Thanks to recent innovations, Toronto-based Yamaha Canada Music has continued advancing its leadership in music and sound technology. Equally important, Yamaha’s efforts are in tune with lifestyle and industry-market changes. Started in 1887, the company is a dominant force on the Great White North’s music scene. It continues to be the gold-standard manufacturer of top-quality performance instruments. Last year, Yamaha earned more than $100 million in sales revenue, with growth for such best sellers as its MOX6 and MOX8 synthesizers surging more than 700 percent in recent years.
The company’s two operations—the production and distribution of audio/video equipment and musical instruments—often work together. “They will combine to outfit a music-performance facility with instruments and a quality sound system,” says Rob Barg, corporate vice president.
Yamaha’s knowledge and craftsmanship extend beyond what “sounds good” in music production. “We’ve proven ourselves in such diverse fields as woodworking, metallurgy, electronics, fibre optics, and plastics,” Barg says. “This depth and breadth of knowledge creates true masterpieces of audio and musical instruments.”
Product innovations are helping Yamaha move forward in becoming a larger presence in music education. “This is why we have 40 Yamaha Music Schools across Canada, and we’ll likely continue making investments in this area,” Barg says. “We see it as a win-win situation—giving both kids and adults new ways to express themselves musically while enriching their lives and, at the same time, growing our markets for the future.” At the core, though, are the products—several of which are helping to secure Yamaha Canada Music as a market leader.
Digital, 88-key pianos
Within the realm of digital instrumentation, Yamaha’s AVANTGRAND pianos are quickly building a strong and loyal following among musicians. “Their ability to reproduce the quality sound of acoustic pianos is truly remarkable,” Barg says.
In particular, a growing fan base of pianists praises the AVANTGRAND’s soundboard feature, which replicates the vibration of piano playing action with uncanny precision. “We’ve been told that its feel is like playing a regular acoustic piano,” Barg says.
Meanwhile, the four-foot length of the AVANTGRAND’s N3 version gives it a space-saving advantage over traditional pianos, many of which are more than 11 feet long.
Pianos, guitars, percussion, and more
The introduction of digital instruments represents not only a significant expansion to Yamaha’s line of products but also proof of the music maker’s market savvy. Nearly every Yamaha instrument—from guitars to pianos—now has a digital version. “The versatility of these instruments is making them highly popular among our consumers,” Barg says. “Our digital drums, for instance, are nearly surpassing their acoustic cousins in sales revenues.”
One highly popular feature of these products is the option for silent play. “Let’s say you live in an apartment complex where noise must be limited,” Barg says. “It is possible to plug in your instrument and, thanks to advanced software, practice your drum licks while wearing headphones that clearly and accurately convey the sound as if you were playing live.”
Similarly, a DTX Electronic Drum kit can be connected to an iPod or similar device to play along with favourite tunes. Conversely, a silent guitar can connect to an amplification system to produce that “arena-style” quality of sound.
Such options have actually succeeded in broadening Yamaha’s customer base. “Now apartment dwellers and condominium owners can play music without the fear of harassing neighbours—it has done much to bring in a whole new audience of musicians who perform at all levels.”
Music production synthesizers
While synthesizers have long been a mainstay in music production, Yamaha’s MOX6 and MOX8 have taken these stage and studio workhorses to new heights. “Both products have proven very popular with musicians and producers on tight budgets,” Barg says. “With the MOX6 and MOX8, we’ve succeeded in bringing the cost of synthesizers down to affordable levels—with the entry price in the $1,000 range—while also equipping them with many of the best high-end features found on Yamaha’s more expensive models.”
As a result, the MOX6 and MOX8 not only faithfully reproduce traditional musical instruments, such as trumpets and pianos, but also expertly mix both live and recorded music. “You end up with studio productions that please even the most discerning music listener,” Barg maintains.