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
January 6, 2010 @ 1:47 pm
I own a TG 77 and a SY 99. One of the best synths ever made, I love their sounds and will keep them as long as they live...!
Derek Cook
December 30, 2009 @ 8:14 am
The SY77 is an awesome machine. I have one in my arsenal and would never sell it. People didn't like it in its day because the sample set was "limited" (not even brilliant for its day). But this is no ROMPLER. The AWM engine can process the samples, so they do not need to be of a "finished" quality". The FM is much more powerful than on the DX series (net result I recently sold my DX7II) and then there is the interplay between AWM and AFM via RCM that adds another dimension to the sound. And the filters (available on both AWM and AFM modes) are some of the best I've ever heard. The SY77 can sound like the analog synths of old or sound very digital, ala classic FM sounds. Take your pick.
December 13, 2009 @ 1:14 pm

"3rd controller wheel can only control volume without MIDI..."

That's not entirely the case. While I've only owned mine a bit more than a month, I can tell you I've created a (1AFM poly) sound where the 3rd mod wheel (the one on the right, labeled "Mod 2" because the first is pitch bend) is for "Flange" and it actually does change the quality of the sound, adding a good bit of distortion. With that wheel on max, it actually sounds somewhat like a grunge guitar. I will agree with you, however, that the 3rd wheel (lol) does not generally seem to have much function. I've noticed a few presets and user sounds where it seems to control volume and perhaps the thickness of the sound, but I think on most of the AWM it doesn't have much use.
Maikel Yeremy
December 10, 2009 @ 9:08 pm
Finer points:

When I owned this keyboard I couldn't get past the idea that it seemed like only half an instrument because the AWM was just crap. The AFM is truly remarkable yet I understand Yamaha's approach - the focus on the consumer market for sampled sounds while trying to hold the flag for synth enthusiasts like me.

Supposedly, the SY77 arrived directly out of the development for an 8-operator AFM instrument with no AWM. This is probably the reason why on the right side of the keyboard there are two by eight rows of pushbuttons of which the bottom row's six of eight turn the AFM operators on/off (meant for 8 operators) ;]; the last two I believe switch off the AWM elements - it's been a while I can't remember for certain.

The only way I really see using the AWM is to upload custom AWM samples, from let's say the SY99...this is why I suggest the '99 over the '77, or at least owning both of them.
Maikel Yeremy
December 10, 2009 @ 8:52 pm
A well to-do programmer's synth. It's the synth I purchased when I couldn't find a Kawai K5000. It's definitely not just another cheezey ROMpler even though it's disguised like one.

Pros: Stellar 20-bit AFM, over 40 customizable digital effects, 16-part multitimbral, 32 voice polyphony (16+16 AFM/AWM), convolution of AWM with AFM, multiple audio outs, plenty of performance controllers, three types of data access: floppy, card, MIDI.

Cons: Terrible/lacking MIDI implementation, 3rd controller wheel can only control volume without MIDI, polyphony cannot be shared from either AFM/AWM elements, Display is hard to read in dim light, hefty, floppy drive prone to go bad.

All in all I give it a 3/5, wouldn't pay more than $400, and highly suggest the more improved and versatile SY99...it's not much more in cost nowadays.
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User Rating

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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