Porta | FM Toy Keys
Porta is a sampled Yamaha PSS-480 for Ableton Live and Logic Pro X. Although the PSS-480 has the appearance of an inexpensive toy keyboard, it possesses a 2-operator FM synth chip, and allows the user to program custom patches. Think of it like a DX7, only with two oscillators instead of six. The synth has vibrato, reverb and sustain effects, and also boasts a rhythm machine, auto accompaniment, a sequencer, and MIDI capabilities - not bad for a small keyboard!
Phoenix are the most prominent users of the PSS-480, with their bassist Deck d'Arcy using one as his main keyboard at virtually every Phoenix live show. You can hear the Portasound in the songs Girlfriend, Rome, 1901, Entertainment, and loads more.
In my Reverb.com article Recreating Phoenix’s Synths with Software Instruments I looked at several of Phoenix’s toy keyboard songs, and created patches in Arturia Mini V emulating them. However, I still wanted to explore some of their sounds further, so I started buying some of the same toy keyboards as them, and now you can have access to all these sounds too. This pack contains all 100 patches from the 480, each one customized to sound amazing out-the-box, but still be customizable.
“What we love is to use either very, very cheap instruments, or very high quality ones. We don’t like thinking in the middle... We bought this one, and the whole series. We have something like 20 small keyboards. We bought all of them on eBay.”
Artwork by Andreia Calhau.
In this pack, I’ve sampled all 100 preset voices of the PSS-480 and recreated much of the keyboards functionality within Ableton Live and Logic Pro X. The vibrato, sustain, reverb and portamento effects have all been modelled on the hardware’s effects. Whereas the hardware effects have simple on/off controls, here the effects are adjustable. I’ve added a tone knob and optional velocity-sensitivity, two features absent in the hardware, and two extra effects for each instrument. These range from chorus and psychedelic delay for the pads, to overdrive to make some of the bass patches more driven.
All sounds other than drums made with Porta instruments and their built-in effects.