If you are looking for classic 80s vintage synth sounds, then you are instantly going to think of the Yamaha DX7. It’s one of the most iconic and influential synths of all time and used on countless eighties hits. Think A-ha, Kenny Loggins, Phil Collins and Brian Eno. However, before you hit ebay or Reverb searching for the DX7 you should consider its little brother: the TX7.

The TX7 is a desktop module version of the DX7. It has the same sound engine as its big brother, with 6 operator / 32 algorithm FM and 12bit Digital to Analog converters.

Back in 1985 when the TX7 was launched Yamaha aimed the TX7 at existing DX7 owners as module that expanded the DX7, so you could layer sound and create split sounds on the TX7 to use in conjunction with the DX7. Yamaha envisioned TX7 owners controlling the TX7 from a DX7 or from the CX5M MSX based computer.

With this design Yamaha decided not to put any sound editing function on the TX7, so from the front panel there is no way to edit or create sounds on the device. In the eighties that meant it was only worth looking at if you had a DX7 but now with a PC or Mac you can edit patches, create sounds, and manage banks of patches without a DX7.


Sound Editing on the TX7

You can use tools like Sound Quest Midi Quest, DX Manager, or syx transfer tools to manage and edit sounds on the TX7. You can also transfer sounds from the free virtual DX7 emulator called Dexed. With a tool like DX Manager you can edit the sounds in real time on the TX7 and manage the patch banks.

There are literally thousands of DX7 patches available online and all of them work with the TX7. There is a massive range of patches available including the original factory banks for the DX7,DX5 and DX1.

Why chose a TX7 over a DX7

One reason to buy a TX7 over a DX7 is price. On eBay or Reverb you can find a TX7 for less that £300, while a DX7 is going to cost well over £500.

Another reason is size. The TX7 is a desktop module, it originally designed to sit on top of the DX7. So, it is going to take up a lot less space than the DX7 and you can control it over MIDI from your own keyboard of choice. It’s also a lot lighter than a 14kg DX7 so its way more portable.

I wanted the DX7 sound but didn’t have enough space for another keyboard. I also think the TX7 has that classic 80s synth look.

Extra Performance controls

The TX7 also has extra performance patch memories over the DX7. Each of the 32 patch memories also stores performance data. This means that you can adjust parameters like MIDI channel, note range, pitch bend range, portamento time, etc., for each individual sound and save them with it.

This allows you to create splits and layers with other synths or modules without having to change settings every time you switch patches. For example, you can set up one patch to play only on the lower half of your keyboard and another one to play only on the upper half. Or you can set up two patches with slightly different tuning or effects and layer them together for a richer sound.

The DX7 only has a single performance memory so you would have to change the parameters manual each time.


The Yamaha TX7 is a much-underrated synth that deserves more attention from vintage synth enthusiasts. It has all the classic sounds of the legendary DX7 but it’s cheaper, more portable, and more flexible than its bigger brother.

If you are looking to get into vintage FM synthesis and want real vintage hardware, then the TX7 is a device well worth looking into.

In this video I look at the history of the TX7, the sounds and the editing options.

Yamaha TX7 Video

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