The VL1 was the first of the Virtual modelling synths and Yamaha`s flagship (unless you count the later Polyphonic VP1 version which was never released). The technology then simultaneously spawned the VL1m, basically the electronics of the VL1 shoehorned into the blandest 3u rack you`ve ever seen and the VL7 which was the single element, mono version, all sound far better than the "New" VL70m, the cheapo but worthwhile last VL.
Basically the VL1 is either Bi-Timbral or 2-note poly, each of the two elements acts as a separate complete sound patch (All you get is 1 on the VL7 or 70m) and these can be combined to create a more interesting sound in mono (layer) or act as two indpendant "VL7"`s, usually the "other" voice is used to create the drones on bagpipes etc, but for me the real use is to give the abilility to play power fifths on the electric guitar patches... and believe me NOTHING in the synth world produces rock guitars like a VL1 or 7.. The VL1 holds 128 patches each of which are a combination of both element`s data and common data to both and are like "performances" on a normal synth, this is excellent as the VL7 only holds 64 and the VL1m a lame 32!!!!!. the 70m on1y has SIX locations for your own creations.
Editing the VL1 is a real mystery as even the most seasoned synthesist will have trouble fathoming what to do with Pipe lengths, tap positions etc (no fixed models, you create the model as you go!) but with a bit of extensive tweaking some of the most expressive and obscure synth sounds can be created, out of this world, it even does one of the most liquid and realistic TB303 impersonations.. the FX processor is of phenominal quailty in the 1,1m and 7, far better than the usual fare found in the XG machines, the 70m and the likes of the AN1x.. the Version-2 firmware update improves even further on this as well as modelling parameters..
Thw VL1 and 7 look very similar except the 1 has a burr-Walnut veneer (similar to a Jag`s dashboard) on the top and rear panels giving a very classy appearance.. I can honestly say that if the VP1 had been produced with it`s 3 elements, 73 note Poly aftertouch keyboard, 16 note polyphony/ timbrality and extra string modelling at a realistic price it would have taken the world by storm!.. The real shame is that the VL1 was marketed as a Saxophone impersonator rather than a totally expressive synth capable of unheard of sounds, the other problem was the retail price.. If you can`t find a VL1 or 1m, try the VL7 it really was THE mono of the decade (especially as the last sellout price was only £599), not the Prophecy which although good is limited to fixed models and not in the same class.. TIP.. try to find a mint boxed VL1, it`s undoubtedly going to be one hell of a future collectors piece as well as a unique instrument..