Saturday, October 16, 2021

New Equipment: DTronics DT-RDX + Yamaha Reface DX


DT-RDX (top), Reface DX (bottom), my cat Pinot (top right).

About two years ago I acquired a second-hand Yamaha Reface DX four-operator FM synthesizer. I believe I've only used it on one song: it provides the main sequenced part on Blackbird Bend from Music of the Lake. I also use the very handy looper function for sketching ideas. As FM synthesizers go it's relatively easy to program your own sounds. But everything is done from one four-parameter touch-pad thingamajig and a series of push-buttons.

When the Korg OpSix was announced last year, a six-operator FM synth that promised even more user-friendly programmability, it went straight on my wish-list. Recently I got to try one in-store, and while I was able to get some interesting sounds out of it quickly, I wasn't impressed with the feel of the keyboard. I couldn't quite justify the price-tag, either.

So, as I already had the Reface DX and wasn't getting the most out of it, I looked into buying the DT-RDX MIDI programmer. DTronics' distributor is based in the Netherlands, and ordering from them was quick and simple. Synth and programmer combined still worked out cheaper than an OpSix, and to be honest, until I get used to how FM works, two fewer operators is probably a good thing.

Some minor gripes. Neither the DX or RTDX have very thorough manuals. Some infographics detailing the eccentricities of the envelopes, for example, would be handy. Another oddity is how the programmer attaches to the synth; ie. it slots loosely into the screw-holes underneath but doesn't actually screw in. For that you'd need to get hold of some longer screws with the correct thread. The other issue, with the DX itself, is patch storage, which is limited to 32. I can see myself filling that up in no time flat, and having to dump the sounds to hard-drive.

Aside from those few issues, having knob-per-function access to the programming parameters will make this a far more useful piece of kit.

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