Yamaha SY77

Yamaha SY77 Image

The SY77 is like having a super-sized sample-memory workstation with the added synthesis and sounds of a DX7mkII. For its synthesizer section it employs a 6 operator AFM synth engine similar to, if not better than, the original DX's. The AFM section offers 45 algorithms, 3 feedback loops and 16 waveforms for creating some of those unique FM sounds. Sampled sounds (AWM2) which are in memory (or on external ROM cards) can then be mixed with the AFM sounds to create entirely wild new sounds! And these sounds are quite shapeable thanks to the resonant multi stage Time Variant Filters which offer the chance to recreate the warm analog sounds of classic synths, or create something entirely new.

There's an on-board sequencer section for creating your songs right on the SY77. It's got 16 tracks, channel 16 belongs to the SY77's built-in drum synthesizer which holds up to 61 sounds. The sequencer can hold up to 16,000 notes, 99 patterns and 1 song. And since the SY77 features 16 voices of polyphony for the AFM section, and another 16 voices for the sampled sounds, there are (32) plenty of voices to go around to build your song. Add the fact that there are 4 independent digital multi-effects which include reverb, delay, chorus, panning and more and you have yourself a classic music production workhorse.

Yamaha TG77 Image

The SY77 was also marketed in a rack-mount module called the TG77. All the same features as the SY77, except the keyboard, sequencer and 3.5" disk drive are gone. Following the SY77 came the upgraded SY99. Its main features and guts were the same however it had increased memory, waveforms and a bigger keyboard. The SY77 (or TG77) is great for really controlling and creating sounds for use in various electronic forms of music and has been used by 808 State, Skinny Puppy, Brian Eno, Europe, Toto, Vangelis, Chick Corea, and Front 242.

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100 Visitor comments
March 6, 2013 @ 8:56 am
Forget that CHEESY demo video up top and watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydZiROmdgek < That is just part of what an SY/TG77 can do, it sounds so much better than preset players make it seem. Dig in and program, it's a sound designer's dream!
February 28, 2013 @ 7:39 pm
Third and final reply to Gary:

You can't actually play 32 notes of one patch at one time, as far as I know---even if the patch splits one AFM and one AWM element across the keyboard. I'm not 100% sure about that (exceedingly rare) situation, though. To the best of my knowledge, the only way to play 32 notes at once is through using the sequencer in multi mode---meaning they will consist of different patches, and each sound source must play exactly 16 of those notes. (Or, of course, multi-track recording! But I'm assuming you want to know polyphony for live performance purposes.)
February 28, 2013 @ 7:35 pm
Also to Gary:

Polyphony varies by patch. Basically, a 6-operator AFM voice counts as one "element," and an AWM voice also counts as one "element." Up to sixteen "elements" of each can be played at one time. There are a bunch of different modes to make a sound. For instance, a sound with one AFM and one AWM element has 16-voice polyphony. All sounds with four AFM elements are monophonic, for some reason. 4 AWM has four-voice polyphony; 2 AFM and 2 AWM has 8-voice, as does two of either one with none of the other. If AWM and AFM are mixed in a patch, it must be in equal proportion.
February 17, 2013 @ 4:34 pm

As far as I can tell, the SY77 was released in 1989 in Japan and 1990 in the U.S. I don't know 100% if this is the case, however.

I paid, if my memory is accurate, $300 including shipping for mine in 2009, but I've been told that was a really good deal. I'd say if you can get it for $400 that's good; $500 might be a bit much unless it has accessories.

The SY85 may have slightly better quality to the sampled sounds, but those are all it has. The SY77 has both sampled sounds and AFM (Advanced Frequency Modulation). I've never really used the sequencer; can't help you there.
February 14, 2013 @ 4:54 pm
what year did the SY77 come out? JC! I've looked at all these sights and no one seems to care what year they were made including Yamaha. How many voice polyphony at once?
How much is a decent used SY77 worth? There is one in a pawn shop for about $4-$500 or so. Is an SY85 better as far as sounds? The SY77 has a 16 track sequencer and the SY85's is only 8, so I would think the Sy77 is a better workstation, but even Yamaha so-called tech support can't give me a clear, comprehendible answer to these questions.
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Rated 4.33 (1135 Votes)

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  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 32 voices: 16 AFM voices, 16 AWM2 sampler voices
  • Oscillators - 6 operator AFM synth with 45 algorithms, 3 feedback loops and 16 waveforms; 16-bit AWM2 sample ROM waveforms
  • Filter - Multi-stage Time Variant Filters with resonance
  • Arpeg/Seq - 16 track sequencer, 16,000 note capacity, 99 patterns, 1 song, 61 built-in drum sounds
  • Effects - 4 independent digital effects processors
  • Keyboard - 61 keys with velocity and aftertouch
  • Memory - 128 preset & 64 user patches, 16 preset & 16 user multi-patches
  • Control - MIDI
  • Date Produced - SY77: 1989, TG77: 1990

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