Yamaha DX7 by dhollmusik
A little background:
As stated in my RS7000 review I didn't seriously get into dedicated hardware synths until 2009, and the DX7 was the first. In fact I have the DX7 to thank I got so into synths that in the last 2 years I've owned and played at least a dozen different beasts.
The DX7 is famous for being unfriendly to program, to say the least, so it must have some magic about it...
...and that magic is in its sound.
Let's forget the famous presets and let's not explore the chasms of deeper synthesis the DX7 is capable of, I'll just highlight the sounds I was making:
- tasty crunchy basses
- 3D glassy bells
- shiny liquid pads
- shimmering drones from another planet
and they sounded truly wonderful. Whatever magic was in there it got me addicted to synthesizers. FM-related I've since been on the FM8, Nord Modular & Virus KB and they don't come close to matching that crystal-clear classic DX sound (of course, the Virus & Nord are capable of other magical things...just not DX).
I've also had the DX200 and TX7 which sounded great (the latter sounded just like the DX7 even, the DX200 less so: less gritty, more hi-fi). Neither offered deep synthesis, at least not without software editors...of which I'm not a fan.
Oddly enough the closest I've heard is the Roland Alpha Juno 2 (which is a very different kind of synth).
The DX7 is the best at what it does, but its character can actually be a little limiting if it happens to be the only synth in your rig. It loses a mark only because it always has that character going on, and you may find yourself wanting to hear something completely different from time to time. It also must be said the output hisses a little.
Ease of use:
This could theoritically be a 1/10, but in time I found myself getting used to using its operators via the buttons, matrix-graphic, colour-coding and single data-slider...after a while I could even drone-jam a little using LFO-speed for the slider and intensity from the wheel.
It's still maddeningly frustrating, tho'...a DX7 with lots of knobs and sliders would have been absolute killer and surely worth a ton of money even today.
I've never tried integrating midi controllers, if you're interested in that then Google is your friend.
It doesn't really have a lot of features (see the later DX7-II for those, or even the SY-series). But it does have midi, aftertouch, breath control and two very nice wheels (pitch & mod). It also must be said its keyboard-feel remains one of the best I've played. Very more-ish.
It can save patches and expand via memory cartridges too. Some are put off by the single mono-out but in reality this does not adversely affect your mixes, even solo stuff (as long as it goes into a good audio mixer).
Mine was fine, and gear forums and user reviews from the old boys who bought their DX7 25 years ago will mostly tell you it's a very reliable beast.
Bang for buck:
Less than €200 is insane value. It only loses a point because one data slider is really stingy (but was the trend at the time).
I sold it and since then have attempted to replace it with others (notably DX200 & TX7)...without success. I've decided to replace it with the DX7-IIFD which I'm sure I will like.
This may not be what you're looking for (look elsewhere for ideal audio demos), but this is some of my favourite dark ambient stuff I made, with the DX7's singing tone featuring in every track:
acid 24 | dholl
(the hiss is not all DX7, it mostly comes from greedy use of the Korg A5)