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
November 17, 2009 @ 1:48 pm
I also find it interesting how even though the Korg Delata reccieved a much lower score, and this one got a higher score, for some reason, the description sounds worse for the one that reccieved a higher score than the lower score. Here, "thin, brittle, cheap, difficult to master..." yet for the DX-7, it's much more positive, "It certainly is not analog and it is difficult to program but can result in some excellent sounds!"-Same concept, yet for one, it's more postive whereas this one, it's more negative.

Fat Boy Slim used this synth? I do like his works very much!
November 16, 2009 @ 5:49 pm
"A consumer level of DX synth which sounds just like the DX-100, thin and britle." yet later on, you say "It's capable of good string, bass and droney-pad sounds..." Of COURSE it's not going to sound good if you're used to todays synths (or if you're biased)! While I do notice this person has some bad things to say abot this model, it's not ALL bad. Like the mention of the split, chorus, portamento and Unison Mono-Mode, and they do say it IS better than DX-17 or DX-100. They still manage to say despite some personal preferences, it is still better than their other models.

It will not sound professional if not USED in a professional manner. Take any synth with cheap sounds and use it correctly, it will sound fantastic. FM synthesis is a good way to bring in lively tones into any modern style of music, like hip hop and rap.

I can be 100% honest, this synth has the most vibrant sound of any modern keyboard I've ever tried.
September 9, 2009 @ 6:05 pm
I like the comment of Justin Robert. People tend to diss the DX series for being thin and so on. To me, the DX series represented a very good alternative to everything else at that time, that was basically subtractive synthesis. FM is quite amazing actually, once it is understood. The DX7 and D-50, are still my favorite synths, the FM and subtractive synth, respectively. The complement each other very well. And I agree, that a lot of the entry level keyboards today have very poor quality keyboards. Roland D-50 has such a fantastic feel keyboard. Well, the top level keyboards like the Motif also have good keyboards though, because they have little weights attached to the keys underneath.
Justin Robert
August 30, 2009 @ 1:15 am
Well I just picked up one of these and think its actually pretty cool. I wouldn't say that it is exactly thin and brittle sounding, however, it is very different than a subtractive style synth. There are actually quite a few good bass tones in the presets. Programming isn't quite as hard as they say, but takes a little playing to get used to it. Some of the lead sounds totally kick butt and cut like mad. It's not quite a DX7, but really isn't bad for how cheap you can get them. I actually like the weird harshness of it and you can make some really alien sounding tones. It has some pretty good envelopes to make some good pads. The keys [beep] compared to a DX7 which had a very nice feeling keyboard, but these feel rather cheap and springy, but at least they are full sized. The keys are still better than a lot of the garbage that is being produced today. I like it. I think I'll keep it :)
August 5, 2009 @ 12:41 am
DX21 isn't thin and brittle. That depends on the patch you use. I've created some really fat sounds. Those it comes with aren't all that bad either.
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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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