Yamaha SY77 Music Synthesizer
The SY77 somehow was the successor of the world-famous DX-7. However, it
wasn't that kind of quantum leap everybody expected. Instead of featuring
the long-awaited 8-operator FM synthesis it was just Yamahas answer to the
beginning workstation boom which was started in 1989 by the Korg M1. But it
couldn't really compete with the M1 since it didn't offer that kind of
"bread & butter" sounds everybody wanted. But if you think of the SY77
being a really flexible beast being able to produce almost everything from
typical digital sounds to somewhat warm and analog sounds (no kidding!) it's
the right machine for you.
|Date of Birth||1989
|Sound Generation||Realtime Convolution Synthesis
AFM (FM) & AWM2 (Sampling)
|Number of Voices||16x AFM, 16x AWM2
|Effects||4x SPX50D equivalents
Goodies & Oddities
The AFM section is superior to the one known from a DX-7: It offers 45
algorithms instead of 32 and these are somewhat adjustable: You can program
three individual feedback paths (DX-7 has only a fixed one) per algorithm.
Also, you can route the AWM section into the AFM section and vice versa.
Finally, the operators can individually choose one of 16 waveforms instead
of the plain sine on the DX-7. And if that is not enough, you can feed the
FM output into a digital multimode filter - which, unlike others of that
time - is capable of self oscillation.
The AWM section is a pretty straight-forward subtractive synthesizer
section, not much to say here - besides the already mentioned fact that
instead of a sampled wave also the FM output can be used as an additional
What I really like is the envelope section since envelopes can be looped.
With that feature Wavestation-like or rhythmic sounds are quite easy to
On the minus side the built-in effects are of pretty low quality (well,
SPX50D standard) and the samples are... Just forget them, at least for use
as lead sounds. And the drum samples are just crap - if you want to use
them, you have no chance getting around the Gated Reverb.
What only a few people know, the SY77 has three hidden menus:
- System Software Version information (press [VOICE]+[INTERNAL]+)
- Service Functions (press
- Hidden Functions (press
Is it hackable?
Yes, however it will take a lot of time since the OS is just huge.
Experienced H8/330 programmers will have fun, though. In the mid-90s TSI
Waldorf offered a waveform expansion making the AWM section pretty usable,
but to install that expansion you had to do some really heavy modifications
on your SY77.