A Monster Homemade Controller For The Yamaha FS1R FM Synthesizer

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Yamaha FS1R, innovative, complex but unintuitive. Formerly a flop, today an FM synthesizer rarity that many want, and this controller makes it hands-on

One of the most successful synthesizers in the 80s was the Yamaha DX-7. At the end of the 90s, the Japanese company tried again to conquer the music landscape with another FM Synthesizer, the FS1R. Unlike the DX7, it featured a unique combination of FM and formant shaping synthesis. Yamaha wanted to build on the success of the DX-7 with this product, but it fails.

This was mainly due to the unintuitive operating system. A huge engine, deep sound design possibilities but only operable with four knobs. Programming fun looks different. However, the engine was very innovative but has not been reissued to this day. Eight-operator FM synthesis plus formant shaping synthesis that can be used for vocal-like timbres.

Yamaha FS1R Controller

Sonically super unique and nothing has ever come close to it. The success came later. Today the FS1R is a rarity and is traded for a lot of money on Reverb, eBay…  Robert Skerjanc built a massive controller that gives access to all parameters of the FS1R. Here the developer has simply split the features into sections so that you have a better overview of the functions.

The controller looks great. What is missing in the rack, you have it here in abundance. Knobs, switches, displays … everything that helps to understand the synth. Take a look at the demo, it shows the editor nicely. With such a controller, the complex FS1R becomes a hands-on synth. 

Yamaha Synths 


  1. Nice controller, but useless to me if it can’t be obtained. What is the purpose of showing this off other than to say “I have it and you don’t, and you can’t get it”. Next….

    • Because he is not a commercial developer but a musician who developed a controller for his. Not everything that you show has to be for sale. It can also just inspire you to design your own controller

  2. Be nice to get him to built a few. the FSR1, having about 4 times the editing options compared with the dx7 (own several) with the same display resolution, would be chalanging to say the least. Editors on a PC or tablet still have issues with tactile feedback.
    if this controller cound be programable for other synths, he would have a great market for older hardware synths

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