WOLF retro DESIGN REVIEW. 3rd March 2021
A retro review looks at products that are at least over ten years old from a present-day WOLF design perspective. While the technology and fashion of the period influence design, and are taken into consideration, great design ideas will transcend their eras to be timeless.
Interesting and factual information may be provided, but our review aims to deliver insight from the perspective of a designer’s mind and eyes.
Ready to go!
As with most reviews the focus is on the design and its evolution within the industry. The functioning systems and sound quality are not necessarily considered.
Following the successes of their legendary DX7, Yamaha made a big push in the late 80s to be king of amateur keyboards. They were successful in their efforts and seemed to have stolen the show from Casio who dominated the earlier part of the decade. The DSR-1000 and DSR-2000 keyboards were quality instruments promoted as semi-professional because they had large memories of quality sounds.
Price and Availability.
Good examples exist and do show up from time to time. While designed for home use, they are well built and tend to have survived well. Unlike the top end PSR keyboards, the DSR range is much lighter and more portable. In our opinion it’s a future classic and one of the more collectible amateur instruments.
The DSR-1000 is in the middle of the DSR range, just below the DSR-2000 and above the DSR-500. The sounds are based on Yamaha’s 4-operator FM synthesis. Visually the DSR-1000 looks near identical to the DSR-2000.
First impression/ Delight
It’s a quality keyboard out of the 80s, and looks the part. Bright coloured buttons and LED lights tell us that this is an amateur instrument and not professional. From a design perspective it’s still rather neat and tidy. Though we remember back in the day it was quite an exciting sight.
Exterior Design Review
This keyboard has a main control panel that can actually tilt up. It’s an elegantly resolved idea that is both novel and practical.
The buttons are arranged neatly and spaced out in a well-balanced and proportionate manner. We like the colours of the buttons but their actual design and size somehow feels more like a toy or calculator. The main body is painted in dark grey, and this provides a soft contrast to the light-coloured buttons.
The speakers are understated and feel like an evolution of those on the DX27S. They integrate well, and are unobvious, especially when the main control panel is tilted up. The side profiles bear resemblance to the Mk II Dx7’s with use of corrugated ribs on the front underside.
A digital display panel as opposed to just LED numbers would have been nice but we can appreciate this cost saving. The band of written information makes up for the limited display.
As with all Yamaha home keyboards at that time, there is a lot of plastic but the materials on the DSR are still of high grade. It is well assembled and feels sturdy. All buttons and sliders feel solid and well made.
The standard red LED lights that slightly protrude from small holes do look rather cheap by todays standards, but perhaps it was a necessary cost saving measure.
The plastic data strip across the top can scratch
The Pitch and modulation wheels look near identical to those on the DX7, and at that time was relatively rare on amateur keyboards.
As with most home keyboards, the built-in speakers are a big point of difference. Take it anywhere and play was the idea. The tilt up panel was very clever and cool for 1987. It is practical and when lowered the design feels compact and ready for transport.
It is an easy instrument to navigate with all pre-set sounds printed neatly on the clear acrylic band across the top. These information bands were fairly standard across Yamaha’s amateur range and were a clear distinguisher from their professional synthesizers.
The DSR-1000 and DSR-2000 both have a very unique data controller on the right end panel. It is a square press pad comprising of several segments arranged in perfect symmetry. This was very futuristic in 1987.
Desirability / Collectability and what to look for.
For what it is, what it can do, and their low prices we think they represent good value. It’s not a synthesizer, and the sounds by today’s standards are rather average, but it would make a very impressive starting point for a beginner.
As with all synths and keyboards, the ends and corners ten to break, chip or crack from getting knocked about. The DSR keyboards had a very nice soft case which is worth having, and those that come with them do tend to be well cared for.
WORD OF THE WOLF
Both the DSR-1000 and DSR-2000 and handsome, well-proportioned keyboards that we think are worth collecting if found in mint condition. They are simple to use and would suit any beginner. Many keyboards look as though either the screen or control panels should be adjustable but unfortunately most don’t move. With the DSR-1000 and DSR-2000 Yamaha finally found a way to create a novel tilt up feature. It’s a first for Yamaha and rarely done since.
Rare original silver grey soft case
original manual titled boldly as “Owner’s Guide”
Rare original silver grey soft case
The DSR-2000 featured on the cover of this September 1987 Yamaha Japanese Portable Keyboard Catalog
On the cover of this 1988 Product catalog
WOLF DESIGN EXCELLENCE SCORE = 5.9
The information in this review is intended for informational or educational purposes to provide readers an understanding of how something may be seen from a certain design perspective. In this case it is from the view point of WOLF DESIGNS. As design is subjective this review should only be considered as an independent opinion. Information further to being of an opinion is provided to the best of our knowledge based on our own research at the time of doing the review. We cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies or inconsistencies and reserve the right to change or update any content as appropriate.
The final responsibility of the design resides with the original manufacturer.