Yamaha TX81Z synth module 1988-1996

Yamaha TX81Z synth module 1988-1996 Yamaha TX81Z synth module

Compared to the disappointment of the FB-01, this unit was far more useful. It was capable of playing multiple sounds simultaneously, and it could load DX100 sounds. It also had additional editing options, which allowed more complex waveforms than the DX100. It was still a step down from the Yamaha DX7, but it received heavy usage. It was also home to one particular preset sound known as “lately bass”, which still turns up in music to this day.

In retrospect, the decision to use these sorts of four operator fm synths was entirely economical. Had I any sense (or more money), I most likely would have chosen other options. That being said, the brittle and harsh sounds of these synths became part of the overall sound of T4M, like it or not.  

Yamaha FB-01 tone module 1987-1988

Yamaha FB-01 Tone Module 1987-1988 Yamaha FB-01 Tone Module

This was theoretically sort of like 8 DX100s in a box, however it was temperamental and ended up pretty useless. The preset sounds could not be altered unless one had access to editing software. At one point I transferring some of my choicer DX100 sounds onto the FB-01 using a borrowed computer, but something was lost in the data transfer, and many of the sounds ended up sounding far less impressive. Buying the TX81Z later remedied the situation.

Roland D-10 1989-2000s

Roland D-10 1989-2000s Roland D-10

Martin bought this keyboard pretty much at the same time as I got the TX16W, so I was far too in love with my new sampler to be blown away by it, though at the time, I kind of should have been. Once you figured out how to access all the features, it was essentially an 8 instrument synth module, controller keyboard, drum machine, and sequencer all in one unit. The drum and synth sounds could be reasonably good, particularly if you compared them to my previous Yamaha gear.

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Sequential Circuits Pro One 1991-1992

Sequential Circuits Pro One 1991-1992 Sequential Circuits Pro One

Ogre lent this synth to Gabriel, and in retrospect, I have no idea why I didn’t use it - possibly because anything that didn’t have a MIDI plug on it was dead to me, but I was a great fool. Had I had any sense, we could have cooked up tons of good sounds on it, and then sampled them.

I’ll leave the overview to Gabriel.

@Gbrl says: "This was a brilliant machine. It was the kind of synthesis that I was actually comfortable with . A lot of the percussive sounds on 'Plague' were actually synthesized and sampled from the Pro One. Probably bass sounds are what we should have used it for more, but those were different times... actually there's no excuse, we should have used it for more bass sounds, period.

The only problem was this particular one had a problem with the keys. No idea why, but they worked intermittently, and never had very good feel. Still, would cheerfully kill to have one now."

Yamaha DX-21 1992-1994

Yamaha DX-21 1992-1994 Yamaha DX-21

The DX-21 is basically a blown-up version of the DX-100, with full sized keys, and additional storage. The editing and programming is identical to the 4 operator FM synthesis in the DX-100.

Gabriel purchased the DX-21 and went deep into the same sound designing rabbit hole as I did back in the late 80s. We both had a similar attitude in that we tried to make sounds on it that it wasn’t really designed for. I purchased my DX-100 shortly after playing a Roland D-50, and found the DX-100 lacking. In Gabriel’s case, he probably would have probably done better with a few nice analog synths.