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Yamaha Tenori-On review

Donald Bell offers his review of the Yamaha Tenori-On electronic music instrument.

Photo of Roland TB-303 bassline synthesizer next to Yamaha Tenori-On music sequencer.
Old school vs. new school. I just couldn't help wondering what the Tenori-On would sound like with my old TB-303 bass-line synth. Yes, this is my idea of a fun weekend. Donald Bell/CNET Networks

For all you electronic music fans and lovers of all things blinky, my review of the Yamaha Tenori-On music sequencer is ready for your consideration. The final ruling in a nutshell: the Tenori-On is an awesome tool for performing electronic musicians, but too pricey for nonmusicians and too limited for studio music production.

What a long, strange tease its been since we first caught wind of the mythical Tenori-On music sequencer back in 2005. Now, here we are at the end: you've seen the photo gallery, the unboxing video, my interview with Yu Nishibori, the requisite comparison to the Monome, and finally, the full review.

As a farewell gift to the Tenori-On, I paired it up with the only other device in my life that equals it in blinky, metallic awesomeness: my vintage (slightly modified) Roland TB-303 Bass Line synth. Syncing the two gadgets wasn't easy, considering the TB-303 predates MIDI, and the Tenori-On does a horrible job driving MIDI clock. Still, I was able to capture a decent 30-second video of the two devices working in unison. For those of you who have no idea what you're looking at, the Tenori-On (right) is handling all the percussion sounds while the TB-303 (left) is spitting out a bass line like it's a 1994 warehouse rave.