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 23, 2009 @ 11:44 am
At least this isn't as terrible as the TX16W! The DX-21 is kick [beep] compaired to that model!
November 22, 2009 @ 5:48 pm
This synth is fantastic. I got is as a replacement for a smashed and completely circuit bent Korg DS-8 (which if you have one and havent bent it up yet do so, the sounds will blow your mind and are completely programmable) and i really love it. The programming is typical Yamaha trying to be different, but the sound is tremendous. If your a fan of early budget digital synthesis, I highly recommend one of these. Phase Modulation was truly a step in the right direction.
November 21, 2009 @ 6:55 pm
True Mike. This synth certainly is a lot better than most of the reviews I've seen.

One of the things I find interesting about this synth, that I found confusing at first was how the sounds were programmed. Say, under "PIANOS", instead of using the up/down (yes/no) buttons to switch betwee effects, you had to go to bank B to find the alternatives. Not sure if everyone knows about this, one of the reasons why it is considered "moderate".

It comes with 8 effects per bank. Alogrthims are amazing, and add a whole new window of virtually endless possibilities. Say Valve Plop by it defualt setting was a thin "hick" sound, but when you change the algorithm set to around 7 to 8, it makes an interesting twang sound, and even a whistling chime noise.

Not many people dare to look at ALL of the features of a keyboard before rating it, and because of all of the neat crazy sound effects that can come from changing the algorithms, it doesn't deserve all the critical press.
November 17, 2009 @ 2:30 pm
Strawbinator, while the string, brass and piano may not be the most realistic, they certainly don't "szuzczk". You can get some creepy Halloween like sounds off of the string and brass section on this synth too. My favorites for the string were the Box Cello and SoloViolin, nice and screechy sounding. Pan Floot was interesting, and Squeezebox was a nice touch with chorus added on. Sitar was the most realistic sitar effect I've heard on a keyboard.

This was a very versitile keyboard for me in my high school music class, and brings back good memories.
November 17, 2009 @ 2:19 pm
Monderatly useful? It would have been better if it were written from a personal point of view. 'You will need to program this synth to get better sounds' it would have sounded much better of it were written 'If you want to get better sounds, you would have to program the synth.' The sounds are not 'moderatly' useful. This synth wasn't made to BE professional, but like Wendi said, it can be good, like for concerts, video games and such.

I think it makes a great keyboard, and even though it may not have the most realistic of presets, it's still a hell of a lot better than all of the negative press it's been recieving.
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

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