Dexed VST by Digital Suburban is a free software emulation of the coveted Yamaha DX7. The first successful digital synthesizer ever, the DX7 changed the course of modern synthesis.
Free VST Plugins: Dexed
Dexed VST is a multi-platform, multi-format plugin synthesizer closely modeled on the Yamaha DX7. Under the hood it uses ‘music synthesizer for Android’ as its synthesis engine. The goal of this project by Digital Suburban to be a tool/companion for the original DX7. Anything that goes beyond the DX7 isn’t relevant to the creator’s vision.
Dexed functions as a standalone software synthsizer, as well as an editor for hardware DX7s via MIDI I/O settings in the plugin. The authors describe Dexed as a ‘MIDI cartridge librarian/manager for the DX7.’
- Multi-platform (OS X, Windows, or Linux) and multi-format (VST, AU, LV2).
- The sound engine ‘music synthesizer for Android’ is closely modeled on the original DX7 characteristics.
- 144 DAW automatable DX7 parameters available from one single panel.
- Fully supports DX7 input and output SysEx messages, including controller change. This means that you can use this with a native DX7/TX7 as a patch editor and SysEx manager.
- Each operator has a realtime VU meter to see which one is active.
- Can load/save any DX7/TX7 SysEx programs. It is also possible to save a single program into a different SysEx file.
Dexed VST is currently in version 0.9.6; it’s been out for quite some time, though only receives occasional updates. The latest build introduced support for Apple Silicon M1 chips. Digital Suburban points to the original hardware DX7 manual as supporting documentation for Dexed VST.
- SEE ALSO: Best Free VST Synths Plugins
The DX7 is one of the best-selling synthesizers ever made. Analogue synths dominated the market in the early 1980s, but they were expensive beasts and stale sounding by that time. After the advent of FM synthesis at Stanford University, Yamaha licensed the technology to build the most successful digital synthesizer in history.
FM synthesis introduced ‘glassier’ sounds that analogue synthesizers couldn’t replicate. Analogue synths were usually described as warm and fuzzy/hairy sounding, while FM synthesizers were harsh and chilly. FM synthesis could imitate acoustic instruments like brass, and introduced different styles of ‘struck’ and ‘plucked’ sounds as presets. The DX7 quickly became a staple in ’80s pop.
Despite its popularity, the DX7 was a complicated machine. It lacked conventional controls and its menus were hard to navigate, so very few users learned how to program it beyond the basics. Still, artists like Kenny Loggins, Whitney Houston, Phil Collins, and many others managed to work it into their productions.
The electric piano sound, for instance, was widely used on power ballads of the era. The ‘E PIANO 1’ preset made its way onto 40% of the #1 singles in 1986. ‘BASS 1’ was another popular sound heard in hits like ‘Take On Me’ by A-Ha and ‘Fresh’ by Kool & the Gang. Legendary producer Brian Eno is one of the few who learned the DX7 inside-out, and it became instrumental to his ambient work.
Conclusion: Dexed VST
The best thing about Dexed VST is that it’s more comprehensive and easier to program than the hardware. And on the same hand, it’s such a great emulation that it can load all the original DX7 presets! It’s no wonder that Digital Suburban considers it a companion to the most famous digital synthesizer of all time; Dexed VST stand on its own as software synth, or it can function as a control surface if you own a DX7 synthesizer.