Yamaha DX9 Alternate Firmware Makes It A 6-Op, DX7-Compatible Synth

DX9/7 is an alternative firmware ROM for the Yamaha DX9 synthesizer that turns it into a 6-operator, DX7 compatible synth.

Here’s what the developer has to say about it:

“Its aim is to uplift the DX9’s functionality to more closely match that of the DX7. It restores features that were intentionally restricted in the firmware, such as increasing the operator count to six, and adding a pitch envelope generator. This ROM makes the synth properly patch-compatible with the DX7.

This is not a patch for the existing DX9 firmware, it is an entirely new firmware ROM. It has been assembled from the original binary, together with code from the DX7’s V1.8 ROM, as well as new code written from scratch.”

New Features:

  • Makes the DX9 able to play DX7 patches.
  • Restores the use of all six operators.
  • The synth is now sensitive to the velocity of incoming MIDI notes.
  • Implements the DX7’s pitch EG.
  • Implements DX7 style operator scaling.
  • Implements DX7 style portamento/glissando.

Note: The new firmware doesn’t turn the DX9 into a DX7, because some DX7 parameters have no equivalent controls on the DX9. The developer also describes the firmware as “highly experimental”.

If you’re hardcore and like the idea of getting a DX7 for a quarter of the price, check out the project out at Github. If you’re not that hardcore and like the idea of a reliable synth, the stock DX9 sounds great and is still one of the best 4-op FM synths ever made.

via jrbattin

18 thoughts on “Yamaha DX9 Alternate Firmware Makes It A 6-Op, DX7-Compatible Synth

  1. Who’s really got an old DX9 layin’ around¿that’s been that way since the person acquired a DX7 which’s probably in similar circumstances¿hence no immediate need for having either in one’s arsenal any time soon¿so what’s this firmware’s appeal¿except tooo a very small handful of people with the need tooo clone their FM fixation¿it’d that what the Reface stuff is for¿kid’s thanx folks[P.S..& if ya really like the action of the DX’s (bcos they are still good controllers) u can always just MIDI tooo the aforementioned (Reface) so again where’s the limited interest for this thing gonna come from pretel¿thanx folks

    1. About the controller aspect, I think the DX9 keybed is not velocity sensitive. So this really is just a labour of love. I’m pleased they’re doing it nonetheless.

    2. Hahaha, I dont understand your point and dont think others do either 🙂 But i find it great that someone takes his time to help other owners of these DX-9 [Lets call it abandoned technology] to be able to upgrade them.

    3. Now that you’re mention Reface.. It’s frustrating Yamaha released those in minikeys.
      Those keys totally destroyed the potential it had to offer. (connect a MIDI keyboard and you’ll know). I would’ve preferred desktop versions without keys and usable controls as they sounded great.

      Who wouldn’t buy a Reface CS with better controls, normal patch storage and normal connectivity?

  2. It’s a VERY niche thing but I’m glad that people are looking back and finding creative ways to expand upon vintage gear. I just got the Series Circuits (formerly Organix) mod for my JX-3p and the expanded functionality makes it my favourite mid-range vintage analog poly synth now.

  3. Very cool.

    I will certainly try this out on my DX9. These are starting to be worth more than DX7’s in some regions. They were badly treated in the old days and are now rare. My ears tell me that certain sounds get a little more grind than the same patch on a DX7. 4 op versus 6 in the same space? Just a theory. In any case, I find myself reaching for the DX9 more than the 7 these days.

    Cheers to ,,ajxs Anthony”. Great work!

  4. It seems bizarre that Yamaha would have intentionally disabled the hardware from acting like a DX-7. True it probably made manufacturing costs lower, but it would be like Bugatti taking their W16 engine and disabling 12 cylinders to make a “4 cylinder auto”.

  5. Reply to Bill:
    Is not a “Bugatti” modified, only a low cost version in every aspects. Using Using his own controller keyboard is never going to sound like a DX-7, no matter how much you have firmware that resembles it. This happens because most programs use velocity values that affect vital parameters in the sound and also this inferface is not designed for programing it, so this firmware is something like a ” I want but I can’t..” The dx9 is not a great synth, never was, far outclassed even in its time. Regards!

    1. This firmware ROM makes the synth respond to MIDI velocity messages in the same way the DX7 does. The better car analogy would have been that this mod removes an artificially imposed limitation on the engine.

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