Yamaha DX-7

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Re: Yamaha DX-7

Post by Hair » Thu Feb 05, 2009 3:43 pm

Recently in general synthesizers, someone uploaded a GREAT pdf of Howard Massey's DX7 book, see if you can find it. If you're willing to plow through the book you could have a lot of fun with the DX7, I just poked at the first few bits it was explaining and was already having fun with mine.

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Re: Yamaha DX-7

Post by OriginalJambo » Tue Feb 10, 2009 8:11 pm

Modular actually PM'd me about this before making this thread so I thought I'd post my reply to him here too. Mainly for the videos! :P
I wrote:Hey Modular,

I sincerely apologise for the severely delayed response but it's been quite a busy few weeks for me (in synthworld and out!). I intended to reply earlier but then I seen your thread on VSE which sort of related to your PM so I thought I'd let that ride out a while.

Anyway, the Yamaha DX7 then? Well it's a bit of a strange one. I'll try and make this both as straightforward and as informative as I can.

First off it's best not to treat it or compare it to an analogue synth per se, because it's really not. It generally sounds nothing like one and programming FM sounds is a completely different experience. The best way to think about it is how you break sounds into components and then use modulator and carrier pairs to emulate their different parts of the sound. Take the classic Fulltines patch, the classic Rhodes emulation:



This sound is made up of three parts - the rounded body of the tone, the upper harmonics that become more prominent as you strike the keys harder and the thud of the hammer hitting the tine. To achieve this you have three operator pairs, one to generate each sound separately that when mixed together give you lovely (and ultimately abused) electric piano sound.

Now say you wanted to emulate a Hammond with its drawbars, you'd use an algorithm that allows you to mix together several sine waves in varying amplitudes. An algorithm that gives you as many carriers as possible would be ideal, since a carrier with no modulator will always generate a sine wave.

And this really is the golden rule of FM synthesis - treat the carriers as your oscillators and the modular as your sound shapers. In a nut shell that's all FM really is.

For example an enveloped applied to modulate a carrier will alter the volume, whilst a envelope modulating a modular will alter the timbre, much like a filter but in reverse since you are adding harmonics, not removing them. Detuning two carriers against another will result in beating, much like detuning two VCOs on an analogue synth.

It's clear you need to take a different approach to sound creation. "The Complete DX7" by Howard Massey is a fantastic book if you are interested in the fundamentals of FM synthesis, but it's quite rare now. Otherwise there are plenty of patches online - although in my experience a lot of them are mediocre. It might be an idea to get in touch with VSE member elsongs as he sells a fantastic DX7 bank with a Rhodes sound to die for. Here's a fantastic demo showcasing the aforementioned patches:



As for the sound itself - it's a bit of mixed bag. Generally I'd say it excels at metallic sounds - bells, electric pianos, percussion - and sounds with a lot of bite and harmonics (clavinet, brass) and brash digital synth sounds. It's certainly not what I'd go to for analogue filter sweeps or syrupy acid sequences and most of the string and ensemble sounds lack animation and often sound a little sterile compared to your average analogue/VA, although it does have some usable soft string sounds. It can also be used to create some great sound effects - stream engines, touch tone phone sounds etc.

I'd definitely say that effects generally help bring out the best in the DX7 - a good chorus, phaser, flanger, reverb or delay can turn a rather bland and static patch into something truly special. It also has responds very well to expressive playing and has a fantastic key and aftertouch action. So bare it mind you'll need some decent outboard to really bring the DX7 to life.

Finally some links to a few excellent videos and a webpage chock full of MP3s:

[bbvideo]http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid ... 6720470798[/bbvideo]

The Shape of Things That Hum


[youtube][/youtube]

Brilliant "Take On Me" cover


[youtube][/youtube]

Jexus' take on the DX7


http://www.synthmania.com/dx7.htm (MP3s of the factory presets - another great site to boot!).

Hopefully these videos will give you an idea of what the DX7 is capable of. Enjoy!

James

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Re: Yamaha DX-7

Post by snsr » Tue Feb 10, 2009 9:00 pm

I recently picked up a TX802 for $160. It's a rack-mount 8-part multi-timbral DX7II, and I love it. If you don't mind a rack unit, it's an inexpensive way to get some original DX7 action. Sounds much meatier than I expected (especially when all 8 voices are stacked), very retro. Eight separate balanced outputs, too (also has a set of stereo outputs.)

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Re: Yamaha DX-7

Post by modular » Tue Feb 10, 2009 10:51 pm

OriginalJambo, thanks a bunch! Great help mate =D>

snsr, gotta take a look at that as well. Thanks for the info!

Cheers :)
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Re: Yamaha DX-7

Post by mung » Tue Feb 17, 2009 2:45 am

buying one from my professor next week for $75. Says it has a broken key but apparently they're easy to fix?

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Re: Yamaha DX-7

Post by Clavier » Tue Feb 17, 2009 5:12 am

Yes, the easiest keys ever to replace.
Hammond RT-2, Hammond M3, Hammond L-102, Rhodes mk1 suitcase 88, Sequential Circuits Prophet-5, Yamaha TX-802, Fender Twin Reverb, Leslie 45

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Re: Yamaha DX-7

Post by Taxidermy » Fri Feb 20, 2009 8:04 am

Its not nearly as hard to program as people give it credit for. Its just kind of awkward with the membrane buttons and all, but I was expecting something much worse (however all I heard was people saying how difficult it was to program).

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Re: Yamaha DX-7

Post by OriginalJambo » Fri Feb 20, 2009 1:22 pm

Taxidermy wrote:Its not nearly as hard to program as people give it credit for. Its just kind of awkward with the membrane buttons and all, but I was expecting something much worse (however all I heard was people saying how difficult it was to program).
Oh yeah, it's definitely easier to program than, say, a D-50 without a PG-1000. There aren't nearly as many parameters on the DX7.

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Re: Yamaha DX-7

Post by Taxidermy » Sat Feb 21, 2009 10:40 am

OriginalJambo wrote:
Taxidermy wrote:Its not nearly as hard to program as people give it credit for. Its just kind of awkward with the membrane buttons and all, but I was expecting something much worse (however all I heard was people saying how difficult it was to program).
Oh yeah, it's definitely easier to program than, say, a D-50 without a PG-1000. There aren't nearly as many parameters on the DX7.
Hope I don't get moderated for the ot response, but that's a wicked avatar. =D>

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Re: Yamaha DX-7

Post by Five » Sat Feb 21, 2009 2:34 pm

Hah after listening to that demo it makes me want to hook up my TX7 and play with it, forgot how good those presets are! :idea:

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Re: Yamaha DX-7

Post by divineaudio » Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:16 am

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

Image

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

i bought one of these after my dx7 got stolen - big disappointment. you can only access 4 of the 6 operators from the front panel, the other two require the software editor (as do some other features) wtf? the effects are only so-so, especially compared to outboard effect processors. the 4 part sequencer sounds like a cool feature, but why is there only one synth part? 3 parts for the craptastic internal drum sounds? again, wtf? i sold this thing in a hurry, bought my dx9, and haven't looked back.

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Re: Yamaha DX-7

Post by SamSamba » Sat Sep 19, 2009 9:26 pm

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

Image

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

Quick question regarding the DX200

I have a SysEx package of all the presets and some additional sounds for all the Yamaha FM synths - can I use these with the DX200, or only the ones that are for the DX line of synths?

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