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Yamaha RX11

Yamaha RX11

Information and Specifications

Year released: 1984.

Voices: 39.

Display: 16 characters.

Pattern Memory: 100 patterns.

Song Memory: 10 songs.

Memory Parameters: Pattern, Song.

Maximum no. of parts within songs: 255.

Syncronization: Tape (FSK), MIDI, internal.

External Storage: Tape, cartridge.

Outputs: 10 individual outs, R (Tom4), L (Tom3), Phones, Foot SW, Tape out.


Power consumption: 110V-120V/ 220V-240V.

Dimensions: 400W x 68H X 270D(mm).

Weight: 3.1 kg (1 lb. 7oz).


Yamaha released their first digital drum machines in 1984. These were the RX11 and RX15. The RX15 was a cut down version of the RX11, sharing some of the same sounds and features but missing out in key areas like individual outs. It would be fair to say Yamaha got it spot on with their next drum machine the following year with the RX5. As it stands the RX11 is still a great machine and was part of the shift from analog created sounds to digital samples. Sound wise the RX11 is a bit weak. The snares are mostly fine, although the kicks are a huge let down. Claps are nice and I like the HH Closed sample. Unlike the RX5, there isn’t much you can do to change the timbre of the sound. You can pan individual sounds though. Real Time and Step Recording is simple enough and there’s a basic quantize feature to snap everything in time. The shining light for this drum machine is the individual outs for 10 sounds and the mix out which can be used for the toms as well.

For the modern musician there isn’t much on offer here. For someone looking at 80s sounds you can’t go wrong. And if you’ve got the patience and inserts spare on your mixer sequencing on the RX11 might be the way to go. Hook it up to a QX1 and a DX7 and TX816 and you have a vintage Yamaha rig good to go. Others might just sample the sounds and hide the sounds within a mix.