Yamaha PSR-S950

Yamaha PSR-S950

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PSR-S950, Keyboard Arranger from Yamaha in the PSR series.

14 user reviews
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Yamaha PSR-S950 tech. sheet

  • Manufacturer: Yamaha
  • Model: PSR-S950
  • Series: PSR
  • Category: Keyboard Arrangers
  • Added in our database on: 10/21/2012

We have no technical specifications for this product
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Yamaha PSR-S950 user reviews

Average Score:3.6( 3.6/5 based on 14 reviews )
 3 reviews21 %
 4 reviews29 %
 1 user review7 %
 1 user review7 %
 2 reviews14 %
Rizwan Khan03/17/2015

Rizwan Khan's review"Yamaha keeps on disappointing its customers...."

Yamaha PSR-S950
I have just tried S950 at one of my friend's house, he just bought it new. It sounds way worst than s750, let alone any korg arranger. Even korg's pa500 will blow it out of water.
I dont understand, after psr 3000, yamaha kept on declining-stage in quality. I bought a psr s710, and it developed a fault and then i had to sale it. I remember i never played it more than one hour continuously because after that its sounds starts to give headache. I bought pa500, and i never want to take my fingers off it.
Strangely, the new s950 my friend bought has developed a habit of automatically shifting pitch low to high, resetting to factory didnt help. https://img.audiofanzine.com/images/audiofanzine/interface/smileys/icon_facepalm.gif

richard5498's review"Good Except Clanky High C"

Yamaha PSR-S950
61 Key Arranger Workstation
High end synth sounds, internal speakers,
AC Power in,
1/4" MIC input jack, AUX IN
L, R Audio OUT, MIDI, 2 Foot Pedals IN
USB to device, USB to host
pitch bend and modulation wheels,
solid, hefty 25lb 6oz


This workstation/arranger has many features which makes for a lot of capabilities like pre-loaded drum loops in many styles, 2 layers upper keyboard, play-in record your own songs, much more. So that makes it more time consuming to learn if you are a arranger/workstation novice. It's supplied with a clear manual at a elementary user level, and more depth findable at Yamaha web site.

I've used it only a couple of days, so many bells and whistles I've not learned, but it seems to have about everything, including high quality sounds* for all the instruments you could think of.

*But pay attention to my problem with high C and C# Grand Piano, and various other instruments.


But on my first S950 (before I returned it) middle Ab was dead. I returned it for a new one (no hassle at the dealer) but on my second S950, when playing it as a grand piano voice, I noticed that high C and C# did not resonate like its neighbor keys. The two tones sound like a dull plink (a choked off sound), that quits early, a bit damped. I believe each tone in the scale has 2 or more tone generators for this Yamaha product. For high C and C#, they must have a defective or poorly adjusted tone generator. It's a tone generator (or sampling) quality problem because if I transpose a few half steps, the key (white or black keys) will change according to the half steps transposed. Since the problem moves up or down the physical keyboard, the problem is not with the white and black keys or their contacts. I tried to return it, but dealer didn't hear the choked damping as I did. It's a bit subtle and not measurable, but it's extremely bothersome on such a highly-used melody keys as the C tone above middle C and its C# neighbor. We tried another keyboard in the store which had the same disease to a lesser extent (my opinion). The quibble is easily missed by many customers since they typically use it with a million things going on loudly at once, and this plink sound would not be noticed.

sireson's review

Yamaha PSR-S950
When purchasing this keyboard I was looking for an instrument that could run a live show I was putting together without any other equipment. I wanted to perform from the keyboard as well as be supported with a realistic, or at least sympathetic accompaniment. What I was not expecting was to be pleasantly surprised at how this instrument not only ticked all the boxes I wanted but also provided inspiration for taking the show further.

The S950 is a 61-key keyboard workstation with features and options too numerous for a single review. The connections are basic: output L & R, foot pedal input, MIDI, USB B and USB A as well as a mic input (more on this later). In addition there is a video output, primarily designed for showing the lyrics when running karaoke tracks - something this reviewer has yet to enjoy…

The main panel is a sea of buttons and a few knobs, the colour display being the centre of the keyboard’s universe. All functions are designed to be accessible with as few presses as possible and, for the most part, the screen is clear about where you should go next.

There are getting on for 1000 voices built in to the unit, several of them the same as those on the Tyros 4. Four of these voices can be played at the same time, two each side of the split point. In addition there are over 400 accompaniment styles, each with four variations, a set of fills and three intros and three endings. On top of all that there are a raft of multi pad sets, some of which are one-shot, others of which are MIDI based - they play along to your chord selection - and you can also play your own .wav files directly from a USB stick.

With the addition of a sequencer, many many effects, a vocal harmoniser, USB audio playback and full one-touch registration memory this keyboard provides infinite flexibility only really limited by your imagination and your understanding of how the keyboard works.


Within moments of turning the S950 on you realise it is quite a significant instrument. The styling is perhaps a little dated, a little too much like the much cheaper members of the PSR family. However, the sound and the functionality defy the initial impression. Even just working through the accompaniment styles it is clear that a lot of thought and time has been put into the creation of each style. When using the linked one touch setting, each change of accompaniment variation changes the matching sounds. Mostly these are sympathetic and useful, occasionally they are surprising but rarely awful. This option can be disabled and you can select your own sounds as you play.

The registration memories are very useful for storing the entire keyboard exactly as it is and seamlessly working from one setting to the next. When changing registration during a performance the S950 waits for the next bar to complete before changing style, ensuring that the transition is seamless. It should be noted that sometimes it would be nice to select between the change lead voice now or at the bar end during performance rather than having to set it from inside the settings menus.

All the important sounds are excellent. Yamaha have done a great job with many of their Super Articulation sounds and Mega Voices. I have found the creation of my own variants of the stock sounds easy to do and it takes very little time to build up sound combinations which can then be recalled with a single registration button.

The USB stick functionality I would regard as essential. My S950 has a stick plugged in the entire time and I play .wav files and .mp3 files directly from it during performance, as well as select the registrations from the same source. In addition, there are many kind people who have uploaded style files and registrations to the internet and after a weekend of collecting I have several thousand named styles and sounds available to me simply by browsing the clear, colour screen.

The Yamaha Music Finder I have found slightly less useful due to the nature of the songs contained within it. When playing some of the styles it is sometimes disappointing to hear a particular song into immediately come to mind. Should I wish to play that song then the style would be perfect. However, if I want to play a similar song I find I cannot use that style because it sounds too much like the song it was based on. These styles have therefore remained ‘on the shelf’ as they are too recognisable.

The real power of the instrument comes with practicing swift navigation. Once you have configured your registrations and multi pads as you desire it is then a matter of pressing the right button at the right time (something the Yamaha demonstrators have nailed). Sometimes this can mean that you have to tweak your settings somewhat in order to allow things to happen without delay. One obvious example of this is when using multi pads that play .wav files. Then changing to one of these sets the S950 needs about half a second to check that all the files are where it expects them to be. This does not stop the playing of a style or inhibit any function but it does mean that if this takes longer than the remainder of the bar you are currently playing it will be another bar before the change actually takes place. Again, practice makes perfect in this.

Another minor issue is that I would like the multi pads to be a mixture of .wav files, one-shots and MIDI-based. Sadly you can only have one type of multi pad on the go at once. I find this a little restricting since I might like, for example, to play a .wav and have a nice trance arpeggio playing at the same time.

Generally editing of anything is simply a matter of pressing the function you are interested in and following the prompts on screen. The deeper you get I will admit the more lost you can become. I suspect this is the nature of all complex instruments like this. I believe Yamaha have pitched it about right in regards to having the most-used functions on the ‘outside’ and the details on the ‘inside’. I have downloaded the reference manual for the S950 and it contains every possible piece of information about the keyboard. This, with a little help from the online community, has meant that I have not found anything it can’t do yet.

The sequencer works acceptably, although I find it a little clumsy to edit - being used to a DAW environment. I have therefore used this rarely, preferring to run backing tracks off the USB stick instead. Connection to my DAW is easy via the USB B socket. My MacBook Pro found the keyboard immediately and it works faultlessly. The only negative I have found is that the octave up and octave down buttons do not transpose the keyboard over MIDI. This is a small irritation but does mean that if I want to play off the end of the 61 keys I have to transpose the keyboard up or down 12 semitones with 12 presses of the transpose button instead.

The mic input is a nice feature although I would have preferred an XLR socket. I appreciate that this doubles as an instrument socket but still… Having purchased a 1/4” to XLR mic lead I have experimented with the various vocal effects. All do exactly what they say on the tin and the harmony-based patches are very effective and match the chords being performed.


Before I purchased the S950 I had considered the Tyros 4. However, I suspected that everything I was going to need was contained in this instrument and I was not disappointed. I primarily use my S950 for live work and do all my sequencing within a Mac-based DAW. Although there is clearly a limit to the number of sounds and styles in this keyboard I have yet to be restricted by this. I find there is always something near to what I am looking for and it is just a matter of tweaking an existing sound or mixing two sounds together. Styles can be created from scratch or based on an existing style and it is made as easy as possible given the controls and the screen built in to the keyboard. I would love Yamaha to release a style editor app and I am not the first to wish for this.

Overall it is an excellent keyboard, I use it daily for all sorts of things I never would have considered. For the price I might have liked more metal than plastic, especially on the body itself. I purchased a Swan Flight case immediately and know that the keyboard would never have survived gigging without it. Likewise, I have to convince myself that the buttons will all last, none have shown wear and tear yet but they feel a little Spectrum 48 to my fingers. In addition, the LEDs showing which functions are lit are virtually invisible in direct sunlight. I know I should expect this but I had a scary moment on stage when the sun came out and I had no idea what settings were set. Just worth mentioning to help anyone else prepare for this eventuality.

These minor faults aside I can see me using this instrument for years to come. I love sitting down at it last thing at night and noodling away for no reason and then discovering a new tune appearing from under my fingers without any apparent effort on my part. Worth the purchase for that alone.

GinCan's review"PSR S950. Not too bad but not too good either."

Yamaha PSR-S950
Arranger Keyboard, 61 Keys, Vocalizer.
Predefined styles with automatic voice changes triggered by variations.
Midi in/out
USB control
Playback Wav & Mp3 from USB
Midi Files Record/Playback
Display notation and lyrics
Not sure yet about sequencer but believe to be 16 channels


Operating system and configuration is intuitive
Sound editing is reasonably easy. Not explored in full detail but adjustable parameters seem limited.


Only had the keyboard a few days so these are my first impressions.

Good amplification with deep bass in some styles without distortion.
I like the ability to play back and adjust time stretch and pitch of Wave/MP3 files and display score and lyrics of Midi files.

The BAD:
There is no after touch on this expensive keyboard and this is serious omission considering that this is 2nd top Yamaha model.

The "super articulation" is not good in all situations and play style. The right hand volume and timbre gets uneven and I wish that it could be user controlled easily, as on/off.

Some sounds are ok but the entire trumpet/brass section is a pathetic joke. I think Buontempi may have been better. Of course I compare with my Ketron X1, an old keyboard but, oh boy, the sounds on that are amazing and far superior in my opinion to the Yamaha, even on the Tyros.

Practically all brass and sometimes organ sounds on the Yamaha PSR S950 are shrill to the point of going into ultrasound when you go up the scale and they lack the depth and timbre and harmonics and fantastic realism that Ketron X1 delivers. Absolutely no comparison.
I wish I could edit the sounds, equalizing the shrill down and save back, not as a user voice, but overriding the ridiculous original default brass voices.

Models Tried before:
I tried a Tyros 4 and a Ketron SD5

Would I buy it again? Not sure. I should probably try an Audya 5 but they are so expensive, and it's very difficult in the US to find a dealer that carries them and lets you try.
So unfortunately buying a keyboard is a very expensive trial and error!

Sometimes one is lucky (Ketron X1) and sometimes one is just so so (Yamaha PSR-S950).


Yamaha PSR-S950 images

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  • Yamaha PSR-S950
  • Yamaha PSR-S950
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Other names: psrs950, psrs 950, psr s 950

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