Yamaha TX81Z

Yamaha TX81Z Image

Yet another FM synthesizer from Yamaha, this one comes in a compact, multitimbral, 1-unit rackmount module and is basically a key-less version of the DX-11. It has far more professional features than its relative, the FB-01. The TX81Z features great FM type synth sounds similar also to the DX-21 and DX-27. It's still not as good as the classic DX-7, but it's an inexpensive source of those sounds with lots of programmability. Eight voice polyphony, 128 preset sounds, 32 user and lots of functions hidden behind 11 push buttons.

The TX81Z features a new ability to use waveforms other than just a sine wave. There are eight voices that can be split, layered and detuned. Also onboard are pseudo-effects including delay and reverb. These features can be stored as performance setups. The effects are simply envelope and re-triggering effects. The TX81Z works great as a sound-module for any live or studio production. It's got a wider range of sounds than the DX-7, may not be quite as warm or 'classic' sounding, but at its low price and with the excellent MIDI implementation it makes a great alternative or backup synth for percussive, punchy FM synth sounds. It's used by Fluke, Roni Size, Astral Projection, Squarepusher, Jimmy Edgar, Future Sound of London, and Josh Wink.

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84 Visitor comments
March 20, 2013 @ 12:04 am
I finally figured it out, the most overlooked part of this synth that makes it particularly badass is that it has 4 part multitimbrality. This means you can have A) a four voice poly patch with two separate 4-op (4 voice x 2) patches layered on top of each other; or B) A complex mono patch made up of 4 discrete elements.

Think about that. You can program a sharp and clicky attack for a bass, layer a couple of midrange texture patches and have a solid thunking sine wave to hold it together.

Or detuned chorused metallic poly sounds... Very flexible once you start thinking this way
February 17, 2013 @ 12:10 am
The tx81z is one of the most fascinating synths i've ever come across, the one thing everyone must understand when approaching this mysterious black box is that it needs at least some external processing.


heres an album recorded in one improvised take using only a TX81z in single mode being run through a boss me50b bass pedal, there were no overdubs.

Andrew Flinders
December 28, 2012 @ 7:39 am
I get tired of ignorant people who compare 6op vs 4op Yamaha synths. They are totally different. 6op was the first generation (DX7), and 4op the second half of the 80s. These people are truly clueless, and why they feel a need to compare 2 great things is beyond me. I have both DX7 and TQ5, and they're both great. TQ5 has 8 waveforms so can produce different kinds of sounds than DX7. 4op synths have a more new-age sound.
December 9, 2012 @ 10:28 pm
Not good IMO. Save your lectures though, because even though I think this synth [beep] s, I know if you have excessive free time you can actually get some decent sounds out of the TX81Z. One of its problems is it tries so hard to emulate "real" instruments like cellos and fails miserably. I didn't come here to trash talk the instrument though, because I know there is a niche for these sounds. Anyway, I spent a long time trying to figure out the "performance" bit. I gave up but I'm curious as to how one records a performance. I wonder how that works because the manual DOES NOT help in the least.
Goa Travellers
November 4, 2012 @ 5:53 am
Its "Latest Bass" preset is used by Astral Projection in their track called "Utopia".
VSE Rating


User Rating

Rated 4.19 (701 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 - 8 notes
  • Oscillators - 4-Operator Digital FM synthesizer
  • #Instruments - 8 parts
  • Filter - None
  • Effects - Built-In Pseudo-Effects: Reverb by envelope modulation, Delay by re-triggering on free voices
  • Keyboard - None
  • Memory - 128 patches, 32 user, 24 performance setups
  • Control - MIDI (w/ Velocity and Aftertouch)
  • Date Produced - 1987
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