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
December 21, 2010 @ 9:08 am
Very underrated, used on hundreds of hit records, 'What is love" Haddaway, "Holiday" by Madaonna, many many more.

It was used on probably more hit records than 95% of all the synths on this site, that's gotta count for something...
Mats Sjöblom
November 12, 2010 @ 8:59 pm
The complex waveforms make for a very different sound from the other 4op FM synths. It can actually import FB01 sounds, but they will not sound exactly the same. There was a keyboard model with the same FM engine sold in Europe under the name DX-11, after the British objected to the original Japanese name, "V2". I have a TX81Z in my rack since 1987, and for most of that time it has been my only MIDI synth with portamento. It understands MIDI pan messages but only hard left, right and center. There are a few preset patches specifically intended for use with a MIDI horn or a breath controller and also performance setups for MIDI guitar (six separate channels with the same voice).
the surgeon
November 8, 2010 @ 11:02 am
I had one 15 years ago. I still haven't found such an effective fender-rhodes patch!
November 5, 2010 @ 5:59 pm
This is a nice module but in the 20 yrs I've had it I only use the Lately bass and a couple of the other basses. It has a couple of decent strings and bell tones and is good for getting a DX7 metallic sound in your mix but apart from that it is a bit limited compared to a DX7, either that or I'm not programming it correctly. The factory presets are crap compared to the dx7.
October 20, 2010 @ 8:04 am
OK, Im running my TX81Z through an Electrix Filter Factory and it puts my Virus to shame when it comes to raspy, teeth grinding leads. There are usefull virtual communities established for support, discussion, freeware, editor software... i downloaded a software editor trial and made some changes to patches that have me converted to FM synthesis for ever. The interface on the yamaha is a little like watching paint dry but when you get right in upto your elbows it will put a grin on your face. stay away from the pseudo effects not worth it....
i found mine one year ago for $20.00 AUD in a pawn broker because they thought it was an FM Radio reciever; this synth has taught me alot about synth sound design and i would recommend purchasing one if you are interested in delving deeper into the sonic posibilities of the FM synthesis.
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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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