The Yamaha TG55 is a rack-mountable digital synth module from the renowned Tone Generator (TG) line. It made its mark in the late ’80s and early ’90s as a module version of the SY-workstations, sans the keyboard and onboard sequencer. Despite its age, the TG55 remains a beloved choice among musicians seeking vintage sounds.
2. Key Features
The TG55 boasts a range of notable features, including:
- Rack-mountable design for easy integration into a studio setup
- 16-bit sample playback-based sound generation method known as AWM2 (Advanced Wave Memory 2nd generation)
- 2MB sample ROM with 74 waveforms, covering acoustic instruments, drum sounds, and digital waveforms
- Customizable patch configurations with 1, 2, or 4 sample oscillators (elements)
- Maximum polyphony of 16 voices
- Waveform and data expansion card slots for further sound exploration
3. Sound Generation Method
The TG55 broke away from Yamaha’s traditional FM synthesis and introduced AWM2, a 16-bit Pulse Code Modulation (PCM) playback method. This advancement in sound generation opened up new sonic possibilities, allowing the TG55 to deliver rich and detailed sounds.
4. Sample Library and Polyphony
With its 2MB sample ROM, the TG55 offers an array of sounds, including 50 acoustic instruments, 16 drum sounds, and 8 digital waveforms. All samples are meticulously captured at a 16-bit depth and 32 or 48 kHz sample rate. The module’s polyphony reaches a maximum of 16 voices, enabling layered and expressive performances.
5. Sound Editing and Expansion
While the TG55’s factory presets are impressive, the module shines when you tap into its extensive voice editing functions. The onboard buttons may pose a slight challenge, but the TG55 offers a range of possibilities to craft your own unique sounds. Additionally, the waveform and data expansion card slots allow for further sound expansion and customization.
6. Effects and Filters
To shape your sounds, the TG55 comes equipped with two digital resonant filters (High Pass/Low Pass and Low Pass) featuring a 12dB/octave slope. The Low-Frequency Oscillator (LFO) provides
modulation options for amplitude, pitch, and filter cutoff. Furthermore, the TG55 offers 34 programmable digital effects, such as reverb, delay, stereo panning delay, gate, and distortion, adding depth and character to your compositions.
7. TG55 vs. SY55: A Comparison
The TG55 finds its counterpart in the keyboard workstation, the SY55. While the two share many features, the TG55 lacks the SY55’s additional pair of individual outputs. However, both models utilize the AWM2 sound generation method, showcasing Yamaha’s commitment to evolving their synthesis technologies.
8. TG55’s Successor: TG500
As the TG55 paved the way for innovation, its successor, the TG500, took things further. With an expanded sample ROM and increased polyphony, the TG500 became a go-to choice for musicians seeking an enhanced sonic palette. However, the TG55’s distinct sound and charm remain unrivaled within the TG module family.
9. Underrated Gem: TG55’s Legacy
While the TG55 may seem dated by today’s standards, it continues to captivate music creators with its unique sound capabilities. Despite the limited onboard controls, its solid build quality and longevity make it a reliable addition to any synth setup. With affordable options available, the TG55 stands as an instrument of choice for those seeking to experiment and explore vintage tones.
In terms of affordability, the Yamaha TG55 is an attractive option for budget-conscious musicians and sound enthusiasts. When shopping for a used TG55, you can expect to find prices ranging from around 80 to 150 Euros, depending on the condition and availability in the market. This relatively low price range makes the TG55 an accessible choice for those looking to add a vintage synthesizer to their setup without breaking the bank. Despite its affordable price tag, the TG55’s sound quality and versatility make it a worthwhile investment for both beginners and experienced musicians alike.
11. How I use my TG55
As a proud owner of the Yamaha TG55, I can personally attest to its enduring charm and versatility. Despite the advancements in modern synthesizers, I still find myself drawn to the unique character of the TG55’s sound. One of my favorite techniques is to layer its distinct tones under the sounds produced by contemporary synths. By blending the vintage warmth and depth of the TG55 with the cutting-edge textures of modern instruments, I create rich and dynamic sonic landscapes that captivate listeners. The TG55 continues to play a valuable role in my music production, reminding me that true creativity knows no boundaries when it comes to blending the old and the new.
12. FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
- What is the Yamaha TG55? – The Yamaha TG55 is a rack-mountable digital synthesizer module known for its vintage sound capabilities.
- When was the TG55 produced? – The TG55 was produced in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
- What is the sound generation method used in the TG55? – The TG55 employs the AWM2 (Advanced Wave Memory 2nd generation) sound generation method, which utilizes 16-bit Pulse Code Modulation (PCM) playback.
- How many voices of polyphony does the TG55 have? – The TG55 offers a maximum polyphony of 16 voices.
- Can I expand the sound library of the TG55? – Yes, the TG55 features waveform and data expansion card slots, allowing you to expand its sound library.
- What effects and filters does the TG55 offer? – The TG55 includes two digital resonant filters (High Pass/Low Pass and Low Pass), a Low-Frequency Oscillator (LFO), and 34 programmable digital effects such as reverb, delay, and distortion.
- How does the TG55 compare to the SY55? – The TG55 and SY55 are similar but differ in the presence of an extra pair of individual outputs, which the TG55 lacks.
- What is the successor to the TG55? – The TG55’s successor is the TG500, which features a larger sample ROM and increased polyphony.
- Is the TG55 still relevant in modern music production? – While the TG55 may appear dated, it remains a cherished choice for musicians seeking vintage sound aesthetics and experimental possibilities.
- Are TG55 units durable? – Yes, TG55 units are known for their solid construction and durability, with many units still functioning well even after 25 years or more.
We hope this guide has provided you with valuable insights into the Yamaha TG55 synthesizer. Whether you’re a nostalgic synth enthusiast or an adventurous producer, the TG55’s unique character and sound will undoubtedly inspire your creative journey. Happy exploring!