Not logged in.

SY99 Music Synthesizer FAQ

[ Login | Signup for free account | FAQ | Buy and Sell | Message Board | Mailing List | Voice database ]


Part One: Introduction

1.1. General Information

*Q1000: Introduction to the Yamaha SY99 Music Synthesizer

Yamaha SY99 Music Synthesizer

tone generation:



time variant IIR digital filters

simultaneous notes:

16 (voice mode), 32 (multi mode)

simultaneous timbres:

1 (voice mode), 16 (multi mode)


76 notes, key velocity, channel aftertouch, zoned aftertouch, non-weighted

DSP effects:

2 units, 63 effect types


Built-In Sequencer

built-in sequencer:

10 Songs, 16 Tracks, 99 Patterns


1/96 of quarter note (internal clock), 1/24 of quarter note (external MIDI sync)


approx. 27.000 notes

recording modes:

realtime / step by step / punch in



ROM memory:

128 preset voices, 16 preset multis, 8.184k Waveform memory, 267 samples

RAM memory:

64 user voices, 16 user multis
512k MDR/user sample memory

RAM expansion:

up to 3.072k sample memory (max. 512K MDR memory), waveform cards, synth data cards



floppy drive:

3½" DD, MS-DOS® style file system


LCD: 240x64 pixels, backlight, contrast
LED: 11 red, 21 green/red

3 wheels:

Pitch wheel, Modulation 1, Modulation 2

5 audio terminals:

Output 1 (2 jacks), Output 2 (2 jacks), Headphones (jack)

MIDI terminals:





*Q1001: Types of synthesis


Realtime Convolution and Modulation (modulation from AWM output)
16bit lineare waveform data, max. 48 kHz sampling frequency
3 feedback loops, 6 operators, 16 waveforms, 45 algorithms


time variant infinite impulse response IIR digital filters, two filters for each element (max. 8 filters per voice)

*Q1002: SY- / TG-Series Overview

The Yamaha SY-series and its related synthesizers in short:


Little Vector Synthesizer with samples and preset FM-waveforms


Module of SY-22 but with double polyphony

i got a hold of a tg-33 and it has the dynamic vector etc..


Vector Synthesizer. 61 keys, AWM + FM, New version of SY-22, I think new waveforms


Synth with samples, resonant filters and reverb and a simple sequencer.


Module of SY-55, lacks the sequencer (who needs it ?)


Workstation with improved 6-operator FM synthesis, ROM samples and resonant-filters, multieffects and floppy. No Sample RAM.

There is a small difference in the filter section of the 99 and 77 machines: the 99 can "sync" the 2 filter parts during editing - but this is only the UI of course. I have heard people claim that the 99 filters sound a bit better, but I wasn't able to compare them so far.


Module of SY-77, with new presets. FM and sampling, 16 Timbres, 32 simultaneous Voices. Unfortunately, no sequencer and no floppy disk drive.

The TG-77 display is identical with the SY-99 display, but the button section on the TG is different from the SYs.


61 key workstation with the same AWM2 samples/waveforms as the SY-99, Waveform ROM is stored in 6mb (SY99: 8mb). The TG-500 has 2mb more, with a better piano multisample. SY-85 has no FM (!), reads samples into 512K built-in Sample RAM, expandable using SY-EMB06 memory modules.


Module of the SY-85 with double AWM2 polyphony (2x32 = 64 sim. Voices), more samples (8M) and static-ram to read samples. 384 Presets with 252 Voices, 4 Drum Voices. 192 RAM Posisitions for 126 User Voices, 2 User Drum Voices, 64 User Performances and 16 User Multis. 24x2 Character LCD Display with background light, Stereo Left/Right Output and 4 Single Outputs. 2 Voice Data Card Slots and 2 Wave Card Slots.

Digital Filters of SY-77 and SY-99 with 90 Effects (2 DSP Circuits)

Weight is 4,4 kg, Size is 440 x 350 x 45 mm.

Expansions: MCD64 and/or 512K SY-EMB06


Here we go: Improved SY-77, more keys (76), more samples, reads samples through Midi and more.

Unlike the SY-77, the SY 99 can hold extra sample RAM, samples can be used as input to AFM elements (RCM), and last but not least the SY-99 fx section accepts realtime controls, whereas the SY-77 doesn't.

The FM section is the same. AWM edit parameters are the same too . The SY99 has 8mb of waveform rom . the SY-77 / TG-77 has only 4mb. The SY99 has much improved Digital to analog converters and bigger and bettter FX section.

The TG-77does not have the disk drive and sequencer that are on the keyboard version. Therefore, there is no possibility for pattern based tracks (like on the SY85), and hence, conrtoller data can not be recorded as part of a pattern.

The filters on the TG-77 compared to other filters, particularly to those on the SY-85 are believed to be the same. Not sure though. The TG-77 filters are OK, specially for considering when they were made. You can get some cool effects with them, but they are a far cry from some of the newest digital filters, say the JV-1080 or the new E-Mu Orbit. The 85/500 filters sound a bit better, and added and dropped some features (+notch, - separate filter control).

Most of this information was gathered through the old
Credits: Carlos, Dan, Herbert, Maurice, Michael, Paul, Richard, Sergio, Tony and many many more...


Synthesizer Workstations SY-22 SY-35 SY-55 SY-77 SY-85 SY-99
Release date (quarter) 1991 1st 1992 3rd
AFM2 synthesis Vector FM
4 Op.
Vector FM
4 Op.
6 Op.
6 Op.
AWM2 synthesis 12bit
16bit (?)
16 voices
16 voices
16 voices
30 voices
16 voices
Sample ROM (Voices) ? ? ? ? 6M (244) 8M
Built-In Sample RAM no ? ? no ? 512K
Sample RAM Expansion no ? ? no ? yes
SIMM support no ? ? no ? no
Built-In Sequencer ? ? yes ? ? yes
Internal Disk Drive ? ? ? 3½” DD 3½” DD 3½” DD
Number of keys ? 61 keys ? 61 keys 61 keys 76 keys
Rackmount Modules TG-33 TG-55 TG-77 TG-500
Release date (quarter) ? ? ? ?
Rackmount of 2x SY-22 1x SY-55 1x SY-77 2x SY-85
AFM2 synthesis ? ? yes ?
AWM2 synthesis 12bit
32 voices
? yes 16bit
64 voices
Sample ROM (voices) ? ? ? 8M
Built-In Sample RAM ? ? no 512K
Sample RAM Expansion ? ? no 2x 0.5M
SIMM support ? ? no no
Sequencer ? no no no
Disk Drive ? ? no ?
rack spaces ? ? 3 ?
This list is under construction. ? ? 3 ?



*Q1010: Future improvements we wanna see !

BTW: This topic is NOT meant to be taken seriously unless you are developing synthesizers for Yamaha ;-)

Top 10 "realistic" improvements we would like to see:

1. a faster (!!!) disk drive
2. better preset voices (not such ZoZoid-fancy stuff)
3. preset voices & preset drumsets in a somehow GM-sorted style
4. more voices per bank (128 instead of 64)
5. no more Bank D criteria (four-element voices & drumsets)
6. increased polyphony (64 or even 128)
7. sequencer contents should be non-volatile
8. cheaper SYEMB-05 RAM expansions
9. more analog outputs (aren't four enough ?)
10. a Preset2 Multi Bank (another 16 ROM multis noone cares)


Top 10 rather "unreal" improvements we dream of:

1. a disk drive that supports 1,44M HD floppy disks
2. SIMM support for memory expansions
3. SCSI hard drive support
4. PCMCIA support for memory expansions and a external (hard) disk drive
5. analog inputs, direct sampling capability
6. digital I/O
7. C++ source libraries to program the synth via MIDI
8. ...
9. ...
10. ... (submit your own improvements)

Intro Hardware Howto Stuff Reference

This is a non-commercial site. However, maintenance is provided and fees for web hosting and domain registration are paid by friendly individuals. If you like this site, then feel free to donate using PayPal. We also accept micropayments, so we can drink a free beer once in a while ;-) Simply click the button to the right. Or click here to learn more about