Up for sale, a 1990s Yamaha VL1 Version 2 Virtual Acoustic Synthesizer in exceptional condition and in perfect working order, complete with two BC3 breath controllers, three Tone Generator floppy disks loaded with various instruments, and a molded SKB flight case. This unique Yamaha synthesizer was designed to realistically recreate the sounds of “real” instruments without any samples, producing sounds that are truly remarkable in their natural sound and accuracy. The recreation is accomplished with Yamaha’s proprietary Digital Signal Processing technology, a fascinating process designed by the master technicians and engineers at Yamaha that essentially produces sounds based on a mathematical model of how the instruments work in real life.
Instead of a standard Sample & Synthesis approach, the VL1 uses its internal model of an instrument to create the entire sound in one operation. Because the model encompasses the whole instrument, and doesn’t merely sample one sound, the VL1 is able to behave like the actual instrument and produces realistic transitions between notes; not just the notes themselves. The VL1 is so faithful in its recreations, it makes the synthetic sounds of an S&S synth seem almost comical in their claims of reproduction.
The controls are specifically designed to aid in the “live instrument” feel of the unit, with unique effects depending on whether a wind, string, or analog synth sound is being recreated. For instance, when a brass instrument is being “played,” the Modulation wheel changes the virtual embouchure and as such produces specific tonalities that would otherwise require a genuine example.
The exceedingly comprehensive list of modifiers and effects includes:
-Pressure (or bow speed)
-Pitch (the length of the tube or string)
-Vibrato (affects Pitch or Embouchure via an LFO)
-Tonguing (simulated half-tonguing damping of saxophone reed)
-Amplitude (controls volume without changing the timbre)
-Scream (drives the whole instrument into chaotic oscillation)
-Breath Noise (adds widely variable breath sound)
-Growl (affects Pressure via an LFO)
-Throat Formant (simulated the player’s lungs, throat and mouth)
-Dynamic Filter (controls the cutoff frequency of the Mod Filter)
-Harmonic Enhancer (changes the harmonic structure of the sound)
-Damping (simulates air friction in the tube or on the string)
-Absorption (simulates high frequency loss at the end of the tube or string)
-Standard Reverb, Modulation, and Echo effects, along with Distortion
Modified instruments can be saved to any of the 128 memory slots, or saved to the disk. There’s a wide range of basic instruments included, and two Tone Generator floppy disks are included. Three Elements (instruments) can also be engaged at once, opening up decidedly unique layering and detuning possibilities. The VL1 is made even more versatile and natural through usage of the included BC3 Breath Controller, which enables the user to adjust modifiers through their own breath just like a physical wind instrument.
The circuit includes a number of custom Yamaha-made chips, including four YSS217Bs, two XM272AOs, and one XM234AO, along with three Toshiba 68301 processors and a NatSemi ADC0809 chip for the controllers, and supports MIDI functionality. This unique synth sports an eye-catching design, with a large claro walnut panel surrounding the controls. Cosmetic wear is limited to a handful of minor marks and scuffs on the unit as a whole, largely relegated to the bottom and edges.
An SKB-brand molded flight case is included, along with a pair of BC3 Breath Controllers and various “mouthpiece” attachments, three Tone Generator floppy disks, and a USB drive.