The TX81Z was built only from 1986 to -87 and has 8 voices with 4 „Operators“ each - two less than the popular DX7 and TF1 which have 6 Operators (the TF1 rack module was 8x built into the TX816 and Operators are the oscillators). Besides the single sounds, the TX81Z also offers a "Performance Set". This is a combination of max. 8 sounds, including polyphony and range assignment per sound (max. 8 voices). So up to 8 different sounds (each with an own MIDI channel) can be played at the same time. The range and the positioning of the sounds result in keyboard splits or layers. This was very well thought out and allows for very complex sounds. However, as interesting as the Performance Set is, it is not suitable for doing "hardcore" FM modulation. This is only possible in "Single Mode", when a single sound is loaded (but then it is 8-voiced) and can be modulated via SysEx data in "real time" on any of its parameters. Nevertheless: even in the "Performance Set" there are, especially in comparison with other synths of that time, extensive modulation possibilities via MIDI. Yamaha has always been way ahead in that respect.
I don't consider it as a restriction that real-time control of all parameters can only be done in Single Mode (I still remember this "separation" from the Yamaha TG and SY series). You don't want to do something like this 8 times at the same time. It would be a clear overload (intellectually and musically) and would leave little room for something like playfulness. The Performance Set, however, offers its own advantages and sufficient modulation possibilities, since all control addresses are available in 8-fold, since each sound has its own MIDI channel in the Performance Setup. The two modes do not get in each other's way, but complement each other perfectly.
When two TX81Zs are used in combination, one can be set to even-numbered and the other to odd-numbered, increasing the polyphony from 8 to 16 voices and treating each as being half of one instrument.
Actually "more" usually stands for improvements. With the FM synthesis, however, 12bit is often preferred. By the time the subsequent Yamaha TG77 and SY77 synths came out with 16 bit, some aspects had been significantly improved, but the FM suddenly seemed to be very restrained. This was not pleasing for everyone, especially a part of the "FM purist faction" mourned the more brute directness of the 12bit resolution.
The TX81Z indeed shares the same algorithms as DX21/27/100 (4 operators), but is nevertheless quite different. Thanks to the LSI tone generator used, it has a significantly improved "high quality" sound and the really annoying noise, which I still remember all too well from the TX816, has finally been "defeated". The figure shows the 8 algorithms. They represent the interconnection of the four operators (oscillators). In my opinion, this is an ideal FM package.
The TX81Z was the first synthesizer that made it possible to use frequency modulation with non-sine waves (8 waveforms in the TX81Z). New were also an Envelope Shift and three idiosyncratic Effects, one of which can be selected for each Performance Set.
One more thing about the quantity of "Operators": I think 4 Operators are more than enough for the so called "electronic music" - more Operators are mainly demanded when it comes to complex Preset Sounds in Pop Music. However, if it's about SysEx real-time modulation, the behavior of more Operators becomes far too complex due to their interconnection with each other, and this in turn tends to limit the way of manipulation.
Partialtones of the 8 Waves
Nice to see (and to know) the partials that are present in the waveforms. With "Oscillator Wave Select" one of the 8 different waveforms may be chosen for each operator. Therefore the TX81Z is able to create more complex sounds than was possible with earlier FM synthesizers (DX21/27/100) using 4 operators.
I have already mentioned that the TX81Z sounds "very good" - especially compared to the predecessors of the DX series. The TX81Z is fondly referred to as a "bass monster" and is very popular in the dub scene, especially in this respect. Also, the ability to create brute (even abstract) sounds is still very well appreciated. It sounds "warmer" than DX, but can also produce the "cold" surface sounds that many Yamaha FM synth friends love so much since starting with the DX synths.
A distinctive feature of FM synthesizers is the absence of any filters. In Frequency Modulation, the affects of filters are created by the "levels" of the Operators: the higher a level is set, the sharper the timbre in the highs. That's why "Volume" would be the wrong name. On the TX81Z the right cursor keys (in "Play" mode) are the "Master Volume".
8 bit Parameter Control
Naturally I control the TX81Z in single mode but not by using the editor, but by using MAX. With 97 parameters it is a quite manageable device. The parameter real-time control on devices of this generation works exclusively via SysEx, which is a nice change in programming, because SysEx is hexadecimal. The hexadecimal notation allows to express 3-digit values up to 255 (0 to 255 = 256 steps = 8 bit) within two digits.
The letters A-F are therefore used in addition to the digits. The current parameter value, which is usually the penultimate number of the SysEx message, is in 7 bit: 0 to 127, and in hexadecimal: 0 to 7F. The digits separated by spaces are called bytes.
Hexadecimal representation from 0-255:
0=0; 1=1; ... 9=9; 10=A; 11=B; ... 15=F; 16=10; 17=11; 18=12; ... 25=19; 26=1A; 27=1B; ... 31=1F; 32=20; 33=21; ... 41=29; 42=2A; ..., 47=2F; 48=30; ... 159=9F; 160=A0;...170=AA; ... 247=F7; 248=F8; 249=F9; 250=FA; 251=FB; ... 255=FF
The exact parameters of SysEx messages can also be easily read out using a software like MIDI Monitor.
Saving sounds to the hard disk
Saving your sounds to disk wasn't or isn't as complicated as you might think. The files are so simple and small that it's hard to believe all the changes including names are created with these few figures.
The TX81Z's sound program consists of only two SysEx blocks that live together in a simple text file. The first block (*ACED = additional voice parameters of the TX81Z) is shorter, the second (*VCED = voice parameters of the TX81Z compatible with DX21/27/100) is longer. The beginning of a SysEx block can (always) be recognized by the 240 (in Hex F0), the end of a SysEx message is always 247 (Hex F7). In the enlarged view of the picture I have inserted a red line to make it easier to recognize.
Therefore you just need to recall a sound the TX81Z (on the synth) and use the "MIDI Monitor" app, for example, to listen to the Sysex blocks sent by the synth each time. There are two SysEx blocks (with 41 and 101 bytes), which are displayed in hexadecimal, after this you only need to transfer the hex values to decimal and save them together into a text file, as in the picture. There are also many specialized (free) apps for this, if you don't happen to own MAX. It is only important to note that when recording the SysEx message, the app does not automatically stop recording after the first block (due to the 247).
Step Menus: the Curse of the 80s
Yamaha FM synths from the 80s, especially the TX81Z, are veritable treasure troves of sound and I would even say that these instruments epitomize and virtually defined FM synthesis. FM was developed by Yamaha back at Stanford when it was still a secret military subject (it was used for modulated voice transmission and wasn't declassified until 1980). Only a few composers (like John Chowning), under strict supervision, were allowed to realize musical projects using it before that. With the TX81Z, Yamaha engineers really have reflected and incorporated anything that was possible - right down to the "Recall last Edit" parameter, which allows you to recall an edited and unsaved sound program that was inadvertently abandoned! This is really practice-oriented!
In my TX81Z Remote Control, which preceded the Editors, I had worked exclusively with the 10 addresses of the Pushbuttons and thus mirrored the control to the hardware. Since this, as the only feature, of course would not have been worth the programming, with the Remote Control I mainly relied on strong temporal acceleration of Editing ( using little MAX "motors") and on a clearer display of the Parameters (and Parameter Groups), which are related to the selected menu items. The synthesizer's display window is indeed extremely unsatisfactory and virtually prevents one from developing a coherent idea of the synthesizer.
Perhaps the Yamaha designers had something similar in mind and didn't miss any opportunity to compensate for this shortcoming. First there is the lid plan (which of course is no longer visible when the TX81Z is rack-mounted) and then there is a small card attached to the bottom, which can be pulled out from the front - but due to its size alone, is very incomplete. Nevertheless: it was really very nice what Yamaha did for its customers back then, and in such a far-eastern restrained way - but let's get back to the Remote Control, which has since been discarded.
Above all, the extensive SysEx implementation (and detailed documentation in the Manuals) distinguishes these Synthesizers from their contemporaries. This SysEx addressing allows real-time control of all Parameters! But there is a catch: first of all, SysEx is not as "solid" as (the short) MIDI controller values, which consist of only 3 bytes. You can't crank around "like crazy" on most (SysEx) editors, because that will lead to an overflow of the small MIDI buffers in the device. It therefore makes sense to use speed limiters in the software (in MAX: [speedlim]).
With this kind of synths a characteristic becomes apparent that shows that a SysEx-controlled synthesizer is virtually diametrically opposed to a modular synthesizer. Simply put: on the modular synth I decide which patch connection makes sense or is desired for me - even if it may seem nonsensical to other people. With SysEx we find ourselves right from the beginning in a jungle of paragraphs (laws) that cannot be abandoned. On the one hand there is MIDI, which is relatively easy to cope with and after 40 years does not seem unfamiliar anymore. On the other hand there is SysEx: It's not only pretty cryptic and there are sometimes quite long data blocks - SysEx is even explicitly described in the TX81Z manual as "not concerning the operation". It is used exclusively to establish a connection with a computer - e.g. to program an editor. In addition, the TX81Z uses three different types of system exclusive data (parameter change, data block and drop messages) and there are also eight subgroups of parameter change messages. These 8 subgroups are; VCED, ACED, PCED, Remote Switch, Micro Tuning, Program Change, Effect data and System data. Maybe we can agree to classify it as "not really fun". You should be more or less familiar with the (SysEx-) stuff, otherwise it will quickly become very confusing and time-consuming.
TX81Z Remote Control
The design of a GUI (Graphical User Interface) in connection with a Remote Control was my first approach and precursor of my editor. It already made it possible to significantly improve the very well thought-out, but rather awful to control (at that time not feasible otherwise) operating concept of the TX81Z.
Especially in contrast to my "Single Mode Editor" (which looks like a synthesizer - see below), the "Remote Control" displayed the Parameters in tabular form, just like in the hardware. However, the available space on the iPad screen made it possible to display all sub-menus at the same time - and that number can be quite large, sometimes even with a further sub-menu. With this kind of display, you internalize the order or the layout of the device amazingly much faster. The customized Function Display with alternating labels (and colors) above the multifunctional push buttons, the listing of parameters below the section buttons, as well as a few other things have also been helpful. It was also important to me to have a Reset button so I wouldn't have to turn the unit off and on again for every Reset. Things like this already made operating the TX81Z much simpler in a tangible way. Most importantly, the "blind" tapping through the Parameter selection was overcome and terminated, since the menu items could be clicked directly and one didn't have to tap anymore - the required steps of the Button sequences and combinations had been calculated by MAX "under the hood". However, this form of the Remote-Control has now, due to the Editors, become obsolete. I would hardly have had the nerve to deal with this synthesizer that intensively without it!
For me, this kind of programming brought back many memories, because that's how I had "cracked" Yamaha Synths and AKAI samplers in the 80s and turned them into Real-Time machines. Back then it was almost like wizardry! Clicking on a menu sends a message with a sequenced listing of the various buttons in the exact order they are used on the device, but instead of the eternal tapping through and pressing on, this sequence runs in just a few milliseconds. When working, it feels exactly like normal switching. In such a sequence can be far more than 50 Pushbutton actions clicked! So a fundamental change in operation (and my approach to the instrument). With the realization of my Full Editor, the Remote Control now moves into the OFF and loses its relevance, as editing via the various "section" Editors is once again much more pleasant.
Of course you can type in the name of a Sound using the computer keyboard, but where's the culture in that?! For a classier input I had designed an appropriate interface. I love interfaces. First you type the desired letter, which then appears in a circle. Then you move the Cursor to the desired position and click/tap in the circle to insert the letter there. For a blank space you can simply press "Delete". If only it were always that simple.
It was a special, almost sportive challenge of mirroring the functionality of the hardware, because not only the Parameters were changing, but also the function of the Pushbuttons. Frequently, several things are automatically changed at the same time and sometimes some functions are blocked or, as in the "Perform/Edit", are not available although they are labeled: in the "Perform/Edit" there is no "Compare" function at all. In "Play-Edit Compare" e.g. 6 of the 10 Buttons are blocked, the light flashes and you can only get back by pressing the Compare Button again. Mirroring these behaviors in the software was partially tricky, especially the prevention of "spinning" when "cross-switching", e.g. accidentally "slipping" from Performance to Play mode, so that the display in the device is "Play" - and in the Remote "Perform". All in all, it was a real feast for enthusiasts on logic.
Mastering the Synthesizer (by programming the Remote Control) created the desire for a "real" Editor. Unfortunately, in 40 years I have not properly learned to translate the SysEx addresses documented in the TX81Z manual (and their abbreviated symbol representations) into practical life - there too, the Remote Control was the biggest impetus for moving on.
My TX81Z Full-Editor
... consists of several Single or Section Editors, since the structure of the Synthesizer virtually demands it that way. I have merged them as tabs in a single patch, but they can also be opened individually. Still missing is the Microtuning Editor.
The TX81Z Single Mode Editor
When programming a fully functional Editor, one should be aware of the fact that the ratio of time spent to the benefit of such a project can be quite far from each other, because the complexity of the programming structure requires an in-depth examination. I use the TX81Z (mainly) in the Single Mode, similar to the TG77 before - or prior to that the TX816 - and the parameters I want to change "live" I address via SysEx (as I still do). Coding a real "Editor" with data block and dump function was nevertheless of a different caliber even to me. Since I always play the TX81Z via the computer and iPad, I store the sounds and sound banks on the computer only, not necessarily in the synth. Thus, the sounds and sound banks are always in the same place, I can easily create backups, create preset banks of any size (unlike the synth, which can internally manage 5 Sound Banks of 32 and a fifth Bank of 24 Performance Presets) and play my sounds without further preparation on any other available TX81Z, without deleting any sounds on it.
In the picture you can see the editor on the Mac. Here are a few more features that are not present on the iPad: Load, Save, an up and down arrow to cycle through the bank (= the folder that can contains an unlimited number of sounds) and a button that sends an init sound (defined by Yamaha) into the synth. Furthermore, the location of the library can be changed by drag and drop and the picture with the partial tones of the 8 different "Waves" (see above) can be opened (the information about the partial tones in the 8 Waves is much more meaningful than some pretty wave pictograms). Most noticeable are of course the four Envelopes - they can't be displayed in MIRA, but they would take up too much space on the small iPad screen anyway. They serve as a visual reference in case of any uncertainties with the envelopes.
Since it is an Editor, it should be something more than just an external controller. Certainly the "Copy-Mode" is the strongest acceleration when creating sounds. For this I have put together three color-coded groups (red, green, orange) with once five and twice four parameters, which can be copied together and pasted from one into one or all other operators (C= copy, P= paste).
This is what the Copy Mode looks like on the iPad. I may be repeating myself, but since MIRA came along, MAX has been so much better and less complicated to use! You can hardly name it. In the past, most of my time was spent programming the control hardware (which was also expensive and heavy!) - today I program my patches in such a way that I can work with both the computer and the iPad. What can be seen on the iPad is "mirrored" from the computer, so it doesn't need to be programmed separately. However, the patches cannot be used without a computer, i.e. exclusively on the iPad. No problem for me.
I see the iPad to be a controller - and I've been free to leave the computer running in the background ever since. It no longer needs to be at the instrument - and I'm always very, very grateful for that!
Controllers always play a big role in Yamaha synthesizers, so the possibility to adjust the effectiveness of these controllers individually for each sound should of course not be missing. For this the "CTRL-Mode" can be accessed. Since it is not part of the actual sound processing, I was quite happy about being able to place it in its own area (because of the already crowded iPad screen).
iPad and TX81Z get along great, the space of the iPad touch panel is just enough to display all sound parameters of the synthesizer and the Editor transforms the, otherwise terrible to edit fumbling synth into an open and easily accessible instrument and eliminates its weaknesses - these are the limited number of Presets on the device and the nerve-racking control interface with 10 buttons and an LCD panel with 2 x 16 letters or numbers, which leads to cryptic abbreviations and always displays only one Parameter in 4 values of the 4 operators.
Unfortunately, not all TX81Z programs can be accessed directly via MIDI, as the device does not support MIDI Bank Change messages. This may seem adventurous and one wonders "why no MIDI Bank Change messages?", but here the madness has just begun:
The TX81Z has 5 sound banks "I, A, B, C, D" with 32 sounds each, so 5 x 32 = 160 sounds. However, MIDI has only 128 steps (128 = 4 x 32). Therefore the complete Bank D cannot be accessed for direct selection. And that's not all: in addition to the 160 internal sound memory locations, there are 24 " Performance Presets" - these are programs that can contain up to 8 different sounds (up to 8x monophonic on 8 MIDI channels) - which means that the TX-81Z has a total of 5 x 32 + 24 = 184 Programs. In order to be able to recall these programs nevertheless, there are "Program Change Tables", on which all program slots of all banks can be assigned to any MIDI program numbers (1-128) - including the 24 Performance Mode sound combinations.
What a perfect mess! It must be similar at administrations. I'll briefly explain why I'm aiming at a different order: Even if all 24 available Performance Presets would be in Bank I, there still would be 104 Sound Memory locations (not including Bank D) that can be accessed directly via MIDI. I think that's quite a lot of sounds and I hardly think I could remember all of it - how does it sound, in which bank is it and on which bank's memory location? It's much easier if the sounds are sorted in folders and displayed in a popup menu. Not only the restriction to displaying only one name (in the TX81Z) and the associated stepping through the Program Numbers is eliminated, but all Banks can be viewed at once and the sounds can be called up much more targeted and faster. Also, the sounds in the folders are not limited to 32, but can be stored there in any number. So "topical" folders (also with doubles) may be created... By the way, the sounds of all 5 banks need only about 600 KB of storage space. (Those were the 80s!)
The Perform-Editor Tab
In the Perform Editor, the Perform Mode Multi-Sound patches are organized and this required an interface design with an overview of the 160 internal memories in tabular form. The TX81Z has a total of 24 memory locations for MultiSounds. This kind of programming was a premiere for me - I usually programmed "performance software" for stage applications, where you don't want to have to deal with something like that at all under any circumstances (tables). Quite important here was to also have all 160 names of the available sounds being displayed.
Because it is quite probable in the Perform mode to play the same sound several times over different "Perform instruments" (and possibly to set Detune or MIDI channel differently), I have also integrated a Copy function here, which copies all parameters of the "instrument" at once. I excluded the maximum number of notes per channel, because it is hard to estimate and is more related to the number of "instruments" used. For an 8-note synth, it can only be predicted with certainty that if 8 sounds are selected, they will all have "1" as the maximum. Due to the use of the Jitter Cellblock (MAX Object) for the table, the Perform Editor cannot be displayed on the iPad. Displaying the 160 sound names alone would be much too small in a ( little ) iPad to be tapped with the finger without errors anyway.
A particular annoyance of the TX81Z is the procedure for storing sounds and Perform-Multisound programs. While holding down the Store button, the DEC (Yes) button must be pressed with the other hand, then the Store button must be released and the +1/-1 buttons must be used to select the memory location (while looking at the small display). I've tried everything to bring this process forward to the 21st century, but it is still necessary to look at the Yamaha display for verification - there seems to be no way around it. But the storage process is no longer comparable to that on the hardware.
The Effects-Editor Tab
A dedicated tiny tab for the TX81Z's three internal effects, one of which can be selected in each PF sound. Delay and Pan together only feature seven Parameters. The 1.28 seconds is the maximum Delay time. The 48 Parameters of the CHORDS Editor are of course far more convenient to edit here than on the Synth, and the chords are entered via the virtual keyboard. For displaying and changing the chords on the keyboard, the corresponding key of the chromatic (tab) scale must be clicked beforehand - "clear" only refers to the selected column and travels with the selection. For deleting one of the four chord tones, the corresponding key on the keyboard only needs to be tapped / clicked again.
The restriction of the shifting keyboard, which displays exactly the four octaves from the selected key that are available for selection, the maximum of 4 displayed notes on the keyboard and the column display with MIDI note names plus asterisks for empty places, in addition everything in the "correct" order from low to high (in contrast to the hardware) were an enormous mental exercise (list-operations)! From low to high is much faster to grasp as a chord than an arbitrary positioning of the 4 notes - it also corresponds better with the visual grasp on the keyboard. As of tab F3, it is as received from the synth - meanwhile I have automated it to always display the pitches in the editor from low to high and the asterisks for an empty space are always displayed from top to bottom.
The Program Change Table Editor
After writing this PGM Table Editor, I stopped considering the presence of 184 programs with 128 MIDI Program Changes as insane. The PGM Table offers the possibility of arranging the desired programs in such a way that they reside together and do not have to be searched for across the banks. Anyway, you can only store your own sounds on the internal "Bank I" and Banks A to D are so-called factory sounds. Above all, the Multi-Sound programs of the Performance Mode (PF-Sound Programs), that normally cannot be called up via MIDI Program Changes, can be allocated to a MIDI Program Change Number with this PGM Change Table.On the right hand side the internal buffers of the TX81Z can be seen: Bank I (for custom sounds), Bank A, B, C and D (for factory sounds) and Bank PF (for multisounds, which can consist of up to 8 different internal sounds). For the multisounds, there are only 24 memory locations internally instead of 32. These are the sounds that are created in Perform Mode (see above) - hence the name "PF".
The image shows the 184 internal buffers of the TX81Z on the right: Bank I (for custom sounds), Bank A, B, C and D (factory sounds) and Bank PF (for custom multisounds, which can consist of up to 8 different internal sounds). For the multisounds, there are only 24 memory locations instead of 32. These are the sounds that are assembled in Perform mode (see above) - hence the name "PF". For easier remembering I have placed the PF sounds (1-24) on the MIDI program places 101-124. For verification there is a program switch in the middle (at the bottom) with program number and sound name.
Like the Performance Editor, the Program Change Table Editor cannot be displayed on the iPad because the "cell blocks" (tables) are not compatible with the iPad resp. MIRA.
The (System-) Utility-Editor Tab
In my TX81Z everyday life, the system settings was the section I accessed most frequently next to the Single Voice Editor (prior to creating this Editor). Particularly for these kinds of settings, I prefer the iPad over the Computer because the desired Buttons only need to be tapped with the finger, rather than need to be approached with the mouse first and then clicked on. Adjusting everything on the Synth is a long procedure - on the Computer and particularly on the iPad all the Parameters of the System Editor can be set within seconds.
I extra secured the "SysEx On/Off" button so that it cannot be switched off by mistake. It would also break the connection with the Editor and then can only be switched on again on the unit itself - that's why there's a second button next to it, with which the SysEx Off button needs to be unlocked first - (including a warning panel). As usual in my case, the mirroring of the patch running in the computer is available on the iPad - but there are small exceptions due to the compatibility of some MAX "objects". In this case, it's a Text Dialog Box for the Greeting text during the TX81Z startup, which is not compatible with the iPad - and it wouldn't be very handy there, since there's no keyboard attached to the iPad at all. Maybe I'll include the Text Entry patch from my old "Remote Control" (see above) - there's always something left to do…
The System-Editor on the iPad:
Actually, the reason for the frequent visits to this area (called "Utility" on the unit) is the auto-activation of "Memory Protect ON", which is reactivated every time the TX81Z is powered up and this function cannot be turned off. Memory Protect and MasterTune are the two parameters of the system that I will also take into a patch that will become a kind of everyday patch. These parameters are always needed, just like the "Reset" and the MIDI PopUp Menu - both I have already added to the "Utilities" here. I made the MasterTune a bit more comfortable and added a selectable Center positioning and equipped it with step buttons as well as a dial. The tuning range of -100 and +100 cents corresponds to a step spacing of 1.5625 cents.
I will report back when Microtuning Table is ready.
Sonically, the TX81Z is clearly one of my absolute favorite Synths! Some 40 years ago, Yamaha was for me, because of SysEx, also the trigger for buying a computer and learning programming.
My second TX81Z (with a very high Serial number) finally triggered this Editor to be programmed.
To familiarize yourself with the TX81Z, here is the operating manual:
Other TX81Z Editors
Synthassist Full TX81Z Editor & Librarian
Probably the most complete editor, because it comes with a librarian (library management). I don't know it, but it gives a good impression to me. On the image only two of the seven tabs can be seen!
The tabs: Voice, Performance, System, Effects, Micro Tune, Program Change Table and Librarian. It is the only "full editor" I have found that is also suitable for Apple computers and that appeals to me because of its completeness - although I find the (Roland-like) mini-sliders a bit fiddly and also illogical: the "Fine" slider (with the values 0-15) in the operators, for example, is almost twice as long as the "Attack" slider of the envelope to the right, although it has twice as many values (0-32). The Synthassist Editor is certainly convenient for those who like to manage their Presets in Preset Banks via the Editor. It is certainly a great help when creating the Performance Programs and when integrating these programs for the direct selection via MIDI in the Program Change Table. Even the less frequently requested Microtuning can be realized with this Editor. Effect and System tabs finally make this editor complete.
The software comes for Mac or PC, as a standalone & VST and AU Plugin and costs 40 Euro (plus tax if required).
Detunes TX81Z Editor for M4L/Ableton Live
This Editor is a "Single Mode Editor". There is no option to edit the Performance Mode or MicroTunings of the TX81Z. However, it is strikingly and exceptionally well designed and extremely clear in its appearance!
For me, it is certainly the most interesting editor, just because it is programmed in MAX (but therefore can only be used with MAX and Ableton Live incl. "MAX for Live"). Since I only rarely use the Performance Mode of the TX81Z, I could probably already live well with this solution. It seems to work very well according to the comments, and also handles the TX81Z's mini-buffer and sluggish speed well (the "sluggish" refers only to the data - nothing is sluggish when playing and editing). The data amount of a sound program of the TX81Z is being transmitted in two blocks and these blocks together consist of just some 160 numbers with a maximum of three digits.
At $14 dollars plus tax (currently just under 16 euros total) it is pretty affordable.
Although I had just finished my editor, I purchased this Editor out of curiosity and thirst for knowledge from Detunes - at least for studying it - and it's worth it! I am completely enthusiastic about how well structured the programming looks ! Chapeau! Thus it is also very good for learning MAX programming and how to handle SysEx data - and with €16.- it is an extremely reasonable and great lesson, even if it is to serve just for this purpose! Also, this Editor has helped me a lot with a persistent problem with my Editor and has shown some better, very modern alternatives of programming. In the Detunes editor there are occasionally a few small display errors, but they are absolutely negligible and only affect the appearance - e.g. sometimes the Portamento lamp (here "Glide") "glows", although the slider is at zero, or a "Fixed Rate" dial, which should only be visible when "FIX" is active, remains visible even when FIX mode is switched off. So everything is within a harmless zone! The fact that for some sounds the Envelope display is not displayed correctly after being loaded from the synth seems to be more of a MAX problem - but again, this does not detract from the good quality of this Editor. By the way, as soon as an EG parameter is moved, the display jumps to the correct representation.
I was surprised by the reappearance of some elements I knew from an older M4L patch, which had inspired me a lot and was very helpful when programming my Editor. This older patch was also very well programmed in the details (but not yet so well arranged) - and it was programmed in the "old style" - I wonder if the same developer is behind it, or if Detunes was also inspired by this next TX Editor:
TX81Z Editor 2.O for M4L/Ableton Live - Freeware
For me it's the best free Editor for the TX81Z and a really great inspiration when it comes to programming. The approach is almost identical to the Detunes Editor, which seems like a modernized and elaborated form of this Editor (with new possibilities in MAX and LIVE). Sound programs from the TX81Z are transferred to the Editor by pushing a button. However, there is still no way to store the sounds to disk at this point, this still has to be done in the Synth. This Editor also has a "Chorus On/Off" button, which I already came across at my old "CLTR TX81Z Editor" (which is the next one) - but the TX81Z doesn't have any Chorus (!). It's amazing how some things persist and spread even though they don't exist! More about this in the next description (CTRLR TX81Z Editor) - but at first my recommendation:
CTRLR TX81Z Editor - Freeware
The most ancient Editor, known to me from some encounters, with only limited functionality. No Performance Mode, no Microtune Editor, no ON/OFF for the individual Operators in the ALGO, etc.. - but if you don't want to spend any money, it still seems to be a possibility for editing the synth to a large extent in Single Mode from your computer via a VST PlugIn. The Editor does not seem to receive any programs from the TX81Z.
The settings in the software can be dumped into the synth as a snapshot - i.e. it sends a block with all individual parameters in a second or so. However, I only get a one-way connection and can only recommend it for trying out at best.
Although the latest version is from 2016, it does work on my Apple M1 processor. At best: download and give it a try!
This Editor has (like several other TX81Z Editors) a "Chorus" - but the TX81Z has no Chorus at all. A close relative, the DX21 does have one though and an almost identical data-architecture... In the TX81Z, chorus-like effects can only be created via the Detune controls.
From the Yamaha TX81Z user manual:
Page 18: "The frequency of each operator can be moved slightly higher or lower. By detuning two carriers in opposite directions, you can create a detune-chorus effect. By detuning a modulator and carrier, you can create slightly irregular, "natural-sounding" harmonic structures. The exact amount of detune will differ by the note number. At C3 the range is + 2.6 cents.."
Regarding the compatibility of the TX81Z with DX21/27/100 (S.48):
"Parameters which the TX81Z does not have (PEG, chorus), will be set to Off or O."
… one more hint for owners and potential buyers
Up to the serial number #25630 quite a few TX81Z synths tend to develop permanent operating noises, which are clearly perceptible as a continuous buzzing sound - but fortunately they are not in the audio signal. These noises are caused by vibrations of the (unshielded) transformer, which "swing up" and cause the entire housing, but especially the lid tin to resonate.
Although there are still internal workshop papers from Yamaha for the elimination of this problem - on which, however, a rather complex and expensive modification is described, which today is difficult to implement if you are unable to consult a Yamaha workshop of the last millennium.
The buzzing problem, however, is as effective to fix as it is simple! An angled iron, which is screwed to the existing partition plate and connected from the outside with four screws through the lid thus fixes it and additionally a flat connector on the side (with adhesive tape underneath), which is connected just with the lid plate by two screws successfully prevents any resonation! I had not previously thought this strong effect to be possible! Highly recommended.
In fact, my first TX81Z (#11xxx serial number) had this buzzing in a quite extreme way. On the photo above you can recognize the modification easily on the 6 silver screws in the case lid.
Therefore, if possible, you should ask the seller beforehand about the serial number and if necessary (for serial numbers below #25631) about the buzzing sound! From serial number #25631 the TX81Z models are equipped with a different transformer and this has solved the problem.
Current 1.6 firmware EPROMs are available from Mono Tanz (Germany) for 13 Euro plus postage:
The exchange is very simple: If necessary, save a complete backup externally beforehand, because otherwise the System settings and the sounds of the I-Bank will be lost during the subsequent "button test" with "factory reset". The button test after the reboot is not absolutely necessary, but you feel better and the functionality is verified.
Before replacement, be sure to disconnect the TX81Z power plug from the socket, then remove the 7 screws from the housing and take off the cover, locate the EPROM (see photo) and pay attention to which side the small notch on the EPROM is located. Lift the old EPROM out of the socket (if necessary, use a small screwdriver on the back side to loosen it), insert the new EPROM so that the notch is on the same side as on the old EPROM. Then press lightly. Caution: newer EPROMs may be built much thinner and more delicate than the old ones!
Restart. Test. Done.
Why the (last) current firmware? Mainly because there were some MIDI problems that affected the bulk dump (SysEx), but also triggered MIDI malfunctions. So: probably well invested 15 Euro (see above)! Everything about this can be read in the TX81Z Service News:
The Yamaha* TX81Z Homepage
The excellent TX81Z website of Matt Gregory, which probably all TX81Z owners already know - with all infos, good links and all Firmware versions for download (!!), which must still be burned into an EPROM. There is even a TX81Z Complete Editor for download (sadly for Windows only).
Text & Translation Soon!
4th Industrial Revolution?
New World Order?
The Fall of Babylon the Great And I heard another voice from heaven saying,
“Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues!
"We are the CO2 to be reduced!"
19 inch devices - Cases - Buchla - Eurorack.
RME Bob 32
AES Breakoutbox - NEW!
ARP Odyssey Case
Frequency Shifter Model 285r
CV-Tools - ARP 2600 inspired
Dual Amplifier. As new!
MakeNoise Wiard Wogglebug
Intellijel Dixie CTRL
Control Expansion für den Dixie VCO
SKB R2U Roto Rack
In top condition!