I found this over at motifator.com. It explains more of how the XA (Expanded Articulated) Voices on the XS are implemented and also how they are different from the SA (Super Articulated) Voices on the Tyros2. PS: The original inquiry was directed towards Dave Polich, but Phil (Bad_Mister) of Yamaha U.S. answered the question(s).
Re: Dave P-Impact of Expanded Articulation wave ROM?
Can you comment on how the super articulation sounds are implemented in the general soundset for the XS?
I'm asking because I know there are 42 super articulation voices on the Tyros 2 and these sounds are so incredibly expressive. What percentage of the stock sounds utilize the super articulation sounds?
Reply by Bad_Mister:
"What percentage? There are over one thousand preset sounds alone... I don't think anyone wants to count how many use the new XA Control. But Xpanded Articulation is just that, expanded. And while Super Articulation Voices were introduced in the Tyros-series, the Motif-series are designed to be synthesizers; where programming and tweaking is a priority... and quite naturally the Motif XS has taken that concept to a new level. So it has matured in perhaps directions you are not considering - thus the difference in the name Xpanded Articulation. While developed to help with the "behavior" of acoustic instruments, it goes beyond that and is applied to add a new wrinkle to synth sounds and electronic sounds, as well.
The main piano Voice "Full Concert Grand" (is 8 Elements) for example, is a triple strike sample, but is four-way layer from C-2 through to G5 and a three-way layer above G#5 (where there are no string dampers). The XA CONTROL is assigned to the 8th Element which articulates the Key Off Sound for notes G5 and below (the main body of the sound). Key Off Sound on a piano creates the sound of the hammers and dampers returning to mute the vibrating strings. So although the piano is an 8 Element Voice, it only ever uses a maximum 2 Elements, simultaneously for any one note-on event.
XA CONTROL can also be assigned to things like legato playing. This allows the programmer to specify an Element or Elements to be sounded when playing legato. Rather than retriggering the Element that is responsible for the attack, certain of the Elements can be placed under XA CONTROL for "Legato" and the Legato Element will only sound when you have articulated a legato phrase, the attack Element, if you will, will not sound during the legato articulation... that is, you control the attack by releasing and retriggering the sound, if you connect the notes the envelopes don't retrigger. This is as stunning on acoustic instruments as it is on synth leads and synth basses.
Combine this "Legato" articulation with the "Key Off Sound" - on a lead instrument like a reed instrument, for example, you can have Legato playing for solo lines and you can have the key pad sound articulated when you let go of a note. (Key Off Sound could be the key pad of the horn returning to cover the hole). Key Off sound could be used to great effect and is on guitar plucks, harpsichord quills, Clavinets, etc. and Legato for hammer-ons, etc.
XA CONTROL can be used to create Wave Cycles or Wave Random articulations where each key strike goes through a predetermined change of Element or can randomly order the Elements. The results here can be stunning and very useful in electronic and synth sounds adding a different dimension to your music.
XA CONTROL can be used in precise ways to control what the keyboard is doing - and this is up to you as a performer. You can assign the XA CONTROL per Element and can determine if an Element will sound only under certain circumstances. Say on a lush string orchestra sound you need to articulate a prominent bow stroke, you can assign certain of your 8 Elements to groups, these groups can be recalled when you activate a specific controller (there are two new buttons on the front panel [AF1], and [AF2]). The Assignable Function buttons can help you articulate the change or you can assign the function to a foot switch or whatever controller helps you 'perform' the sound). And, of course, the controller manipulations can be recorded to the sequencer.
Big bowed orchestra to pizzacato; slow bows to quick strokes; single to ensemble; Sforzando-build to fall-offs, small room to grand canyon, etc., etc., etc. Here you will will determine the articulations that you need. "The XA feature opens up enormous potential for realizing authentic sounds, performing expressively and coming up with creative new styles of playing."
How many Voices use it? ... a lot... we'll let you count them :-). All props to the Tyros 2 and its Super Articulation, but the Motif-Series are synthesizers so quite naturally the degree of programming is much, much deeper and I think you will find that playing a Motif XS will present something that you can appreciate from a performing musician/musical standpoint. "
>> When another poster over at motifator.com asked a question about the Big Band samples on the Tyros2 not being in the XS, Phil (Bad_Mister of Yamaha U.S.) responds: "I don't recall saying that the samples are not in the XS, I said that the voicing teams are different - and therefore the Voices are bound to be somewhat different. Certainly there is nothing in those two demos you pointed out that could not easily be done with the XS Very
easily. I just am saying that the Voices are likely different. The synth programmers will naturally do different things with the data. If they are the same samples, I do not know, but being the same samples is not the same as being the same Voices.
The smallest PSR and the biggest most expensive Clavinova may actually share the same samples. But it is how they are treated, edited and voiced that makes the big difference. They may make the piano 29MB in a Clavinova and create a 1.2MB version for the PSR keyboard... from the same samples.
I do not have time to track down the source of each Voice and its sample origin - and whether or not they are shared by this product or that - it is just impossible to do so. Perhaps someone knows... Just suffice it to say that the XS and its Big Band brass voices will blow you away, period. Enough said."
>> The Expanded Articulated (XA) voices on the XS have been expanded
to include not only acoustic type sounds but also synth and electronic sounds as well, hence the term "TG Expanded System" I suppose. There will be more control of how the Articulations are relegated into each voice that takes advantage of the XA system; which is nice to know. The Tyros2 only has 42 Super Articulated voices, but from what Phil (Bad_Mister) is implying, the Motif XS will have literally hundreds of voices that take advantage of the new TG expanded (XA) system.
PS: Perhaps that is why the new demos of the XS are a little lackluster in certain voice categories. The demos could have been made hastily and thus some of the voices we heard were not taking advantage of the Articulated system or were not using any EQ effects, etc. Maybe Yamaha is just warming us up a little to the sounds on the XS and will pull out all the stops at NAMM and thereby making the public astounded by the prospects of what could be accomplished soundwise with the Motif XS. The Mp3 demos, on the other hand, may not really reflect how good the XS will sound live and in person. When Phil (Bad_Mister) talks about how "you will be blown away" by the XS, it leads me to believe there is another side to the XS that we haven't heard in some of the sounds from those first few .mp3 demos. BTW, I could count several
sounds on those demos that to me were excellent. So I can't really judge fairly by those demos alone about some of the voices that didn't seem like a real bump up in quality from the ES. With User
control over the (XA) system we might just be seeing the tip of the iceberg in regards to what the Motif XS can really do and how good it can really
Let's hope so...