Synth Site: Yamaha: SY-85 Workstation: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.6 out of 5
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Martin Eliasson a hobbyist user from Linköping, Sweden writes:
I've had my SY-85 since mid-97 and now that I've used it on two album projects, I think I'm ready for a fair review.

You probably already know that this machine uses the AWM-synthesis, exactly the same architecture found in the CSx synths, the A[3/4/5]000 samplers and the EX-series. Basically, the difference being the polyphony (30), the FX-section (top notch) and the ROM-sounds (very early 90-ties).

The SY-85 is a real brad-and-potatoe synth. It's like the whole synth was built to play a supportive part in arrangements. It's sound blends in almost everywhere. When building arrangements, you just keep adding parts until you're out of pholophony. I think this synth realy shines if you play folk/pop/rock and need a few synth sounds or good strings to stay behind the accoustic instruments. If you're into dance music you will have to program it, and may be spice up the sound by an outboard distortion pedal.

Programming this beast is a blast. Not only is it easy and intutive, it's realy fast, way faster than most modern synths. This is because of the eight value sliders placed below the display which all can be used to edit parameters, and if you need more precission, you can use the data wheel simultaneousely. The sounds are very programmable featuring three envelopes, one LFO and multimode filters sounding like typical Yamaha digital filters - smooth and sweet but impossible to get aggressive. There is also a quick-edit mode in which you can sketch a new sound in half a minute, something many other synths lacks.

The SY-85 is sturdy and has a built in powersupply. Saving data to disc is plain and simple. It is a lovely master controller giving very quick access to all 16 MIDI channels when in multitimbral mode. It has a sustain pedal and expression pedal input. Use them, the AWM-synthesis was built for it and the SY-85 handles it excellently. In conclusion, it has served me well and I use it on almost everything I record. However, you may and should buy additional synthesizers to get sounds whith more character. After all, the SY-85 has been used on so many records you will have a real hard time comming up with a completely new unique sound from it.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Thursday-Feb-15-2001 at 18:19
Steve B a hobbyist user from UK writes:
BP - £200 is a good price. And there's plenty of good sounds on the web too. Try starting with the vintage area of the Yamaha web site.

It's one of my all time favourite synths. and once you get 8Mb RAM into it, the sound creation potential goes through the roof.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Tuesday-Sep-05-2000 at 04:00
BP a hobbyist user from Scotland writes:
I bought the SY85 for £200 second hand. I am still learning its features but I have a feeling I got a pure bargain.


posted Monday-Sep-04-2000 at 14:33
Alf a professional user from Germany,Berlin writes:
Wow...this thing really sounds very big that it is standing beside the Wavestation on the list of my all-time favourites It is really no toy...! If you are looking for a great allrounder to buy at a good price check this baby out! It is awesome!

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Sunday-Apr-23-2000 at 12:44
mew a part-time user from usa writes:
The SY85 in my book is the BEST keyboard ever. The sounds are excellent and playability outstanding. The FXs are brillant along with the additional patches. The Organ and Acoustic Piano are the Best (without a doubt). If there is anything I would change on it, it would be to develop a "loop" in sequencing mode.

By the way, I'm on the prowl for a SY85 so if there's anyone out there who has one to sell or "donate" to a church let me know.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Tuesday-Feb-22-2000 at 16:43
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