Review of Geerdes Midisystems Yamaha SY-77 / TG-77 Editor & Patch Librarian

Review of the Geerdes MIDISystems Yamaha SY/TG77 editor and patch librarian

Well, what can I say about this other than it is a godsend for those of us who are lucky enough to own an SY77 or TG77, and of course have the sense to still use an Atari for MIDI work.  The program itself is split into a number of executable files, each of which can be run separately, but running the editor itself will also invoke the required .prg file when needed.

Double clicking on SY_77SWS.PRG starts the librarian/editor, which starts initially in Multi editor mode and starts the sysex transfer program, but within a few clicks you are in the voice librarian mode

And within one more click you’re in voice editor mode, and this is where the fun really begins as you start to play with the guts of your synthesizer.  You can select the type of sound to edit, which is either Advanced Frequency Modulation (AFM) or Advanced Wave Modulation 2 (AWM2) or a monster Realtime Convolution and Modulation (RCM) sound.

Clicking on AFM brings up the following screen. 

Here you can fiddle with AFM synthesis effortlessly, everything you get on the synthesizers screen is presented here, but in a way that is not as confusing to just mess with.  Everything you need to edit a voice is in one place, though clicking on the algorithm brings up something interesting…

Unlike the DX series, the SY/TG variant of FM synthesis allowed you to edit parts of the synthesis algorithm, routing noise generators or AWM samples into it, or in the case of one special algorithm, edit the routing of the operators themselves (Algorithm 45 if you’re interested).

If you click on AWM, the editing screen looks like this:

As AWM is really a sample playback system, there is not as much to edit as there is in AFM mode.  The main editing is for the envelope generator, the sample used and modulation options.  However the SY77/TG77 did something unthinkable in the days of the DX7, it brought back the filter, which can be edited from both the AFM and AWM editing pages by clicking on the Edit Filter icon.

There are 2 12db filters per voice, though these can be combined to make a 24db filter with the click of a mouse, rather than finding the right menu in the nest of menu’s on the synth itself.

With all that done, it’s time to sent the sound to the synth…

But before you get too carried away, you must first tell the program what it is connected to.  Not many people realise that there are some subtle differences in the SysEx formats of the SY77 and the TG77, even though they are in effect the same sound generating hardware.  Mixing the data formats will work, but there could be unpredictable side effects of sending SY data to the TG, or vice-versa.

Clicking on System brings up the system parameter window

So to sum up, this software brings all the SY77/TG77 editing options into view, including AWM editing options that are not available to the user from the synths front panel.  Yes there are a number of different screens and it can on occasion be a little confusing, but there are not as many screens, and it is not as confusing as editing on the synth itself.  There is also the method of editing values that can catch you out to start with.  For example in the AFM screen, when you click in the box for the operator volume level, the mouse pointer vanishes.  Moving the mouse up and down sets the value and clicking the left button sets the value.  Once you’re used to it, its fine, but can be a source of bemusement and frustration initially.

I’ve tested this on TOS 2.06 and on TOS 1.02 and on both systems it works fine.  However on the Falcon it’s not so simple.  Running the program with all the falcon features on caused the program to hang on loading.  Worse still, it does not like any resolution higher than ST High, so it’s into the compatibility modes for the video selection, assuming it can be made to work.

And thankfully it can, with the aid of the FalconSX desk accessory, the speed of the processor and BLiTTER can be slowed to 8MHz, the onboard cache can be disabled and the Falcon Bus mode set to STE, when this is done, this program works in a solid, dependable way that we have come to love and expect of the Atari range and its programs.

Progress, who needs it