Thursday, September 26, 2019

Korg DS-8 "Eight Advantages" brochure, 1987




Korg DS-8 synthesizer "Eight Advantages" four page colour brochure from 1987.

Well, after posting that relatively interesting Korg 707 brochure back in March, how could I not follow up at some point with Korg's other FM-based synth that came out around the same time - the DS-8.

In that post, I touched upon Korg's easy-to-use interface in order to bring Yamaha's FM synthesis to us simpletons. If you look behind the curtain though, you'll find what's really pulling those FM strings - the Wizard of Opp! Otherwise known as Yamaha's FM Operator Type P (OPP) chip, also otherwise known as the YM2164.

Here - I snarfed this photo from the Wikipedia page for the chip:



The chip could be found in the DS-8 as well as the Korg 707, along with a few Yamaha synths from the time period.

Now, putting aside the amazingly interesting fact that Korg used Yamaha's chips in the first place, I did some research into the chip itself, and quickly learned its actually an "enhanced" YM2151 chip (aka OPM or FM Operator Type-M chip). The 2151 was Yamaha's first single-chip FM sound generator that could be found in the DX-21, DX-27 and DX-100, and interestingly also found its way into many non-Yamaha products such as arcade games and pinball machines, and even a few of Sharp's home computers.

But, the Korg 707 and DS-8's multi-midi support required slightly more enhanced abilities, and that's where the enhanced YM2164 chip shines.

A bit more digging, and I quickly realized that quite a few other Yamaha chips exist. A small sampling include the:

YM2154 - made for the Yamaha RX-15 drum machine, apparently for the PCM sounds of the rhythm samples.

YM2409 and YM2412 -  used in the Yamaha TX16W, Yamaha's first sampler

YM2414 -  found in the purely magical Yamaha TX81Z, which is what gave it the ability to choose from 8 different wave forms rather than just using 4-OP sine waves.

How cool is that! I love learning new things. And makes me want to collect Yamaha synths based solely on chip sets!  Check out this comprehensive list of Yamaha chips/feature sets that someone has begun to put together.  Lots more chips and gear in that list!

I find it interesting that Korg chose to make the DS-8 and 707 look so different from each other. I get that some features had to be different - the DS-8 joystick looks very Korg, but the 707's performance wheels make much more sense when the keyboard is hanging from your neck.

But in a era when so many manufacturers were making a generation worth of instruments look very similar to each other such as Yamaha's DX/TX synth and rack series or Roland's MKS rack series, Korg intentionally made these two synths look *very* different from one another.

Just an observation.  :)

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