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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56 Visitor comments
RICHARD BALLAN
November 12, 2012 @ 2:38 pm
Great Synth! I bought mine new in the early 90's and still use it today! Very lush pads. Some sounds are weak but have some great sampled sounds you can play around with. Tweeked many of the internal sounds to get what i wanted. Have a listen on Youtube "Cheseabun"
gridsleep
October 4, 2012 @ 2:37 pm
So, you're saying that Yamaha should have gone out of business after 1991 when they produced their last FM synthesizer, along with every other synthesizer company except maybe Native Instruments when they developed the FM8, after which they should also have gone out of business, so that the world can bask in the glory that is FM, and we would never have to listen to pianos and trumpets and strings and pads ever again? And Waldorf! Pfeh! Who needs them? Novation? Off with their heads! Access and Alesis can stay. The Virus and Micron have FM. But the rest of the knobs need to be removed.
Tohtori
September 14, 2012 @ 9:33 am
"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). "

And they were all crap. That's because they were sample based. Samples are samples.
As SY-85 lacks FM-synthesis i count is worst of the whole SY-serie. That also explains its cheap price tag.

I would take SY-77/TG-77/SY-99 anyday, and i actually have SY77 -and i never use any AWM sounds from it. It's FM-synthesis instead is pure bliss.
eraser
August 24, 2012 @ 5:06 am
This was my second workstation after firstly owning the Korg M1. It ATE the Korg alive and expanded my sound palette greatly. Never used the internal sequencer, but it responded nicely over MIDI driven by my Amiga 1200! Had the SYEMB boards installed and added some of my own analog waveforms and better drums. Well built and highly reliable. Very heavy! Used by Bjork on 'Post' (can be heard at the start to 'Enjoy'). Lovely filters. Very quiet output!
alim
August 3, 2012 @ 4:31 pm
@ph - they are dirt cheap these days. if mint/boxed with discs maybe £200. Usually around £100-£150 on ebay (And that's uk which is typically higher than US).
 
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  • Check Prices on eBay
  • The link above will take you to a 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

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