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Yamaha Burned By Chip Shortages, Strange New Music Machine Revealed

Japanese tech giant and instrument manufacturer Yamaha has revealed that the global semiconductor shortage is still having a dramatic effect on their manufacturing, but this has not stopped them showing a strange new analogue music machine.

As the largest manufacturer of musical instruments worldwide, Yamaha has been forced to make changes to the design of their electronic instruments, such as keyboards and electronic drum kits.

Yamaha President Takya Nakata said in an interview, this is much harder when it comes to high-end audio equipment, which is an area of growth for the company.

“Customers will be concerned with even a slight change in sound, so we need to be very careful.”

Nakata said that despite semiconductor makers ramping up production and investing in new plants, Yamaha and other audio and instrument manufacturers are likely to take longer to recover, as they use more basic chips.

“The supply does not increase, so it becomes a matter of who takes the limited pie,” said Nakata. Said ‘limited pie’ became more limited for Yamaha in 2020, when one of it’s key chip suppliers, Asahi Kasei Microdevices, suffered from a factory fire which slowed production further.

Thing’s aren’t all bad for Yamaha though, as the COVID-19 pandemic has ramped up musical instrument sales, with the company seeing a 14% increase in piano sales.

Despite the chip shortage, Yamaha is continuing to innovate, only recently showing off several fun concepts that have all been “built to work.”

The most notable of the concepts is the Yamaha Design Lab TurnT, a portable speaker that features a turntable-like stylus that ‘plays’ virtual vinyl records off of your smartphone screen. While the design itself is more of an aesthetic piece than anything, it’s a fun way to combine the worlds of analogue and modern digital music.

Other creations featured in the “Stepping Out of the Slate” range include ‘The Winder’ which is a music box key that plays a single song once wound up, even reproducing the “flutter of the spring” that you would find in a traditional music box.

Whilst Yamaha hasn’t said revealed whether any of these devices would be put into production, they have said that the range is being “evaluated”.

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