YAMAHA SY77 Music Synthesizer Keyboard
- 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
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Advanced Wave Memory Second-generation Advanced Wave Memory (AWM2) offers unmatched sample playback quality. Advanced Frequency Modulation Advanced Frequency Modulation (AFM) provides a dramatic boost in FM sound quality and programming versatility. Realtime Convolution & Modulation Realtime Convolution & Modulation (RCM) achieves a new fusion of sample realism and the expressive power of FM. Extensive Sample Layering SY77's versatile 1, 2, or 4-element voice architecture and complex envelope generators provide extensive sample layering capabilities. Advanced Digital Filters Advanced digital filters provide dynamic timbre control. Programmable Envelope Generators Multiple complex programmable envelope generators are featured. Dynamic Panning Dynamic Panning for sonic animation. Programmable Aftertouch and Assignable Controllers Key velocity and after-touch pressure can be assigned to control pitch, filtering, AWM2 modulation level and/or a range of AFM parameters. Assigned parameters can be controlled in a positive or negative direction. There's also an extra assignable center-detented wheel and several assignable controllers in addition to the pitch and modulation wheels. Internal Digital Signal Processors Four internal digital signal processors provide essential ambience, two for reverb effects and two for modulation. Display and Data Entry Controls Intuitive programming is provided through a user interface consisting of a 240 x 64 dot backlit liquid crystal control panel that makes several parameters visible at the same time. Flow diagrams and bar graphs displayed in graphic form provide instant recognition. A directory helps you locate functions and a unique "jump" number system allows direct switching between related functions. "Smart" function keys makes it easier to move around the programming environment.
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What does that mean exactly? Yanaha at this time had two different synthesis technologies; an updated version of the venerable FM synthesis and AWM2 synthesis. FM synthesis technology was Yamaha's biggest money maker, and was the first digital synthesis engine to come out. What the tecnology does is take a simple waveform and combines a second waveform to modulate the first one. By adjusting the modulation frequencies you turn a simple waveform into something much more complex. Yamaha made a mint putting this technology on the DX7, and ever since then has continued to make FM synthesis keyboards to satisfy the continued demand. The SY77 represented the apex of the technology by sporting an advanced version of FM synthesis that increased the sound quality and gave more programming versatility to the technology.
AWM2 is a sample wavetable based technology that expands on Yamaha's previous AWM (advanced waveform memory) technology by better refining how a wave is compressed and stored, thus giving them the ability to fit more waves in memory while keeping the sound quality of the waves as high as possible. Wavetable synthesis was all the rage at this time, and this was Yamaha's answer to that demand. Since AFM and AWM2 are two totally different synthesis engines Yamaha incorperated what they called Realtime Convolution & Modulation (RCM) to fuse the two types of synthesis together when making a patch. That is right. The SY77 was the first keyboard to give you the ability to make a truly integrated sound between two totally separate types of synthesis. The end result was a very playable mix of sounds that feel right in both performances and in the studio.
So it was a great sounding keyboard... back in 1991. These days the acoustic sounds are still serviceable while the synth and FM sounds still hold a lot of clout. The editing capabilities on this keyboard give you the ability to have 1, 2 or 4 waveforms (either AFM and AWM2) to create some pretty thick and textured patches. On the workstation end you have a serviceable 16,000 note sequencer that can record up to 16 tracks. There are four internal effects processor with offering reverbs and other atmospheric effects while the other two handle modulation effects. The effects sound pretty decent too.
The controls and interface are pretty impressive for its time. A big 240 x 64 dot backlit liquid crystal display was able to show multiple sets of information at once. Dual output pairs gives you more flexibility when doing multi-track recording or monitoring. It's a 61 key synth, but it also has three wheels instead of the standard two; one for pitch bend and the other two are assignable modulation wheels. Default setup has one wheel do vibrato or rotary speaker speed like an organ with the third doing LFO modulation. You also have dual volume sliders, a data slider and a sizeable data entry wheel for fast scrolling through parameters. Pedal inputs are plenty with one for volume, one for expression/variable controller, one for sustain and a fourth assignable foot switch. There is even an input for a breath controller like the Yamaha BC series.
So it all sounds all well and good, however as a workstation can be pretty limiting. The sequencer maybe has enough storage for one or two decent songs depending on how complex your arrangements are. The polyphony is a decent 32 notes, but be careful with those sounds that use four waveforms. They will eat up your polyphony fast. This is essentially the best in FM keyboards out there. You have top notch AFM synthesis as well as wavetable additive synthesis to layer on top of that. Lots of controller options and a decent workstation to boot. If you're serious about FM this is the one to get.