Yamaha SY-85 | Vintage Synth Explorer

Yamaha • SY-85

Yamaha SY-85 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 SY-85. 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 SY-85 was a powerful workstation keyboard capable of some great sounds and full arrangements.

It’s a 16-part multitimbral MIDI synth with a nicely weighted 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 5×5 mode selection matrix which enhances operation by allowing fast easy access to any of the SY-85’s modes. In addition to pitch & modulation wheels and dual output level controls, the SY-85 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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Posted 84 days ago

It’s 2010 and the SY85 is still a fantastic synthesizer. Even though it lacks FM synthesis (compared to SY77/99). Resonant filters, great FX, charming sound. I like and use it regularly.

All of my thoughts here:
http://solasistim.wordpress.com/2010/02/04/yamaha-sy85- workstation-synthesizer/

The Ghoul
Posted 91 days ago

I still use one of these, with a DX7IIFD to write all the sequences for my industrial band (2010). Yes the sequencer is limited but it all goes to the laptop for live so what does it matter?

Mark Holley
Posted 101 days ago

I’ve owned this board since they first came out…. has served me well. I still use it today, mainly for pads, filter sweeps, strings, and comping sounds… also out of all the boards I own, I use the SY85 for emulating a sax… I have a killer sax patch that I tweaked over the years and it just wails… I also own an SY-99 and a S-30…… also have a Roland JV1010 and a Korg… but the SY85 holds it’s own.

fhed cuenco
Posted 115 days ago

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

Posted 123 days ago

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



My first “real” synthesizer, which I bought with graduation money from my BA degree… used it to compose my Master’s Project and dozens of cool yugenro tracks from ’92-2002 or so…

Then it just disappeared… I think somebody stole it from the Lotus Cup after an OEE (Ornamental Ether Experience) show… unfortunately I didn’t even realize it was missing for several weeks, so un-materialistic I had become…

I hope whoever has my SY85 is really enjoying it and making beautiful music with it… I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you…

Posted via web from Keith’s posterous

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