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If Mercedes Benz made a synthesizer

This could be an article on the legendary Yamaha DX1. Or it could just be an excuse to show off these wonderful photos, which if it weren’t for SampleNerd.com could well be lost for all time.

Many of the images you will find on this site (unless amended with a copyright notice) are taken from historical sales accrued over a lengthy period of time. As retail sites clear out their servers much of the excellent photography would be lost with it. As this website has a keen focus on preservation as well as general interest, I believe they are worth preserving.

With that said, let’s continue…

It might be said that luxury is an experience more than just something that’s expensive. Luxury is the gift that keeps on giving. We never tire of getting into a fancy car. Turning the immaculate dial on our high end HiFi, or putting on an prestigious watch.

But it could also be argued luxury in the world of musical instruments is the retinue of acoustic instruments. The Bosendorfer Imperial 925 (from $256k) or the Jupiter DeMedici 994SG. A flute which will need over $4,000 of wallet space to purchase, are just two examples. And whether a fancy piano is bought for the stage or just to make a palatial atrium look pretty, one could justifiably say it is a luxurious item.

We associate luxury with prestige, with quality, with the ultimate, which you can own and which will up your game – at a price.

“This isn’t your dad’s DX7!!!”

Image shows a Yamaha DX1 synthesiser from the article: If Mercedes Benz made a synthesizer by Samplenerd.com
Stately, at home or on stage

When the DX1 came out in 1984 it cost $13,000 to buy, adjusted for inflation that’s approximately $40,000 in today’s money. Only 140 were made of these fabulous beasts! In the same year the Oberheim Matrix-12 and the Roland Jupiter 8 were released as well as the Emulator II. But still less expensive than the Fairlight CMI IIx which retailed at $45,000 only two years earlier. Admittedly completely different instruments, but still!

Image shows a DX1 synthesiser from the article: If Mercedes Benz made a synthesizer by Samplenerd.com
Brazilian Rosewood – rare and expensive

It has been written into common lore that the DX1 is basically two DX7’s built into one unit. But is that true? One previous owner writes:

First, let’s forget that people say it’s two DX7’s in one box. These run at 48k at 16 bits, unlike the DX7 which is lower spec than that. Matter of fact, the sounds that come out of this don’t really sound like DX7 sounds at all. They’re much more expressive.

Rosen Sound LLC

Sporting full length (1.5ft) wooden keys, a hand made and hand finished Brazilian Rosewood case. And weighing in at a staggering 51kg – which by-the-way is about the same weight as five European badgers (!) Yamaha’s indulgent FM synth was off the table for all but the few who could afford it.

Gearnews.com pans the spotlight on what respected enthusiast Rob Purcelli calls “Yamaha’s last extravagant folly.” Which you can read in their June 2023 article, Classic Gear -The Yamaha DX1: Owning and Recreating the King of FM check it out.

The price of everything…

Image shows a DX1 synthesiser from the article: If Mercedes Benz made a synthesizer by Samplenerd.com
A pleasing contrast between traditional and technological

So what are we to conclude about the relationship between electronic instruments and luxury?

Well, with DAWS and emulators being – at least in production, almost identical to many of the hardware counterparts they seek to emulate. The question remains: will owning the DX1 make your music $40,000 better? Probably not! But, that pleasure you get from luxury, that’s timeless, and no amount of technological progress can replace that.

Image shows a DX1 synthesiser from the article: If Mercedes Benz made a synthesizer by Samplenerd.com
Extravagant and imposing
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