Yamaha YS200

Digital synthesizer

Yamaha EOS YS200 FM 4op digital synthesizer
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1988 (July)
Initially sold for ¥120,000

The Yamaha YS200 is a 4-operator, 8-algorithm, 8-waveform FM synthesizer. It has the same technology that powers the TX81Z and the DX11 but without the "complicated" terminology associated with FM digital sound creation, using instead variables that are easy for all musicians to understand. A cheaper YS100 is also available, lacking the sequencer and aftertouch.

The YS200 comes with an on-board, 8-track sequencer with full erase, copy, delete, insert edit features. Since the YS200 can sound up to eight different voices at once, it is possible to create very complex songs using the sequencer. An proper effect processor is also available, with 9 presets covering reverbs, delays and distortions.

Although the YS200 has the same FM engine of the TX81Z and DX11 and actually is compatible with voices coming from those synthesizers, it totally lacks the full editing abilities, allowing for a very few "easy edit" settings (EG, Tone, LFO, Name and Effect).

The YS100 and YS200 seemingly came at a time of uncertainty about what to do with the DX legacy. Yamaha was determined to solve the legendary "complexity" that plagued the DX7. An advertisement Introduced the YS family stating "The world's best-selling synthesizer had just a couple of rough edges. Now everything is smooth as silk.".

The design is "weird" to put it mildly. The controls should be "laid out in a logical fashion" but it looks more like a 1980s fever dream meets ancient stone inscriptions. The volume "disc" is probably the least used control on the panel but it's huge and doesn't even work as data entry. Frog (same designers of the TQ5 and Apple's Snow White design language) were probably tasked to make easy interfaces for the DX engine of the future but clearly failed since Yamaha quickly came back to the original layout for the SY line of synthesizers that would soon replace the DX7II.

YS family on the cover of After Touch Nov. 1988
YS family on the cover of After Touch Nov. 1988
YS200 on Yamaha's 1988 catalog
YS200 on Yamaha's 1988 catalog



61 velocity-sensitive keys with aftertouch

Sound source

FM tone generator (4 operators, 8 waves, 8 algorithms)

Simultaneous note output

Polyphonic: 8 notes
Monophonic: 1 note

Memory capacity

Internal program RAM: 100 voice programs
Internal program ROM: 100 voice programs

Connection terminals and interfaces

Output L/MONO, Output R
Output Phones (phone jack)
Sustain, Foot volume
Breath control

Dimensions and weight

990w x 320h x 105d (mm) / 39” x 12 5/8” x 4 1/8”
6.9Kg / 15.3lbs