Yamaha Design “Synapses” MX49/MX61


A compact synthesizer you can carry anywhere.


In order to realize the concept of a synthesizer that is easy to use and readily portable, designers offered proposals for everything from the size and shape of the instrument to the layout of the buttons on the operations panel. In reevaluating our conventional methods of design, we were able to make the MX49 and MX61 keyboards exceptionally compact, systematic and simple to use.


The design of these keyboards features a balance of its assertive identity onstage and its friendliness towards owners, inviting them to play for extended periods while at home. Lightweight and compact, the MX49 and MX61 can be transported easily for performing in studios and live venues.


Continuing the legacy of the MOTIF Series, the MX49 and MX61 feature five lines running from the top of the instrument body to the rear surface. These lines represent the connection between the player and the audience, showing the performer in a more attractive light, and emphasizing the keyboard’s live presence.


The switches and controllers are grouped three-dimensionally by function, allowing the performer to both select and edit a variety of voices quickly. We altered the colors of the buttons and used pictures as well as lettering to make these instruments easy and fun to operate.

Toshihide Suzuki
Toshihide Suzuki
Yamaha Design Laboratory

More compact and simple.

With the MX49 and MX61, we aimed to create synthesizers of suitable compactness and lightweight enough to carry easily to performances in rehearsal studios and live venues.
In order to convey an impression of smallness and of being easy to use, we constructed multiple mockups based on the plans received from engineering. I found several of these mockups to be an ideal size, and presented them for proposals as examples of the dimensions a synthesizer should possess in order to be termed truly compact.
The compact size of the mockups that we presented was more than just an ideal—it was a technically-endorsed possibility. During design, we sent out for many plans and cross-sectional views of other models for reference, and even assessed how realistic our proposals were in terms of their internal structure and the layout of the switches on the panel. As a result of these efforts, we were able to use this mockup in development and engineering staff, which allowed us to achieve our initial concept of a synthesizer more lightweight and compact than ever before. With regard to usability, we did away with the concept of “modes,” and made bold changes to some of the normal specifications in order to produce an instrument easy enough for anyone to use.
The operations panel features four knobs that allow the performer to alter voice parameters in real time to alter the sound, one of the true joys of using a synthesizer. These knobs are something that we created specifically for the MX series. We designed the upper surface of the instrument body in a matte finish with deep knurling, from which the index areas emerge with a glossy prominence. The knobs are pleasantly tactile and turn easily, and feature a design that makes the indices readily visible.

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