image - © synthlearn.com
Another legendary synthesizer - the Yamaha FS1R is one of that breed of synth that is complex, idiosyncratic, difficult - but capable of some spectacular sounds.
Built using the FM synthesis model devised by John Chowning and featured in older Yamaha synths such as the DX7, the FS1R is something of an off-the-wall instrument. Brought out at a time when FM had fallen from vogue and fashion had essentially moved on to sample-based subtractive synthesis, the FS1R packed more FM power into its slender 1U rack space than any of Yamaha's other FM synths. Not only this, but it featured a new, experimental Formant Shaping synthesis method capable of some extreme sounds - but incredibly difficult to program.
Due to these difficulties, and possibly also partly to the inadequate manual (translated from Japanese), the synth was underutilized and was discontinued after two years. All the more reason to own one if you ask me!
The FS1R is a complete beast of a synthesizer. Which is ironic in a way because from its small, grey box it really doesn't look like much. It's on Matrixsynth's list of most underrated synths.
Prices: Prices on the FS1R seem to have gone through the roof lately. Expect to pay around $700-800 on eBay. (Dec 2009)
Yamaha FS1R pic:
Yamaha FS1R Essential Accessories:
The FS1R is incredibly difficult to program from the small screen. There are simply too many functions - and if restricted to the small LCD screen, there's simply too much to easily hold a picture in your mind of what you are doing.
The best way to program the FS1R is through the use of an editor software.
Fortunately, there is now an amazing FS1R editor which can be downloaded free! There are PC and Mac versions. This must have been a serious labor of love - hats off to the creator!
Another area of the FS1R that is difficult to access is the Formant Sequencing. There is also a free formant sequence editor (PC only).
Yamaha originally created a free, if somewhat limited, FS1R editor back in 1999 that had some formant sequence editing capabilities. It was reviewed by Sound On Sound.
Yamaha FS1R Modification / customization:
Yamaha FS1R Reviews:
Yamaha FS1R Resources and other links:
User Group on groups.io
User Manual (English)
User Manual (Deutsche)
User Manual (Espanol)
Data Sheet (Multi-lingual)
Legacy FS1R Specifications / product page from Yamaha
FS1R Service Manual English / Japanese ($25)
Smasher's unofficial FS1R page (great resource)
Yamaha FS1R on Vintage Synth Explorer
Yamaha FS1R on Wikipedia
A look inside the FS1R - interesting archive pages exploring what's going on under the hood...
Yamaha FS1R Sounds:
There were various free FS1r sound banks floating around the internet, however these are now becoming more scarce:
Yamaha FS1R Videos:
Original Yamaha Demo Songs