CNET First Look
Yamaha Tenori-On OAs a less-expensive version of the first Tenori-On music sequencer, the "O" succeeds in preserving functionality, but lacks the beauty and portability of the original.
>> Donald Bell: Hey I'm Donald Bell for CNET.com and today I'm giving you a first look at the Yamaha Tenori-On O. This is a budget model of the original Tenori-On we saw back in 2008 that preserves most of the features but still sells for a relatively high price of $700. If you're new to the Tenori-On it's basically a music sequencer like a drum machine or a synthesizer where the notes are plotted out on a grid of 256 buttons. There's a built in bank of preset sounds ranging from drums to synth tones and you have the ability to layer up to 16 sequences on top of one another to create complex arrangements. ^M00:00:38[ Music ] ^M00:00:45 Now this version shows the exact same firmware as the original Tenori-On which Yamaha still sells for around $1000. The feel of the button grid is identical, the function keys on the side are all the same, the off switch, integrated speakers, SD card slot, MIDI output, headphone jack and integrated display are all the same as the original. So why am I disappointed? Well on a practical level I'm bummed because you can't run this version off of batteries. The double A compartments that were on the back of the original have been sealed up making the included power adaptor a necessity. Taking away the mobility really changes the nature of this device. I can't just take it out at a party and pass around without first locating a wall socket. Granted from a performance perspective I'm used to having to wire up all my gear to a power strip but the option to cut the cord was something unique about the original. My second complaint comes down to the beauty of the device and I don't just mean the choice to go with white plastic instead of hand brushed magnesium. The original was set up with a push button grid on the front and display grid on the back. When you held it up it was really pretty to see from either side but when you look at the back of this version all you see is a sheet of white plastic. From a practical level this isn't such a big deal. The problem is that the world already has enough electronic music gear that sits on tables and forces musicians to either look down or look at their computer screen. What made the Tenori-On so appealing to begin with was the idea of a piece of electronic gear that wasn't boring for an audience to look at. Without the beauty of the second display this thing is really just an iPad app away from being obsolete. So there you go, that's the Yamaha Tenori-On O, a stripped down version of the very cool original Tenori-On that just doesn't hold the same appeal and is still priced a bit too high at $700. For CNET.com I'm Donald Bell. [ Music ]