Yamaha TX81Z

FM tone generator

Yamaha TX81z synth rack
Buy one (60 on sale)

1986 (Dec.)
Initially sold for ¥56,000

Apparently rack synthesizers weren't really an established concept in late 1986, as the TX81Z was reviewed in comparison with the smaller FB01 as a more complete version of a multitimbral MIDI box. It does implement a lot of the functionalities that were missing in the first wave of digital synthesizers by Yamaha such as the TX7, but it's really a full synth in a compact case: extremely useful for those lacking the space to buy a full keyboard every time.

With a very aggressive price, the rack proved to be very popular. So much that one of its factory patches, LatelyBass, became a definining sound of the late-80s to mid-90s rap, house and dance scene. The new waves available for each one of the 4 operators made possible the creation of more grungy and dirty sounds than before.

Due to its success, the rack was then translated into a full keyboard synth, the DX11. Even with a hard to use interface and the lack of a pitch EG compared to its bigger brother, it still is a very capable and flexible MIDI machine.


  • Produces up to 8 different voices simultaneously, making it ideal for use with a MIDI sequence recorder.
  • Voices and all memory parameters can be edited from the front panel. No separate programming device or computer is necessary.
  • New LSI tone generator chip can perform FM synthesis using a total of 8 different waveforms.
  • “Pseudo-reverb” effect programmable for each voice.
  • Either Fixed or Ratio frequencies are selectable for each operator.
  • Two independent LFOs and a Vibrato Generator.
  • While voice and function data is compatible with DX21/27/27S/100 voice data, the sound quality has been upgraded, and the resolution of the EGs has been improved.
  • 128 ROM factory preset voices.
  • 32 user-programmable voice memories.
  • 24 user-programmable performance memories.
  • 13 Microtonal Scales (2 user-programmable and 11 preset).
  • Pan, Single Note Chord, and Transposed Delay effects.
  • Save and load TX81Z memory data to and from a cassette.
  • Transmit and receive TX81Z memory data via MIDI.
  • Program Change Table for re-directing program change messages.
  • Alternate Voice Assign lets you play a different voice with each successive note.
Yamaha TX81Z cheat sheet
Yamaha TX81Z cheat sheet


Sound source

FM tone generator (4 operators, 8 waves, 8 algorithms)

Simultaneous note output

Polyphonic: 8 notes
Monophonic: 1 note

Memory capacity

Voice memory: 128 ROM voices + 32 RAM voices
Performance memory: 32 RAM performances

Connection terminals and interfaces

Output I, Output II, Output MIX (phone jack)
Output Phones (phone jack)
Breath control

Dimensions and weight

480w x 45.3h x 279.5d (mm) / 18 7/8” x 1 3/4” x 11”
3.4Kg / 7.5lbs


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