Thought I would put down some thoughts and a few of things you will encounter when you first sit down behind a Motif XS. These observations hopefully will give you some insight into what is new, different and exciting about this new instrument. If you are new to the Motif-series or if you are a veteran, you will hopefully find this Tour of value.
The front panel can be intimidating to a newcomer… at least until you begin to speak the language of the product. If you are a veteran Motif user then, by now, you are used to the words and some of the concepts – these have not changed. The Motif XS is still all about music creation.
On the front panel you will find a matrix of knob functions called the “Selected Part Control”. It is made up of three rows of functions, selectable by a button and three LEDs which determine what each of the 8 knobs is set to do. There is a second matrix of knob functions called the “Multi Part Control”. It is also made up of a button and three LEDs used to select functions for the 8 knobs.
The [SELECTED PART CONTROL] in VOICE mode
The [SELECTED PART CONTROL] can be used in VOICE mode, in PERFORMANCE mode or when the Motif XS is being used with the internal or an external sequencer (SONG mode/PATTERN mode).
A “VOICE” in Motif-language is the fundamental playable sound. “A program that contains the sonic elements for generating a specific musical instrument sound is referred to as a ‘Voice.’” Voices come in two types Normal Voices and Drum Voices. When you select a VOICE the Selected Part Control functions give 24 parameters that you can access in real time. All of the functions will apply to the currently selected VOICE. The Selected Part Control parameters are as follows:
Tone1: Cutoff / Resonance / Attack / Decay / Sustain / Release / Assign1 / Assign2
Tone2: EQ Low / EQ Mid F / EQ Mid / EQ Mid Q / EQ High / Pan / Reverb / Chorus
ArpFX: Swing / Quantize / Strength / Gate Time / Velocity / Oct Range / Unit Multiply / Tempo
The rows are identified by the following headings: Tone 1, Tone 2 and Arpeggio Effects. This real time access can be used to adjust a sound immediately and any changes you make to a VOICE can be stored to a User location. In the Motif XS you have 1,024 Preset Voices – these are permanent and are programmed at the factory – you cannot lose these Preset Voices. They are contained in 8 banks of 128 Voices. You also have 3 banks of 128 USER VOICES. It is these User Voice locations that can be used for you to store your own variations on the Preset data or to load in new Voices from library files that become available for the Motif XS. If the actual stored value of a knob differs from the current position of the knob you will see a small red chevron that indicates the actual value. When the knob is moved and passes the red chevron it will “hook” it and the knob will become active at that point.
The CS (Control Sliders) target the Element Volumes of the eight possible multi-samples in the current Voice. In the screen you will see a small red chevron that indicates stored Volume for each slider – when the actual slider is moved and passes this red chevron it will disappear (hook) and the slider will become active. This makes it extremely easy to know when you have control over the volume.
Out of the box the 3 User banks (384 Voices) are repeats culled from the 1,024 Preset Voices – so you are free to overwrite any of these locations, as you require. Any changes you make to the Selected Part Controls can be written to a VOICE and stored to a User Voice location.
The [SELECTED PART CONTROL] in PERFORMANCE mode
The function of the [SELECTED PART CONTROL] expands to work with the new [PERFORMANCE CONTROL] button (found to the right of the Track Select buttons). When you are working with a “PERFORMANCE”, a program that can contain as many as four VOICES layered and/or split on the keyboard, you can use the Track Select buttons to better control what is happening. In a PERFORMANCE you can have as many as four Parts and each Part can have a set of 5 associated arpeggios, each. When you press the [PERFORMANCE CONTROL] button and the LED illuminates, you can use Track Select buttons 1-4 to select the PART that will be under the control of the 8 by 3 matrix “Selected Part Control” knobs. The knobs will always control the currently selected PART, with the exception of the ASSIGN 1 and ASSIGN 2 knobs which will always control their assignment, which is done at the VOICE level. In other words, ASSIGN 1 and ASSIGN 2 will always do what they are supposed to do - potentially all four layers could be assigned do different things in response to their movement. You can use Track Select buttons 5-8 to turn Arpeggios ON and OFF for the four corresponding Parts. You can use Track Select buttons 9-12 to mute and unmute Parts from the audio outputs and you can use Track Select buttons 13-16 to turn the Arpeggio Hold function ON and OFF for the four corresponding Parts. The first 4 CS will control the Volumes of the four Performance Parts
The [SELECTED PART CONTROL] in the MIXING modes
In a similar scenario to PERFORMANCE mode, the [SELECTED PART CONTROL] will focus the 24 parameters on the currently selected PART. This makes updating your Mix both easy and intuitive. You do not have to dig through menus to get at parameters (you can if you want to, however); you have quick real time access to a majority of the most used parameters.
The MULTI PART CONTROL is much simpler. As mentioned, it will be used when you are using the Motif XS with a sequencer (be it the internal Integrated Sampling Sequencer or an external sequencer, like Cubase AI, or one of your choosing). “MIXING” in Motif-language includes the SONG mode and the PATTERN mode - each is associated with sequencing. Basically, the Motif XS is 16 Part multi-timbral and you can access these Parts in two groups, 1-8 and 9-16 depending on what Track Select button is pressed on the right front panel. For example, if you press any Track Select button from  through , the Knobs will correspond to Parts 1-8, if any Track is selected between  and  the Knobs simply shift to correspond to Parts 9-16. This is very intuitive. You have a Reverb Send, a Chorus Send and a Pan position control for each channel. This makes mixing extremely easy and quick. The CS or Control Sliders will shift with the Knobs so you have access to Part Volumes instantly in two groups of eight, 1-8 and 9-16.
Both the SELECTED PART CONTROL and the MULTI PART CONTROL can work while other Parts are playing or you can use the dedicated [SOLO] button to target a PART in isolation.
The [ASSIGNABLE FUNCTION 1] and [ASSIGNABLE FUNCTION 2] buttons are just what their name suggests. They are used for controlling the Xpanded Articulation (XA) Voices but are not limited to just this feature. They can be programmed to be “momentary” or “latch” in nature… programmable on a per VOICE basis. Additionally, the [AF1] and [AF2] can be assigned in the VOICE’s Control Set and applied to any parameter you wish to control. For example, you could use them to preset a specific Effect Send level - say at some point during a performance you wish to add multiple repeats or change the reverb send amount instantaneously, this can be done with the [AF] buttons in a Control Set.