Yamaha SY-35 vs Kawai K4

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Yamaha SY-35 vs Kawai K4

Postby ColorForm2113 » Tue Nov 15, 2011 7:03 am

Both of these synths are available a music shop by me, for about $160 each, haven't had a chance to play with them yet but I was wondering if anyone here has used/owned both and could give me some pros and cons of the two. Im getting a case of GAS and they seem like they would hold me over for a while. I don't think id be able to get both because I would just be trading in some random junk that has been collecting dust. Thanks
Last edited by ColorForm2113 on Mon Nov 28, 2011 6:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
My modular so far: Q104, Q106, Q107, Q108, Q109 x2 , Q116, Q118, Q127 w/Q140, Q130, STG Wave Folder, playing with Moog Voyager, VX-351, CP-251, MF-104M (x2 STEREO!) Beat Step and Volca Beats
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Re: Yamaha SY-35 vs Kawai K4

Postby GameChanger » Tue Nov 15, 2011 3:24 pm

Ive owned both, still have my SY35, but not the K4. The SY35 has a nice grainy gritty sharp lo-fi sound about it, that I love. The vector synth makes it real fun, and you can get some nice pads/strings/and even some decent quality classic yamaha FM sounds out of it. You can also record yoursefl moving the vector synth and play the keys back with those manipulations. K4 is ok, but pretty standard in my opinion, not as versatile. Both are somewhat a hassle to program, but I definilty recommend the SY35, its amazing how underratted and cheap they go for noadays. I believe its most likly because it doesn't have a filter.
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Re: Yamaha SY-35 vs Kawai K4

Postby ColorForm2113 » Tue Nov 15, 2011 3:35 pm

Thanks, yeah the whole vector thing is really what sparked my interest. I was leaning more towards the sy35 but wasn't sure if the k4 had some hidden magic
My modular so far: Q104, Q106, Q107, Q108, Q109 x2 , Q116, Q118, Q127 w/Q140, Q130, STG Wave Folder, playing with Moog Voyager, VX-351, CP-251, MF-104M (x2 STEREO!) Beat Step and Volca Beats
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Re: Yamaha SY-35 vs Kawai K4

Postby Sir Ruff » Tue Nov 15, 2011 3:52 pm

Well, they are very similar in some ways, different in others. Both are 4-osc machines which seperate envs for each oscillator (which I find more annoying than useful). However, the K4 does have a filter (which sounds fine, although it's really prone to clipping so wave levels have to be carefully set; it also has overally fast attack/decay times, plus an annoying "click" when attack is low) and also ring mod (called AM). Both have a gritty late 80s, early 90s industrial sound set, despite the 16-bit samples on the K4(I think it also has more samples?) .

My overall impression is that the SY is better for atmospheric pads (with the smooth FM component and vectoring) whereas the K4 is better at more "hard", quirky sounds and typical "glassy/breathy/metallic" sounds.
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Re: Yamaha SY-35 vs Kawai K4

Postby sawan » Tue Nov 15, 2011 4:20 pm

there's a k4r for sale on this forum for $65

it's great for grungy/weird/metallic, but can also conjure some decent VA pads, basses and leads. certainly a surprising synth when you spend a bit of time with it.
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Re: Yamaha SY-35 vs Kawai K4

Postby madtheory » Tue Nov 15, 2011 7:51 pm

They're both weirdly compromised digital machines. Take a look here:
http://homepage.mac.com/synth_seal/html/ds_tg33.html

And here:
http://homepage.mac.com/synth_seal/html/k4.html
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Re: Yamaha SY-35 vs Kawai K4

Postby ColorForm2113 » Mon Nov 28, 2011 6:23 pm

thanks for the info everyone. K4 sold, got to play with the sy35 a bit and although its pretty insane to program there is a lot of potential there. unfortunately i had to buy a new dryer so that set me back...but christmas is right around the corner :D
My modular so far: Q104, Q106, Q107, Q108, Q109 x2 , Q116, Q118, Q127 w/Q140, Q130, STG Wave Folder, playing with Moog Voyager, VX-351, CP-251, MF-104M (x2 STEREO!) Beat Step and Volca Beats
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Re: Yamaha SY-35 vs Kawai K4

Postby Phenom » Wed Nov 30, 2011 2:41 pm

madtheory wrote:They're both weirdly compromised digital machines.


Yep compromised is the word I think of when I think of these 2 synths. have used a K4, still own an SY35. Both are ok synths, the K4's filter is actually ok, it can do some great string textures and atmospheres, but the samples are old and too short. Also clusters of notes or anything but the minimum of MIDI info seem to be too much for the processor to handle, stutters and delays happen. It's not a terrible synth tho, an interesting choice.

After occasionally looking for offers on it I decided to keep my SY35, but I guess because I only paid £60 and I think it's worth more to me now than I would get for it. It also suffers from the fact that my JD800 sits under it and pumps out digital class in every note, and the SY35 just doesn't have that, but it does have something.The Vector stuff is fun (good job, cos it's a horrible laboured synth to programme, really one of the worst if you want to get stuck right in, a data entry slider would help, but even then it would still be a pain). The samples are short, I hold down keys and I'm almost willing the synth to sustain in a nice way, but it just doesn't and editing doesn't help much (I felt the same about the cheap Roland D-series synths).

The samples are clearer than on the SY22/TG33 however, which is good, becasue they have just enough clarity not to turn into mud, and no more (again, it suffers from the JD800 just below it!) But it can sound nice if you play to its strengths, the strings in particular can be lovely, some nice FM composites as well. It can do the poor-man's wavestation stuff, but I find these textures just too annoying to programme, but the vector stuff is just a joystick wiggle away. I'll probably keep mine, it's not a fave, but for £60 I think it's hard to do better.

I would have loved it as a first synth when I was a kid- I remember a salesman playing its distorted guitar patch and wiggling between the 4 elements and it sounded very cool, so it was the synth I wanted for a few weeks when I was 15 before I returned to my M1 lust...
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Re: Yamaha SY-35 vs Kawai K4

Postby ColorForm2113 » Fri Dec 02, 2011 5:59 am

i got to play around with the sy35 some more yesterday, and dive into programming... WOW what a PITA to work with. the initial excitement over the vector joystick wore off and i really started losing interest in it :o( if it had a larger screen or more knobs it would be pretty sweet. i think i have come to realize i really do not want any more menus to scroll through than what i already have
My modular so far: Q104, Q106, Q107, Q108, Q109 x2 , Q116, Q118, Q127 w/Q140, Q130, STG Wave Folder, playing with Moog Voyager, VX-351, CP-251, MF-104M (x2 STEREO!) Beat Step and Volca Beats
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Re: Yamaha SY-35 vs Kawai K4

Postby Sir Ruff » Fri Dec 02, 2011 8:00 pm

ColorForm2113 wrote:i got to play around with the sy35 some more yesterday, and dive into programming... WOW what a PITA to work with. the initial excitement over the vector joystick wore off and i really started losing interest in it :o( if it had a larger screen or more knobs it would be pretty sweet. i think i have come to realize i really do not want any more menus to scroll through than what i already have


Yeah, that's pretty much the biggest issue with that. The K4 works in a very similar fashion, but I find it much easier to use from the front panel for some reason. The envelopes are less complicated I guess.

Re: Phenom's comments - the lack of clarity and grit are exactly what makes the SY22/35 and K4 samples so awesome... The sounds are PURE late '80s, early '90s aliased, industrial/hardcore jungle oriented sounds... They, D-50 and PPG samples practically define the sounds of that era.

First chirpy sound off this tune is a sampled K4 preset... It's actually quite a complicated sound, and includes that vocal snippet too.

Watch on youtube.com
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