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
Uncle Lee
June 4, 2012 @ 2:13 pm
What ISN"T thin & brittle are Organ voices, esp. Clickorgan which sounds like
an old Hammond w/ no Percussion. Much better organs than DX-7 plus it weighs less than a DX-7. It also does some credible Rhodes.
I've owned my '21 for 21 years and you should hear it thru a Leslie! (Check out the "Soul Ballad" on www.vanleer.ca) Brown is good!
May 4, 2012 @ 2:44 pm
The DX21 does have 128 patches built in, 32 accessible from panel buttons, the other patches can be loaded in groups of 8 or 16 from ROM into the RAM, and I believe another bank of 32 user instalable is available for custom made patches. This thing is built like a tank, very durable. It sounds incredibly good when you hook it up to a decent 12 bit effects unit.
April 25, 2012 @ 10:04 pm
Just tooled around with this at a Music-Go-Round today and wasn't too impressed. Granted, I used the presets rather than programming, but only a few of them sounded good to my ears. I could only find 32 of them as well, which was a bit disappointing---although this specifies that it has memory for 128 patches, so maybe I just wasn't able to find the bass or brass sounds. I'll take my SY77 over this any day, but I'm sure it's capable of a lot more than the presets show. And yes, the picture's right---it really is brown.
July 22, 2011 @ 10:09 pm
This thing is awesome! Great for bass sounds, metallic and weird sounds. The onboard dopplereffect is pretty convincing too. I think FM synthesis gets a bad rap from people who aren't patient enough to learn it.
Wardell Brown
April 10, 2011 @ 6:56 pm
The Manuel can be found on the Japanese Yamaha Site!

http://www.yamaha.co.jp/manual/english/result.php?div_c ode=

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!

Post Comment!
VSE Rating

It’s Good

User Rating

Rated 3.92 (666 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.