Yamaha TX81Z FM Tone Generator Synth

Yamaha TX81Z FM Tone Generator
Yamaha TX81Z FM Tone Generator

After I picked up the Yamaha RY-20, I knew I had to find a Yamaha TX81Z. Together these two would sound fantastic and I’m excited to have finally found a TX81Z here in Japan. I already have a Yamaha V50 which is a similar 4 Op synthesizer workstation. The TX81Z if correct is 12bit and uses the synthesis chip is called OPZ. The Yamaha V50 is 16bit and uses the synthesis chip version OPZII which is slightly different. Coupled with the older chip and the 12bit sound, I really think the Yamaha TX81Z sounds great. The Yamaha RY20 uses the AWM engine which incorporates 12-bit PCM sounds. Thus both the Yamaha TX81Z and RY-20 are 12 bit. I believe the Yamaha TX81z was released around 1987 if correct while the RY-20 was released in 1994. I also have a Yamaha RX-7 which was released in 1987 so would compliment the TX81Z just as well. The Yamaha TX81Z has drum sounds also and can be triggered with either the RX-7 or RY-20.

Another big reason I picked up the Yamaha TX81Z is because all of the TX81Z sounds can be used in the Yamaha V-50. However, the V-50 editors are a bit buggy whereas the TX81Z editors are pretty solid and reasonably supported. It will be nice to be able to edit the Yamaha TX81Z with the computer and then load the newly created patches into the V-50. It will also be easier to audition the sounds on the Yamaha TX81Z since it’s a rack based tone generator and much easier to handle than the V-50 synth which can take up space if I’m not using the keyboard right then and there. A few other points are that lately I’m sliding more towards using Analog synths and the 12bit keyboards such as the Yamaha DX7, Roland W-30 sampler, and the Casio CZ5000 sound great alongside analog synths. The Yamaha TX81Z should mix well with that warm gritty sound.

Finally the Yamaha TX81Z was used on many late 80’s and early 90’s dance, hip hop, and Rnb oriented recordings. I am particularly interested in the New Jack Swing sound which both the Yamaha TX81Z and early Yamaha drum machines like the Yamaha RY-20 were used. The Yamaha TX81Z is a very underrated tone generator and synthesizer. It’ll be fun working with it! Stay tuned for updates.

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2 thoughts on “Yamaha TX81Z FM Tone Generator Synth

  1. Swen

    This one must have been very popular here in Europe, you can find masses of them on german Ebay. at very acceptable prices. The preset sound are mostly crap, imho. But you can find some very cool bass sounds in SysEx form in the net. But it has to be said, programming Yamaha FM engines is hard work.

  2. I just picked up another Yamaha TX81Z today from a guy who practically was giving it away. I’ve enjoyed working with the TX81Z and wouldn’t mind adding a second one for various purposes like added polyphony, detuning, layering, stacking, etc. Indeed they are pretty cheap and for my purposes sound great after a little programming. I use Midi Sound Quest on my Apple iBook G4 which works great so far.

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