Synth Site: Yamaha: SY-85 Workstation: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.6 out of 5
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julian velasco a professional user from belgium writes:
Just picked up one of these again. Had one when they came out. Still find it an excellent keyboard to control other modules with it. As everyone else is saying: yes, effects are great. But if you take the time to dive into the editing features, you could end up with some really ass-kicking, excellent patches and that is the really power of this synth.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Saturday-Nov-10-2001 at 06:46
Keoki Trask a professional user from Asheville, NC USA writes:
I just had to add my compliments to the page. I have been using my SY85 for over 10 years now and the thing is as solid as a Tank. The sounds are beautifull landscapes, and rich textures. Honest opinion - the K2000 came out around the same time and over-shadowed the SY85. Because of this, support for the Yamaha went out the window. To this day, I cannot find another synth with a more realistic Piano. As for the interface, Yamaha is still the king of ease while still offering a competitive menu of waveform editing options. Everything in the Yamaha line is arranged like a "multiplication table" or a graph. This allows you to mentally picture the layout of options even before they show up on the screen. Everyone raves about the effects board which is basicly a SPX900 built in. I'd have to agree. I have gone through a slew of outboard effects processors, all of which were as noisy as hell. Even the "quiet" ones. Obviously, this is due to the fact that it is sourced internally, but beyond that fact, the processor itself (enhancers - eq's -verbs etc.) are quiet. I don't know about the rest of you, but I have never really wanted your "basic" effects i.e. chorus, delay, verb. I wanted to get a really warped sound i.e. a slightly distorted pitched drum, or a chorus on the delay of the synth. The effects board on the SY85 is comparible to the tightest of outboard effects processors of today. The sequencer can be limiting. But considering that it was competitive in its day, I'm not complaining. There are, however, so many editing functions with physical interfaces (buttons, knobs, faders etc.) that editing and sequencing is cake. When someone watches me edit or sequence, it's like I'm typing. Here's the breakdown:

Ease of use: 100% (They could not have made it easier).

Documentation: 90% (In making it easy, they leave out some of the repetitive info that may be good for advanced users).

Support: 10% (It sucks...for all you Yamaha SY85 users: help me by making some patches and computer editing interfaces).

Quality of sounds: 95% (Most of the choirs are beautifull and airy, but can be very hissy - I'd suggest eq'ing out the high-high end).

Selection of sounds: 90% (Great overall selection, again considering the time period).

MIDI functions: 95% (They added in support for some of the top-of-the-line functions: MSD, controls etc).

Feel of the keys: 100% (For synth-action, these spring-loaded keys aretop-notch! Everyone who has touched them has been absolutely amazed. They're kind of a hybrid of semi-weighted and synth. Perfect for piano, lead, anything...truely a unique feel!)

User interface: 100% (The only complaint is the standard-sized screen, but the layout of the interface is excellent! The SY85's nemesis would be the Roland ummm.... pick one....anyone).

I'm thinking about adding a Triton to my rack...yes, yes...I's a simple synth, but I like the sounds and its cheap! I am also thinking about the K2500...but...$$$$$ Support's good though.

If you have any questions that I have not answered in this book e-mail me!

If you're selling a brand new SY85 e-mail me. I need to replace mine.

If you want to hear music made ONLY with the SY85 and no other synths visit:

Get one, have fun!


Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Thursday-Nov-08-2001 at 11:42
Justin Payeur a part-time user from Canada writes:
The SY85 has been solid and keeps on being solid with my uses as my master keyboard. I still get great compliments on the sounds today! My setup now includes the Yamaha MU100r and the Yamaha DSP Factory. I do have to say, a downfall for me has been the volatile memory. Mine is still kicking and now I just wish I could find some fresh sounds for it. Being so an older synth, you'd figure some of the sounds that are being sold would be given!

Rating: 3 out of 5 posted Monday-Sep-17-2001 at 14:13
stranger a professional user writes:
I think of myself as more of a Synth collector. No, I do not own some of the vintage synths like some lucky bastards out there, but most of my collection started with my knowledge of midi back 15 years ago. Somewhere along the line I picked one of these up, second hand for pretty cheap. At first I can not stand the sound and regret my purchase. The synth I find is very punchy. After spending a few hours with it and adjust the sliders I can not believe what I am hearing.

Roland makes some nice synths, but that stuff is getting really boring in my opinion. The SY-85 brought a new horizon into my collection of sounds. I do own some FM based and even the TG33 from Yamaha. But the quality of sound on this thing is amazing. Artifical enough to create a new type of sounds. Yet the sound is big enough to stand against any modern synth. Okay, maybe not an all rounder but for $400, it makes a great addition. The drums on this is so crisp, that it cuts right through any mix. and the ability to play voice and performance a great bonus.

I love Rolands and Korgs, but this is a great compliment to my setup.

Happy Sequencing!!!

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Friday-Aug-31-2001 at 01:56
mark holley a professional user from Oklahoma USA writes:
I bought mine brand new... also had a 77, it's gone but still use the 85 live at every gig! Fairly dependable... my only problem is my ROM card or maybe the slot is bad or something... I always have to wiggle it back and forth a few times for it to start recognizing patches??? ANYBODY??? As for the sounds... well I've still got it and love it... once you got the hang of it, editing the sounds is not hard

Mark Holley

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Monday-Aug-13-2001 at 18:09
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