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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Are you looking to buy or sell a Yamaha TX81Z? 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.

84 Visitor comments
August 17, 2013 @ 5:12 am
does anyone knows how to do program changes from ableton live to it? cheers
June 7, 2013 @ 3:43 am
The TX81z is my favorite unit. I like to run it in dual channel mode. Stabs, bass, and wacky leads this unit glues a track together. In my opinion, it's influenced dance/pop as much as the 303, but that's besides the point. When you've got standard architecture synths and pad machines and you need some rounded low-mids the TX81z delivers that better than anything else. What it does, it does well. If you can't make great tracks with a TX81z, a sampler, an analog or two, and a couple of romplers, then it's not the gear. ;)
May 19, 2013 @ 4:26 pm
Try this editor: http://ctrlr.org/yamaha-tx81z/ (download the editor, then this panel)

Sometimes it works in quirky ways (like when you switch away from the effects section, the effect stops working, but you can reapply the effect by just tweaking one of the effect knobs slightly. Weird.), but I've easily gotten some really good results from using CTRLR. Fun!
April 30, 2013 @ 11:44 am
Without using an editor such as Midiquest or Sounddiver many people will find this synth hard to program. In many cases without an editor you get stuck with Lately Bass and a few good presets only.

Put the time in. Sync it with an editor and Lately Bass will become lame bass compared to what new bass can now be made.

As a slight grumble I do find this machine a little noisy and also a little quiet but the outstanding sonic bass makes it worth putting up with.
April 28, 2013 @ 3:08 pm
I have one of these but I cannot get a decent level out of it. Plugged directly into my Fireface 800, and maxed out Master Volume, it sits at about a 1/4 of the volume of all my other synths at best. Is this normal? I have adjusted every parameter I can find (including checking the foot controller volume) but I cannot get this thing to beef up. I love the sounds but in my current rig, I have no inputs available that have a gain pot. Ideas?
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User Rating

Rated 4.19 (700 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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