The Yamaha PS-1 was released in 1980 as the first entry into the PortaSound range and, along with the larger PS-2 and PS-3, it ushered in the era of home keyboards. Despite it’s small size the PS-1 was not intended to be a toy. It has high build quality and produces sounds which I find quite pleasing. They’re in no way realistic and are far more akin to early video game sounds but the nostalgia wraps everything in a nice warm glow.
I picked up a PS-1 in lovely condition recently and turned it into a Decent Sampler instrument that would be very suitable for creating chip-tune melodies for 8-bit style game soundtracks.
## Using the instrument
The YSPS-1 has four voices: Organ, String, Clarinet and Piano. These can be selected from the drop-down menu or switched between using MIDI notes 120, 122, 124 and 125 respectively. I map these to drum pads on my controller keyboard as I wanted to replicate the push-button instrument switching of the original PS-1. Each instrument has a default sustain setting which can be made longer or shorter with your keyboard’s mod wheel. The PS-1 had just two and a half octaves but I’ve increased this to four octaves here, plus there’s a global tuning knob which further increases that to six octaves.
In addition to the four main instruments I’ve included the PS-1’s six drum sounds which you’ll find at C1 – F1. The drums will play alongside the four main sounds.
‘Sustain’ is actually release time but the original PS-1 called it sustain so I have too for historical accuracy.
Reviews for YFPS-1
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An excellent retro bundle!
If you are into creating retro soundtracks or just love the nostalgia about retro synthetic sounds, this is a great instrument to start exploring exactly that. IT features 4 different modeled instruments, and they all sound exactly as you would expect from a retro synth. They are sampled incredibly well and they are spread across 4 octaves.
The included percussive set at the bottom is conveniently coloured, and it's a very nice addition, though I found these to have a little, barely noticable white noise. If you expand your GUI keyboard you might also see Orange keys, which are some pre-made beats, though they only last for 2 bars and they are fixed at 98bpm.
If you expand a little more you will see 5 green keyswitches that resemble the different instruments. You might also see that the green box representing an instrument is actually a slider that doesn't really work. At first I thought you could blend the instruments together but that's not the case. You can always do that by duplicating them in your DAW though.
The Portasound Sound Lives!
As an aficionado of early Yamaha Portasound keyboards, I was excited to check out this library. It's full of analog goodness to be sure. After reading Alex's helpful review, I quickly realized that I must be missing something, since I couldn't see the key switches to change sounds. Updating Decent sampler fixed the problem. So, if you're having trouble switching sounds, that might be a good place to start.
The four sounds are all well recorded, although the clarinet and string sounds do have noticeable loops. It's not bad when playing chords, however.
I personally found the UI a little confusing. What I thought we tick-boxes to change sounds ended up being teeny tiny little sliders. One uses the drop-down menu or key switches to actually change sounds.
The inclusion of drum loops is super cool, as is the isolated drum samples. Placing the key switches above the range of an 88 note controller is maybe a bit of a questionable choice, especially give that there are no sounds on the notes F#1-B1 and nothing assigned to D6-B6. Using the key switches means keeping the keyboard transposed. Not a huge deal, but maybe something to consider in future instruments.
Overall, this is a great retro library and a worthy download!