I have always wanted to try out composing and arranging band music and being able to produce demos for it quickly. It sounded tedious at first because I thought how am I supposed to create music that sounded like a band without having to search for members to play for me. I consulted a fellow musician about what I wanted to do and he suggested that I use an arranger keyboard. Basically, an arranger provides the basic sounds such as the organ, guitar, drums etc. while providing a feature called auto-accompaniment. I went to the music store and consulted a salesperson who referred the Yamaha PSRE-343 since it was one of their bestsellers. I tried playing a band medley while the salesperson directed what buttons to press. I loved it and purchased it immediately.
The Yamaha PSRE-343 is mostly marketed as a beginner keyboard but it is also a powerful and lightweight arranger keyboard for musicians like me who want to experiment. It is composed of 61 keys that are not weighted but it boasts of velocity sensitive keys that change in volume and tone depending on how soft or hard I strike the keys. I think this is fairly okay since I am mostly interested in mixing sounds rather than having a realistic feel from an acoustic.
The PSRE-343 boasts of 550 built-in voices. It only has a polyphony of 32 notes but I think this will suffice since onboard memory is being taken up by the wide array of sounds. I am very much satisfied with the quality and sound of the voices since this keyboard is relatively low-priced for the features it is offering. The pianos, strings, organs, trumpets, saxophones, guitars sounds etc. all sound nice in my demos.
One of my favorite features is the melody suppressor. It allows me to play along with my favorite songs while canceling the center channel audio. The center channel audio usually refers to the lyrics of a song. I can connect a music player or my phone to the keyboard via auxiliary port and play the song through the speakers. What the feature does is suppress the song to let me take the lead in playing along with the keyboard. The sounds from the keys are more enhanced compared to the song. This lets me experiment with different beats and rhythms.
One innovation introduced by Yamaha is the ability of some of its keyboards to be controlled by mobile applications via our phones or tablets. PSRE-343 is no exception to this. They have developed several IOS apps that lets me control the sound of the keyboard using my iPad. The “Sound Controller” application has the following presets: Basic, Filter, Effect, EG and Mixer. I find it very useful because the features are presented in a creative and clear way other than having to search for the buttons on the keyboard panel. Although I hope that in the future they could come up with a way on how the IOS app and keyboard could interact wirelessly because I had to purchase an i-UX1 adapter.
In terms of accompaniment, the PSRE-343 provides 136 preset styles. It provides many genres for bass, chord, rhythm, styles etc. I could also easily layer sounds from different instruments such as the guitar and drums. Sounding like a full band is easy by using the accompaniment and various voices of the PSRE-343.
I think that musicians who want to experiment with different sounds and styles would benefit from this keyboard. I could easily create band demos with this keyboard even if I am just one person. The affordable price point is also a plus since the keyboard has a lot to offer. If you are searching for keyboards for piano playing and would love to get used to the authentic action and feel then digital pianos would be a better option.
Visit the Yamaha Digital Piano page for more info and recommendations: http://digitalpianoreviewssite.com/yamaha/