Synth Site: Yamaha: TQ-5 module: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.2 out of 5
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the Whiz a part-time user from Washington, DC, USA writes:
The TQ5 is a neat little box. I'm a big fan of 4-op FM, and used to use this as a more easily transportable unit than a rackmount TX81Z, or a DX11. It has 100 user settings, and 100 presets, some of which I've never seen on other units. I found the "Wind" preset to be astonishing, and there is a preset (name forgotten for the moment) that sounds just like something Vangelis would routinely use.

The sequencer is a bit limited, but is great for use as a small sketchpad. The effects are limited, but the reverb is great for taking the digital edge off the sounds. One of the effects also doubles the sound, which can make plucked sounds more realistic.

Although it doesn't have full sound editing from the front panel, it does include easy editing, which is the implementation from the Yamaha-produced Korg 707 and DS8. In this form of editing, the four operators were treated as being either two stacks of two operators, or one stack of four operators. The controls acted as if one were using an analog synth than an FM synth. This allows some interesting changes, affecting several parameters at once, and will allow getting to some sounds that may not have occurred to the user if having to do changes one bit at a time.

This box only has one global performance setting, which makes it not as useful for either stacking tones for wind synthesis, or for use with a guitar controller (granted, a limited market).

I usually see these used for $40US, which is a bargain.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Saturday-Apr-10-2004 at 09:23
elektrogeek a part-time user from midwest writes:
This stupid looking box sounds surprisingly full and it has a very hot output. It has all the classic techno sounds stored in it's evil little gut. But this machine spits out some cool organic jazz tones that make me want to spliff-up with Herbie Hancock. Warm, bassy, distorted Rhodes type sounds are superb. Just use the algorithms with 1's and 0's.

Forget the 100 presets (because they're not worth a bit of piss) and program 100 of your own. You'll be surprised. Nice velocity response.

The effects are mostly dung, barring the hall reverb, gate, and R L delay which at low settings can produce a nice chorus effect.

A great and cheap place to experiment with FM if you have never done so before. Just try prying mine from my clutch.

Rating: 3 out of 5 posted Tuesday-Apr-06-2004 at 20:54
Paul S. a professional user from Texas, USA writes:
I've used the TQ-5 for several years on the road for layered patches with my road-reinforced Clavinova. I've been delighted with the rich string sounds, the excellent piano and organ patches and the ability to easily set up the user menu.

This unit has a lot to offer and quite a bit of flexibility for editing the patches. I've used it in recording sessions and it has always provided a bright, noise-free layered sound.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Wednesday-Jan-07-2004 at 10:35
Stress Fortress a hobbyist user from Germany writes:
I've got mine a few days ago with an extra ROM card for the equivalent of 70 $, and sure, I love it. I've bought it since the other user reviews told that it would be, simply-spoken, a TX81Z with a built-in sequencer. This is, as you'll see, not quite true, although I don't own a TX81Z myself to compare with. It's rather the table-top version of a YS200. As it is patch-compatible with the TX81Z, I recommend reading the TX81Z user's reviews for further information on sound character and programming and try to point out the differences between the two units.

The TQ-5 is a 11"x 8 2/3" strangely but cool designed table-top unit with a 2x40 character display with 8 display-associated buttons, a numeric block for quick parameter changes and additional knobs for editing and the sequencing functions. There are two outputs and a headphone jack. It has a built in clock and shows brightly time and date, if you don't edit it for some minutes, which is a very funny feature. There is a card slot, which can hold whether ROM cards with preset sounds (100 patches or two banks of 100 patches) as well as RAM Cards to store user patches and sequencer data. There are 100 preset patches and 100 user patches slots.

The TQ-5 is easy to program, almost self-explaining, which is due to the limited editing features from the unit itself. Obviously, it was made for users who prefer just to tweak a few presets rather than dive into the widths of FM synthesis. You can control a few tone and amp envelope parameters of every patch, but you've got no control of the single operator (which shares the waveforms and algorithms of the TX81Z). There are a few global tone controls like brilliance, waveform and the possibility to select a four-number code for the different operators' waveforms, which can alter the sound dramatically with just a few button hits. There is a LFO section, which lets you adjust speed, vibrato and tremolo parameters and a control menu to set the destination for velocity, breath controller parameters and aftertouch. The FX section contains 10 effect types (the TX81Z hasn't got), including reverb (gated rev also), delay and distortion FX, which sound cheap but give the sound a certain lo-fi touch which can be useful.

Since the editing from the unit itself is rather limited, you certainly get more out of the unit if you program it via a computer-based patch editor. This lets you also load other 4OP module's patches (incl. DX11/21, TX81Z, YS100/200). Using the editor (I've used Blue Bear's Shareware Editor) will reveal some of the biggest shortcomings of the TQ-5 compared to the TX81Z, namely the lack of the TX's microtuning features and the lack of portamento (!!!) :(, but gives you full control over the operators envelopes, FM algorithms, LFO waveforms, and modulation settings. Blue Bears Editor features a so called "Tone Zone" field to try out a patch before dumping it to the TQ-5, which is a very useful feature and avoids dumping after every editing step to check the effect on the sound while programming. I really like the unit's sound (the nice well-known 4-OP-FM bass sounds, expressive lead sounds and crazy FX sounds - you guess it), its outputs are not very noisy and you'll be able to use the huge patch library of the other Yamaha's 4 OP synths. First generation 4OP-FM-synths (like the DX100) are reported to sound rougher and noisier because of other (lower bit) D/A-converters used - so this should be more 'hi-fi' but less noisier too.

A special TQ-5 feature is the integrated 8-track sequencer. Its functionality may be limited in comparison to other hardware (and of course software) sequencers, but step-editing is possible as well as syncing external machines (like drumboxes) to it or to control external MIDI Modules - maybe useful in a low-budget minimal setup for electro or minimal house with a drum machine and another monophonic synth. As the TQ-5 is 8-part multitimbral, you should be able to create simple playbacks. You just have to define how many voices you like to allocate to each of the 8 parts. There are also several settings to split or layer parts played by an external keyboard or sequencer.

Don't get me wrong, when the review sounded a bit negative so far - I really love this unit !- it's a real steal at the current prices, you'll get a huge library on the web for it, it sounds good, it's easy to program and the sequencer is a nice extra in a hardware-based setup. So you should give this cool and cheap piece of gear a try. But I was a bit disappointed, when I discovered that some of the nice features of the (older) TX81Z haven't been integrated (portamento, microtuning) and the instruments' user-friendly design can't be used to program FM patches from scratch which would make it a real killer device. Sorry for this long statement, I tried to provide the info I hadn't when I bought it.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Tuesday-Aug-19-2003 at 17:48
Dave Sherriff a hobbyist user from UK writes:
This is a really nice FM synth hidden inside a rather off looking box. The 'easy edit' buttons mean that you can easily tweak existing sounds (to a surprising, if unpredictable, degree). If you get a 4-op FM editor package, you can do 'real editing with it too. (The Yamedit YS200 editor works fine with this and even allows you to edit the effects). It can do VERY nasty digital clangs and rasps, but can also do quite smooth and pleasant sounds. Forget any attempts are 'real' drum sounds, but metallic percussion (with great variation via velocity) is defintely on the cards. With the built-in effects (which are quite reasonable as sound sweeteners), it's better than the TX81Z, and cheaper too...

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Thursday-Sep-27-2001 at 10:44
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