Yamaha DX5

Yamaha DX5 Image

Yamaha's DX5 slots in somewhere between their legendary DX7 and flagship DX1 synthesizers. Under the hood the DX5 is almost identical to the DX1 except the DX5 has done away with the heavy wood-paneling and has a less fancy keyboard (no more ployphonic aftertouch) and is more affordable. With its dual 6-operator FM synth engines the DX5 is like having two DX7 synthesizers in one, and then some! The DX5 has 64 performance memories which can be loaded or saved to cartridge, while the DX7 has only one manual performance memory. This improves the versatility for live performance and makes excellent use of the dual engines. However, one thing to consider is that the MIDI implementation, while adequate, does not qualify it as a master keyboard, in particular, the DX5 (like the DX7) sends only 99 as the maximum velocity, not 127. In addition, the DX5 is slightly noisier than the DX7.

Although the DX5 is a digital synthesizer, its sounds are unique and fresh with an analog/digital hybrid feel. Programming however, is not at all like analog synth programming. All DX series synths use Frequency Modulation (FM) synthesis and all are rather difficult to program or, at least, difficult to understand what to program. The DX5 is no exception to this rule except that its layout, parameter buttons and displays are much better than typical DX synths.

For performances, the DX5 shares the DX1's bitimbric ability to play two patches from memory (Channel A and B) with the keyboard in layer or split mode and the polyphony reduced from 32 to 16 voices. That's a very cool ability for an old synth, especially a DX type synth. Imagine playing bass in one hand and some other wacky sounds in the other hand. You'd have to get a couple TX7s or DX7s to achieve that otherwise (of course this may be cheaper than getting a DX5 anyway). The DX5 remains a very high quality vintage instrument and if you've got the money to burn and a desire for a unique instrument from the DX line of synths, this is the one! It has been used by Kitaro.

Lookup Yamaha DX5 Prices

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21 Visitor comments
July 27, 2012 @ 8:39 am
500$ for a DX-5? That have to be on the States, cause in Europe it's at leaset double that. Great machine. Wish I had one.:-)

Br Jens
Arik S.
April 29, 2012 @ 12:19 am
Mezzo's comment about S80 with PLG150-DX board: not true! That board is a stripped-down DX7 engine with limited editing AND it is monotimbral. Only improvement over original DX7 is that sound outputs via newer D/A converters, hence cleaner but still not the same as DX5, not multitimbral and editing is as complicated as in DX7. Also, that PLG150-DX card sells on eBay at around $400, you can get the whole DX7II-D for that much. People, don't make your opinions from reading online forums, at least say if you had any experience with real synths. I LOVE my DX5, would keep it for look and keys alone
April 24, 2012 @ 10:30 am
Just bought a mint condition DX5 and it is a massive machine. Sounds great not noisy at all and the sounds are rich and expressive. Really cuts though my productions and sounds unique and with a lot of depth. A great complement to my analog and software synths.
If you find one buy it! I think once the hysteria for pure analog calms a bit (due to prices) the DX's will be more appreciated. $500.00 for a DX5 or an Arturia Minibrute? I went for the DX5. Not the same thing but.....
Analogue Crazy
April 13, 2012 @ 6:18 am
I have owned one of these for a month now and am extremely impressed. I found one by chance at my local music shop and, being a DX7 lover, just had to have it. Set me back £400 and its in immaculate condition with 2 ROM cartridges. It programs just like the MK1 DX7 but is much easier, having a much larger backlit screen and the real buttons of the DX1. After programming your sounds in single mode, thats when the fun starts. The split and layering is fantastic, and makes for a really huge sound. Its not as noisy as some people say, and built like a tank. Highly recommended
Charlie Rice
November 20, 2011 @ 12:14 am
I bought a DX5 when it first came out. I've gigged with it extensively and after almost 30 years, it's still like new. The best keyboard I ever owned!
VSE Rating


User Rating

Rated 3.57 (284 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.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 32 voices
  • Multitimbral - Bitimbral: 2 simultaneous patches (A and B)
  • LFO - Sine/Square/Tri/SAW up/SAW Down/Random
  • VCA - 6 Envelope generators 8 parameters each
  • Effects - None
  • Keyboard - 76 keys with velocity and aftertouch
  • Memory - 64 patches: 32 ROM, 32 RAM, external cartridge memory
  • Control - MIDI
  • Date Produced - 1985 - 1987

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