Yamaha FS1R

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FS1R
Manufactured by Yamaha
Dates 1998 - 2000
Price List US$1,000 Retail US$400
Technical specifications
Polyphony 32 voices
Timbrality 4
Oscillator 16 (8 pitched, 8 unpitched), each with:
- attenuation envelope
- frequency envelope
One common pitch envelope
LFO 2
Synthesis type Digital Frequency modulation,
Formant synthesis,
Subtractive synthesis
Filter Resonant multimode filter with envelope generator
Aftertouch Yes
Velocity sensitive Yes
Memory 1408 factory voices,
128 user voices,
384 factory performances,
128 user performances
Effects 1 insert, 2 send
Input/output
Keyboard none
External control MIDI

The Yamaha FS1R is a sound synthesizer manufactured by the Yamaha Corporation from 1998 to 2000. Based on Formant synthesis, it also has FM synthesis capabilities similar to the DX range. Its editing involves 2,000+ parameters in any one 'performance', prompting the creation of a number of third party freeware programming applications. The synth was discontinued after 2 years, probably in part due to its complexity (particularly the formant sequencing), poor front-panel controls, brief manual and limited polyphony.

Formant sequencing[edit]

The FS1R uses the "formant sequence", this being a series (128 or 512) of "frames" that define the level and frequency of each of up to 8 'voiced' (pitched) and 8 'unvoiced' (un-pitched) formant generators over time. The number of frames limits the typical length of a sequence to a few seconds, though this length and pitch can be varied in real-time with few or no artefacts. Applying a formant sequence to a sound allows a complex, evolving sound to be programmed in a relatively short time. 90 formant sequences were supplied with the FS1R.

Problems and shortcomings[edit]

A 4 part synth with 32 voices was viewed as inadequate by 1998's standards although the FS1R was designed not as an all-in-one workstation for producing entire songs but as a way to add original, complex tones that could not be produced by other synthesis methods. A very powerful unit like no other in production, at a bargain price for the possibilities contained within, it was bedevilled by poor documentation and offered no way of accessing its most innovative feature.

Software developed by Yamaha to convert samples to formant sequences was well known but not released for general use. Eventually, a programmer (Wouter van Nifterick, see FS1R utilities below) produced a freeware alternative and users could finally access all the unit's power, a number of years after its initial release. Rumours abounded of a 'FS2R' successor, with a USB port to connect to a Windows PC/Macintosh equipped with suitable editing software, but no such machine was forthcoming.

Notable users[edit]

External links[edit]