Yamaha Design “Synapses” CMC Series


A dedicated Cubase controller allowing you to combine functions of your own choosing.


Rather than offer a diverse array of functions in a single device, the CMC design relies on a "buffet" concept, allowing users to create specific combinations of functions they actually need. Laid out on an array of uniformly-size panels, the function controls work together to create an interface never seen before.


The slim body of the interface makes it seem like the on-screen controls of the Cubase software have been brought to life. Every control has been placed within a concave indentation, and the knobs given a conical shape that means they are easily manipulated with the fingers despite their low profile.


A monotone body pared down to the smallest size possible. When the user begins music production, CMC units transform themselves, with systematically laid-out switches lighting up colorfully.


The CMC panel brings the virtual interface of Cubase software into the real world. The intuitiveness and freedom of this operating style, which offers users the ability to choose both functionality and location, provide a degree of usability not found in other controllers.

Satoshi Yoshiizumi
Satoshi Yoshiizumi
Yamaha Design Laboratory

"The value of compactness" a challenge that the whole team relished.

Among the six types of CMC unit are a fader unit, a channel unit, and a pad unit. The design concept behind these products was to offer users a "buffet" of functionality that would allow them to choose only those functions they would need to match their style of music production. "Compactness" was seen as being an extremely important concept, since it would allow users to choose not just the desired functionality, but when used in combination with a notebook computer to make music where they want. I initially made models of these devices and shared my ideas on their potential size with the development team, giving everyone the chance to offer suggestions on matters such as changes in circuitry and construction, and on the composition and shape of the controls. When I asked if it was possible to make it 2 mm slimmer, the whole team was able to share in the value I placed on compactness, and enjoy the challenge involved in making the CMC units smaller. I think they were a great team to work with.
There were also some design concepts that went into the shape and lighting of the switches and knobs used as controllers. There are LEDs in the knobs’ upper sections, with the degree of illumination dependent upon the current setting of the knob. We made the knobs themselves concave and low-profile, keeping them at a height where they could be rotated with the pad of one's fingers. Additionally, the switches that illuminate when the unit is turned on have been positioned with a gap between the edge of the switch and the switch housing so that light filters through the resulting groove, making the switches appear as though they are floating. I hope that using this kind of interface will prove to be an inspiration to the sensibilities of musicians.

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