Synth Site: Yamaha: FS-1R: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.8 out of 5
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Big K from CA, US writes:
This is the greatest synthesizer I ever had, in terms of both sound quality and timbral possibilities. I have owned it for 3 months already, so the first thrill passed, and I try to be reviewing it coolheadedly.

First of all, presets are good, but sounds you can make are better for your particular piece than presets. It requires thorough learning to edit it, but one you are acquainted with it, it becomes easy. Learning basics of what are audio spectra, formants and how FM works helps dramatically. Do not think of "waveforms", square, saw or triangle waves - think of spectra, and you'll easily learn to build that sound which sounds in your head.

Second of all, the manual is not that bad as it is often told of. I wrote a software program to control the synth, so I think I understand all the parameters, and the only thing I cound not understand from the manual is what do negative feedback levels mean in the effect blocks (i.e, in a regular "echo" effect, 0 stands for no feedback, and both 63 and -63 provide 0db feedback level with infinite echo repetitions, but I could not hear a difference in sonic quality, and there is no answer in the manual). The manual is concise, but complete.

Third of all, to edit the parameters you will need a software. Panel editing is not easy, and is just impossible for some parameters, such as delay time which changes from 0 to 1365 in 0.1 increments - press "+" button 2000 times to change it from 300 to 500, or hold it for 20 minutes. Sounddiver is said to support this synth, although it never worked for me. As I said, I wrote an editor for it, and if there is an interest in it, I'll spend some time to package it for distribution - please email me at if interested.

Fourth of all, 4 programmable knobs on the front panel are wonderful. They can control virtually any internal parameter through correct programming. The knobs transmit MIDI controller change data, and the controller number for each is assignable. This means that the knobs can be used to control any external piece of MIDI hardware - good reason not to spend $200 on an external knob board like phatboy!

Fifth of all, it has only 4 voices and one effect block, so prepare to record tracks in audio. This was a problem for me initially, but after I get used to it, it appeared not to be discomfortable at all. As an advice on my part, store SysEX dumps of each setup for each separate track, *including* presets - this way you'll just send the setup in a couple clicks from the software into the synth, instead of poking into the front panel. I wrote Cakewalk DRMs for the FS1R, email me at, and I'll send them to you.

Sixth of all, the instrument is in tune, both in terms of frequnecy (so an octave *is* an octave), and stability over time (does not "drift"). There is a master tuning parameter, but I have it set at exactly 0 - my specimen appeared to be in tune with other boxes in my setup.

I would highly recommend this synth, even that it is hard to get in the USA now.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Sunday-Aug-20-2000 at 09:21
QuasiMojo a part-time user from Canada writes:
I've owned this thing for about two months now, so the initial giddiness has settled a bit and I think I'm a little more prepared to give a level-headed review of this thing. This is the coolest and most unique synth I've ever heard of, let alone owned. It cannot be overstated that this is NOT an instant-gratification synth, and if you don't like getting your hands dirty then don't get one. Programming this is a chore (if you look at it that way) and it is roughly 5 times more involved than programming the old 4-op machines I came up from (tx81z, fb01). First off, an FM box with filters and FX is cool enough. That sold me right away. The fact that is was 8-op was just a nice bonus. And when you take into account the Formant Shaping, well, it's overwhelming. Front panel editing is just not realistic, you're going to want a computer editor like Sounddiver (which allows you to create your own FSeqs, by the way - despite what you've heard -- if anyone has any questions about this feel free to email me) or MidiQuest v.8, as far as I know these are the only ones that have picked up the fs1r. The sound is, in my opinion, a bit plastic but I mean that in a good way. It lacks the grit older Yamaha FM units had, there's no denying that. The outputs are very clean and this unit, despite Yamaha's admonitions, is a great all-rounder. The only problem is that it's only 4-part multitimbral. If I had two of these I could do all my synthwork on them. They are capable of startling leads, great pads, bass that you can actually FEEL rattling in your head, and really nice percussion sounds. FM synthesis is my personal absolute favorite medium, but Formant shaping allows you to add a whole organic element to FM. I love this synth even when it confounds me, I want another. Only two things will ever seperate me from mine and those are death, or the release of an fs2r.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Thursday-Aug-17-2000 at 09:03
Florian Hüttner from Linz (Austria) writes:
Yessssss. Meiner PA-Anlage wurde Angst und Bange als ich die ersten Bass Sounds anstimmte.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Monday-May-15-2000 at 10:53
Freshie a hobbyist user from Canada writes:
I'll try to be as specific as I can. Sound quality:5/5. User interface:3/5. Looks!:5/5. Analog sounds:5/5. Digital sounds:5/5. Manual:1/5. Number of sounds:5/5.

I've only had it for a few days but I already believe that it's the best synth I own, but that's probably since it's capable of a lot! Name any kind of sound and this thing does it well. The onboard effects really make the sound that much nicer and glossier. The manual is not of much help and there are a lot of parameters that can be messed around with, so many it's mind boggling. If you are willing to take the time to figure this beautiful shiny beast out then you will love it. If you just like using preset'll love it too, since there are so many and they are for the most part excellent. If you want a synth that is easily editable then this ain't it! Very complex and deep, it will take some time to master. All in all one of the greatest synths to be released in years! Great for any style of music you can imagine...

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Monday-Apr-17-2000 at 11:04
me a professional user from me land writes:
I had an fs1r for two weeks only but i've found out some things about it, it's a damn good synth, which at times you'll love and at times you'll hate, on the one i had(i don't know if it was fucked up it was the floor model) whenever i'd tweak a knob it'd either not effect it at all or drastically effect it, rarely would it smoothly effect the sound, which is upsetting because there's some gtreat leads on this machine, i love it more for leads and basses than any other sound on it, i don't really like the pads(reminds me of really really really cheazy 80s sounds, but not cheezy enough to b funny cheezy, just bad taste in the mouth cheezy) if you like to program or not this synth is great, it's got 1500 presets so for preset lovers yer in there like peanut butter gym wear, my gripes with it(besides for the knobs) are that theres too many damn presets, that i just want to listen to them all and then make sounds, but that never happens 1500 is a lot of sounds to hear, as well as although some sounds are phat as fuck most of them are really really cheazy, and the supposively good acid sound is horrid, my 303 gets insulted when it hears it, the programming isn't really that difficult, once you dive into it, i've found that the most annoying part about diving into this synth is just about everything other than the synth engine itself, i kind of miss it, and some of the drum kits are insanely good, the techno one i love: ) so much fun just tweaking knobs i could make a little loop and have fun for hours...for days.....i give it a 5 out of 5, you'll get some banging sounds out of it, sure they'll be really shitty ones too, but for $400 how can you go wrong?, sure as hell destroys all this va bullshit, you'll get 100000x more use out of it, very versatile

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Thursday-Apr-06-2000 at 03:03
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