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Yamaha DX100

Article from One Two Testing, March 1986

FM goes weeny

If you're a contemporary keyboard player without a few FM sounds up your sleeve, you're probably operating at something of a disadvantage. There are certain DX-7 sounds which have been done to death through mindless repetition, but that's only because they were irresistibly good in the first place. There are still hundreds with considerable life left in them.

So now there's a new low cost FM synth, the DX-100, and at the risk of boring you with tales of unprecedented value, I have to tell you that it offers unprecedented value as far as the acquisition of a clutch of MIDI-compatible FM-eral sounds.

If you're familiar with the DX-21, the DX100 might be seen as more or less the same, suffering only the minimal restrictions of a mini keyboard (four octave) and no split/dual mode. The main point is it's literally half the price. It is undoubtedly Yamaha's answer to the Casio CZ-101 (RRP: £395), and offers the same size keyboard and over-the-shoulder capabilities.

The non-touch sensitive mini keyboard may make it unsuitable as a main instrument, but as an FM source in a MIDI system it's great, and although it can't offer individual voice access (MIDI's mono mode) as can the CZ, it is velocity sensitive via MIDI. If you do want to use it over your shoulder, the two separate performance controls (pitch and modulation) are located on the top left hand edge of the instrument which gives it a guitar like action for the left hand when playing over the shoulder, and is also convenient from a static playing position.

As per the DX-21 and the old DX-9, the DX-100 has four operators and eight algorithms and programming has been made easier through the use of simplified envelope generators which act more like a straightforward ADSR's, just like Papa used to make. With greater simplicity, however, comes slightly less detailed control. During all operations you are kept informed as to what's going on via an LCD display, although to my considerable irritation, it still isn't back-lit, so don't forget your torch on stage. Yamaha are aware that many players aren't too concerned with programming and in fact the emphasis has been placed on preset sounds — there are no less than 192 of them as standard stored in the internal memory. In addition sounds can be stored on cassette tape in the usual way. 120 of the internal memories can be used for storing your own voicings and there are 192 ROM factory presets. The memory is divided into three sections:

1. Internal Play — 24 RAM changeable memories used to store sounds from any location. This is the section from which voices can be stored on tape, and so any sounds to be stored must first be loaded into the internal play section.

2. Bank Play — Four banks of 24 changeable memories for any combination of your own voicings and the factory presets.

3. Preset — 192 permanent factory presets that you can use as they are or as a basis for editing. Whatever you do these voices will stay intact.

As with other later DX models, performance control details such as portamento mode/time, pitch bend range, footswitch function (sustain or portamento), modulation wheel range, breath controller range and voice name, can be stored as part of a preset, which saves a great deal of time and effort in reprogramming for different voices.

In addition to a fairly standard 'owners hand book', the combination of an instructional cassette and a 'Play Book' makes using and programming the DX-100 clearer to the uninitiated.

Unless you have particularly small, nimble fingers and are prepared to practise consistently, the mini keyboard will have you looking like a bit of a wally very quickly when playing anything but fairly simple lead lines. This, together with the fact that it only offers velocity sensitivity when played remotely via MIDI and a suitable touch-sensitive keyboard, suggests the DX-100 as an ideal means of incorporating a wide range of DX sounds into your existing MIDI system. It really is extraordinary value. At this time of the year, however, it would be remiss of me not to mention the forthcoming Frankfurt Music Fair in February, where many new and exciting instruments may, or may not, be launched. Even if we do get to know about them in February, though, they probably won't actually be available in the shops for a few months after that, and so if you want some cost-effective FM-ery to use now, the DX-100 could well be your answer.

YAMAHA DX100: £349.00

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Browse category: Synthesizer > Yamaha

Featuring related gear

Previous Article in this issue

The Working Class

Next article in this issue

Marshall Studio 15 Combo

Publisher: One Two Testing - IPC Magazines Ltd, Northern & Shell Ltd.

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One Two Testing - Mar 1986

Review by Chris Dale

Previous article in this issue:

> The Working Class

Next article in this issue:

> Marshall Studio 15 Combo

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