Design

Yamaha's digital sax could make Lisa Simpson cool

The YDS-150 allows you to practice whenever you want.

Yamaha

On Thursday, Yamaha announced a new saxophone with digital perks and traditional looks. The YDS-150 both allows long-time saxophonists to practice without disturbing the peace and for novices to get effortless sax sounds. The sexy sax will be available starting October 30 for $1,078, possibly giving you enough time to learn “Careless Whisper” before the year’s end.

The digital sax wave — Though the YDS-150 isn’t the first digital saxophone, it’ll definitely be the first market-ready version that doesn’t jump into futuristic design with both feet like Roland’s AE-10. Israeli startup EMEO and Odisei Music’s mini sax also embrace the classic look of a saxophone while allowing for the modern convenience of a digital instrument. Both hedge their bets, however, relegating themselves as practice instruments.

Yamaha comes out swinging — Yamaha positions its digital sax in the realm of Roland’s digital wind instruments for beginners, as a helpful a practice instrument, and as a very good saxophone, period. The brass mouthpiece allows you to just play without needing to master embouchure (mouth shape) as long as your fingers are in the right place.

Great for pros, too — For veteran players, Yamaha’s patented Integrated Bell Acoustic System (IBAS) provides physical feedback comparable to acoustic saxophone. The sounds themselves are pulled from Yamaha’s own alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones for 56 saxophone voices to complement an additional 17 synthesized sounds. Volume and tone can be adjusted through modulating your breathing technique and the saxophone is a traditional length for optimal balance.

As a practice instrument, the YDS-150 allows players to plug in or Bluetooth pair their headphones — much to the delight of neighbors, surely. No matter how good you are, there’s only so many times you can listen to someone practice the same song. The companion app allows for additional volume and tone tweaks, and even allows for fingering adjustments. Saxy.