Monday 15 November 2021

Very very good article on the inner workings of the Yamaha DX7

I rarely do links to other blogs, but today is an exception! Go to the 'Doing it Right!' section near the end, to see the details of a link to a wonderful article on the inner details of the Yamaha DX7!

Getting it wrong!

The way the Yamaha DX7 synthesizer is treated on the InterWeb is interesting because they are very often full of myths and errors. 

Some articles say it uses FM (Frequency Modulation), when it actually uses PM (Phase Modulation). Some articles say that it sold more units than any other synthesizer, ever, (over 150,000 units - definitive figures are tricky to find and verify), forgetting another digital synth from slightly later, the Korg M1 (over 250,000 units - again, difficult to verify), and several other contenders since... (There again, you can always spiral down into the black hole of clarifications: digital, 12-bit (kind of), hand-built, custom chips...) Some articles say that the DX7, and FM, are difficult to program, but then so is C++ (and many other things) - and yet a lot of people managed to program the huge number of patches/presets/sounds that are available for the DX7 (including a few hundred from myself), so it can't be that tricky! Oh, and some articles say that Yamaha synthesisers do not output MIDI velocity above 100 (instead of up to 127) - which was true for the first few DX7s, and was then fixed, so it not only wasn't correct very soon after the launch in 1983, it hasn't been right since for almost 40 years! Basically, it seems as if many authors of articles about the DX7 and FM don't do their background research properly and just copy the same old fake news and myths. 

(Oh, and hardly anyone ever notes that the original 'number' proposed for the DX7 was the DX5...)

Doing it right!

In total and complete contrast, in every way, a recent blog post from Ken Shirriff is throughly recommended because it not only gets everything right, it also goes very deep into how the DX7 works

Congratulations, my admiration, and kudos to Ken Shirriff for an excellent article!


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