The Yamaha FS1R Synthesizer

The Yamaha FS1R was a synthesizer manufactured by the Yamaha Corporation from 1998 to 2000, based on Formant synthesis. The FS1R also had FM synthesis capabilities similar to the DX range.

The editing capabilities were phenomenally powerful, offering 2,000+ parameters to control in any one ‘performance’ (made up of up to 4 parts or voices), which detracted from the programmability of the unit, often leaving users bewildered and overwhelmed.

This video, via Phil Anderson, is a demo of the Yamaha FS1r:

This is one of the coolest synthesizers ever made, and it’s a shame it seems to be not on the radar.

The FS1r was basically the ultimate FM synthesizer from Yamaha, makers of the original DX7, but it will do much more than that, much, much more. It has an incredible array of algorithms, 8 operators, a very impressive filter, and formant sequencing. Plus it works in performances, with the ability to stack four of these together to create some awesome sounds. The internal DP effects are also very nice and smooth.

In a 1998 review, SOS had this to say about the Yamaha FS1R:

The FS1R isn’t completely revolutionary — it features a development of 15-year-old technology, after all — but it does manage to offer a sound and method quite unlike any other synth on the market. Even for those who don’t want to do in-depth programming the FS1R has lots to offer; there are tons of quality presets, which can be easily layered into new Performances and then tweaked with the front-panel knobs, all with no real knowledge of FM needed. And though programming enthusiasts will probably find that the FS1R requires a bit of effort to come to grips with, the results should more than repay their time and trouble. Formant Shaping, in particular, is a serious, exciting achievement on the part of this synth’s designers and a breakthrough at any price, let alone at £699.

If you’ve used the FS1R synth, leave a comment with your thoughts!

Yamaha FS1R Specifications:

Synthesizer Section

  • Tone Generator : Formant Shaping / FM Synthesis, LFO1/LFO2/Dynamic Filter/Pitch EG/Filter EG
  • Maximum Polyphony : 32 (without Filter) / 16 (with Filter)
  • Number of Multitimbral Parts : 4 parts (16 MIDI channels)
  • Operators : 8 Voiced Operator + 8 Unvoiced Operator per Voice
  • Algorithm : 88
  • Effects : 15 (Reverb), 28 (Variation), 40 (Insertion)
  • Performances : 384 (Preset 256/User 128) to be made up of up to 4 part of Voice programs as layer/split
  • Voice number : 1536 (Preset 128 x 11 bank + User 128)


  • Display : LCD Custom (Character&Graphic) w/backlit LED 8
  • Compatibility : Receive DX7 MIDI Bulk dump (1 voice format only)
  • Connectors : Headphones, Stereo Output (L/ Mono, R), Individual Output (L/R), MIDI In/Out/Thru
  • Controllers : Control Knob 4 Assignable / Fixed (Attack/Release/Formant/FM), Volume Knob
  • Dimensions : 480(W) x 235(D) x 44(H) mm
  • Weight : 2.6 kg

Yamaha FS1R Resources:

4 thoughts on “The Yamaha FS1R Synthesizer

  1. I had one. Sounded amazing! Didn't end up using it too much and sold it for a profit. One thing for sure was it had the all time worst manual ever! I have dozens of synth manuals and this one was by far the most obtuse.

  2. Great synth, had one in my studio. Worst interface and manual ever1

    Shane as it is awfully deep…

    Just typical Yamaha OS, all menus and very little screen space to see ll those lovely routing options. Sound Diver or similar is the way forward with this baby.

  3. "This video, via Phil Anderson, is a demo of the Yamaha FS1r sequenced by Logic Pro:"?

    Sequenced by Logic Pro? Uh, that's the factory demo, guys.

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