Yamaha RX11

Yamaha RX11 and Ekdahl Moisterizer by thingstocome

Here’s some samples and photos from my latest eBay splurge. There’s something special about a vintage drum machine. I can’t place what it is but the sound and groove is just “it”. The recorded waveforms have more valleys and peaks than ITB synthesized drums. Panning seems wider. This Yamaha RX11 from the early 80s is really large, heavy and built like a tank. Pure joy for $50.

“The RX11 was one of Yamaha’s early drum machines (maybe even their first?) and as you can see from the panel cosmetics, it comes from the same era as their DX synths. At the time, it was a marvel – a (relatively) low-cost programmable drum machine with 29 ‘real’ drum samples and no less than 12 individual audio outputs.” – hollowsun.com/vintage/rx11/

For more info: harmony-central.com/reviews/RX-11/

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Oliver Chesler

"Hello my name is Oliver and I'm going to tell you a story." I have been recording music since 1989 under the name The Horrorist. I have released over 60 singles and 4 full length albums. To hear my music please go to: thehorrorist.com

24 thoughts on “Yamaha RX11”

  1. Now thats a nice bargain. I should check on German eBay more for such diamonds. Do you feel like producing something with this little baby anytime soon? I am very curious what you would do with it.

    TGIF + Have a nice weekend!

  2. I saw Oliver Chesler live with Tony Robbins doing a Success Seminar back in 1984 at the Orange County Civic Center. I loved your Goal Setting exercises and your speech on living up to your potential. You’re a great man, Oliver. Now I see you’re into drum machines! You have changed my life forever, man. I love you with all my heart.

    1. Ok this is one of those weird comments that blogs get that could be Spam or from someone very confused. Either way I thought it was hilarious and let it through the filter!

      1. haha jus saw that now – thats really impressive the way the bot says ‘Now I see you’re into drum machines!’ pretty freaky actually if it is a bot o_O

  3. Wow …. what a memory stimulant. The feel of the buttons, the sound of them … all came flooding back! I think there was an RX 7 too?

    We used to sync the RX11 up via MIDI Song Position Pointer to Steinberg’s Pro 24 on an Atari! Blew me away at the time.

    I sold mine and got the RX5 …. bigger, more sounds and all the editing features I ended up wishing the RX11 had …. but it never had the impact the original had!


      1. Yeah ..the RX 5 had touch sensitive pads, a little 12 (?) channel mixer on the front to adjust the output level of each sound, the ability to subtract individual sounds from the mix out to allow multi channel out without using all 12 outputs.. er… attack and decay control , looping and pitch control per sound and a bigger LCD display.

        It also had a Cartridge slot to add sounds. I think Yamaha released a Jazz and Heavy Rock set.

        Oh, and I think the samples were 16 bit, rather than 12 bit in the RX 11 … but back in the day LoFi and grunge was just … er … well you couldn’t hear them on the 1/4 inch 8 tracks and half inch 16 tracks any way!!! Everything was lofi and grunge! ;- )

        It’s just awesome to think that machines like this are finding a new life ‘cos they really were the iPads of their time. They didn’t sell 5 million of them, but to electronic musicians, engineers and the first generation of geeks they were awe inspiring!

        Enjoy yours!



  4. And something else I just remembered …. The RX 5 allowed you to set which MIDI note each sound respond to when triggered externally. It also let me assign a note message out whenever a drum played. One of my favorite tricks was to get a crazy beat going, then send that over MIDI to a keyboard, making it play a ‘RIFF”. Then I could tweak the note assignment to get weird notes in key etc.

    Again, pretty cool at the time and it was great for generating oddly satisfying mechanic tunes, especially since sequencers were still a bit fiddly to use (still are!) and it meant I could make music without a computer screen which I find still kills the flow.

    But you’ve plenty of fun left in the RX11 yet….

    I’ll stop now. ;-)


  5. Just bought mine for 50 bucks, and i like this machine, already have the RX21 which contain less, but the same samples except for the hats that are different, i’ve been tryin to sell my 21 ’cause i didnt really like it after playin it a few times , but decided to give the RX11 a try since the price was so low, (cant get drummachines this low where i’m from, so its a steal), the RX11 has more features, looks cooler, (the 21 looks like a kids toy, ugly little thing, i think, but im probably gonna keep it for the extra hihats :)) I hooked it up, set the volumes, and it blew me away, nice old school machine, I like the Shaker the most, BD & SN are also nice, Worth Buying if you find one cheap, Think I’ll keep an eye out for a RX5, and get rid of the 21 when i buy one, can’t stand the sight of that horrible machine.

  6. So I checked the internet to see if I could find more of these Yamaha Drum machines and a guy was selling his RX5, so i picked it up yesterday, It’s a nice machine as well, nice samples, but the 8bit sounds of the RX11 still sounds better I think, the RX5 is still a good purchase though, Paid 150 for it, including the Cartridge with 28 extra samples. It’s got faders for individual drum volume, which is really cool, and sounds can be edited, the machine itself is huge, same size as an MPC, the guy was also tryin to sell me a RX15 which i turned down, But if i’ve had the extra money with me I probably would have bought it… Next drum machine I’ll purchase will probably be the E-mu Drumulator or an SP12/1200 if I get the chance, or Roland TR-707

  7. I have bought rx 15, but look forward to buy rx 11 too. seems like no difference in sound, just individual outputs added. mine even has covered holes for individual outputs!
    question: have you used any post-prod on loops with rx 11 alone? mine sounds higher in eq terms and has a hiss. what about yours?

      1. well, they look just like twins:) harmony-central says they copy each other. so – have you made post production on you recorded loops? they sound lower than mine.

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