by Rob Puricelli | 4,7 / 5,0 | Approximate reading time: 3 Minutes
Dtronics DT-DX

Dtronics DT-DX  ·  Source: Dtronics

Dtronics DT-DX

Dtronics DT-DX  ·  Source: Dtronics

Dtronics DT-DX

Dtronics DT-DX  ·  Source: Dtronics

Yamaha TX816

Yamaha TX816  ·  Source: Yamaha

MiniDEXED

MiniDEXED  ·  Source: MiniDEXED

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Can the Dtronics DT-DX take an open-source project and fashion a saleable product out of it, bringing the magnificence of the TX816 to the masses?

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Over the years, many people have attempted to simplify the programming paradigm of the Yamaha DX7 and make it more accessible. Across both software and hardware, companies big and small have tried. Some more successfully than others.

MiniDEXED

What nobody EVER said was, “You know what might be better than a tiny 2-line LCD display, 42 multifunction buttons and two sliders? That same screen but with a single, multifunction rotary knob”. And yet, this is what the MiniDEXED project set out to do.

MiniDEXED · Source: MiniDEXED

They took the open-source code of DEXED, a free and popular software DX7 clone, and crammed eight instances of it onto an SD card that runs on a bare-metal* Raspberry Pi. The team behind its development then showed you how you could build your own for around $100. An admirable project.

(*bare-metal means that there is no Linux kernel or operating system onboard)

The Yamaha TX816

Why admirable? Because it effectively gave you an equivalent of one of the greatest FM synths of all time. The Yamaha TX816. The TX816 took the fledgling FM synthesis format and staggeringly popular sound of the DX7 and multiplied it by eight. They embraced the similarly new concept of MIDI to provide an 8-part multitimbral box with 128 notes of polyphony.

Yamaha TX816 · Source: Yamaha
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The TX816 could be played as one to eight instruments. Whilst eight parts of DX7 might make you cringe today, back then it was seen as revolutionary. The TX816 became essential in both the studio and on stage. It was big, heavy and had a noisy power supply, but it packed a sonic punch.

The Dtronics DT-DX

Dtronics DT-DX · Source: Dtronics

Now Dtronics, makers of fantastic programmers for vintage synths such as the DX7, D50, JX3P (MKS-30, GR-700), Alpha Juno (MKS-50), JX8P, JX10 (MKS-70) and Yamaha’s Reface DX, have announced a production unit featuring MiniDEXED at its core.

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More Information

If building your own MiniDEXED is beyond your skill set, or maybe you just can’t be bothered, DT-DX is for you. In conjunction with the MiniDEXED developers, probonopd, Dtronics have employed their production and design skills to come up with a box that contains MiniDEXED at its core.

What they have added is a pair of MIDI DIN ports, TRS audio outputs, a USB-A socket for power and a USB-B socket for hooking up a MIDI controller. The single, multifunction rotary knob looks sturdy enough and there’s a front-mounted SD card slot for the loading of DX7-format SysEx files, of which there are literally thousands of online.

They’ve also added a 112dB Audio Stereo DAC.

Dtronics DT-DX · Source: Dtronics

Thoughts

My first reservation about the DT-DX is the same one I have for the MiniDEXED project. The already much-criticised interface of a DX7/TX816 is no smaller and condensed to a single dial/button. And yet people seem to embrace this! MiniDEXED and DT-DX takes menu diving to a whole new level. Or should that be depth?

DEXED itself is also not the most accurate emulation of the DX7. For many years it did an admirable job but some patches just didn’t translate well into the software. That said, it was free and also made for a useful editor and librarian. Plogue’s Chipsynth OPS7 is a much more accurate-sounding emulation. Arturia’s DX7 V gets close too. NI’s FM8 is no longer developed but interesting.

Few hardware synths in production are capable of delivering a TX816 level of multitimbrality and voice count. One is Kodamo’s magnificent EssenceFM Mk.II, the other being Yamaha’s own Montage M/MODX+ range.

More Information

Dtronics DT-DX will be launched via an upcoming Kickstarter campaign. Price and availability are not yet known. Check the Dtronics website for the latest information. The DT-DX unit will also be compatible with their DT-7 DX7 hardware controller.

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Dtronics DT-DX

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5 responses to “Dtronics DT-DX: A TX816 (8x DX7’s) In A Box”

    Mathias Rosén says:
    2

    What about the Yamaha Montage?
    8 parts FM-X, 128 voices polyphony?
    Isn’t that a hardware synth in production that is capable of delivering a TX816 level of multitimbrality and voice count?

    Ron Perry says:
    1

    GenXNoise has two formats of MiniDexed available; Desktop and Eurorack.

    Ron Perry says:
    1

    What about the dXeus Machina?

    Ben says:
    0

    What about a controller for the sy99 flagship

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