Yamaha DX21

Yamaha DX21 Image

A consumer level DX synth that sounds just like the DX100 - thin and brittle. Following the DX model this synth also uses FM synthesis which is difficult to master. You will need to program this synth to get better sounds because the presets are only moderately useful. It's capable of a good string, bass and droney-pad sound as well as industrial sound-effects and metallic like sounds.

Still it makes a better option than a DX27 or DX100 because it has the capability of layers and splitting the keyboard and there is a chorus effect. Portamento and a Unison Mono-Mode are also nice features for screaming lead synth performances. For a cheaper source of DX sounds with moderate programmability, check out the DX21. It's been used by Hardfloor, Level 42, Brother Beyond, Astral Projection, Technotronic, Vangelis, and Norman Cook (Fat Boy Slim).

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67 Visitor comments
Arik S.
July 8, 2013 @ 2:16 am
Sorry guys, DX21 DOES NOT have velocity-sensitive keys. I've fixed and cleaned a few of them, there's only ONE set of contacts under keys, pretty much on/off only like door bell. All velocity sensitive keys have two contacts at different levels, so there's tiny time difference they they are hit, enough for electronics to catch it and interpret in volume change. What you hear is probably levesl transitions in operators that may sounds like it responds to velocity. Owner's Manual states the same. Not a big deal, though, for synth and electric bass sounds you don't really need velocity.
May 27, 2013 @ 12:44 am
The DX21/DX100 both respond to key velocity if activated in the voice. Most preset sounds don't have it set. For the keyboard is nondynamic it always sends value 64 (medium velocity) and there is no opportunity to handle this parameter in any way by the synthesizer itself.
April 19, 2013 @ 1:32 pm
Regarding velocity, I owned one of these for many years (was my first "real" synth), from recollection it can send, and respond, to velocity over MIDI, however the keyboard itself is not velocity sensitive. Basically you can pre-program the "velocity" for a patch, or assign it to a slider (I think, don't promise that one), but it's not dynamic, keys are simply "on/off". Again, this is all from memory (sold mine around 1996), used to use it with Cakewalk a lot, and built a lot of custom patches, and that's the best I can remember.
April 12, 2013 @ 12:54 pm
Hi! Does anyone know if this keyboard really sends velocity over MIDI?

It says here to the right that it does but ive read someone say that it dont, and im thinking of buying one as a master keyboard. Cant really understand it in the manual either.
June Marshall
April 11, 2013 @ 6:15 am
Hi Brandon, Email: marjay50@yahoo.co.uk I have a virtually unused, perfect DX21 Yamaha synthesiser with flight case, stand, pedal and other attachments; I bought it new (in 1980 something) and hardly ever used it, I just kind of played at it, but am no musician, it was just something I fancied. Do you still want one and if so how much would you give for it? We'd have to establish postage and packing costs too.
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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 dx21
    by alphacode909

    Manual - Download the original owner's manual here.

  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 8 notes
  • Oscillators - 4-Operator Digital FM synthesizer
  • #Instruments - (1) Monotimbral
  • Filter - None
  • Effects - Chorus
  • Keyboard - 61 Keys (no velocity/aftertouch sensitivity)
  • Memory - 128 patches and 16 performances
  • Control - MIDI (w / Velocity and Aftertouch)
  • Date Produced - 1985

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