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).

Lookup Yamaha DX21 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.

Related forum topics


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
April 13, 2009 @ 7:17 pm
Mystery solved, I think you must have a DX27S as there were DX27 and DX27S with the S version being the one with speakers.
February 25, 2009 @ 3:40 pm
I own my DX21 eversince it 's launch. Some of it's capabilities keep me still using it: the "VOICE FEM" sound in mono mode with portamento allows me screing female voices in songs like Diana, or others similar. The "pitch bend priority low mode", allows me to emulate a very smart pedal steel as well as fiddle, and so getting a very rewalistic countryish effect in the songs. Some good hammonds and vox continental sounds, a good flute created by me (by request I may send it) and a good mono sax solo with gurgle... Recent
By the other hand, the lack of velocity on the keyboard and different volume level among different voices, made me buy a DX7 FD II on ebay, but still trying to get used to it.
Doug Dixon
October 23, 2008 @ 6:10 pm
This synth brings back memories. It was the first synth I owned back in the 80s when I was just a lad. Now I have an extensive synth rig, but found myself getting some samples of the DX21 because they are still very useful and I still have a DX11 which is fab. Its getting to the point that keyboards don't have personalitys any more. Yamaha DXs Roland D50, Korg M1 and the Wavestations. When you heard them on an advert or movie sound track you instently know which synth it was and even ( if you where an anarack like me ) which patch it was.
"Yamaha DXs classic keyboards" Long live synths like these.
Savo Jr
October 21, 2008 @ 2:37 pm
This makes excellent [beep]s, bleeps and clonks. ;D Like others i prefer TX81Z over this and of course FS1R.
But i value those over DX7 too because of variable waveforms. I suggest everyone to compare versions with different AD converters.. they do matter!
October 18, 2008 @ 10:39 am
I've got the DX21S, which is stereo with built in speakers! It is basically a DX100 full sized. It has the infamous DX100 bass, the dirty clav, tubular bells etc. Can be hard to program if you are from an analog synth background (like me!) but not impossible. Get a copy of the DX21 manual or a DX100 manual.
Contrary to popular belief almost all patches are improved by a distortion box.
VSE Rating

It’s Good

User Rating

Rated 3.92 (668 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 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

Errors or Corrections? Send them here.