Yamaha managed to give FM a shot in the arm with the 1U TX81Z and, to lesser success, its keyboard-equipped cousin, the DX11. These units were cheap yet powerful alternatives to the company’s second-gen flagship FM synths. They had better sound quality, and though they provided only four operators per patch, those operators differed from the big boys in that they offered a full eight waveforms rather than the lone sinusoidal of the eight-operator synths. This added sonic flexibility gave the TX81Z the power to produce far more complex patches than the previous four-operator Yamaha synths.
Yet another FM synthesizer from Yamaha, this one comes in a compact, multitimbral, 1-unit rackmount module and is basically a key-less version of the DX-11. It has far more professional features than its relative, the FB-01. The TX81Z features great FM-type synth sounds similar also to the DX-21 and DX-27. Eight voice polyphony, 128 preset sounds, 32 user and lots of functions hidden behind 11 push buttons.
The TX81Z features a new ability to use waveforms other than just a sine wave. There are eight voices that can be split, layered and detuned. Also onboard are pseudo-effects including delay and reverb. These features can be stored as performance setups. The effects are simply envelope and re-triggering effects. The TX81Z works great as a sound module for any live or studio production. It's got a wider range of sounds than the DX-7, may not be quite as warm or 'classic' sounding, but at its low price and with the excellent MIDI implementation it makes a great alternative or backup synth for percussive, punchy FM synth sounds. It's used by Fluke, Roni Size, Astral Projection, Squarepusher, Jimmy Edgar, Future Sound of London, and Josh Wink.
Polyphony: 8 notes
Oscillators: 4-Operator Digital FM synthesizer
# Instruments: 8 parts
Effects: Built-In Pseudo-Effects: Reverb by envelope modulation, Delay by re-triggering on free voices
Memory: 128 patches, 32 user, 24 performance setups
Control: MIDI (w/ Velocity and Aftertouch)