Yamaha TX81Z synthesiser.

You can pick these up so cheaply these days, everyone who makes electronic music should have an FM synth, there's no excuse. Mine cost me 90 in the mid-90s and you can get them for even less now. On the other hand I guess you can do all the FM you want using computer software and it sounds just as good (unlike computer emulations of analogue synths). But I like leaving the computer turned off when I'm making music if possible!

Mostly I like analogue synths and I don't like the newer digital synths that try to act analogue. But I like FM synths - they are not pretending to be anything other than what they are, machines for adding and multiplying digital waves in a way that is almost impossible with analogue synths without running into severe tuning problems. FM is very electronic-sounding in my opinion, it doesn't sound natural or organic in the way analogue synths can. It has its own strengths and weaknesses I suppose.

This is a 4-operator FM synth of the second generation which means that the operators have several waveshapes available in addition to the sinewaves that the original DX7 offered. It's basically a rackmount of a DX11 in fact. It's got two outputs and it's multitimbral, and it's full of sounds from hit records and Detroit techno classics, lots of Derrick May etc. The "Solid Bass" preset must have sold millions of records from Doug Lazy to Reese.

Bad points - FM is hard to get your head round and the tiny screen doesn't help, and nor do the 11 buttons that double-trigger all the time. Also, the output is quite noisy.


All these sounds are just TX81Z with a little reverb or delay. A few have some drums frmo the K2000 as well.

TX01 - a classic house music piano.
TX02 - electric piano used as a bassline.
TX03 - slow vibrato electric piano.
TX04 - a classic techno preset - electric piano used as a bass.
TX05 - another techno classic with TR-707 drum samples from the K2000.
TX06 - a nice organ.
TX07 - Clavinet preset.
TX08 - Bright Celeste preset.
TX09 - mellow brass preset.
TX10 - Bassoon preset.
TX11 - High Strings preset.
TX12 - Harp preset with echo from the MPX1.
TX13 - more FM strings.
TX14 - unrealistic funk bass that was used on a lot of records.
TX15 - Lately Bass preset with a loop from the K2000.
TX16 - Tubular Bells preset.
TX17 - Synballs preset.
TX18 - Solid Bass - the sound that launched a thousand hits.


Download the manual in PDF format here
TX81Z at Synth Mania including lots of MP3s here
TX81Z at Sonic State here
TX81Z at Harmony Central here
TX81Z at Vintage Synth Explorer here