Yamaha DX7

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yamaha dx 7The Yamaha DX7 was a synthesizer manufactured by the Yamaha Corporation from 1983 to 1986. It was the first commercially successful digital synthesizer. It can be heard on many recordings from the 1980s. The DX7 was the moderately priced model of the DX series of FM keyboards that included the smaller DX9, DX100, DX11, and DX21 and the larger DX1 and DX5. Over 160,000 DX7s were made.[citation needed]

It was based on frequency modulation synthesis (FM) based on research by John Chowning at Stanford University.[1] The DX7 was known for precision and flexibility of its bright, digital sounds, which were much clearer than those of the analog synthesizers that preceded it. The DX7 is well-known for its electric piano, bells, and other "metal striking metal" sounds. It was capable of 16-note polyphony. While the instrument is monotimbral, the manner in which the sound of a single DX7 patch can change either subtly or wildly along the length of the keyboard or when played with different velocities can make it sound multitimbral. It had 32 algorithms, each being a different arrangement allowing the user to combine its six sound operators together dependently and/or independently.

Voices could be programmed by a user, and stored into a 32-voice RAM internal memory, or corresponding DX7 RAM cartridge. Several computer applications exist (mainly for Atari and Mac OS, and now Mac OS X) that can enable a user to load different presets into the keyboard from a computer via MIDI; the user can also store the keyboard's voices onto the harddrive to free up memory. The most prominent of these programs is Takashi Suzuki's DX7 Librarian 2.1.

The synthesizer included MIDI ports, but was released shortly before the specification was completed, and had incomplete support for the standard: It only transmitted information on MIDI channel 1. It could receive information on any one of the sixteen MIDI channels at a time, but lacked the OMNI feature that enabled later DXs in the series to receive on all MIDI channels simultaneously. Very early DX7s manufactured in 1983 were distinctive for not having "MIDI Channel" inscribed next to the button that opens this function (button 8). This lack of marking was corrected by 1984[citation needed].

Additionally, the maximum velocity value at the DX7 MIDI out of notes played at the DX7 keyboard was 100 (of the 127 maximum value defined by the standard). The DX7 would, however, respond to the full range of velocity values when sent from an outside MIDI source. The meant that when using the DX7 as a MIDI controller to play external sound modules, the patches on those modules would have to be adjusted to be more sensitive to velocity. It also meant that when playing the DX7's own sounds using an external MIDI controller or sequencer, the velocity values would have to be rescaled before hitting the MIDI IN or the DX7 patches would have to be adjusted to be less sensitive to velocity.

Three improved "DX7 II" models were released between 1987 and 1989, all of which featured updated internal circuitry and a new style case. These were the DX7 IID, which improved sound quality from 12 bit to 16 bit, and allowed bi-timbrality; the DX7 IIFD, which was identical to the DX7 IID except that it also had a floppy disk drive; and the DX7s, which had improved sound quality and the updated case, but otherwise had the same essential functionality of the original DX7. Third-party products for the DX7 also flourished in the 1980s, including Grey Matter Response's E! expansion board, which added sequencer functions to the keyboard. DX7 IIs could transmit and receive on any one of 16 MIDI channels at a time. The DX7 family remains popular to this day with many recording and performing artists.

In 1988, in celebration of the company's 100-year anniversary, Yamaha released the DX7 II Centennial. It was a DX7 II FD with a silver case, gold painted buttons and sliders, and 76 glow-in-the-dark keys. Only 100 were made and they were priced at US$3995.

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