Hey all, been a while... Thought some of you might appreciate this. Here's something I've been wanting to try out for a very long time... Someone very kindly responded to a wanted ad
I posted on a local site (note: this never works!), so I picked up this lovely Yamaha CX5M-II Music Computer:
This is a machine that Yamaha developed specifically for interfacing with their (notoriously hard to program) DX-series FM synthesizers in the mid-eighties. As you may have guessed, it's also a completely functional MSX system. This is the near-MSX2-spec version II with 128k of system RAM (+16k video), two cartridge/expansion slots, and composite+RGB AV out. It can be upgraded to MSX2 with some hardware mods and a firmware update - I don't know if I'm gonna do that yet though. I was lucky to get the hard-to-find disk drive & mouse with mine making it a lot more functional.
(The original CX5M was a bit of a kludge with only 32k RAM and no expandability - it wasn't even compatible with the disk drive. I saw one on Trademe once but didn't bite as it came with nothing.)
Despite intending this to interface with external synths like the DX7, Yamaha also went and added a nice little SFG-05 soundcard with MIDI in/out and a 4-operator FM chip (similar chip to Adlib/early SB.) The CX5M-specific keyboard uses its own connector to leave the MIDI ports free for external gear.
Here it is in situ with my current studio setup (still WIP) :
Anyway that's the main system ... but wait, there's more!
I also got with it some rare original Yamaha software, boxed, with manuals, and a few disks & cassettes of DX7/21 patches:
Here's one of the voice editors in action if you're curious:
A freaking dot matrix printer
(With this and the word processor cartridge pictured above, I'm really tempted
to start writing docs for work on this thing!)
...Original manuals for everything and even some docs & programming info from a user's group that existed back in the day:
(Yes, I am totally going to scan those in and release them into the wild!)
So yeah, I'm pretty stoked about it. Everything is in great shape and it should slot into my studio nicely; I've been experimenting with FM synthesis a lot lately so this will be a great setup to dig into. Fun stuff.