Yamaha SY85

Yamaha SY85 Image

In the early 1990's most synth manufacturer's quest to use digital forms of synthesis to re-create acoustic sounds (as well as analog sounds) led to an onslaught of rather boring instruments. Among the mob of digital synths some stood out such as Korg's M1, Roland's D-50, and Yamaha's SY85. Fading away were the days of Yamaha's FM-synthesis, replaced by Advanced Wave Memory (AWM2). Throughout the 1990's Yamaha used AWM2 in many of their successful products because of its high sonic quality and advanced synth-like editing features. The SY85 was a powerful workstation keyboard capable of some great sounds and full arrangements.

It's a 16-part multitimbral MIDI synth with a nice 61-note keyboard designed to be the main keyboard in your MIDI studio, with tons of sounds and sequencing features built-in. It has a long but narrow 40 character x 2 line LCD display and a 5x5 mode selection matrix which enhances operation by allowing fast easy access to any of the SY85's modes. In addition to pitch & modulation wheels and dual output level controls, the SY85 has eight slide controls that can be used to control a range of parameters while performing for expressive real-time power. Best of all it's got multi-mode filters and a dual-effects processor with chorus, flange, reverb, delay, exciter, parametric EQ, echo, ring modulation, leslie, distortion, etc. The effects can be used in series or parallel, and there are 4 busses to route sounds through them. Other features include a 3.5" floppy disk drive, external memory card slots and two assignable stereo outputs.

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59 Visitor comments
fhed cuenco
January 4, 2010 @ 10:16 pm
sy85 is very great very realistic sound. i used it this year 2010 jan 5. i love it. the sound is so good.im from philippines
December 27, 2009 @ 10:12 am
does anyone know how to get a good Hammond B3 organ for this synth? or does anyone has? i need the info where can i buy or get it from. thanks
August 15, 2009 @ 2:58 pm
according to this SOS article, Nick Rhodes had one of these in his touring set up around 1994... (along with a JD800) + the usual.

August 13, 2009 @ 1:24 am
I disagree about the SEQ being hard to program, in fact if you take time to master it, you can do Amazing things with it that I cannot do in Cubase 3 nowadays (2009) ....doesn't make sense...maybe I was just smarter then, who knows. I understood how it worked and although it was limited in notes compared to todays SEQ/Computers you could whip up a SEQ and hear it, and choose to keep or delete it I believe. That's what make it so easy. With today's stuff you record what you record, there is no audition, you just start over after you delete it. I had wished I would not have had my girl sell hers. I would have liked to remaster my old songs into Cubase 3 now. I'd buy one if someone's willing to sell it if it's in perfect working condition. I don't even need to play it, just dump tracks from my previous disks which I still have, lol.
July 23, 2009 @ 10:43 pm
Yeah this was a killer rompler in it's day, with wicked filters. For the price you can get them now they are a nice buy for the sheer range of sounds. A nice layout and surface too. The synth is heavy duty plastic (not metal like previous SY77/99) though!

And yes the SY77 is far more interesting if you are into 'deep synths' and want to program more rather than just play. Both have their places.
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Rated 3.93 (321 Votes)

  • Check Price
  • 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
  • Oscillators - AWM2 (2nd-generation Advanced Wave Memory)
  • Filter - Digital LPF, HPF, BPF, BEF (Band Elimination Filter)
  • Sequencer - 9 tracks (8 normal+1 rhythm) 20,000 note capacity, 100 patterns, 10 Songs
  • Effects - 2 Discrete FX units, each with 90 effect types (Chorus, flange, reverb, delay, exciter, EQ, ring modulation, leslie, distortion, etc.)
  • Keyboard - 61 keys (w/ velocity and aftertouch)
  • Memory - Wave ROM: 6 MB.
    Wave RAM 0.5 MB.
    Expandable to 3.5 MB
  • Control - MIDI (16-part multitimbral)
  • Date Produced - 1992
  • Resources & Credits
  • Images from

    Thanks to Robert Uhlmann for contributing.

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