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Yamaha PSS series
Bang for the buck


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35 replies to this topic

#1 worms

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 09:01 AM

I have an old Yamaha PSS 780 2op FM synth with editable presets. It has a giant keyboard with mini keys and makes interesting sounds, not good for percussion but the presets sound great when you modify the parameters. The tubular bell patch is epic. It has in built speakers that sound really good. Also it has a drum section with rompler sounds. Cost me £12 at cash generator.

 

 



#2 RSP

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 09:07 AM

A Yamaha PSS140 was the first synth I ever got, for Christmas as a little kid.  No editing, just 100 preet sounds with auto-accompaniment and 5 drum pads. Still use it sometimes.

 

I don't know about the 780, but some of the PSS keyboards (including the 140) have a digital volume control, so if you turn the volume down as low as you can and then turn the signal up at your mixer/preamp, you get a really noisy, crude bitcrushing type of effect.  Every step of volume on the PSS140 is just shifting the output signal by one bit, dropping the least significant bit and putting a zero at the most significant bit.  You can get it all the way down to one or two bit audio.  Apparently that was cheaper than adding a real volume control, and it sounds pretty amazing.

 

 

IIRC the 2-op FM engine in the PSS series is the same one that's in the FM section of the TG33/SY22.

 

 

If yours has the "Fireworks" preset sound, that's the Yamaha counterpart to the Casio SK-1 "Human Voice" sound IMHO.  So useless it's actually kind of awesome.


Edited by RSP, 07 June 2018 - 09:15 AM.


#3 Guest_Chesney_*

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 10:00 AM

I have a few. 560, 390 are amazing, bent or not.

I'm still getting loads of mileage from a bent jam I did years ago on the 390. Just load some random shit from it into the Machinedrum and new life is born.



#4 mcbpete

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 10:14 AM

Plogue has just brought a VSTi emulating the plasticy PSS terrible goodness - https://www.plogue.c...th-portafm.html

#5 Leon Sumbitches

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 10:16 AM

Watmm PSS Krew!

 

I have the 570, love it. That bitcrushing volume thing is awesome, RSP, must try it asap.

 

The 570 has a wicked little drum machine and a rudimentary FM section which adds up to a lot of fun for very little cash on t'eBay



#6 RSP

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 11:03 AM

Leon, the bitcrushing only works if it's one of the models that has + and - buttons for volume, if it's a fader then it has a real volume control not the cheap digital thing.  A friend of mine has a 590 or 570 or something and IIRC his has a proper volume control, so no bitcrushing.

 

 

 

Oh, something I've noticed with the cheaper Yamaha stuff from the 80s and 90s is that the power jack have a tendency to get loose ad become intermittent, more often than on other brands as far as I can tell.  So if you have one that doesn't turn on, try opening it up and reflowing the solder on the jack, unless it had some batteries leak in it that's probably all it needs to work again.  I'd do the output jack too while I was in there, can't hurt.



#7 RSP

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 11:09 AM

I think part of the reason I've wanted a TG33/SY22 for so long (but not enough to pay what they go for right now) is that they seem like they carry the spirit of the PSS sound into the "pro gear" arena, all of the demos I've heard have some of that same PSS series plasticy grittiness.



#8 Leon Sumbitches

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 12:46 PM

No bitcrushing for me :sad:, ah well

 

Yeah, I feel you on the TG33. It's the wee joystick that does it for me, like you're piloting an IDM jet plane into four-dimensional crystal landscapes:

 



#9 RSP

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 04:24 PM

Fuck sake, this thread made me go on a tg33 hunt and I found someone selling one with a Midisport 8x8 for a not that bad price, and this is one of the two times of the year I have some extra money floating around...

I've been needing a second 8x8 MIDI interface/standalone router pretty badly since I moved and got myself set up so every piece of MIDI gear I own is racked.


I'm afraid that resisting this is a challenge that I'm not going to be able to face, between how long I've wanted a tg33 (I've been in a perpetual state of almost buying one since like 2011) and how much I need that interface.

I have this vision of playing out with nothing but a tg33, a k1m (at least I grabbed one of those when they were under $50) and some kind of sequencer, just long, evolving sequences running while I twiddle the two joysticks like I'm piloting some kind of lush space tank.

Also, back in 2012 when I was right on the edge of getting a tg33 I got a Wavestation SR instead and It's cool (and easier to program than it's reputation would have you believe) but the lack of joystick definitely holds it back. The TG33 joystick defaults to sending and receiving the same CC numbers as the Wavestation, so It's no effort at all to hook them together and make one massive, hybrid early 90s lo-fi digital pad machine.
Damn it.

Edited by RSP, 07 June 2018 - 04:33 PM.


#10 RSP

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 04:34 PM

Damn it.

#11 Leon Sumbitches

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 02:54 AM

Haha, these threads can be dangerous territory...

 

If you do get it, you'd better justify your purchase by posting some sweet jams ITT



#12 modey

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 10:34 PM

Funny, I've been thinking about modding my semi-broken SY22 recently and then this comes up. I'm considering removing the keys (many are broken and it's too expensive to get replacements) and putting into a different enclosure, or modifying the current one somehow. And then I'd have to fix the broken line outs (headphone out is fine) but that's probably an easy fix. Could probably sell all of the parts I remove from it on ebay to make up the cost of modding it.. then bam, instand tg33 lol

#13 RSP

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Posted 09 June 2018 - 04:52 AM

If you were modding it anyhow, it apparently has a lot of circuit bending potential.



#14 modey

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Posted 09 June 2018 - 04:59 AM

ooh yeah good point!

#15 RSP

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Posted 09 June 2018 - 05:07 AM

Also I think I've already posted about it more than once, but the PCB Saver is cheap ($4.50 for 3 of them with free shipping in the USA, not sure what costs are like to get them in other parts of the word) and I don't know how I ever lived without them owning a couple Yamaha synths:

 

https://oshpark.com/...ojects/xdfK07Ms

 

 

You should just get as many of these as youhave old Yamahas with battery backed up patch memory, they're indispensable.




#16 RSP

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Posted 15 June 2018 - 06:23 PM

Well I did it, and it's here, and I really shouldn't have spent the money but I can just manage it, and it sounds like watching a third generation VHS dub of a season 3 TNG episode.  No regrets whatsoever.

 

EDIT: actually that's not true, I regret not getting one of these things years ago.


Edited by RSP, 15 June 2018 - 06:28 PM.


#17 modey

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Posted 15 June 2018 - 07:03 PM

Congrats! 

 

re: the PCB saver, I'm not sure what the TG33 has, but SY22 has a capacitor instead of a battery; apparently it charges when the power is on (or maybe even while power is connected?) and can hold the charge for a few months after that. I actually haven't turned my SY22 on in a few months so maybe I'll test that and see if it still contains the few patches I've programmed.



#18 RSP

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Posted 15 June 2018 - 07:53 PM

Interesting, I've had a few 80s Yamaha FM synths and they all had the weird, solder-mounted CR2032 with the nonstandard pin spacing that's a huge pain to replace with a battery holder (that the PCBsaver was originally designed to replace) so I jsut assumed this thing would have the same.  I didn't have any left so I'm waiting for a new batch to arrive, once it does I'll open the thing up, replace the battery if it has one, and give the whole case and buttons a good cleaning.

 

Interesting about the SY22, the only synths I know of that works like that is the CZ101 but its capacitor only holds a charge for 10 or 15 minutes so you don't lose your patches when you replace the batteries. Pretty much every 80s or 90s synth I'e encountered other than that and the original Bass Station rack (that apparently uses some kind of nonvolatile flash memory or something) has a 2032 or occasionally some other 3v coin cell that's a pain in the ass to replace (the Alesis Wedge has some kind of weird oversize thing that's basically a 2032 with a different form factor).

 

But yeah, I'd sy half of the 90s digital synths I've bought and sold over the last 8 years or so I was trying to get the overall vibe this thing has, I should have just gotten one to begin with.  Once I make something worth sharing on it I'll share it.



#19 modey

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Posted 15 June 2018 - 09:35 PM

Yeah it's a nice sounding synth. Again, not sure if the quality was improved much for the TG33, but on the SY22 some of the sampled sounds start getting nice and gritty towards the low end (especially if you set the tuning for that particular voice to the lowest setting) like on trackers with interpolation turned off. 

 

Also I still have no idea why there are some sounds near the end of the list that just contain a big string of random percussion/other sounds. There's no way to change the sample offset or length, so they're just useless collections of sounds. I've probably mentioned it here before, and someone said that it was to demonstrate the sounds available on the SY22.. but I'm not sure what the point is of something like that..



#20 RSP

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Posted 16 June 2018 - 06:24 AM

The manual calls those "sequences" so I wonder if it was some kind of misguided attempt to compete with the Wavestation? "Our vector synth has wave sequences too!"

 

 

EDIT: I can confirm the TG33 has a battery, and when it gets low play still works fine, but editing gets really weird.  It works, but the values that get displayed start turning into a mess of random numbers after a few changes, an then the edit cursor starts to sort of creep to the right on its own.  Ended up swapping in a PCBsaver from that free DX27 I got a while back, since it still needs more work.  New battery and all the button contacts cleaned and the TG33 is working perfectly.

 

 

I probably should have taken a photo of the jumbled display before I fixed it and tried to get $50 back since it technically wasn't working as described, but whatever.


Edited by RSP, 16 June 2018 - 07:52 PM.


#21 RSP

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Posted 21 July 2018 - 09:10 PM



#22 RSP

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Posted 01 August 2018 - 07:34 PM



#23 SampleScience

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Posted 05 August 2018 - 08:43 PM

I've never heard of the Yamaha TG-33, but now that I know about it I want it! I'm a big fan of Yamaha 80s gear, I'm collecting their RX drum machine line and their mini-FM based keyboards. The Yamaha PSS-780 is a lot of fun, has a lot of parameters to tweak sounds for a toy keyboard + there's MIDI in and out on it. My personal favorite of their small-keyboards line is the Yamaha MK-100, fairly rare, apparently it doesn't use FM synthesis but something else. The 8-bit guy made a video about it:

 



#24 RSP

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Posted 05 August 2018 - 11:28 PM

I've got a new project going, getting ready for our second show near the end of next month, and it's me playing guitar and x0xb0x through a Space Echo into a little 10" JMF practice amp from the 80s and a friend of mine playing a tambora and a Yamaha PSS560 through an Axoloti with an old Sony CFS-66 boombox as an amp (hopefully, I just found the boombox in the trash the other day and haven't gotten a power supply for it so there's a chance it needs repairs I can't do).

 

The PSS-560 though multiple delay lines in the Axoloti sounds amazing, like some kind of dollar store version of late 70s Terry Riley.



#25 Leon Sumbitches

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Posted 15 August 2018 - 05:29 AM

Having to sell of lots of gear due to bit of a shift in financial circumstances, I'm parting ways with my 570 if any UK watmmers are interested. Would love to see it go to a good home:

 

https://www.ebay.co....wMAAOSwyeJbdAla