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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Are you looking to buy or sell a Yamaha DX21? 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.

67 Visitor comments
September 5, 2013 @ 12:15 pm
Programming the DX21 can lead to some sonic experiences! It's often quite hard to understand why tweaking "this" makes it sound like "that", so it might not be the one to achieve certain sound-goals with. Some of the patches you might end up with will however be very inspiring, and that's what a good synth is all about. It creates wonderful feedback in both mono or poly modes and fattened up with a bit of external reverb makes it a force in your studio... Considering you like surprises.
jorge espinoza
August 23, 2013 @ 6:15 pm
alguien me puede dar un tip para desbloquear un dx-21? estaba funcionado bien nadamas que no se que hice mal y ya no sale audio solo sonidos que nada que ver con las voces (organos pianos etc etc) ahh otro detalle es que le cambie la pila de 3volts de antemano gracias mi correo es mu5ico_@hotmail.com
July 30, 2013 @ 3:00 pm
I'm in the Indianapolis area and have a DX21. Feel free to email me jjumpin61@yahoo.com
July 24, 2013 @ 6:57 pm
I have a DX21, was working fine during practice, than all the sudden the volume went dim.

At full volume, the output is barely audible!

Does anyone have any clue as to why, and what I could possibly do to solve this issue?

I am familiar with FM and digital synthesis, so please any suggestions would be great. Thank you.
July 8, 2013 @ 1:48 pm
This is a bitimbral synth, not monotimbral as the specs on this page claim. Two patches can be assigned to the keyboard as layered or split. So the DX21 is essentially two DX100's with an added chorus effect and a big clunky keyboard. It doesn't have midi local off mode, so it's useless as a midi keyboard controller as well.

If you still have an Atari ST lying around, try the free YSeditor: http://yseditor.atari.org
It makes editing this thing much less of a PITA.

Useful for gritty bass sounds, cheesy strings and metallic FX, but you're [beep] ed if this is your only synth.
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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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