Yamaha DX-7

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Yamaha DX-7

Post by modular » Wed Feb 04, 2009 10:05 am

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Hi fellas!

What can you tell me about the Yamaha DX-7 synthesizer? Yes, I know it is a FM synth from 1983, and from what I've heard (some stuff on Youtube) it sounds sweet.

Yet... is it still a good synth nowadays? How tweakable is it? What are the PROs and CONs of the DX-7?

I've been checking eBay and these synths sell in Europe for around 200-350 euros. Is this a 'real' price for it? I'm looking for a 'jap-soundish synthesizer, almost like YMO, without wanting to spend a bunch of money on a Prophet or something like that. Polyphony is more than welcome!

Cheers! :D
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Re: Yamaha DX-7

Post by Stab Frenzy » Wed Feb 04, 2009 12:32 pm

These are not the droids you're looking for.

Sounds nothing like YMO, is a giant pain to tweak and shouldn't sell for more than 75 Euros or so. In fact this post looks a lot like a troll.

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Re: Yamaha DX-7

Post by modular » Wed Feb 04, 2009 1:00 pm

Stab Frenzy wrote:These are not the droids you're looking for.

Sounds nothing like YMO, is a giant pain to tweak and shouldn't sell for more than 75 Euros or so. In fact this post looks a lot like a troll.

:?

Wtf? The synth is that bad?
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Re: Yamaha DX-7

Post by monolith » Wed Feb 04, 2009 1:07 pm

No, it's a great synth. YMO used a lot more analog sounds.
It's really hard to learn to edit sounds well on it, but it is made easier using a PC editor.
I cant say alot about it because i've only used one for an hour or so, but in that time i didnt get too far.
I'm sure someone will chime in and be able to give you a more revealing answer. :thumbleft:

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Re: Yamaha DX-7

Post by Stab Frenzy » Wed Feb 04, 2009 1:44 pm

modular wrote:
Stab Frenzy wrote:These are not the droids you're looking for.

Sounds nothing like YMO, is a giant pain to tweak and shouldn't sell for more than 75 Euros or so. In fact this post looks a lot like a troll.

:?

Wtf? The synth is that bad?
Not bad, just very different to what you're asking for.

Edit: Actually, it does have one thing you want, polyphony. But if you like the sound of it just get one. Don't pay 200-300 Euros for it though, you should be able to find them all over the place, it was one of the biggest selling synths of the 80's.

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Re: Yamaha DX-7

Post by modular » Wed Feb 04, 2009 3:33 pm

Ok... better look for a cheaper one.

Anyway, I also have to apologize since I said YMO but was thinking on mid-80s Ryuichi Sakamoto (solo).
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Re: Yamaha DX-7

Post by madtheory » Wed Feb 04, 2009 4:29 pm

He used a lot of synths! The Prophet is a very different beast. "Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence" has a lot of DX7, but also Fairlight and Prophet.

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Re: Yamaha DX-7

Post by JMP » Wed Feb 04, 2009 6:36 pm

madtheory wrote: "Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence" has a lot of DX7, but also Fairlight and Prophet.
The track that made me consider DX synths too many years ago but was always dissapointed with every Yamaha FM synth I subsequently picked up... You can great results with a DX7 but be prepared to spend a lot of time with it to get them... and yeah, you can pick them up pretty cheap, anything from £150 upwards in the UK usually.

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Re: Yamaha DX-7

Post by madtheory » Wed Feb 04, 2009 7:04 pm

JMP wrote:The track that made me consider DX synths too many years ago
Thinking about it, the coolest sounds on that are the CMI II percussions, and the analogue poly for the strings. And the grand piano.

So you should've bought a Fairlight! ;)

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Re: Yamaha DX-7

Post by Yoozer » Wed Feb 04, 2009 9:30 pm

modular wrote:without wanting to spend a bunch of money on a Prophet
A Nord Lead 2 will sound far more like a Prophet than a DX7. That said, it's still a wonderful synth.

Stab: they're not easy to find here for such a ridiculously cheap amount; I had to pay at least 200, and they've been rising lately.
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Re: Yamaha DX-7

Post by modular » Wed Feb 04, 2009 11:45 pm

Yoozer wrote:
modular wrote:without wanting to spend a bunch of money on a Prophet
A Nord Lead 2 will sound far more like a Prophet than a DX7. That said, it's still a wonderful synth.

Stab: they're not easy to find here for such a ridiculously cheap amount; I had to pay at least 200, and they've been rising lately.
Hi. I've never been a fan of Nord Lead synths, and I'm not looking for a Prophet as well. It is on my wish list, by my purchase - of a DSI Prophet '08 - will come later.

My future purchases are a Akai MPC1000, a Yamaha DX-7 (or not!) and a mixer :mrgreen: Yes, analog synths will come later............


edit- by the way, I've found some cheesy stuff from Sakamoto using his DX-7:

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Re: Yamaha DX-7

Post by Zamise » Thu Feb 05, 2009 3:40 am

Maybe look at and see if you can get a DX-200 instead.

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Definatly what I'd go with before I ever get another DX-7 aka The Doorstop again.
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Re: Yamaha DX-7

Post by Stab Frenzy » Thu Feb 05, 2009 4:10 am

I think the DX-7 sounds great when you run it through some effects pedals. It's the kind of synth that should be treated like a guitar; it just a few sounds you'll use but if you run it through some effects you can make your own sound from it.

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Re: Yamaha DX-7

Post by Big Gnome » Thu Feb 05, 2009 6:58 am

modular wrote:Yet... is it still a good synth nowadays?
Unquestionably, assuming you like FM to begin with, and it sounds like you do. In my judgment, it's the best hardware FM synth hands down, barring revisions thereof and units like the -1, -5, and TX816, which are essentially multiple instances of the same sound engine.
How tweakable is it?
It depends what you mean by 'tweakable'. It has buckets of individual parameters and allows for a tremendous amount of control; however, that's accomplished one parameter at a time with a single slider and a pair of increment/decrement buttons. Radical real time tweaking is neither practical nor possible. That said, you can program an awful lot of variance to be controlled by velocity, aftertouch, an expression pedal, and/or a breath controller.
What are the PROs and CONs of the DX-7?
PROs
-Sounds great (unless you hate FM in general), reacts well with all sorts of effects, and sits beautifully in a mix.
-Very broadly programmable and cable of some really outlandish tones you could never hope to get from more conventional synthesis methods.
-I've never been too crazy about them for leads in general, but Tim Conrardy outlines (here) a method of using one of the polyphonic portamento modes for a screamin' mono lead.
-Tons of patch memory and polyphony for the time.
-Extremely well built.
-One of the all-time great synth action keyboards.
-Plenty of real time controllers.

CONs
-Abstract synthesis method which is totally different from subtractive and exacerbated by the parametric method of programming. Expect to either sit down for some time with heady literature on the subject, get used to playing the same cheesy built-in sounds you've heard a million times before, or spend a lot of time trawling through the thousands of third party patches available online.
-Tends to have an overall thin, cold sound. I have to assume you're more or less familiar with the basic character of the sound and like it for what it is, but if you're expecting filter sweeps and "phat basses" and other standard analog synth fare, you will be sorely disappointed.
-Primitive and poorly implemented midi.
-Unbearable non-backlit LCD screen. Fortunately, you can find kits to replace it with a backlit one; it's a very simple procedure and doesn't even require any soldering. I strongly recommend doing this.
-Relatively heavy due to the steel chassis, although I can't say it ever bothered me when I had one. I'm a big guy though.
-Supposedly noisy converters, but again, mine never bothered me.

A few other points to consider:
-They alias like crazy. This can actually make for some really cool effects and is a big part of the instrument's character; that can make otherwise harsh sounds absolutely ferocious. For the most part, I prefer the smoother converters on my DX5, but I like the -7's grittiness too.
-The membrane buttons. Most people seem to really despise them; I prefer "real" buttons too, but the membrane does keep dust and grime out of the mechanisms, which I've occasionally had problems with on other equipment.
I've been checking eBay and these synths sell in Europe for around 200-350 euros. Is this a 'real' price for it?
I wouldn't pay more than about 200 euros for one.
I'm looking for a 'jap-soundish synthesizer, almost like YMO, without wanting to spend a bunch of money on a Prophet or something like that. Polyphony is more than welcome!
Can't comment on YMO's sound, but the DX7 and Prophet 5 are just about as different as two synthesizers can be, as others have mentioned. The DX7 has 16 voices, and seeing that it's monotimbral, that really is more than you should need.
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Re: Yamaha DX-7

Post by modular » Thu Feb 05, 2009 10:03 am

Zamise, that one looks sweet. Gotta take a look at it...

Thanks Big Gnome. That was The review! :D
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