Yamaha Reface DX

37-key Mobile Mini Keyboard with 4-operator FM Sound Engine, Onboard Effects, Sustain Pedal Input, Built-in Stereo Speakers, MIDI Connectivity, Aux Input, and Dual Line Outputs
Yamaha Reface DX image 1
Yamaha Reface DX image 1
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Yamaha Reface DX
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The Classic FM Synth Reincarnated

The DX7 defined the synth sound in the '80s. The Yamaha Reface DX mobile mini keyboard puts the iconic sound of a 4-operator FM synth right in your hands, along with a host of modern features like onboard multi-effects and straightforward editing. Manipulating parameters is a breeze, thanks to the Reface DX's multi-touch control surface, and storing your patches is just as easy. Whether you want classic electric pianos and bells or modern dubstep and EDM sounds, the Reface DX has got you covered. On top of that, you get an onboard phrase looper for capturing song ideas or creating "sound on sound" overdubs. The synth nuts at Sweetwater are really excited about the Yamaha Reface DX mobile mini keyboard!

Yamaha Reface DX Mobile Mini Keyboard Features at a Glance:
  • 4-operator FM Sound Engine offers dynamic and expressive additive synthesis
  • Onboard multi-effects for adding depth to your sound
  • 32 memory locations let you store and recall your patches
  • Phrase looper lets you capture song ideas or create "sound on sound" overdubs
  • HQ mini keyboard allows fast, natural performance with premium feel and response
  • Sustain pedal input allows the sustain function for all FM generated sounds
  • Stereo speaker system lets you take your sounds anywhere
  • Specially designed bass reflex port technology enhances bass response for full, rich sound
  • Can operate on 6 AA batteries for up to 5 hours for true portability
  • USB To Host port allows MIDI connectivity to your USB-equipped computer or iOS device
  • An aux line input lets you play along with mobile devices, tablets, and more
  • Dual line outputs provide connection to mixers, audio interfaces, DI boxes, and more
Take classic '80s synth sounds anywhere with the Yamaha Reface DX mobile mini keyboard!

Tech Specs

Sound Engine Type(s) FM tone generation
Number of Keys 37
Type of Keys Mini synth keys with initial touch
Other Controllers Pitchbend
Polyphony 8-note
Number of Presets 32 voice memories
Effects Types VCM Touch Wah, VCM Flanger, VCM Phaser, Chorus, Delay, Reverb, Distortion
Sampling Phrase looper
Audio Inputs 1 x 1/8" (aux in)
Audio Outputs 2 x 1/4" (left, right), 1 x 1/4" (headphones)
USB 1 x USB Type B
MIDI I/O 1 x MIDI jack with breakout cable
Pedal Inputs 1 x 1/4" (sustain)
Power Supply 12V DC power supply or 6 x AA batteries (5 hour life span)
Height 2.37"
Width 20.87"
Depth 6.87"
Weight 4 lbs. 3 oz.
Manufacturer Part Number REFACE DX

Customer Reviews

3.5/5
Based on 7 reviews
Write your review
5/5

Love this synth

Love everything about this synth, except that I can't store my loops.
4.5/5

A DX-7 in your pocket!

As with the CP, CS and YC, the Reface DX makes a fine portable workstation keyboard. But Yamaha should develop and produce a new variant of the Reface, something more like the Teenage Engineering OP-1:A portable, all-around synthesizer workstation the size of the old TYU-30 Yamaha made in the past. These Reface models already are very close to that mark in dimensions. The idea is to combine all four Reface keyboards into one single model under the grand old "PortaSound" name, a new-generation PSS portable keyboard line!Very similar in many different ways to the OP-1 from Teenage Engineering but yet still all Yamaha as a product. An example of model name would be "PSS-920."
Music background: Composer, producer, writer, pianist & keyboardist
4.5/5

Excellent take on FM synthesis

The two others reviewers here seemed to have missed the point.1. Difficult to program? This is 100 times easier to program than any of the clssic DX synths. Excellent OLED display too!2. Only 32 memories? So what? I barely use 5 slots on any synth I've ever owned.3. Much less noise than the classic DX models.A win win here folks!
4.5/5

Stunning Sound, Fun to Play

I've had this for a week now, and I really enjoy it. VST's for FM weren't doing it for me, and I've missed my old DX7 for many years. This has 4 Ops instead of 6, and it is really quite small, smaller than the Mininova by a considerable amount. Only 4 Operators means it's not a full DX7, but it is close enough.However, unlike both VST and my old DX7, I can sit on my sofa in the living room or outside on the patio, and jam on this thing in my lap, tweaking the FM parameters, and it's actually a lot of fun. The speakers and bass reflex port actually sound really good, and it is amazing to play the keys and feel the whole thing vibrate. Seriously, you FEEL the bass notes, the mids and trembles frequencies, and you can feel the sound wave wash across the surface from side to side. I don't think I have every played a synthesizer that vibrates like this, and it's wonderful because it brings the notes to life in a way that I have not encountered with any other electronic instrument. The mini keys are incredibly expressive and responsive, and the addition of feeling the sound wave as you play just makes the key interface a delight. I think this is why so many piano and keyboard players have responded well to the interface. It makes playing my trusty Karma or Mininova a little, well, boring.The FM programming is actually a lot of fun, and it is easy to do basic editing, or to go to extremes in the FM settings and create the stuff of sonic nightmares. Unlike the DX7, or some of the VST's, getting your head around what FM synthesis does is easier to do on the Reface DX. This means, my 6 year old daughter can hold and play in her lap an advanced Frequency Modulation synthesizer, and learn how to program it, without the need for a computer interface. If you think about it, that's pretty amazing in and of itself.The factory patches are okay. There are many sounds that instantly boring you back to the '80's. The Electric Piano brings back memories of Doogie Howser. The Tubular Bell brings back the Top Gun Anthem, and the old Taco Bell sound, and Enya. Oh, Enya... many patches bring me back to that Celtic ethereal electronic wonderland, the reason why I loved FM synthesis in the first place.MIDI is fast and responsive. I ran a MIDI out from the DX to the MIDI IN of a Volca Keys, and ran the 1/8" TRS audio out from the Volca back into the 1/8" TRS audio input of the DX, and was able to mix and layer analog circuitry with the FM sounds for absolutely stunning results (again, with the whole thing vibrating under my fingertips). My next step will be to connect MIDI from the the DX to a Microbrute, and run the audio from the DX into the Microbrute to filter, distort, and gate with full analog circuitry... stuff that just isn't fun to set up with a VST, but takes seconds now with hardware.The MIDI Looper is easy to set up, and it transmits MIDI. This is a HUGE bonus for me, as it makes instant sequencing and layering with analog synths a breeze.For $500, it still seems steep when you first look at it, but I can't say it wasn't worth it. I think many will think of this as an overpriced toy, but they will be overlooking the depth and potential hiding under the hood.4.5 Stars instead of 5 for having 4 operators instead of 6
2.5/5

Best mini keys out there BUT...

Very nice keys, better than any MIDI keyboard I've used, with the added benefit of being an FM synth!Pros:+ Keys feel amazing+ Excellent build quality: sturdy and refined+ Looks amazing+ Sounds greatCons:- Only 32 preset locations which is ridiculous- No mod stick- MIDI out transpose cannot be adjusted using the front panel buttons (although it can be inconveniently adjusted by means of MIDI commands if you dig into the Reface DX MIDI implementation documentation but it's rather technical and quite frankly semitone transpose should be as easy as pushing a couple of +/- buttons)- Octave transpose stick instead of +/- buttons is too fiddly- Would hava been nice to have dedicated +/- semitone transpose buttons- Loop recorder is hard to operate due to touch-sensitive button interface, you will usually end up stopping recording either too late or too early- Separate touch-buttons & screen is not as intuitive as a touchscreen- Touch buttons on the left of the LCD and physical buttons on the right means your hand is constantly flying left and right over the LCD, gets tiring after a while. It's ok if you use two hands to program your patches but you still need a hand on the keyboard to check your tweaks so sorry Yamaha but the buttons and touch buttons should all have been on the same side of the LCD.- 8 buttons and 1 bank button for navigating through a mere 32 presets is overkill: a pair of +/- buttons would have worked just fine and would eliminate the need to look at the buttons while browsing through presets (e.g. try going from preset 4 to preset 5 without looking, you'll be groping the keyboard and mentally counting, duh)- No way to stop it from spitting out MIDI clock...- Unbalanced TRS outputs- No aftertouch- No user-selectable velocity curves- Polyphony inadequately low when playing chords with a long decay- It is a very cut-down version of the DX7-IIFD, a functionally identical "mini" version of the classic would have been a very hot product, and frankly in 2016 this should have been possible.I bought this keyboard for its keys which are amazing. I use it as a small-factor master MIDI keyboard because all the MIDI controllers on offer at the moment have cheap keybeds. But in my opinion the Reface DX has not been well though out and there's plenty of room for improvement.

Sweetwater Advice

Carson McClain

The Reface DX absolutley satisfies the FM nerd lurking in the dark corridors of my geeky synth pleasure zone. And guess what! This DX isn't coming from eBay, doesn't need to be repaired, and doesn't stink like moldy basement! It's also easier to program!

Rob Parker

The Reface DX has a much greater sense of immediacy to its programming interface than the DX7 mk1 and DX21 that I own. Something as simple as being able to control the amplitude of all four operators really helps with programming. Also, unlike any other DX series synth before the Reface, all operators are capable of feedback as opposed to just one... almost eliminating the need for six operators and allowing me to get gritty, buzzy, and dirty sounds.
See also: Yamaha, Yamaha Synthesizers