Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Yamaha DX1

Click here for shots via this auction. Note the DX1 had poly-aftertouch.

"This is quite rare and hard to find, since they only made about 140 of this model.

The Yamaha DX1 Digital FM Synthesizer was a direct decendent of the original DX series prototype, the CSDX [also check out the FX-1] that I saw at a NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Convention in Anaheim, CA around 1983-84 in the Yamaha booth. Clark Spangler renowned composer and product specialist was demonstrating the instrument and had the room capitvated with the sounds of this prototype keyboard with a real Yamaha wooden keyboard action. He said to the crowd intently listening "this keyboard has to be felt to be believed". Of course, no one was allowed to touch it but him! Everyone was drooling. This thing was huge with beautiful Brazilian Rosewood sides, front and a front panel display that looked like the cockpit of a 747.

Everything about the DX1 is top shelf. It weighs 112.2 pounds (at least that's the weight listed in the owner's manual, it's very heavy), it has full length wooden keys and twice the polyphony of the Yamaha DX7 - the DX1 is 32 note polyphonic when in SINGLE MODE and features a DUAL MODE that layers the two 16 voice tone generators or a SPLIT MODE that puts a complete 16 voice polyphonic synthesizer on each half of the keyboard. This makes the DX1 one of only two of the DX series instruments to offer a full 32 notes of polyphony when using the sustain pedal and arpeggiating a large number of keys.

Many people think that the DX1 is merely two DX7's in a big wood case or a DX5 with 73 wood keys. NOT SO. The DX1 sounds better than ANY of the DX and TX series synthesizers, I've owned them all and played them side by side, there's no comparison. I always thought that the DX1 was the most "analog sounding" and warmest of the DX series. I realized that it wasn't just my opinion or my ears, I found out that Yamaha did make the DX1 using hand-picked components for it's top of the line instrument, so IT IS DIFFERENT than ALL the other DX series synths. It's cleaner and quieter than all the others, including the DX5 that was introduced as a lighter version of this magnificent beast. All DX7 cartridges can be used with this DX1. The classic DX FM pianos have a depth unlike any DX7. Brass and string sounds are much fuller and richer sounding since the two tone generators can be detuned and this detuning is one of many programmable parameters that a single DX7 can't duplicate.

Besides the sound (as if that's not enough alone) what makes the DX1 really special is it's control surface. The tiny LCD display that made the DX7 so hard to understand and program or edit, the DX1 finally makes programming FM synthesis easy to understand and FUN! The plethora of controls and LED displays this instrument has is incredible. Like it's little brother the DX7, the DX1 has the graphic representations of the 32 algorithms, unlike the DX7, they're larger, easier to see and more beautifully displayed over a blue lined background on the lexan/plexi front panel. Next to this are 13 LED windows that not only show the algorithm selected, but the position and relationships of the operators. There are small LED bars that link these windows together so that the algorithm is represented fully illuminated. Next to this display is another pair of LED windows that display the algorithm number and the mount of feedback (if there is any) for the designated oscillator. More than just a "pretty face" this section really lets you see all the information represented by the selected algorithm. The display also includes LED windows that show the frequency ratio, or if selected the fixed frequency, and the detune amount of the currently selected operator.

If you've ever tried to change the attack or decay times of the envelope generators on a DX7, you know how cryptic and tedious it can be stepping thru all the different individual envelope "pages" in that tiny display. The DX1 makes changing the envelopes a snap since it has eight numeric LEDs, showing the setting of each envelope parameter (00 to 99) and four 16 segment LEDs that display graphically the amplitude rates and levels. This display can be toggled to also show the pitch change rates and levels for the pitch envelope.

Other LED displays include the Keyboard Scaling panel, which again shows you all at once, the break point, depths and selected curves for the currently selected operator. The last LED windows on the right side of the panel show the velocity sensitivity, amplitude modulation, and output level for the selected operator. All of these displays are controlled with actual physical buttons unlike the DX7 that has all membrane switches. Many of the switches also have LEDs in them to indicate which button is selected as well, another great feature that "de-mystifies" the programming and editing of sounds. You can easily see which button is "ON or OFF". As you can see in the attached pics, the DX1 even has 6 dedicated switches for the operator selection and 6 buttons to turn the operator on/off making it very easy to hear how each adds to the resulting sound.

There are individual buttons for algorithm and feedback selection, operator mode and tuning that work with the previously mentioned LED display windows, as well as 8 individual buttons for all the rates and levels on the envelope generators, a toggle between the EG display and Pitch EG, 5 buttons for the Keyboard output level and rate scaling, Amplitude Modulation, Key Velocity, Operator Output level....just look at the pics.

The 32 voices are divided into two sections labelled "A" and "B". There are 32 patches for the "A" tone generator and 32 patches for the "B" tone generator. Each section has four banks of eight patches for a total of 64 programs in all. There are also two standard DX series ROM/RAM cartridge slots; one each for the "A" and "B" banks giving you a total of 128 programs available at once! There's also a nice large 40-character, two line, LCD dipslay, (again nothing like the tiny LCD on the DX7) which display the programs selected in Single, Dual or Split mode as well as LFO and other voice specific parameters when editing the programs. This LCD also shows you what you are editing in FUNCTION mode. There's a nice silkscreen right on the front panel to help you remember all of these additional functions such as Tuning, Performance Memory Parameters (how you combine the different programs in Dual and Split modes, detuning of the two tone generators, etc, etc, etc,.....), MIDI controls, and the parmeters that control the poly aftertouch that is unique to the DX1.

This keyboard not only has the standard mono aftertouch like the DX7 and most other syntheiszers for LFO and other modulation, but it also has poly aftertouch that can affect all the operators individually. The DX1 is the only DX synth with this feature. You can actually program the poly aftertouch to allow you to change the timbre and volume of an individual note within a chord!

The front panel also includes the master volume control, the A/B balance of the two tone generators, a dedicated portamento time slider (try changing that on the fly on a DX7), and the data entry controls which include both a continuous controller/slider and up/down buttons. There are the standard Pitch and Modulation wheels.... even these "feel" better than those on any other DX or KX keyboard (I've got both of them). The Mod wheel has a smooth, weighted feel to it and the spring loaded action on the pitch wheel is nicer than most.

The rear panel has 13 inputs and outputs. These include AC input, MIDI In/Out/Thru, continuous controller inputs for volume and modulation amount, footswitch inputs for sustain and portamento on/off. There are 6 audio outputs, three 1/4 inch outputs for a mono mix of both the "A" tone generator and "B" tone generator as well as individual outputs of both for stereo. These are also three XLR balanced outputs for mono mix, and the "A" tone generator and "B" tone generator . This Yamaha DX1 Digital FM Synthesizer has been in my smoke free studio since 1985. I'm the second owner. This is a Japanese 100 volt model that I have been using with a transformer that converts 110/120 volts to 100 volts. The transformer is included in the auction as well as the original Owners Manual, DX1 Performance Notes, a Control Pedal (for volume or modulation) and a sustain footswitch pedal (you can still buy new an additional Yamaha FC-7 foot control pedal as well as an additional Yamaha sustain type footswitch if you want total control of volume, modulation, sustain and portamento at the same time.

I'm also including the two impossible to find original Yamaha DX1 Data ROM Cartridges with the original factory programs made especially for the the DX1. I also have a road case for this DX1. (not an anvil case but one made by Bobadilla cases). The foam in the case has deteriorated and would need to be refoamed. One of the latches is missing it's folding handle so it has to be turned with pliers. This is not the red DX case on wheels that was seen in the Yamaha DX1 brochures. No stand is included. This instrument weighs 112.2 lbs."

via Johan.


  1. location:in the studio
    comment:Keep it there!

  2. the DX1 has the same interface as the DX5.

    any asshole who thinks the entire DX series lacks immediacy and expressiveness (well if you were talkikng about ANY DX other than the DX1 or DX5 ... you'd be correct. however the DX5 and DX1 are very very special. there are direct-select buttons for functions and operator muting) should check this track out. DX5 + Numerology + Liberation drone + Acetone samples (via S5000) = fun:

    it's an edited improvisation. you want proof? here's my DP edit window for the project. it's an hour long jam edited to 15 minutes. i lost interest 30 minutes through an a guest to my studio fucked with Numerology enough to change the vibe.

  3. oh i forgot ...

    at some point there's some low bass courtesy of an Alpha Juno 1 which was parked in my studio temporarily.

  4. yes, it biiger than a CS-80?

    that's all that really matters

  5. I saw a mint DX1 in a used instrument store in Montreal a few years ago. It was on sale for $1000 and I passed on it because I owned an FS1R at the time.

    I've regretted not buying it ever since, but $10,000? Come on!

    I keep seeing vintage synths on auction for ridiculously high prices these days; a Pro-One for $1600, a Prophet 5 for $5000 and now this?

    It really doesn't make sense, considering all the great new products that are available from some of the originators (Moog etc.) and new visionary companies.

  6. DX 200 Loopfactory, 200$. For 10000$, nice holiday, or new car.

  7. Yeah, I similarly passed on a DX1 for around dk's price (think a bit more, though) a couple of years ago. Nice keyboard, but no regrets.

    That said, $7k for starters is your standard eBay pipedream. Move along.

  8. Damn, why doesn't someone release a NEW FM synth? Everything is either a sample playback machine, or virtual analog nowadays.

  9. They did, it's called FM7 / 8... OMG you can see all the operators AT ONCE and you save 9700 bucks!!

  10. "If you can afford a can afford a synthesizer"

  11. how does FM get to weigh that much? must be less than two pounds out of 120 for actual circuitry.

  12. ooh, that mp3 is almost buchlidian!

    Is this another ebay by Captain RetirementFund?

  13. I am a Yamaha DX-1 owner, I paid a lot more than a $1000.00 for mine and if I saw another for $7000.00 back when I bought mine, I would of paid $7000.00, they cost new $13,900.00 and only 140 were made. It is not a toy, it is a Lamborghini of a instrument, it is hand made by Yamaha and the wood is beautiful and weighs 112 lbs.

    A Yamaha DX-1 just sold on E-Bay for $5,600.00 and that is not with the case, the case cost over $1200.00 and you need case, it is too heavy and too rare to drop.

    I know 2 people that spend 2 years search every day online to find a Yamaha DX-1 and they would of paid $10,000.00 because they were desperate to get one. One sold his and decided to get it back but ended up looking for 2 years to find another one across the country
    and anyone who owns one, does not want to part with them. If someone wanted to give me $20,000.00 for my Yamaha DX-1, I would not sell it. No they are not worth $1000.00, even if they were damaged, no way. Mine is a 9 out 10 from perfect and I love it.

  14. So how much did this end up going for?

    Just a few comments...

    If hear one more person say "'this' synth sounds more analog than 'that' synth" i am gonna pull my f'in hair out. neither the dx7/5/1/0/you mom were analog synths (although I bet I can make your mom sing a screamin lead), and none were meant to sound anything like themselves. Different system of sound generation. While you can construct sounds that mimick an analog synth, that is really not the point of owning a DX series now is it?

  15. edit, sound anything like ^^^anything else but^^^ themselves

  16. I own a Yamaha DX-1 and if I found a DX-1 listed for $10,000.00 I would buy it still, even more. Considering it took me 5 months of searching each day online searching world wide to just find just one 1 DX-1 for sale, I was willing to pay anything for just one but they are impossible to find. I know 2 current owners that both spent 2 years each to find their DX-1's. They is only 140 of them out there and there are real analog sounding synths. If someone offered me $20,000.00 for my DX-1, I would refuse to sell it as I have a mint one and was owned by a famous musician.

    This one just sold on Ebay for $5595.00 without the anvil case and was the first one in 2 years on Ebay for sale as I look every week on Ebay for one, hard to find:

  17. Ciao Cerco Urgentemente N. 3 Synthesizers Yamaha DX 1 Potete Aiutarmi ? La mia Mail รจ:

    Hello I am looking Urgently N. 3 Synthesizers Yamaha DX-1 Can you help? My mail is:

  18. I'm considering selling my DX-1 for $10 000.


Comments are moderated. Constructive feedback on gear is welcome, insulting people is not.


Patch n Tweak

© Matrixsynth - All posts are presented here for informative, historical and educative purposes as applicable within fair use.
MATRIXSYNTH is supported by affiliate links that use cookies to track clickthroughs and sales. See the privacy policy for details.