Yamaha DX1

Yamaha DX1 Image

Among Yamaha's DX line of synthesizers, the DX1 is definitely the biggest and most expensive. With a dual 6-operator digital FM engine, it's like two DX7's wrapped up in a wood-paneled case and comes with a truly professional weighted 73 note keyboard sensitive to both velocity and aftertouch. The DX7 style membrane buttons have been replaced by actual push-buttons, display screens and the overall layout of buttons and diagrams is nicer and better organized.

Sound-wise, the DX1 is like a fatter DX7. It too features FM synthesis. That means that although the DX1 is a digital synthesizer, its sounds are unique and fresh with an analog/digital hybrid feel. Programming however, is not at all like analog synth programming. All DX series synths use FM synthesis and all are rather difficult to program or, at least, difficult to understand what to program. Fortunately the advanced DX1 has display screens that show amplitude modulation, envelopes, velocity, levels and de-tuning parameters unlike previous DX synths so you can better visualize what and how you are editing parameters. A neat new feature for the DX1 is that two patches (Channel A and B) can be used simultaneously with the keyboard in layer or split-mode. This mode is generally 16-voice polyphonic, but with just one patch loaded you can have 32 voices of thick polyphony! Pretty good for a synth over 15 years old!

Yamaha DX1 Rear Image

Although the DX1 may seem like a better buy than the more popular DX7, remember that the DX1 is expensive. There were only about 140 of these synths made and the retail value of a DX1 during its production year in 1985 was $13,900. The DX1 was the most expensive project Yamaha ever invested in. Expect to pay well over $2,000 for one of these today. They were followed by the DX5. Under the hood, the DX5 is identical to the DX1. The DX5 has done away with the heavy wood-paneling and has a less fancy keyboard. The DX5 also has a more compressed layout of buttons, sliders and diagrams on the front panel. The DX1, outdone by cheaper and more competitive DX synths is today, primarily reserved for those musicians big enough or wealthy enough to splurge on a real Vintage instrument with exquisite performance and interface features and sounds. It is used to this day by Depeche Mode, Vince Clarke, Kitaro, Elton John and Herbie Hancock.

Lookup Yamaha DX1 Prices

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122 Visitor comments
Charles KG
August 17, 2014 @ 7:32 pm
There are more than 140 of these. I believe that around 1000 or even more were actually produced. The main reason that Yamaha decided to stop production was because these are really delicate synthesizers and usually need to be repaired if they are used much at all. According to my friend who is a certified Yamaha sythesizer repair man the first thing to fail is the red character display. Soon after that the key contacts fail especially in a humid environment. In his opinion the DX1 is probably $1.5-3k mostly for a conversation piece. It isn't highly desirable compared to other synthesizers.
August 13, 2014 @ 2:55 pm
I have no problem with paying over $10,000 for a DX1 as long as it is in good condition. I imagine that are well kept considering their history and being hand built. Something like this is museum material besides the price, you're not going to find very many of these out there with 140 floating around.
July 29, 2014 @ 4:06 pm
There's not very many of these, they say there is only 140 to be exact. With the price of them new and considering how many of these are out there, getting one for $1500 seems like a stolen one. How could such a rare snyth go for less than $10k, I saw a Waldorf Wave snyth run for $24k that was made in 1993 with them only 320 made. The Yamaha DX1 is discount at $10k if a Waldorf is going for twice as much. Both respected snyths but to say for something in a garage sale or something, I just cannot not believe in it. DX1 is not $1500, that's a big joke.
July 29, 2014 @ 5:14 am
Bought mine on Ebay in 2009, that year I only saw two for sale, I bought the second from an 80's band member on Ebay for $9800.00. Shipping was expensive at a total weight of 190lbs with anvil case. My first impression was it was big but when I set the thing up and turned it on, it was impressive. The keys are wooden and soft, programming takes a little time to get used too but it works quite well switching patches and layering. It's a great control synth as much it is a full programming synth like a Roland JD800. I have no intentions to sell considering I looked for 2 years and quite happy.
July 26, 2014 @ 10:20 pm
I think the ebay user spacecase62 is the person constantly posting here about how these synths are really rare. From his auction:
"estimates of final production numbers from varied web sources, range from about 140 to maybe 300 ever manufactured"
Price is $12,500.00.
This sounds so similar to many people posting here under various names.
It's not cool to artificially hype up a synthesizer for your own profit based on monetary gain alone and not the usefulness or technical superiority of a product.
So basically, I am calling spacecase62 out and I really discourage anyone from buying.
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Rated 4.31 (667 Votes)

  • Check Price
  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Demos & Media
  • YouTube Thumbnail
    Yamaha DX1
    by heathfinnie

    Manual - Download the original owner's manual from SoundProgramming.net.

  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 32 voices
  • Multitimbral - Bitimbral: 2 simultaneous patches (A and B)
  • LFO - Sine/Square/Tri/SAW up/SAW Down/Random
  • VCA - 6 Envelope generators 8 parameters each
  • Effects - None
  • Keyboard - 73 weighted keys with velocity and aftertouch
  • Memory - 64 performances; 64 patches: 32 ROM, 32 RAM, external cartridge memory
  • Control - MIDI, CV
  • Date Produced - 1983 - 1986

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