Yamaha TG33

The Yamaha TG33 is a synthesizer that uses the so called vector synthesis. Vector synthesis originally was used in the Prophet VS synthesizer from Sequential Circuits. After Yamaha took over Sequential, some Sequential engineers started at Yamaha and they developed the TG33 and also the Korg Wavestation. (Korg was owned by Yamaha at that time)
Wat is vector synthesis? With vector synthesis every sound consists of four elements A,B, C en D. A and C are AWM samples and B and D are 2-operator fm sounds. These elements can be mixed into a full sound. So far this is nothing new under the sun, except that these elements can blend into each other dynamically. This is done with the so-called vector-joystick: Imagine you have a graphic representation of the four directions North, South, East and West, and on each of these directions is an element A, B, C and D.

Put the vector joystick exactly in the middle and you will hear all elements at the same volume. Put the joystick to the North and you only hear element A. Put the joystick to the East and you only hear element C. When you point the joystick to North-east, then you hear element A and C simultaneously. Moving the joystick from A to C, will blend element A to C, a kind of morphing. So you can use the joystick to create dynamic transitions between the different elements. This is still not the whole story: This joystick movements can be recorded in real time, so that the sound automatically changes from one element into the other. Further, it is also possible not to morph the sounds, but to detune them with the joystick. It lets you create beautiful ghostly sounds, giving you the chills running down your back.
It goes without saying that you can program very bizarre sounds with vector synthesis, for example a piano sound blends into a bass guitar or a strange alien sound. Also, rhythmic movements are possible, especially because the vector movements can be controlled from MIDI.

To boost the sounds even more, the TG33 has access to 16 digital effects like delay, reverb, distortion, etc. There are 64 sounds stored in user memory and the TG33 has a standard of 128 presets available. Further, there are also 16 multis, containing 16 different sounds, each assigned an own MIDI channel. The instrument has 32-note polyphony. That seems a lot, but if you have four elements simultaneously, you can hear max. 8 notes at once. Normally this is enough.

The TG33 is known for its "grunchy" sound, because the samples are only 12-bit, but this is not necessarily a disadvantage. Some samples are clearly looping. Other samples appear thin, but in combination with the FM-sounds, you can still program very beautiful sounds. The TG33 is less about fat, analogue sounds, but more to the soft cotton-sounds that subtly morph into each other. The effects seem somewhat exaggerated, something which is more common with instruments from this era (around 1990). Turning back the effects-levels helps for a more balanced overall sound.
All in all a great synthesizer to have in your setup, for the most beautiful pads and strange sounds, giving you the chivers, but in a positive way!

Some PROS and CONS of the TG33:

-Very versatile soundpalette, with hundreds of soundbanks available through the internet.
-32-Voice polyphony, with four active oscillators per note played, you can't have enough polyphony.
-Nice morphing from one sound into the other. Great atmosphere.
-Built-In DSP effects.
-Can Sound very full, with lots of movement, with a lot happening at the same time.

-Samples are only 12-bit, but this can also be an advantage.
-Some samples are clearly looping.
-Effects are a bit exaggerated and artificial.
-No Filters, but does the TG33 need them?

Super instrument!

Some examples from Youtube:

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