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PreenFM, Reface DX or SY77
Old 15th May 2017
  #1
PreenFM, Reface DX or SY77

Hi there,

I am in the market for a FM hardware synth, and I have come down to 3 choices:
PreenFM, Reface DX or a used SY77.
Although I prefer SY77 soundwise, it has 2 big disadvantages:
a) size (this thing is HUGE)
b) age (sooner or later it will become too expensive to repair)

I had a reface DX for a couple of months, and although it sounded lovely, it is a shame that you can not load DX patches on it, and there is no librarian available (seriously 32 patches in a modern synth???).

PreenFM seems like the most logical choice of the three, but cant have access to one before i pull the trigger so I have second thoughts.

Anyone had/has any two of those, that can give any suggestions?
Old 15th May 2017
  #2
Gear Maniac
I don't know why you think the SY-77 will get too expensive to repair. They are very serviceable and really the only thing that has a tendency to fail is the disc drive belt.

They are built like tanks and they sound incredible.

If you plan to design sounds, record in a studio and sample for live performance (like me), get the SY-77.

If you just need access to FM tones live, the Reface DX is cool, but you'd be better off with a used DX-21 and sysex.
Old 15th May 2017
  #3
Lives for gear
 
goldphinga's Avatar
 

What about DEXED? I find that amazing and I own a 77 too. Ps the screens are a big weakness.
Old 15th May 2017
  #4
Gear Addict
 
satatek's Avatar
if u think sy77 is huge, u might consider tg77.

i just sold my sy77. menu diving really put me off. got bored with it quite quick.
Old 15th May 2017
  #5
Gear Head
 

The SY77 is the most powerful of them. If you're just starting out, get a TX81z.
Old 15th May 2017
  #6
Gear Maniac
If I had to sell all my keys, the SY77 is the one thing that would stay. It does magic pretty things.
Old 15th May 2017
  #7
Lives for gear
 
robinkle's Avatar
About the SY77, there is a risc that the floppy drive belt or floppy drive it self is defective, also the display might need to be replaced due to defective back light.
It can be fixed if you don't mind soldering.

Agree it's huge. But it's also very deep to edit, you will need an editor. That's why Dexed might be a good software replacement instead.
I've never seen the point of having a hardware synth, when it need's a editor to be programmed. Unless you enjoy endless menu diving.
The Reface DX is very nice, light, easy and quick to use. Sounds great! But it's limited. I have no experience with PreenFM.
Old 15th May 2017
  #8
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by robinkle View Post
About the SY77, there is a risc that the floppy drive belt or floppy drive it self is defective, also the display might need to be replaced due to defective back light.
It can be fixed if you don't mind soldering.

Agree it's huge. But it's also very deep to edit, you will need an editor. That's why Dexed might be a good software replacement instead.
I've never seen the point of having a hardware synth, when it need's a editor to be programmed. Unless you enjoy endless menu diving.
The Reface DX is very nice, light, easy and quick to use. Sounds great! But it's limited. I have no experience with PreenFM.

The SY77 is super easy to edit on.
Old 15th May 2017
  #9
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by babbGR View Post
I had a reface DX for a couple of months, and although it sounded lovely, it is a shame that you can not load DX patches on it, and there is no librarian available (seriously 32 patches in a modern synth???).
Well, if all you want is DX patches, why not just get a Volca FM (or a DX7)?

The Reface DX should be seen as its own thing, IMO.

Also:

https://soundmondo.yamahasynth.com/
Old 15th May 2017
  #10
Lives for gear
 
abruzzi's Avatar
 

I've never used a PreenFM, so I can't comment on that. First, neither the reface DX or the SY77 will load DX7 patches, however since the SY77 is essentially a superset of the DX7 FM implementation, it can pretty much make any FM sound the DX7 can. If you want to dump DX7 patches to it, you need to convert them with a DOS program called dx2sy. Its not a perfect conversion but is usually pretty close. The reface DX only has 4 operators so it won't do DX7 patches. Its possible that it could do TX81Z patches but there are not converters that I've seen, and I don't know TX81Z architecture well enough to know if the reface DX has all the necessary bits to make the same sounds.

I'd also second the suggestion to look for a TG77. Its the same sound engine as the SY77 but in a 3u 19" rack form. It lacks the keyboard, floppy, and sequencer (and about 20lbs!), but is otherwise the same. Well almost, the SY77 has two stereo outs, while the TG77 has that plus 8 mono individual outs.

Most synths from this era and LCDs with electroluminescent backlights that have a very short lifespan. They're pretty awful, but instead of replacing the EL backlight, its better to replace it with a better display, something like this:

Old 15th May 2017
  #11
Thank you all for your responses

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unborn Gore View Post
Well, if all you want is DX patches, why not just get a Volca FM (or a DX7)?

The Reface DX should be seen as its own thing, IMO.
I dont have such a good vibe with Volcas, I always end up selling them. Also the low voice count puts me off. DX7 are very expensive in the local market (500euros +), whereas I can get a SY77 for less than 300.

I am aware that Reface DX is not a DX7, and I really like its sound, but the lack of a librarian is a big bummer!

I already use Dexed alot, along with Rob Papen Blue on the software side, but I am looking for a hardware synth atm.

TG77 seems like a way better choice for me, but I am not sure if i will ever find one
Old 15th May 2017
  #12
The Reface DX isn't completely devoid of librarian, there's the soundmondo nonsense, and I believe there's some 3rd party options cropping up as well.

I would actually recommend the Reface DX, despite the BS 32 memory location limitation. I use one myself, and it's by far the easiest for creating your own patches short of a software editor, and like has been said already; hardware that requires software to use makes no sense at all!

Yes, it can't use the old sysex libraries, but there's plenty more to do with FM synthesis. Yes it's only 4-OP, but those 4-OPs does some stuff that many other FM synths won't, so it's not nearly as limited as some say. And it sounds quite a bit sweeter than any software FM synth I've tried. Sounds better than the Volca FM too.

So despite some stupid details, it's still fun, easy to use and great sounding, I've fallen for mine.
Old 15th May 2017
  #13
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by babbGR View Post
Thank you all for your responses



I dont have such a good vibe with Volcas, I always end up selling them. Also the low voice count puts me off. DX7 are very expensive in the local market (500euros +), whereas I can get a SY77 for less than 300.

I am aware that Reface DX is not a DX7, and I really like its sound, but the lack of a librarian is a big bummer!

I already use Dexed alot, along with Rob Papen Blue on the software side, but I am looking for a hardware synth atm.

TG77 seems like a way better choice for me, but I am not sure if i will ever find one

Seriously look into DX21. I want one badly. They are smaller than a DX7 and bigger than a Reface. They have button style patch selectors instead of membranes too, which is nice. They sound almost identical to a DX7.
Old 15th May 2017
  #14
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc_the_Darc View Post
The Reface DX isn't completely devoid of librarian, there's the soundmondo nonsense, and I believe there's some 3rd party options cropping up as well.

I would actually recommend the Reface DX, despite the BS 32 memory location limitation. I use one myself, and it's by far the easiest for creating your own patches short of a software editor, and like has been said already; hardware that requires software to use makes no sense at all!

Yes, it can't use the old sysex libraries, but there's plenty more to do with FM synthesis. Yes it's only 4-OP, but those 4-OPs does some stuff that many other FM synths won't, so it's not nearly as limited as some say. And it sounds quite a bit sweeter than any software FM synth I've tried. Sounds better than the Volca FM too.

So despite some stupid details, it's still fun, easy to use and great sounding, I've fallen for mine.
I'm in love with mine too. It might be the synth I would sell last, despite it's limitations. I don't really care about the 32-patch thing, since I just sample and go, anyway. I just sit down and create something new every time I use it.
Old 15th May 2017
  #15
Lives for gear
 
breakmixer's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by babbGR View Post
I already use Dexed alot, along with Rob Papen Blue on the software side, but I am looking for a hardware synth atm.
PreenFM2 loads all DX7 patches, I own PFM2 - But I'm not sure how close it resembles the DX7 sound(never had access to a DX7), the only time I have tried editing sounds on it I used the standalone editor as it's kinda like a Mopho desktop, hence I sold my Mopho desktop for Mopho SE(for the hands on control). I honestly am thinking of possibly parting with my PFM2 because the VST editor I have never got to work and Dexed VST actually sounds just as good(maybe better) and is easier to use, tbh I haven't tried to program it from the front panel as FM and menus are a minefield that I don't understand, so I question in this case why you also want a hardware FM for DX7 sounds as PreenFM2 isn't as straight forward to program as for example the Reface DX is, I prefer Reface DX, it is dead simple to program even if you don't understand FM, It does those classic 4op FM basses if you try. I won't ever sell my Reface DX, but I can see myself selling the PreenFM2 maybe - going to give it more time to see if it grows on me. I think I could quite happily used Dexed instead though, it's actually Dexed that could possibly make my PFM2 redundant...just my 2pence worth from my perspective....
Old 15th May 2017
  #16
Kja
Lives for gear
Dx has really really good effects too, plus a looper if that matters.. The effects do though.. They are really great with the synth engine. Shame the won't process external signals.
Old 15th May 2017
  #17
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breakmixer's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kja View Post
Dx has really really good effects too, plus a looper if that matters.. The effects do though.. They are really great with the synth engine. Shame the won't process external signals.
I sold my large DX-21(that I somewhat liked) to make for more room and replaced with the smaller Reface DX, I really like the Reface alot, no noise neither like the DX-21...
Old 16th May 2017
  #18
Lives for gear
 
robinkle's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Songtalk View Post
The SY77 is super easy to edit on.

I never said it was difficult.

It's easy to move a mountain with your bare hands as well. You just need time and patience, and take it one step at a time.
Old 16th May 2017
  #19
Deleted 46dc28f
Guest
I prefer the TX81Z. In fact, I'd rather have one of those over the FS1R I sold.
Old 26th June 2017
  #20
Here for the gear
I own a Reface DX, bought it 2nd hand for an honest price and even if limited to 4ops, it's a breeze to program, maybe the most comfortable UI ever done for an FM synth. If you have and iPad and the Lemur app, there's also VERY GOOD editor for it. The Reface has complete midi and sysex implementation, midi in-out + usb, standard jack outs...way more a complete musical instrument than the Volca. A Reface DX is enjoyable both for live and for studio environment.
In the studio, I create a regular midi track for the Reface and 2 midi tracks to and from the iPad editor. In that way I can edit and record automation of every parameters, also unusual stuff, and create some crazy fun!
Old 26th June 2017
  #21
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by breakmixer View Post
PreenFM2 loads all DX7 patches, I own PFM2
My understanding is that this may not be fully correct. the PreenFM2 doesn't have operator feedback, and the DX7 does.

That being said, the PreenFM2 is heads and shoulders above the Reface and the Korg Volca.
Old 26th June 2017
  #22
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by feijai View Post
My understanding is that this may not be fully correct. the PreenFM2 doesn't have operator feedback, and the DX7 does.

That being said, the PreenFM2 is heads and shoulders above the Reface and the Korg Volca.
Infacts I'm really curious, and I'd really like to try one.
Old 26th June 2017
  #23
Lives for gear
 
breakmixer's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by feijai View Post
My understanding is that this may not be fully correct. the PreenFM2 doesn't have operator feedback, and the DX7 does.

That being said, the PreenFM2 is heads and shoulders above the Reface and the Korg .
Yes, all DX-7 patches will load but they may sound a little different to the DX-7 due to this difference.
Old 26th June 2017
  #24
Lives for gear
 
robotunes's Avatar
Feedback is essential, in my experience.

Reface DX is highly misunderstood and therefore quite underrated I'd say. It does things a DX7 cannot approach and should be looked at on its merits, not as a DX7 replacement. It's also the best hardware intro to FM programming should you ever want to get a DX7.
Old 2nd February 2018
  #25
Gear Head
 

The Reface Dx is excellent. The touch controls take a little bit of getting used to but i like them, and the build quality is very good. The screen's nice and the graphics are an important part of it for me, like on the blofeld. I've been using software FM synths for years but my 1st minute playing with this was more rewarding and inspirational. Using the looper and just tweaking the sound is a lot of fun; and I'm finding it very easy to use. The software synths sound good but dont enjoy making sounds with them much. I think it's going to be a nice addition to my studio

Last edited by Eoghan; 2nd February 2018 at 09:54 PM..
Old 6 days ago
  #26
Gear Maniac
 

Have you guys noticed these refaces are for sale on Altomusic for $298. That is a heck of deal for this synth. I picked up one and it is much more than the toy I thought. I get why it was priced originally for $599. This is a great deal and a great synth at half that price. I imagine they must be discontinuing the synth that so blowing out the rest of inventory? I wonder how many they have left. This synth is worth more than that for sure.
Old 6 days ago
  #27
Lives for gear
 
rids's Avatar
 

Twisted Electrons MegaFM is another great candidate and best interface of them all.

https://twisted-electrons.com/product/megafm/
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