The Yamaha DX 7, released in 1983, was a completely digital synthesizer with 6 operators and 32 algorithms. Its FM synthesis provided bright clear sounds compared to analog synthesizers, polyphonic up to 16 voices, MIDI, memory presets all for about $2,000, a groundbreaking price at the time. With its remarkably new features, the Yamaha DX 7 resulted in a huge-hit eliminating analog synthesizers from the market.
The DX 100 was then released in 1985 at the price of $450 as an introductory product for FM Synthesizers. Back then, the battery-operated mini-keyboard wasn’t used as main keyboards but used mainly as a shoulder keyboard. In the 90s, Roger Troutman used the DX 100 instead of the Minimoog. Because of the influence of Roger Troutman, many talkboxers still use DX 100, and this may be the reason for the high prices dealt for it in used stores.
Synthesizers like DX21, DX27, DX27S, SDX27S, TX81Z that use the same algorithms as the DX 100 can create the same sounds as that of the DX 100. You should note however that not all products come with the same built-in D/A converter, so even with the same parameters, sounds may vary.
Creating sounds on FM Synthesizers
It is not as easy to create specific sounds on FM Synthesizers compared to Analog Synthesizers. However with the DX 100, in order to increase ease of use, it is designed with 4 operators, which work like oscillators, and sounds are created by connecting them in series or parallel. Each operator can work either as a carrier (pitch, volume) or a modulator (timbre), and the mechanics of how these are connected are called algorithms. The DX 100 has 8 different algorithms, so you would be able to route the carriers and modulators in different ways. Algorithms with all operators in parallel would be additive synthesis and operators in series would be FM synthesis.
Algorithms of DX 100
Key points in creating sounds
The key points to create sounds on DX 100 or any other 4 operator products are the choice of the algorithm, FREQ RATIO of each operator, and the OUT LEVEL of each operator. The basic sound will depend on the frequency of FREQ RATIO and OUT LEVEL of the modulator.
The below diagram (links to a pdf) are examples of a set-up suited for sounds for talkboxes. Read the below bullet points to set-up the sections highlighted in red.
- ALGORITHM: Choose an algorithm from 1 to 8 (5 or 6 is recommended).
- PITCH: Modulation wheel range to gain a tremolo type effect (6 or 7 is recommended).
- FREQ RATIO: Choose 1.00 or 2.00 for each operator.
- AR: This is the attack time. Enter a value so you will hear the sound almost immediately after hitting the keyboard (somewhere between 15 ~ 31).
- OUT LEVEL: This is volume if the operator is a carrier, and is harmonics if the operator is a modulator. Enter a value between 0 ~ 99.
- TRANSPOSE: You could change the pitch of the actual sound when you hit the key. FREQ RATIO could alter the pitch one octave higher or lower, so depending on the range you would play on the talkbox, select C2 or C3.
- PORTAMENTO TIME: Choose the speed of the portamento time (a movement from one note to another without attack sound). For smooth slide between notes, choose a value between 5 ~ 15.
Configuration of DX 100 for the Talkbox