Synth Site: Yamaha: DX-7: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.3 out of 5
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random a professional user from Montreal, Canada writes:
First things first, the specs. Fm digital synthesis, 6 oscilators each with their own envellopes (4 stage envellopes where each stage has a Rate and a Level, this is no cheap ADSR) which can be synced, coarse/fine/de-tuned with fixed HZ or ratio, 32 stacking algorhytms, 16 notes polyphony, monotimbral and monaural, velocity/aftertouch, 12 bits 28khz, pitch envellope (4 stages still), linear and exponential keyboard scaling, LFO (6 waveshapes) syncable to key-on, pitch and mod wheels, foot / breath controller support, 16 char x 2 lines LCS and a 2digit LED display, portamento. poly/mono modes. ram/rom cartidges support. sysex patch dump and parameter control.

Pros: Built like a tank, a nuclear holocaust would destroy the enitre planet, leaving a bunch of DX7's floating in space.

Excellent velocity and aftetouch responses, keyboard feels real solid, you could run a car over that baby.

Good layout, once you get used to it the layout is very intelligent. and everything you need to know is printed on the frontplate.

Extensive range of possibilities, from accoustic to electronic to pure mayhem, this synth can do it.

User memory, you can save up to 32 patchs and you can give them names (10 characters) which is alwasya plus in my book, and not many old synths have this option, hell even recent synth don't always have that.

All of the good things in the specs fit in here too.. Like the syncable LFO, the 16poly, the osc sync, the very nice envellope system allows extensive control and each oscillator has its own, and everything else that was in the specs that you may find nice.

Osc Output is velocity controllable. this is amazing, gives your sounds a very nice "expressive" feeling.

Since its the most popular synth ever, its also the most easy synth to find librarians and patches for. you can easily find over 20000 patches for it on the web, and you can sysex-dump them in the synth and re-organize everything as you wish it with one of the 912387 librairians for it (for all computers, mac/pc/atari/amiga/commodore.. hell im sure there are librarian for the dx7 that would run on your microwave oven..)

Cons: Monaural, some sort of integrated chorus a-la-juno106 would have made this synth much richer.

all notes go off when you send sysex parameter changes, which is quite annoying, but when you know the synth pretty well, you can easily go thru the parameters and tweak them real-time with the data slider.

the LCD is not backlit, which can be somewhat annoying in dark studios or on stage.

godamn heavy, hire someone to carry it if you take it out on tour. Its heavier than your stepmother.

the looks, some people think it looks cool, some don't. Personnaly the way a synth looks is irrelevent.. but some may find the Deep Mettalic Brown casing / Light Green/Purple buttons combination to be a litle agressive.

A multinode filter would have been a definite plus, but, it doesn't really need it

Personnal Opinions: As you can see I haven't listed "The Programming" in either Pros or Cons.. cause it all depends on what you like in a synth. Some like it complex and long, some like it fast and easy. But the dx7 is not for beginner programmers, it is way too complex and unpredictable to actually learn synthesis from it. It has been said that the 3 key elements in FM programming are Trial, Error and Luck. While it may not be completely true, it is what 80% of DX7 users out there do, try stuff and see where it goes. And thats what the dx7 is all about i think. When i got a sound in my head that I hear with crystal clarity and want to reproduce on a synth, I use my Juno106. When I feel like experimenting and exploring sonic landscapes, I use the Dx7. The main reason for this, is that Substrative synthesis is intuitive. You start with a full and rich sound, and just remove the unwanted stuff from it. With FM however, you start with nothing, and add harmonics and stuff on it. So you don't always no what it'll sound like. You can't know precisely ehat something is if its not there. With substractive, you hear the unwanted part, from there its just a matter of twiddling the right knob to remove it. With FM, it becomes unpredictable because you obviously don't hear what you wanna add, stacking algorhytms can change how the osc/ops interact with each other, envelopes and osc output too.. I mean.. there's so many different possibilites that you can't know what its going to sound like. Of course, over time, you get to know the synth more and you can go around the system more easily to create things while KNOWING what you're going to add will sound like. Most people say its hard to progfram the DX7... I wouldn't say that, its not hard per say. Its just chaotic a bit. I mean, you can learn what does WHAT in under 30 minutes on the DX7, you just don't know what WHAT sounds like. This makes this synth an endless source of originality and fun.

The Dx7 is also very usable as master controler. Having the best velocity and aftertouch response i have yet to see in a synth. One thing tho, you can't set the local on/off. You'll have to turn down the volume for that, or do like I do and make an "empty" patch that is silent which can always be access from just 1 button, making it somewhat a Local On/Off button.

You will start to enjoy your DX7 a lot more when you get a Librarian for it. Having only 32 on board mem slots, and RAM cartridges being rare and general high priced and having only 64 patches on them, the librarian becomes a nessecity once you start to make a few songs with the synths and run out of patch slots. the librarian will also enable you to download/upload 32-patch banks to/from the dx7 ( a hefty numbers of banks are available on the net). A little "trick" is to classify all your patches on the PC.. and when you start a new song, you select which sounds you need/want/like and save them on the Dx7, then dump the dx7's newly created bank in your sequencer via sysex. That way, each time you load the song in your sequencer, your dx7 will update its patch bank to match the song. So no more "it only has 32 user slots so thats why i always use the same sounds" excuses.

The Dx7 is the pivotal synth in history. It has created standards that still exist today. Go out and buy a recent synth, chances are there is a "DX Piano" in the preset bank, or a "DX Bass".... The Dx7 can make E-Pianos and Organs like no other synth on the market. But it doesn't stop there. Or I wouldn't have one. Im not a fan of epianos and organ, I need to create WEIRD stuff with my synths. And the Dx7 does everything from "classical" instrumentation to "fucked up" sounds. you can make gut wrenching basses, amazing leads, smooth and warm pads, or cold and glassy pads... Breathy flutes... grungy "distorted" sounds.. nice percussive instruments, and it can do the most amazing sound fx ever.

in 1983, when the Dx7 was new, it sold for 2000$us. Now the common price is about 500$us (sometimes less, sometimes more) for a mint unit. Expect to pay more for a Dx7-mkIIFD or a dx7 with the E! card expansion.

Some people complain about its sound too: Complain: "well it cannot do analog-type stuff". Awnser: Well to an extent, yes it can. You can make very convincing analog pads/leads/bass with it. But my question is "why the hell do you buy a digital FM synth to emulate analog substractive?".

Complain : "FM sounds like a video game". Awnser: Well f**k you. There's so many things out there made on the dx7 that people aren't aware of. For example, most of NIN's Pretty Hate Machine was made on the Dx7 (you know that slap bass ?)

Complain: "the Dx7 is only good for cheap pianos and organs" Awnser : First of all the Dx7's pianos and organs are among the best out there. And more importantly, no it doesn't just do pianos and orgrans, you can make ANYTHING with FM with proper programmtion and patience.

Complain: "most renditions of real-world instruments sound fake" Awnser : There's quite a few numbers of "real" instruments that can be reproduce near perfection on the Dx7 but.. WTF!? if you want the real stuff buy it, or get a PCM keyboard. Synthesizers are made for creating stuff, not emulating.

All that being said.... I'd give it a 6 out of 5 if I could.. but the system only allows me a 5.. =]

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Saturday-Jul-24-1999 at 06:23
Giorgio Robino a part-timer user writes:
The DX7II isthe only hradware synthetizer that I have hold in many hears. DX is digital but have a chaotical response programming: you know where you start (maybe) but you don't know where you go ;-) You may listen some of my DX patch sound (in many case re-elaborated with Mac) here:


Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Wednesday-May-05-1999 at 04:45
Christopher Lee a professional user from US writes:
It's the DX7, need we say more? Cutting edge at the time...definitely outdated but still a 'classic'. There's just something about it which still endears me to it (even if my other synths can produce better sounds). All I need to do is call up that DX Rhodes patch and it's the 1980s all over again!

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Monday-May-03-1999 at 00:39
Jeff G a part-timer user from Boston writes:
I just bought a lot of midi gear/ software an amongst the items was a YRM 103. This is the DX7 voicing program (according to the box). It appears new and has the manual and a cartridge.

Can anyone use this? I just need to try to recoup my cost...

Email with any questions...

Jeff G

posted Thursday-Feb-25-1999 at 17:35
Elliott a hobbyist user from USA writes:
I bought it for $300 which is a good deal no matter how you look at it. I always figure if I don't like it I can sell it for the same price if not more. The sounds vary in quality. It's great for bizarre effects and old clangs. The keyboard sounds are quite good and i even like some of the strings. The major hangup is with the piano sounds. All the ones I've downloaded sound horrible but that's what you get for 10 year old technology.

Another complaint is the limitation of monophony. The DX7 can't be used as a sequencer taking away much of what a synth is good for nowadays. Programming is daunting to say the least and it is better just to stick to the downloadable patches. Nevertheless, this synth is still a great source of inspiration and sounds for a cheap price tag.

Rating: 3 out of 5 posted Wednesday-Feb-24-1999 at 16:02
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