Digital programmable algorithm synthesizer

The most famous synthesizer of the 1980s.

Its electric piano became a standard sound in ballads and "smooth jazz" genres.  Its bass was the standard bass sound, typically played in bouncy octaves.  Its crystalline timbres were such a departure from the world of analog, that this synth was a super-hit for Yamaha in 1983, and spanned a long family of FM-based products.


The DX7 came out in 1983, sporting the new MIDI interface.  The high quality of its digital sounds, velocity + aftertouch, the expandability, the thoroughly professional look, and the complicated programming interface, made the DX7 and FM synthesis take off in a way the was unknown before for synthesizers.  Thousands of units were sold, and thousands of records have that distinct DX7 sound (especially for the electric piano, the bass, marimba and glassy, crystal-type sounds).

The DX7 was also the first synth that originated a huge "patch creation" business.  Since it was cumbersome to edit, many programming houses were established, ready to feed the hunger for new sounds that players all over the world craved.  Today, there are literally thousands of sounds available for the DX7.

Bottom line:  together with D-50 and M1, the synthesizer of the '80s

Yamaha DX7 audio demos


Stream all audio demos below:

Preset name with  demo My comments
Factory internal presets (ROM-1 A MASTER GROUP)
1 BRASS   1 Classic '80 synth brass.
2 BRASS   2 A variant on the classic synth brass.
3 BRASS   3 Muted brass, typically the breath controller was used for these types of sounds.
4 STRINGS 1 Glassy strings, typically FM.  The DX7 was never renowned for its string sounds - most everybody preferred the warmth and body of a true analog for string parts.
5 STRINGS 2 Variation of the above.
6 STRINGS 3 Full string orchestra.
7 ORCHESTRA Rich orchestral setup.  This was great for the time.
8 PIANO   1 Nice approximation of a grand piano, with its own character.
9 PIANO   2 Rough rock 'n' roll piano.
10 PIANO   3 Detuned upright.
11 E.PIANO 1 THE MOST FAMOUS PATCH OF THE '80s!!!!!!!  Used by EVERYBODY, the fabled INT11 preset has become a standard sound (aka "FM piano" in all modern workstations, of all brands.  It was manipulated in many ways, but the typical add-on was a wide chorus, to achieve that polished, professional sound.  Mixed with a regular piano sound, it became the "L.A. piano", a standard for mid-80s ballads.
12 GUITAR  1 Solid guitar sound.  Quite expressive and hypnotic!
13 GUITAR  2 Heavy guitar rendition.
14 SYN-LEAD 1 Very nice, quasi-analog synth solo.  Reminds of the sound used by Chick Corea (which he mixed with another electric piano type of sound).
15 BASS    1 THE OTHER CLASSIC DX7 PATCH!!!!!!!  This bass was used as the MAIN BASS for SO MANY '80s productions.  Listen back and you'll spot it easily.  Again, this patch now has become a standard (FM Bass) and lives in all modern synthesizer workstations, of any brand.
16 BASS    2 Very nice and expressive fretless bass.  This sound is also an FM trademark.
17 E.ORGAN 1 Aha!  I bet you didn't remember the DX7 Hammond organ sound to be this good!  Yep, the sine waves of the DX7 lend themselves very well to create a Hammond sound.
18 PIPES   1 Powerful and noble pipe organ.
19 HARPSICH 1 Realistically programmed harpsichord, key release and all.
20 CLAV    1 Awesome Clavinet sound.  Just add wah-wah.
21 VIBE    1 Intriguing, beautiful digital sound.  These were the types of sounds that the other synthesizers of the era could not do at all - and in part helped the DX7 rise to the top.
22 MARIMBA Another classic DX7 sound!!!  Very used in the mid-80s
23 KOTO Excellent reproduction of the Japanese instrument.
24 FLUTE   1 Much was said about the realism of this patch, at the time.  Today, it doesn't stand out as such, but in 1983, especially if you used a breath controller, it didn't get more real than this (unless you sold your car and bought on of the first samplers, such as the Emulator I)
25 ORCH-CHIME Beautiful, angelic orchestral pad.
26 TUB BELLS Graceful tubular bells.  Again, a sound that no other synthesis but FM at the time could reproduce.
27 STEEL DRUM Cool steel drums.
28 TIMPANI Expertly programmed, and very expressive orchestral percussion.
29 REFS WHISL Dead-on referee whistle!
30 VOICE   1 Another DX7 signature sound - the hollow digital voices.  Useful as a pad and for many other purposes.
31 TRAIN Marvelously programmed setup, with the aftertouch controlling the volume of the "steam engine" sound.  Split keyboard to achieve all these sounds.  This was for the time, absolutely groundbreaking.
32 TAKE OFF At the end, the usual sci-fi sounds step in.  Common in synths of that era.
2 PIANO   5 A nice, intimate piano.
4 E.PIANO 3 Wurlitzer variant of the electric piano
13 E.ORGAN 2 Jazz organ, with some of the higher drawbars pulled out.
16 E.ORGAN 5 Great Farfisa / Vox combo organ sound!
18 PIPES   3 Solemn church organ - very well programmed!
20 CALIOPE Cute calliope puff organ sound
1 PICCOLO Super cute piccolo flute sound
3 OBOE Realistic oboe
4 CLARINET Realistic clarinet
18 HARMONICA1 This preset was used in a VERY FAMOUS hit song of the '80s:  Tina Turner's "What's Love Got To Do With It?"
26 GONG    1 Ominous gong sound
32 LOG DRUM Excellent wood percussion sounds
2 SYN-LEAD 3 Another great, expressive '80s solo synth
6 SYN-CLAV 2 Throaty, funny synth clav
10 SYNBRASS 2 More DX7 signature synbrass sounds.
16 SYN-BASS 2 Typical FM bass -
22 B.DRM-SNAR Analog sounding TR-808 type.
24 EVOLUTION Strange, evolving synthesizer FX
26 WASP STING Great emulation!
27 LASER GUN More sci-fi FX
31 ST.HELENS Disturbed transmission
15 JAZZ GUIT1 Awesome jazz hollow-body guitar!
28 GRAND PRIX Classic car racing sound FX
31 BRASS S H Synth brass with Sample and Hold effect (mod wheel)
3 E.GRAND 2 Nice electric grand, a la CP-80
14 E.ORGAN 3 Happy '60s electric organ sound
26 LUTE Airy and transparent lute sound
5 BASSOON Realistic emulation of a bassoon.
25 VOICES Icy, mysterious digital voices.
26 XYLOPHONE Nice xylophone
27 COWBELL Well-programmed cow bell.
2 PERC BRASS Nice percussive synbrass.
4 HARPSI-STG Very interesting amalgam..
8 STRG-CHIME Nice split.
20 FILTER SWP Ok emulation of a filter sweep (the DX7 doesn't have filters..)
22 WILD BOAR LOL!  Great sound.
23 SHIMMER Happy sci-fi sound
30 ..GOTCHA.. Yep!


Yamaha DX7 pictures (click on thumbnails to enlarge)




Don't forget to press FUNCTION (SPACE) and then Nr. 8 to switch from UNAVAIL to AVAIL when loading patches from your sequencer, or the DX7 won't receive the MIDI sysex.

Yamaha DX7 Features
Year of release: 1983
Polyphony: 16
Sound generation method: FM
Preset memories 32 + expandable via cartridges
MIDI: in, out, thru
Sound expansion capabilities: cartridges
Sequencer no
Arpeggiator no
Effects no
Velocity yes
Aftertouch yes


Yamaha DX7 Manual

available at www.yamaha.com



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