I’ve been the happy owner of this keyboard for a little over a month now. The Genos is now the core of my studio, I write music for events (e.g. soundtracks) as well as for my own pleasure in an Electro/Chill genre.
I quit my previous "100% in-the-box" workflow as I really needed a “real” instrument under my fingers that could quickly render my inspiration on the spur of the moment – plus, I already spend well enough time in front of a computer the rest of the time. The “arranger keyboard” philosophy behind it is interesting as it instantly provides a good basis to compose, improvise, reproduce and rearrange your own creations. While I wanted to leave DAWs and VSTs for composing purposes, needless to say I also required high quality sounds to make the jump, and the Genos gathered all these elements I was after.
Regarding its design and building quality, the Genos is really great. Plastic parts are thick and well-made, knobs and faders are pleasant to use and really bring something in terms of creativity and live playing. The touchscreen makes navigating through the machine easy, making its use even more intuitive. The keyboard’s touch is very pleasant and perfect for all kinds of instruments. The number of audio (2 main, 4 subs) and MIDI (1 in, 2 outs) outputs suit my needs (multitrack recording + controlling my synth through the Genos if need be).
The keyboard instantly brings in a very wide sound palette in all kinds of instruments.
Acoustic sounds are very convincing. Of course, you can always find a VST that will be even more realistic for such or such instrument but as far as I’m concerned the Genos is the first hardware that managed to please me so much through all of its presets.
Regarding synth-type sounds, I can find what I’m after with punchy bass and lead sounds and thick pads – though you’d better look elsewhere if you’re into tweaking oscillos, LFOs, filter and so on! The Genos is to be seen as a “ROMpler”: you pick a preset, put effects behind it if necessary and play! You can tweak the filter, resonance, effects and EQs but this is it. The arpeggio is a real asset to me as I like playing mindblowing, evolutive synth parts, but so far I have to do with the factory arpeggio presets (an update will certainly correct this). They are numerous enough for me but again it won’t suit just anybody.
The drumset and drum machine sounds sound great – at last! Thank the RevoDrums and new electronic kits. I’ve always found arranging keyboards to lack punch in that field, but the Genos is a real gamechanger to me. Plus, if you’re still not convinced, you can create your own kits using the YEM software.
Styles cover all kinds of music genres, from house to club jazz to 60s rock to cha-cha, and so on… They’re great starting points to build tracks. I consider many of them to sound kitsch when taken as is, so I always modify the accompanying sounds, the rhythm patterns and the effects, which allows me to get what I want quite quickly (using StyleCreator + the mixer part).
The included effects are high-quality (reverb, chorus, delay, phaser, flanger…). The GUI is very practical when setting the effects, reminding the universe of computer music, VSTs and so on.
I haven’t used the sequencer so far.
The mixing part (volume, EQ, compressor…) is basic but does the job for both creating and live playing. While I’ve left computer music for composing, it still is a necessary step in finalizing a track (final mixing + mastering).
As for its cons, as far as I’m concerned, I’ll go with the impossibility to apply effects other than reverb and chorus on the aux Ins and multipads, and to combine MIDI and audio multipads. Hopefully, Yamaha will correct this in a future update, especially as it seems far from impossible…
In the end, the Genos is a really great machine for live and studio provided you like the philosophy behind it. No way to do pure synthesis, its sound design features are very minimal, and for in-depth editing it never will rival with a Montage-like workstation either. What you have here is a simple interface which offers instant, ready-to-use beautiful sounds with styles that provide a solid basis over which you can build your tracks – or just play a quick trip after turning the machine on. Playing and writing music with the Genos is a real pleasure, and I find its €4000 price tag legit (I wouldn’t have paid more for it, though).