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Yamaha SY-85




yamaha sy85

infoCountry: JAPAN
Weight: 14 Kg
Dimensions: 1024 (w) x 119 (h) x 367 (d) mm
audio demo trend price : 250€
manual demo comments

Yamaha SY-85
Music Synthesizer (1992)


Digital workstation with high-quality wavetable and samples import functions.

Last of the SY series now 100% rompler leaving FM and vector synthesis.


info KEYBOARD 61 velocity keys with aftertouch. The main panel features a 40 X 2 lines display, 53 buttons, 1 data encoder and 8 continous sliders for real-time data edit (like drawbars system). On the left side 2 wheels for modulation and pitchbending and 2 card slots.

Back panel terminal connectors:
- Midi interface
- headphones out
- 2 AUX out
- 2 assignable pedalswitch inputs
- expression pedal input
- sequencer click volume knob.


info TECH main cores HD6435328F (h8/532) + HD6433258P (h8 / 325) handle 30 voices polyphony based on AWM2 - advanced wave memory 2 - rompler synthesis. SY85 DAC is a Burr Brown PCM56P + IC YM3029. A basic PATCH is composed by up to 4 elements or PCM sample layers with some individual settings:

30 voices - volume / panning
- analog out asssign
- pitch tuning
- velocity switch
- keyboard zone
- effect amount


info WAVETABLE the 6 MB ROM contains 244 PCM samples at 16 bits resolution.
The ROM is organized in 16 categories for easy retrieval: : acoutsic piano, other keyboard, brass, wind, strings, acoustic guitaris, electric guitar, bass, follk- ethnic, synth, choir, tuned percussion, drums, sfx and basic oscillator waveforms.

30 voices  

demo HEAR piano ragtime

EXPANSION the wavetable can be expanded using some cards usually set of PCM+DATA.
PCM cards are compatible with 16 bits yamaha machines inlcuding Sy55 / Tg55 / Ry30 / Sy99 / Sy77 / Tg77.

ID card name Publisher pic
SY8501 2 Jazz & Funk Yamaha pic
SY8502 2 Rock & Pop II Yamaha  
SY8503 2 Ethnic Sounds Yamaha pic
Metrasound 1 / Metrasound  
Pro-rec 1 / Pro-rec  


info SAMPLE-IMPORT internal 512kb of non-volatile RAM can be expanded up to 3 MB using custom SYEMB06 memories. Up to 64 samples can be loaded by Midi dump and directly available in the waveform table under a special category.

sample import

demo hear this SAMPLE imported from Atari ST speech synthesizer

single resonant digital filter with 4 preset modes:


- lowpass at 2 or 4 poles modes
- highpass
- band pass
- band reject

demo HEAR filter on pad


info LFO
a single delayed modulator (shapes:triangle, up saw, sine, down saw, square and random) with adjustable phase attack and random fluctuation.
3 modulation destinations:


- LFO to amplitude
- LFO to pitch
- LFO to filter cutoff
demo HEAR LFO in action


system features 3 EGs:
- EG pitch: 4 segments + 4 times + 1 rate scaling with sensibility level
- EG amplitude: 5 segments + 2 times + 4 levels scaling
- EG filter : segments + 7 times + 4 levels scaling

SEQUENCER manages 9 tracks (8 +1 for rhythm) - notes/chords can be entered in real-time or step at a maximum of 1/48 quarter note resolution.

internal sequencer Internal tempo range from 30 to 240 BPM or synched to external Midi clock devices.


the MULTIMODE manages 16 parts with individual settings:

- part volume
- stereo panning
- pitch tuning
- effect balancing
- aftertouch can be assigned to LFO pitch/amplitude/filter, filter cutoff and EG Bias
MIDI Standard implementation with full sysex support.

internal sequencer

double DSP in serial or parallel mode for a total of 90 editable effects presets including: reverb, flanger, exciter, EQ, delay, phaser, Leslie and ring modulator demo Hear delay on percussions


main board

- 256 ROM voices
- 128 RAM performances
- 512 KB sample RAM
- 20000 notes
- 100 patterns
- 10 songs

LEFT - Battery replacement: a 3V CR2032 soldered to mainboard.

info Sound RAM doubled if MCD64 memory card is fitted.

Sample RAM can be also upgraded by 512 Kb for each memory boards SYEMB06 for a maximum of 3 MB Kb.


info STORAGE internal 3"5 drive which is a DD 720kb (no HD!) model with frequent issues.

disk drive replacement

LEFT: The belt from the floppy drive, but unfortunately it has a custom interface (26 pins like sy99 ) and cannot be direclty replaced with common cheap PC models.

This model needs either a new belt (few bucks on Ebay) or a boring pins rewiring or you can still replace the drive with a more reliable USB model.

info EDIT classic programmers are:

- Soundiver (commercial PC/MAC)

- Take500 (Atari ST) PIC

- Galaxy Plus Editors

- VED (commodore Amiga) PIC

- Midiquest (commercial PC/MAC) (pic below)
sy85 editor




TG-500 - later rackmount edition
TG500 VS Sy85: TG many enhancements like more ROM wavetable, presets, more card slots and double polyphony. On the other hand Tg500 has no factory internal RAM for samples, no disk drive quite no control resulting really uncomfortable to use.

yamaha sy22 SY-22 (1990) vectorial synth: a mix of FM and PCM synthesis. Upgrade later to SY-35. Module version is TG-33
yamaha sy77 SY-77 (1989) workstation. RCM synthesis (PCM+FM). Module version is TG-77
yamaha sy99 SY-99 (1991) a mix of PCM and FM synthesis RCM synthesis (PCM+FM).



demoVST PLUGIN / SAMPLED VERSION there are some free and commercial samples set:

free sy85 tg500 samples Martin 78

samples DRUM SET


scan scan

Company: Yamaha
Model: SY-85
Class: Synthesizer
Keyboard: 61 keys
Dates: 1992
Display: 40 X 2 lines LCD
Technology: AWM2
Synthesis: PCM rompler
N. Samples: 244 PCM
Resolution. 16 bits
Polyphony: 30 voices
Multitimbric: 16 parts
Filter: LPF / HPF / BPF / BEF
LFO: 1 modulator
Sequencer: 9 tracks

SYNC: Midi clock
Effect: 90
Midi: IN / OUT / TRHU
Storage: 720kb FD
CPU: h8 family




demo Sy85 factory 1 2 3 4
demo Tg500 factory 1 2 3
demo demo disk 1 2
demo piano: ragtime
demo EP: 1 2
demo Clavinet: D6 funk
demo Organ: 1 2
demo Vintage: 1 2 3 4
demo Bass: 1 2
demo Brass: 1
demo Guitar: 1
demo Synth: 1 2 3 4 5 6
demo Pad: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
demo Drum: 1
demo Percussion: 1 2
demo FX: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
demo Choir: 1 2 3

demohave some sy85





edit Sample SHOP
edit Report Error


Switch on holding SHIFT + STORE then EXIT. You are in TEST MODE - In the menu select option number 44, the factory set. Now you need to reload factory sound, see below.


FACTORY Sy85 SOUNDS includes disk file and sysex exclusives if your drive is broken


- free samples set



main board


sample import



motherboard logo ymw266f eprom
underrated bread and butter
Underrated Bread butters


REVIEW "A synth, a sequencer, a sampler, a true workstation! impressive at that time, but romplers are now out of business... sad! give them a try, they do still have guts! "

manual manual
-real-time controls -heavy
- a lot of bread and butters sounds
- wavetable is getting old
-synthesis functions -sample limitation

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all snapshots*, sounds, texts copyright Polynominal.com / Eric Pochesci - polynominal.com is not associated or affiliated with Yahama in any manner.
* cards picture from ebay auction * scan brochure copyright Yamaha Corp.


Yamaha SY-85 Yamaha SY-85
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