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Best Cheap Vintage FM Synth Keyboard Synthesizers
Old 5 days ago
  #1
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Thread Starter
Best Cheap Vintage FM Synth

First of all, my budget is £200. Ive seen that apparently the dx11 is better than the dx21 and dx27, but also that the ys 200 and v50 are similar to the dx11. Could someone highlight the differences between these 3 synths, such as which have velocity sensitive keys, which have a sequencer, and other features. Also Id like to hear of any other fm synths that can be bought cheap 2nd hand. I know that fm synthesis is hard to learn but Im willing to put in the time to get stuck in with a proper synth.
Old 5 days ago
  #2
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e6400ultra's Avatar
 

TX81Z No keys, but average price is $100. and it's the Lately Bass synth
Old 5 days ago
  #3
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If you follow the links that are auto generated by your post there are product descriptions for each of those keyboards. There are also websites such as vintagesynth.

You say you’re willing to put in the work to learn fm synthesis, but you’re not willing to do a bit of basic reasearch yourself about the features of each keyboard you’re interested in? I hate to be ‘that guy’ (I know every thread has one) - but look, get a piece of paper, draw a little table for each synth with tick boxes for all the features your ideal keyboard will have and spend like an hour or two reasearching. It’ll be fun and rewarding!
Old 5 days ago
  #4
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Thread Starter
Yeah, fair enough boards of burnley. Id like to hear from peoples opinions of their sound as well though, which cant be found on a spec sheet. While the tx81z is good, Ive heard that the dx11 and ys200 are just keyboard versions of it, and I prefer synths with attached keys.
Old 5 days ago
  #5
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you might enjoy the DX100 as a 1st FM. it's very approachable,
with more user presets than the tx81z, minikeys (fine, you have
the advantage of a piece of kit that doesn't take much space),
but it isn't multi-timbral, and i don't think it has the extra waveforms.

if you already own a keyboard, the tx81z really is fine, if you don't have
a heap of rack. it's still just 8 note polyphonic, just has a stereo output,
and you'll probably use it more in single mode anyway. i find the 32 user
presets a bit limiting, but sysex dump/restore is easy these days.

those are 4-op, and then you have the 6-op family: DX7/TX7/tx802 etc.

never really looked into the 4-op keyboards because i went via dx100 to
the tx81z and didn't find those others appealing. sort of thinking i could
have stuck with dx100 because it was nice to use.
Old 5 days ago
  #6
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rrlc's Avatar
 

FB-01
Old 5 days ago
  #7
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My advice, save some more and go straight for an SY77 or SY99 even better if you get lucky, prices should vary around 300-400 mark.
Old 5 days ago
  #8
Gear Nut
 

Do you want a nice keybed?

Yes -> DX7 (or if you can find it, DX11 or V50 or Tg77/99 but Dx7 is a lot more common)
No -> TX81z (or Sy77 if you can find it; FS1R is also nice but has gotten expensive)
Old 5 days ago
  #9
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acreil's Avatar
 

The earlier 4 operator models (DX21, DX27, DX100, FB01) have a much dirtier sound than the later ones. So they're useful even though they have fewer features.

Also, the later 4 operator models have some waveforms that aren't found in anything else, so a TG77 doesn't completely supersede the TX81z either.
Old 5 days ago
  #10
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Jpro600k's Avatar
 

Dexed

dexed (vst plugin free! )

You can use it, looking for the patch of DX 7 and loading it.

I am using Yamaha Reface DX. it is very easy to use.
It is small, the speaker is attached, and the sound is also good. You can also easily adjust the tone. The effect is also substantial.

--------------------------
Piano Improvisation - Requiem.
Old 5 days ago
  #11
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korg ds 8

check it out

often very cheap

very good
Old 5 days ago
  #12
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I'd go for a reface dx: cheap, new and clean, good enough ui, simple, sounds good.

Only 32 memory slots though, so you'll have to back up your presets every now and then.
Old 5 days ago
  #13
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Jpro600k's Avatar
 

korg-volca-fm

Old 5 days ago
  #14
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YS200, DX11 and V50 are all related. They have extra waveforms, unlike the DX100, DX21 and DX27, which only have sine waves.

Like every vintage FM synth, they need external phaser/chorus, delay and reverb to really shine.

The YS200 has 8-voice polyphony, a sequencer but very limited editing. Yamaha thought of it as an introduction to FM synthesis but it really doesn't teach you anything other than "randomly type in a few numbers and hope it sounds good." Once you learn FM, you can understand the YS200 although it was marketed the other way around. It sounds like a DX11, but the DX11 has full editing.

The DX11 also has 8-voice polyphony but does not have a sequencer. However, it has extras such as chord memory and alternate assign mode. These are very useful in multitimbral mode, which Yamaha calls a performance. The YS200, DX11, TX81z and V50 are all best used in multitimbral mode, where you layer patches to create thick and complex sounds. I don't think most people realize this.

The V50 has 16-voice polyphony, so it's essentially two DX11's with a sequencer, '80s drum machine and a cleaner sound. It is the best of the 3 because it can layer more notes for more sound-creation options. It's the one I own and love (I used to have a TQ5, which is a YS200 without keys, and I was looking for a DX11 when I stumbled on a V50, so I got the V50 instead). Because of the V50's ability to layer so many voices and to use alternate assign mode and chord memory, I would actually choose it over a DX7 if I could have only one or the other (though I would choose a DX7II over a V50 because of the DX7II's two realtime sliders).

I've not played a YS200 but the keyboards on the DX11 and V50 are great, with nice velocity, easy aftertouch, and quality that's similar to the DX7II I used to own. My V50 feels similar to but a bit less springy than my SY77, which was a flagship synth when it came out. So in other words, the V50 keyboard is nice.

The Korg 707 is another FM keyboard in your price range. It is an FB01 with subtractive synth-style editing. It's not a true FM synth since you have only approximate control over operators' frequencies and volume, and you don't have direct control over the way the operators are connected to one another (i.e., the algorithm, in FM-speak). But it's a fun, easy way to create virtual analog sounds as well as trippy FM sounds. It has velocity and aftertouch but only 49 keys. Still I like it a lot.

The Volca FM is affordable too. It is pretty much a 3-voice DX7S, which is a monophonic DX7II that does not have the ability to layer two patches the way a DX7II does. But anyone who treats the Volca FM as a DX substitute will be extremely disappointed. It's better to think of it as a fun and playable sequencer that makes quirky FM sounds. If that's what you're looking for -- ways to make minimal electronic music or fun and easy ways to add ear candy to your music -- then the Volca FM is a home run. At least that's how it works (brilliantly) for me.

A used Reface DX is not vintage and doesn't sound vintage but it is in your price range. Criminally, it has mini keys (which are very good), no aftertouch and no mod wheel. But this is easily Yamaha's best 4-op synth ever, in my opinion -- especially if you have a sequencer that sends CCs, ideally a Zaquencer, Engine, Pyramid, RM1x or other machine that outputs CCs per step. I've created some magical sounds that I can't reproduce on any of my other FM synths because I can slide operators' frequencies and volumes all over the place during a song, and this changes the timbre and texture of a song like nothing else. A step sequencer that can also use LFOs to control CCs -- a la the Octatrack -- is divine at this.

The SY77 has been suggested. Aside from the fact that it's probably more than you want to play, it's a very difficult choice for first FM synth. It is overwhelming to program even for FM veterans (at first, then you get used to it and eventually see it as one of the best synths ever made), so I can't even imagine what it would look like to the eyes of someone who'd never tried to program an FM synth before.

This writeup is based on my experiences, which aren't better than anyone else's, just different. But fwiw I've been programming FM for nearly 20 years and use nearly a dozen FM synths ranging from a Volca FM to an SY77 so I have lots of experience. Doesn't make my opinions right for you, so continue doing your own research.

Only you know what's right for you.
Old 5 days ago
  #15
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Thread Starter
Thank you very much for the replies everyone/ I think I'll go with the V50. One question though, does anyone have opinions on which is easier to program/ faster / more intuitive, the dx11 or V50. And lastly, does anyone know of a good guide to learn fm synthesis and how to program sounds on the V50?
Old 5 days ago
  #16
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robotunes's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hephaestu5 View Post
Thank you very much for the replies everyone/ I think I'll go with the V50. One question though, does anyone have opinions on which is easier to program/ faster / more intuitive, the dx11 or V50. And lastly, does anyone know of a good guide to learn fm synthesis and how to program sounds on the V50?
V50 and DX11 are exactly the same, in terms of programming.

FM is not as hard as you might think. I hope my "Beatles analogy" will help you get to grips with it. It's my quick attempt at explaining how it works and some of the terminology.

The V50 manual has some helpful programming info to get your started. Most people believe FM programming is just tedious guesswork and trial and error. It's not. The trick is to start with two operators, make tiny adjustments to their frequency and volume ("output," in FM-speak) and really, really, listen to how your changes affect the sound. Practice doing this long enough, and soon you will be able to predict what your changes will do to the sound. You won't be 100% right but you will be in the ball park, and you'll know what changes you need to make to get to the sound you want.

And do focus on making performances; that's where the V50 really kicks butt. Even if you have scant FM experience, layering two or more patches ("voices" in Yamaha-speak) will produce awesome sounds. The V50 holds 100 voices. Once you start layering any 2 of those patches, you'll have up to 9,900 different new sounds. Layer 8 patches at a time, and you'll have 750 trillion permutations available to you. Layering is a very powerful and frequently overlooked way of creating new sounds.

Finally, if you have a Windows computer, google the free program P-farm. It takes two V50 patches and genetically mutates them into 30 additional offspring. Some will be awesome, some will be awful. Keep the good, get rid of the bad and repeat. In about 30 minutes you'll have enough new patches to fill a 100-voice bank.

You'll probably see people citing the two best regarded books on DX7 programming: "The Complete DX7," by Howard Massey; and "FM Theory and Applications: By Musicians, for Musicians," by John Chowning, inventor of FM synthesis.

I suggest ignoring them for now. Both those were written for the DX7, which is different from the V50. The settings in those books won't give you quite the same results on a V50 because the synths don't have the same modulation index and because the DX7 has only one function setup that every patch uses, whereas each V50 patch has its own function setup. The fact that you're unfamiliar with the terms "modulation index" and "function setup" further suggests that those books aren't for you just yet. They will be after you get a DX7 or one of its 6-op (or 8-op) descendants.
Old 5 days ago
  #17
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daviddever's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hephaestu5 View Post
First of all, my budget is £200. Ive seen that apparently the dx11 is better than the dx21 and dx27, but also that the ys 200 and v50 are similar to the dx11. Could someone highlight the differences between these 3 synths, such as which have velocity sensitive keys, which have a sequencer, and other features. Also Id like to hear of any other fm synths that can be bought cheap 2nd hand. I know that fm synthesis is hard to learn but Im willing to put in the time to get stuck in with a proper synth.
Just stretch it to a used DX7 (original release) or TX7 (slightly less convenient). Enough with these 4-op pretenders!
Old 5 days ago
  #18
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SidneySheldon's Avatar
 

+1 for ds8
Old 3 days ago
  #19
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Here's some patches for the TX81Z it's a great synth and there's lots on ebay. Think i'm going to buy another soon.

YouTube

YouTube
Old 3 days ago
  #20
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Just got a TX7 for $100. No intention of programming it. I figure whatever can be done with it has already been done by now. Intend to download a few 1000 patches and use sysex patch dumps. That and Dexed should be fine for me.
Old 3 days ago
  #21
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flowthrough's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by EvilRoy View Post
Just got a TX7 for $100. No intention of programming it. I figure whatever can be done with it has already been done by now. Intend to download a few 1000 patches and use sysex patch dumps. That and Dexed should be fine for me.
A wise choice- congrats!
Just remember to feed it a healthy diet of external effects (they like chorus and reverbs).
Old 3 days ago
  #22
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DX11 has got the pitch envelope that the TX81Z misses. The editing is a lot better too, with patch buttons for direct parameter selection rather than the hierarchical menu torture on the rack.
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