A disk full of sounds from Signal to Noise for the Yamaha SY22 and TG33 stars in this month's Patchwork. Vic Lennard Vectors in on someone else's patch.
Signal to Noise
Voices for Yamaha SY22/TG33
Creating sounds is becoming big business now, especially as many synths are difficult, if not impossible, to program from the front panel. Companies taking a professional attitude to the supply of those sounds are going to score points over their rivals; one such company is Signal to Noise, whose first offering is for Yamaha's SY22/TG33 synths.
Rather than provide the sounds on a RAM card, which is expensive, they're supplied on 3.5" disk in a CD-style case with full-colour booklet and label. Signal to Noise also appreciate that a simple "loader" program won't suit everyone and so supply the sounds in various formats. The review version was for the Apple Macintosh and had the 64 voices in Mark of the Unicorn Performer and Opcode Vision song formats along with the relevant modules and bulk data for Opcode's Galaxy editor. The data is also presented in Standard MIDI File format for use with other sequencers and as a HyperCard stack.
This on its own would be impressive, but Signal to Noise also appreciate the value of the kind of "demo" available on most modern synths. Consequently, they also give you three demos in the song file formats above, in MIDI File format and for HyperCard. Full instructions are supplied on disk files of two different formats in case your sequencer can't import MIDI Files (MIDI File playback devices, for example). The sounds are divided into eight groups of eight, each of which take up a bank on the synth. These are carefully itemised in the booklet with the voice name, comments and details on whether Level and Detune vectors have been used and the functions which the mod wheel and aftertouch carry out (modulation, vibrato, chorus).
The first bank is the Showcase Bank. There is little doubt that the first preset you hear in a new set of sounds affects your attitude towards those sounds, and 'Goons' is, an excellent choice. Pitchbent bells, string pad and swelled-in noise conspire to give a shiver down the spine. 'CMI22' (CMI?) is a pretty good attempt at that infamous breathy choir sound, and 'Toast' is a convincingly resonant, "analogue" funk synth. Next comes the Acoustic/Electric Pianos; while an accurate acoustic piano is pretty well impossible to coax from the SY22, Signal to Noise have attempted to create pianos which sound good in a recorded mix. 'Quado' is one such piano, the slight chorus effect caused by detuning adding a richness to the tone. 'Padul', meanwhile, is a Rhodes-like piano with swelling strings behind it.
The third bank is Solo and Other Keyboards. Here 'Modun' is a superb Hammond-style organ complete with click, Leslie effect via aftertouch and vibrato on the mod wheel; 'Vai' is an electric guitar patch which tails away to a screaming harmonic and brings in pitchbend via aftertouch. Basses and Percussion have various goodies; fat, analogue basses in 'Housy' and 'VCO2', sharp, metallic bass in 'Atack'. The four percussive sounds are superb, from the metallic, ethnic 'Ethos' through the bell-like, PPG-style 'Tinka' to 'Chink', a key-split timpani drum and bell/flute 7ths combination. Excellent stuff.
Synth Comp/Choirs/Strings has two sounds that stand out; 'Astra', a breathy choir with strings whose pitch fall away while decaying, and 'Bells', a remarkably thick texture of bells and strings. Brass Collection varies from the raucous 'Stabs', 'Synth' and 'Fizzi' to the mellow, french horn-like 'Proms'. The Synth Pads/Musical Effects bank is disappointing in that most of the sounds are the type of sounds which you may find a use for once in a moo blune; multiple sounds brought in on a time delay is a commonly-used effect. Directly opposed to this is the final bank, Musical & Special Effects/Drums whose first three sounds could each be used for the first chord of some musical epic. 'Shore' is the perfect electronic coastline sound (complete with seagulls) and the final patch is a highly percussive set of drums.
Reverbs and delays have been intelligently used throughout, to the point that the sounds really do feel as though they are coming out of the speakers at you. A similar package for Atari ST and PC computers is currently being put together. For those of you who believe that the SY22/TG33 are the poor relations of the SY/TG family, it's well worth hearing these sounds - shops stocking them are likely to sell an awful lot of these synths via the demos alone. The whole package looks and sounds totally professional, which makes a change for sound banks not supplied on RAM cards.
More from Signal To Noise, (Contact Details).
Feature by Vic Lennard
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