Yamaha TX16W sampler review and power user tips

This is a relatively rare late eighties sampler. The build quality is typical of Yamaha- very solid. It is a very deep 2U rack unit, and there are 3 very large circuit boards layered inside. It’s a 12 bit audio system, and samples at up to 50kHz in mono or stereo, although the top end is masked on the TX itself by the analogue anti- aliasing filters on the outputs. They give the instrument a “dark” sound, which is actually rather nice. The main polyphonic outs sound brighter than the eight monophonic individual outs. The transposing is nice and crunchy, particularly at lower sampling rates.

The original Yamaha OS was OK- as long as you were not in a hurry and didn’t mind spending forever actually sample anything. The Typhoon 2000 OS is available as a free download from Nu-Edge developments. It is a necessity for TX users. It can import Yamaha OS patches (not just the samples), and eliminates most of the problems with the instrument. Most notably, Typhoon uses a lossless data compression algorithm which gives a space saving of about 33%. This compensates for the double density disk format the TX is saddled with. The Typhoon OS disk includes some excellent sounds to demonstrate the modulation and sound quality. The drum kit is especially noteworthy, because it is created from basic waveforms such as sine, saw and white noise. Typhoon can import and export AIFF files on floppy disk, which is much faster than MIDI SDS or the RS-422 port which is only about 4 times faster than MIDI (as long as you have a serial port on your computer). There is even an optional emphasis parameter to compensate for the dark anti-aliasing filters.

Some of Typhoon’s features have not been beaten by more modern instruments- auto pitch tracking and sample mapping makes multi sampling very easy; straightforward file management like a DOS PC; portamento; extremely flexible modulation and layering; and a logical hierarchical system from sample to multi-timbral performance. Each sample can be mapped very quickly to the keyboard and treated like a patch on its own. For example you can have different pitch bend ranges for each sample, which is a nice effect for drums.

The filters are digital, and potentially interesting with a dedicated Yamaha DSP. You can create your own filters in the Yamaha OS but those are not useable in the Typhoon OS. Unfortunately there is not much depth to the effect of the filters- no big sweeps here! The phasing filter is pleasant though. Another issue is that pitch modulation can cause clicking with certain pitch and sample rate combinations. But despite these problems, the Typhoon OS makes the TX16W a very fast sampler to get around- you can even use your MIDI keyboard to access the menus if you wish. So for fast turnaround of noises into musical sounds, or for old style lo-fi sampling, the TX16W is a very nice instrument to have around.

Tips to make the TX sound more modern
Typhoon can read AIFF files from floppy, so you can bypass the onboard A to D. Make sure you stick to the 8 character filename limit, otherwise Typhoon will chop it down to 8 characters that may or may not make sense! And on a Mac, change the file extension to .aif. This makes the TX Recycle compatible too if you save each slice as and AIFF (from the dropdown in the Save menu). It takes some time to map all those samples chromatically from your beats, but it can be worth it to access the great modulation. Setting each beat slice to a different positive or negative pitch bend range gives an incredible effect.

Used by Jimmy Edgar and Aphex Twin.