Yamaha's Reface mini keyboards put classic sounds in compact instruments

New keyboards and synthesizers that carry not only classic tones, but some classics stylings as well, are becoming quite popular. Despite leaking a bit early, Yamaha officially debuted its Reface line of mini keyboards at the summer session of NAMM this week. The compact instruments are meant to be used on the go, whether it's in the backseat or in a dressing room before a show. Members of the group include the CS analog modeling synth, DX FM synth, CP electric piano and YC combo organ. For the sake of our discussion, we'll focus on the two synthesizers. The Reface CS is an 8-note polyphonic "Virtual Analog" synth that's said to be capable of sounds comparable you'd normally get from both analog and digital instruments. The FM (frequency modulation) synthesizer, the Reface DX, is the only one of the four with built-in patch memory, and it also packs in mulit-touch controls. In terms of audio, the DX offers sounds that range from "retro 80s to cutting edge modern at the flick of a switch."

While that lack of patch memory may be a deal breaker for the other three, all four instruments are compatible with a Capture iOS app for tweaking knobs and presets on a mobile device. They'll play nice with Web MIDI too, connecting directly to Google Chrome thanks to Soundmondo. It's more of a social network than an app, but it'll allow you to upload sounds to YouTube and SoundCloud by pulling audio from the mini keyboards via USB connection. The entire Reface line can also run on battery power, should the need arise, with on-board speakers that make for easy jam sessions. While the compact size and on-the-go features may make these attractive options, they'll hit your wallet for $800 when the gear and the accompanying mobile app arrive in September.