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
Evan Long
May 27, 2010 @ 12:56 pm
After being thoroughly unimpressed with the DX100, another 4 op FM synth, I am thoroughly pleased with the TX81Z. The TX81Z has more waveforms and more features, such as performance mode, and you can hear the difference in the presets alone.
February 12, 2010 @ 2:47 pm
I love mine, it's probably the hardest synth ever as it's like 8 DX7s in a box with about 4 buttons used to program it! It is often regarded as being less coplex than a dx7 synth but it has more waveforms so this isn't really true. I managed to get the techno backing sound to "Good Life" from it using the midi delay. Wicked, amd really cheap as well. Good for geeks!
February 7, 2010 @ 6:32 pm
Pound for Pound, best rackmount you can buy for $50 off of craigslist. It's not that hard to program, but even if you never learned how, it's earns its keep with the bass and brass presets, which sound as good as any cheap analog rackmount. If you have one of these, an MKS-50, and a half decent controller, you'd be in MIDI heaven. And all for less than the price of a bloody microkorg.
November 1, 2009 @ 8:59 am
This synth was used extensively by CLOCK DVA on their albums 'Buried Dreams', 'Man Amplified', 'Digital Soundtracks' and 'Sign'.
June 30, 2009 @ 6:47 pm
A beautiful sounding machine, its architecture is surprisngly flexible. It can sound very digital and, with patience, quite warm and analog-like. And it's cheap as dirt. It's not as hard to edit as it's often made out to be, but there's a nice editor for Windows that opens it up. Its biggest drawback is the almost complete lack of parameter control via CCs, most likely due to its pea-brained MIDI buffer.

A couple tricks:
-CC#2 (breath control) can be set to modify the amplitude of a set of operators. Handy for instant LPF-cutoff-like control over spectral content.
-Fixed mode operator frequencies go as low as 8hz. Depending on the algorithm, such an operator can serve as an LFO. Handy, since there's 1 LFO per patch maximum and 3 total in performance mode.
-Depending on waveform, slight frequency (and thus phase) differences between 2 operators can create a beat which can also serve as an LFO.
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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