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
September 4, 2010 @ 2:27 pm
Update. I've been working with my DX-21 lately and to be honest it is next to impossible to get this thing to play nice in a MIDI setup. The MIDI buffer constantly fills up and has to be dumped. There may be a way, but it would probably involve a different DAW and midi filtering. I'm using Ableton and a MOTU Micro Express. That should be good enough.
On the bright side I've made some amazing patches with it. To bad I can't really use any of them.
August 27, 2010 @ 9:14 am
This synth is more capable than the comments suggest so the "brittle" comments are hard to believe. The extra 2 operators in the DX7 are useful but don't magically transform the first 4. These synths are getting a little old but they are well built and should last for a very long time. About the only thing you may need to change is the battery and that is pretty easy. There is a video on how to change it on Youtube.
July 21, 2010 @ 5:02 am
Thank you all for your reception, it was useful to read it.
I agree that dx-21 is for real synth lovers, but i think that it is still moderate because it can be used as noise/drone instrument. In Minsk (Belarus)for example, a lot of underground listeners still like my droney interpretations of popular songs, though the synth is about 80s...
Wardell Brown
February 15, 2010 @ 10:59 am
The Manuel can be found on the Japanese Yamaha Site!


I Love mine,
I paid $100 and at first was put off by the programming and was going to sell it.
Them I found another site that helped with the Programming.

It is a great lead synth and a valuable instrument.

This site brings out some points that the Manuel Misses!

December 12, 2009 @ 1:19 am
This was my first "real" synth. I do agree that it's much better than the reviews. Programming is easier than the DX-7 though it dosn't sound as good. The split keys, layering, chorus and stereo out option make this one stand out. My only complaints are the horrible midi implementation. (It constantly sends pitch and volume data), lack of velocity sensitivity (although this is supported through midi, just use your master) and it's very noisy (may just be mine though, it's old). I've never played a DX-100 but I would suggest the DX-21 instead. It has more options, plays the same patches, and is much cheaper.
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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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