WOLF retro DESIGN REVIEW.15th July 2022
Retro and gold, is there a better vintage display piece from the early 80s that can offer hours of alternative entertainment?
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.
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.
The PS-55 was a 49 key home keyboard released in 1983.
Price and Availability.
With an original price tag of 529 pounds, it had to be special, and many reviews have argued that it was one of the most sophisticated small home keyboards at that time. Today you would pay anywhere from $100 to $200 for a good one. You might pay more for one with original case, cover, manual and stand.
The PS-55 was the top of a range which included four smaller models – the PS-35, PS-25, and the PS-15. There was also a very unique limited-edition PS-55S, made in silver with silver-coloured keys.
First impression/ Delight
The PS-55 is simple and economic in size, but there is an elegance to its simplicity. Further to its minimalistic geometry it has a two-toned colour scheme that gives very retro feel. We like that a lot!
Exterior Design Review
Everything is flat linear and at 90 degrees. A darker toned top panel runs the full length of the unit and incorporates all the controllers. Below this is the 49 key keyboard with speakers either side. This is housed in a champagne gold casing. It’s a classy colour combo and helps the PS-55 to match its price tag as a quality instrument and not a toy.
Although very square overall, the corners and edges are rounded off to feel more soft and friendly. We like the speaker grills which are neat and flush. The small gaps between each bar minimises visible dirt in between. Apart from the colours this keyboard is completely devoid of any decorative ornamentation or aesthetic design features.
The PS-55 is all made of plastic but it is thick and durable. We have not seen many with bad damage. The gold finish is just paint over plastic so units that have had a lot of use will have shiny paint ware around the buttons and in the corners
All buttons and sliders were made to be strong and durable. They press and slide well, but do feel rather basic.
The buttons are a little small in our opinion and the way they are grouped and arranged took a while to understand. There is no screen or LED which was appropriate for 1983, but the technology was available and we think a simple display might have made a big difference.
The compact size, makes this a very transportable instrument, and most came with a soft carrying case. They also came with a music stand which cleverly clips into the underside when not required.
The music stand clips in underneath for safe storage.
Desirability / Collectability and what to look for.
The PS-55 was a quality keyboard and the design and craftsmanship reflect this well. Most are still in perfectly functioning order. It had a lot of functions so can seem complicated at first but most people will find it quite fun and novel. The sound quality is surprisingly good for a home keyboard that is now almost 40 years old. Make sure you get one with its case. In the USA the PS-55 had a molded plastic hard case that offered better protection to the more common silver soft cases.
WORD OF THE WOLF
The PS-55 was designed purely to be functional with no frills attached and we fully respect that. It didn’t need it because it was very advanced for 1984. The colour combination is very cool and retro and that alone makes it a great display piece. It’s not large so won’t take up much space, and could even be a hallway piece. Our suggestion would be to find a good one and have a bit of fun with it.
The case followed on the two-toned colour theme as with the keyboard itself. Substantial logo detail in the rubber handle.
WOLF DESIGN EXCELLENCE SCORE = 6.7
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.