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Yamaha D-85 versus Technics U90

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  • Yamaha D-85 versus Technics U90

    Hi all,

    I hope I don't start a war with this post.

    Last night I watched this video tour of the Technics U90. I have never played or even seen a Technics organ in person. When the Orchestral Presets, Percussive Presets, and Solo Synthesizer were demonstrated, I was not impressed with the sounds. (I realize that it is impossible to judge sound quality via YouTube.) I am very familiar with the Yamaha D-85/415. I think that the orchestral, percussive, and solo synth third manual sounds are markedly better than what I heard from the Technics. For those of you that have played both, what are your impressions?

    Thanks,
    Allen

    P.S. I certainly realize that both instruments sound dated by current standards.
    Currently own: Roland Atelier AT-90, Yamaha 115D, Roland DP-90SE, Yamaha PSR-S910

    YouTube Channel

  • #2
    Hi Allen, it's a question that has been discussed many times on the forum and it's like Nikon v Canon, Samsung v LG, Ferrari v Lamborghini etc etc. The D-85 was slightly ahead of its time when released and certainly well ahead of anything Matsushita had to offer, which was a range of not-very-good, thin sounding home organs sold under the National brand. Realising this, and bearing in mind that the home organ market was still fairly bouyant back then, Matsushita (the parent company) set about developing an entirely new range of instruments designed from the bottom up using what was effectively the next generation of hybrid digital / analog electronics, even utilising the new, emerging sampling technology within costing limits, for the drum unit. It wasn't great, but it was a start. The result was the launch in 1981 of the U series of organs marketed under a new brand name: Technics, which was to become synonymous with quality, high-end (and high cost!) equipment.

    So with this in mind one should remember that Yamaha designed the A, B, C, D and E series instruments back in the mid 70's using some innovative analog circuitry for the time and even though electronics was advancing at warp speed, the Yamaha range was already five to six years behind the new kid on the block.

    At that time, I was a young, struggling musician blah blah . . .

    Let me start again! At that time, I was a young organist playing the pub and social club circuit in South Wales and was lucky enough to have played the Yamaha C-55, D-65 and D-85 at different venues and used to look forward to and enjoy playing those instruments. I went to a product launch of the Technics U-60 in 1981 and was impressed. The following year they introduced the U-90 and I was blown away! I remember thinking how much better the voices were than the Yamahas, but always felt that Yamaha had far better organ flutes.

    The "tour" video that you saw isn't the best unfortunately, and doesn't show the U-90's better features. YT is full of these types of videos with guys just dabbling around and doing little to demonstrate an instrument's capabilities. People then think that that is all there is on offer. I don't mean to sound uncomplimentary and snobby, I ain't no expert, it's just my thoughts on the subject.

    So to finally answer your question, being an owner and regular player of both the U-90 and D-85, I'd have to choose the Technics. It's more 'me', although I love the warm flutes, luxury three string footages and mini solo keyboard convenience of the Yamaha. However over on the U-90, I like the Technichord, Orchestral Conductor, brass voices and autos. Both drum machines are not really up to much, but the U-90 just has the edge on patterns and voicing. I just wish I could transplant the D-85's flutes with the the built-in rotary into the U-90!
    Organs: Yamaha D-85, Technics U90 Pro, Wersi Helios W2S, 2x Yamaha HS8's.
    Keyboards: Roland E-70, Yamaha Tyros 3.
    Retired: Technics K700.

    Comment


    • #3
      Keyboardguy,

      Thanks for your insights. Having no experience with Technics, I value your opinion greatly.

      I starting playing the organ in 1982 when I was 13. This was when the organ market was just starting to decline over here in the United States. Also, I did not live in a large city and rarely got to visit an organ/piano store, except for Lowrey when we occasionally went to a mall. Thus, I did not have much exposure to different brands of organs. My teacher had a Lowrey spinet and a Thomas Celebrity.

      Even though I don't own a 415/D-85 any longer, I still play the one that I used to own regularly at an assisted-living facility. I also play one at my church. (I started with a 115/A-55 in 1982. My parents bought the 415/D-85 used for me in 1987 when I graduated high school.) One of my favorite voices on the 415, is the Trombone in the Custom Voices. It has a relatively mellow quality which I like. In many ways, I prefer it to the trombone on my keyboard and my Roland.

      Thanks again,
      Allen
      Currently own: Roland Atelier AT-90, Yamaha 115D, Roland DP-90SE, Yamaha PSR-S910

      YouTube Channel

      Comment


      • #4
        Hello Allen,

        I‘m with Keyboardguy‘s opinion. Maybe listen to some real artist, to hear how great a U90 can sound: Brian Sharp
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTrBygZUv-A
        But certainly Yamahas also had very nice orchestral sounds. I owned a C-605portable at that time - but in fact only because the portable Technics were too expensive ;-)
        Last edited by auronoxe; 07-25-2018, 07:57 AM. Reason: Typo
        Playing Hammond Aurora Classic & XE2, Hohner E3, Roland G800 & AT500.

        Comment


        • #5
          auronoxe,

          Thanks for the link! I enjoyed the video. The U90 is impressive for early 80s technology.

          Allen
          Currently own: Roland Atelier AT-90, Yamaha 115D, Roland DP-90SE, Yamaha PSR-S910

          YouTube Channel

          Comment


          • #6
            Perhaps I shouldn't say (but Brian was one my best mates and he'd laugh at this) but, er, it's not all U90. There's a Kawai organ in there for some of the strings, and a Kawai S100P synth (Brian was wedded to that synth for the duration and it went on top of whatever other make he was playing!) for some of the solo sounds.

            In 1981, the big competition over here was between the U90 and the Kawai DX900. Very different animals but both deservedly popular. Those two, plus the venerable D85, were the 'top of the tree' for a lot of UK home players.
            It's not what you play. It's not how you play. It's the fact that you're playing that counts.

            New website now live - www.andrew-gilbert.com

            Current instruments: Roland Atelier AT900 Platinum Edition, Yamaha Genos, Yamaha PSR-S970, Kawai K1m
            Retired Organs: Lots! Kawai SR6 x 2, Hammond L122, T402, T500 x 2, X5. Conn Martinique and 652. Gulbransen 2102 Pacemaker. Kimball Temptation.
            Retired Leslies, 147, 145 x 2, 760 x 2, 710, 415 x 2.
            Retired synths: Korg 700, Roland SH1000, Jen Superstringer, Kawai S100F, Kawai S100P, Kawai K1

            Comment


            • #7
              Andy,

              Thanks. I did not think it was all the U90. I thought that some of the voices sounded significantly different than the tour/demo that I heard and saw.

              Later,
              Allen
              Currently own: Roland Atelier AT-90, Yamaha 115D, Roland DP-90SE, Yamaha PSR-S910

              YouTube Channel

              Comment

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