Technics WSA1 :: Similarities to the Yamaha VP1
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Similarities to the Yamaha VP1

OK, I just learned that the very, very rare Yamaha VP1 synthesizer uses samples for the Drivers, it doesn't use a mathematical model like the VL1 does. That feature makes it more like the WSA1R than I had anticipated... I'm in the process of getting my h…

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Similarities to the Yamaha VP1

javelin276

javelin276
United States

Total Posts: 40
Joined: January 2, 2018

OK, I just learned that the very, very rare Yamaha VP1 synthesizer uses samples for the Drivers, it doesn't use a mathematical model like the VL1 does. That feature makes it more like the WSA1R than I had anticipated... I'm in the process of getting my hands on an old Mac so I can run the VP1 editor so I can obtain a list of Drivers for the VP1. I know the name for one driver, called "Gamelan", from a screenshot of the editor. Sound familiar? Two of the ethnic percussion voices for the WSA1R are Gamelan 1 & 2. And three of the WSA1R driver Tones are named Gamelan. I'm expecting to find that quite a few of the VP1 Drivers are similar to the Drivers in the WSA1R. That means we might have a shot at emulating the VP1 with the WSA1R. Any interest there guys?

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Posted on March 4, 2020 at 4:06 AM
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javelin276

javelin276
United States

Total Posts: 40
Joined: January 2, 2018

Re: Similarities to the Yamaha VP1

OK, I got the VP1 Drivers list out of the Mac editor, there are 75 different drivers. A number of them are specialized waveforms, but the majority are recognizable sounds like the WSA1R. The WSA1R has 302 because of a large number of percussion sounds, but there are still more than twice as many as the VP1 contains. The one parameter the WSA1R doesn't have is the Inharmonicity parameter, which fans out the harmonics in a very unique way. I've never seen anything alter the harmonics quite the way the VP1 does. A few of the patches we could replicate on the WSA1R, but most of the signature ones we can't. I researched Inharmonicity also, and did some of my own experimenting on real instruments using a spectrum analyzer.

The Piano is the most inharmonic instrument I found, probably the inspiration for the VP1. The VP1 however, can warp the harmonics far beyond what you see in a Piano. And the patches are also generally backwards to a real instrument. In a Violin or Mandolin the inharmonicity lowers as you go higher up in the instrument's register. In the VP1, the patches get more inharmonic as you go higher up the keyboard. Looking in the editor, it can do things the other way around, but almost all of the inharmonic patches go backwards to a real instrument. As a result, the patches have a wide timbre range as you go up the keyboard. The HarpBell patch starts as a plucked string instrument on the bottom end, then it transitions through a Gamelan type of sound in the middle, and finishes up like a struck water glass on the top end. It almost sounds like a keyboard split with two or three different instrument patches, but it's not. The timbre blends smoothly from one into the next.

I'm writing an article on the VP1 Editor which I'll post on my website when I get it done.

Posted on April 1, 2020 at 4:03 AM

javelin276

javelin276
United States

Total Posts: 40
Joined: January 2, 2018

Re: Similarities to the Yamaha VP1

I've dug through the Yamaha VP1 in depth now. I personally think there are more similarities than differences between the two synths. I'm fairly confident I could replicate a lot of the VP1 patches on the WSA1R. Maybe not all the controller effects, but at least the main character of the patches along with some timbre changes using a couple of controllers. The real difference is the Inharmonicity parameter, which can somewhat be replicated across the keyboard by mixing together several different Drivers. Really, the Inharmonicity acts as more of a blended keyboard split than anything else.

I also found an error in the VP1 Editor software, the Inharmonicity graphs for setting up the patches are backwards. Increasing the value on the graph reduces the Inharmonicity in the synth. Because of this error, the patch programmers unknowingly set everything up backwards, giving the VP1 a very inharmonic, strange sounding set of patches. There were a few ordinary sounding patches, like the MyBigPiano patch, a few electronic piano patches, and a few Guitar patches, but nobody remembers those. The VP1 can match the Inharmonicity of the Piano and stringed instruments natively, better than any other synthetic synth, but with all of the sample based synths around nobody really cares anymore. If I want a great Mandolin patch, I reach for my Motif, I don't select something like the VP1. So, people remember the crazy inharmonic VP1 patches instead.

Sound quality is a different matter. The VP1 is definitely a high quality 24 bit machine, with very high attention to detail. The WSA1 has a bit less in polish, some of the internal sample loops could have been set up better and the output bit depth is lower. Overall though, since the VP1 is totally inaccessible with only 3 known copies in existence, and the fact that I actually own a WSA1R, I'd say the WSA1R is a rousing success compared to the Yamaha VP1. Wouldn't you?

I've put the VP1 article up on my website now.
http://javelinart.com

Posted on April 15, 2020 at 8:18 PM

javelin276

javelin276
United States

Total Posts: 40
Joined: January 2, 2018

Re: Similarities to the Yamaha VP1

Well, Thanks to the very magnanimous Manny Fernandez, I got to see a VP1 running for real through a video conference! It was really cool! He has the VP1 he's working on fixed and the Editor up and running through the serial port link. And I was wrong. The error isn't in the Editor. The Inharmonisity algorithm in the synth gets progressively deeper as you go up the keyboard. That surprises me, I thought it would be a lot more even across the keyboard. The Editor settings are the patch programmer's attempt to calm the Inharmonisity down, not amp it up. It's still the main feature of the synth's timbre, it makes the VP1 sound like nothing else. I still think I can get close to the sound on the WSA1R with a lot more work. Maybe I'll have some time later on this year to make a more focused run at it.

I must be the only one here interested in this, since nobody has made any comments.

Posted on April 25, 2020 at 6:01 AM