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 19, 2012 @ 10:28 am
HELP - How the hell do you get lower case characters in the Voice Name?!
October 21, 2012 @ 12:36 pm

the DX-7 has six operators and the DX21 only four so it's next to impossible to directly convert those signature DX-7 sounds to your DX21. However, the DX21 is a great synth on its own that is capable of delivering that typical FM timbre we know and love from its bigger brother. With a bit of clever patch programming and layering, you can create all sorts of DX-style fat pads, glossy leads and pumping basses. I recommend using an editor (like YSEDITOR) for patch creation as the front panel is a bit sparse and non-intuitive.
October 8, 2012 @ 10:01 am
I just came across one of these in my storage at the high school I teach at. Is it possible to get that great DX-7 sound? Thanks.
David White
July 12, 2012 @ 1:28 pm
This is a vastly underrated synth...I've had it for all of 3 hours now, and I can't get over how versatile it is. It has great bass, lead, and weird tinny/80's sounds. It has midi implementation, highly programmable. The Beastie boys used it in "Girls", Aphex Twin used it on the "Come to Daddy" EP, Tiga uses it, as well as DJ Shadow. I couldn't be more pleased with its versitility.
July 6, 2012 @ 4:03 am
I owned one back in the 80's. It's a great machine. Easy to program. I did a lot of FM programming on this machine. Fantastic realism when immitating plucked instruments like slap bas and classic guitar. Very impressive harmonica especially if using the breath controller.I gave it to a music store and got a Prophet 2000 sampler instead because I wanted to try sampling.
I think it's underrated.

Enjoy Your DX21 if You have one. It's a great synth
VSE Rating

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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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