# down to low A so you can use it as a baritone model! And the tuning is adjustable within 5 hz so you can play with a flat piano or in different temperatures with acoustic instruments whose tuning changes with changing weather etc. Not a bad idea!
Shortcomings of the YDS-150 are as follows:
- It’s a bit awkward changing notes with the digital switches on the keys versus the analog feel of a real sax.
- Similarly, starting and stopping notes with breath is different from how you articulate them on a real sax. So playing four quarter notes staccato requires you to learn habits that don’t transfer to sax.
- Reed doesn’t vibrate, so it doesn’t really feel like a saxophone to play.
- Saxophone sound samples don’t sound all that much like a saxophone. See our A/B comparison video for comparison of a Yamaha custom alto vs the YDS-150 alto sound model.
- No vibrato or control of tone with embouchure – breath only.
I’m going to use the space below as a central location to post any Yamaha YDS-150 Digital Saxophone demo and review videos that I find around the internet. If you know of a good one, please email me at [email protected] and let me know, and I’ll add it!
First up is this excellent youtube channel all about the Yamaha YDS-150 Digital Saxophone from Jørgen Lund Karlsen who helped develop the Yamaha YDS-150 Digital Saxophone. He has a hardware walkthrough and demo of the software, as well as lots of sound samples. Here’s my favorite.
Next up, we have a nice review from sax.co.uk that goes through a lot of good info about the Yamaha YDS-150 Digital Saxophone:
If you want to hear people talking about the Yamaha YDS-150 Digital Saxophone and hear how it can sound right out of the box in ‘soprano’ mode, there are some short audio clips sprinkled into this video. The above ones are a bit better overall though.
The next one, by the Cretu Catalin Jazz channel has some excellent sound samples using various effects, and gives you some idea of the pop / rock potential of this instrument!
That’s it for now! Hope you enjoyed these.