Yamaha has announced the YDS-150, a first-of-its-kind digital saxophone that’s said to offer an authentic acoustic instrument experience – from the sound it makes to the key layout and the sensory feedback to the musician.

Where some MIDI wind controllers might be somewhat lacking in the key structure department, the YDS-150 essentially replicates the key placement of a traditional saxophone, for a familiar feel to accomplished players and an authentic setup for those new to the instrument.

Yamaha says that users can look forward to an enhanced acoustic presence too, thanks to its proprietary Integrated Bell Acoustic System where the sound and vibration from the speaker unit at the top are routed through a sound pipe to the brass bell at the bottom. The YDS-150 is said to vibrate in much the same way as a traditional sax, with these vibrations carried up to the player’s mouth via the reed-packing mouthpiece and to fingertips through the keys.

Though the digital sax can sense breath pressure and articulation to alter the tone in a few sound patches, for the most part it delivers a consistent sound regardless of the how the player blows into the mouthpiece so the musician can concentrate on fingering and creativity right out of the box.

The YDS-150 replicates the key placement of traditional acoustic saxophones
The YDS-150 replicates the key placement of traditional acoustic saxophones


“The YDS-150 Digital Saxophone removes much of the precision needed with an acoustic saxophone, making it easier for anyone to start learning how to play, or to pick the instrument back up again after years of not playing,” said Yamaha’s Brian Petterson. “From their very first breath, players will be making a quality sound.”

And with over 70 sound emulations available for selection, including more than 50 sax voices sampled from Yamaha’s acoustic soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones, there’s sure to be a tone that suits your style. There’s even a headphone jack for quiet practice, with five types of effects on tap and the ability to jam along with music cabled in over an auxiliary input.

When paired to a mobile device running the YDS Controller app, players can edit the Bluetooth-enabled instrument’s voices, customize fingerings adjust tuning and mess around with other settings.

The YDS-150 digital saxophone, which can run on four AAA-sized batteries or via micro-USB, will be available from November for a suggested retail price of US$1,078. It ships with a neck strap, mouthpiece, synthetic reed and carry case. The video below has more.

Yamaha Digital Saxophone YDS-150

Product page: YDS-150

Audio New Atlas