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 The DX7 style membrane buttons have been replaced by actual push-buttons, display screens and the overall layout of buttons and diagrams is nicer and better organized.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

The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings with more images, specs and information. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace. Our marketplace gets thousands of visits every week so make sure to check back often if you want to buy or sell a synth.

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Are you looking to buy or sell a Yamaha DX1? Post an ad in Gear For Sale or a request in Gear Wanted. For spare parts and repair services check out Gear Services & Other Goods. Our forums also has a Buyer’s Guide section where you can ask for advice on buying synthesizers.

119 Visitor comments
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.
July 25, 2014 @ 12:01 am
My experience in last year sales has been about in the $1500 range. It doesn't seem like this synth is very desirable. Lots of other gear is fetching a a decent price, but I can't seem to get rid of my DX1 even if I discount it a ton. I'm down to $1500 local and people still aren't buying it. Kind of sad. I paid so much for the kit. I guess it doesn't always work out.
July 24, 2014 @ 11:31 pm
That is so crazy that people are asking 12-13k for the dx1. I've seen it listed as low as $2500 at multiple private second hand shops around Georgia. Even at that price i think the machines stayed around for a couple of years before selling. I think people invest in vintage gear like it is gold or something. I don't think that is the right way. Some people have gotten lucky doing that. But the [beep] gear isn't worth anything. The real shame is gear being held hostage as an investment instead of being used to create music because speculators (not musicians) think they can make a buck.
July 24, 2014 @ 11:21 pm
I don't have the same expertise as others in this thread. But, I have done tons of research and the DS1 is not nearly as rare as people say it is. Many units are in mint shape because no one really used this synth. The interface is awful and the sounds aren't very good that come out of it. I would really encourage people to seek out some of the cheaper options out there today. There are so many great options that are so much better than the DS1 right now, like preenfm.
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  • 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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