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  • Yamaha Digital Percussion DTX-Multi 12

    By Dendy Jarrett |

    Yamaha Digital Percussion DTX-Multi 12

    Everything percussion in a little self-contained box ...


    by Dendy Jarrett




    If you've read my previous electronic drum gear reviews, then you know I had the unfortunate experience of being forced to use electronic drums during an international tour many years ago.  Now, when I begin a new electronic drum gear review, I must clear my mind of the horrid association with early electronic gear, one which voided any tactile experience.  Yes, you make drummer jokes and think we just hit things (things???)!  The subtle nuances that come with knowing how to play a triangle properly or slap a conga are what I enjoy about the percussive arts.

    With fear and trepidation but also a glimmer of hope (maybe it would be different this time), I opened the box.  No demons crawled out... a good sign.


    FIrst Impressions

    I felt a little bit better when I experienced the lightweight (under 5 pounds), compact design. It's small, yet allows adequate room for playing in a manner that doesn't leave you feeling cramped for space. The box pads are set up "stadium style" so that you can strike them easily.  Because there are actually 12 striking pads (6 larger squares and 6 raised rectangular bars), it can take a little time to adjust to striking at the right place and not accidentally striking an area you don't intend to hit. However, once you  acclimate to the spacing, it's a fantastic experience. The feeling of trepidation began to diminish.


    The Box

    The Box measures slightly over 12 inches wide. Each of the square pads is about 4 X 4 inches, and the smaller rectangle pads are roughly 4 inches by 1 inch, with an upward radius. The pads are a responsive rubber material and feel natural when played with  sticks or with the hands. And while the unit's body is ABS, it feels extremely rugged and could handle most normal wear and tear. The buttons are soft, with a rubberized texture and illuminate when powered on.  The only drawback is the small LCD display found on most elecronic percussion gear, but the DTX M12 offers an iPad app (more on that later) that more than compensates for this shortcoming. 





    (As found on Yamaha's website)

    • 1,061 drum / percussion / effects voices
    • 216 keyboard voices from Motif library
    • 100 MB wave ROM with drum sounds from DTXTREME III
    • 64 MB Flash ROM for importing custom WAV/AIFF files
    • Layer 4 sounds per pad
    • USB – to device / host
    • Expandable via 5 aux trigger inputs
    • Hi hat control jack / foot switch / tap tempo
    • Stick, hand, and finger play modes allow for alternative playing styles
    • Layered pads with a natural feel when played with sticks or hands
    • Bundled with Cubase AI; the M12 can serve as a remote controller

    The website also lists what Yamaha sees as advantages: Sounds staying resident and memory; better playability due to staggered triggers; the convenience of so many drum sounds in a portable package; suitability for all types of musicians; the ability to add new sounds.


    The Experience

    In my limited time to explore it to the fullest, there is no way that I could discover all that this little stuffed box can do. Below, there are links to Yamaha's video tutorials and demonstrations, which give a good idea of the overall capabilities.

    But what was important to me was how easy it was to get set, start playing, and above all, feel comfortable. The DTX Multi-12 excels at all three. I was able, right out of the box, to connect the power cable, plug in some headphones, dial up a bass  and drum pattern, and start playing congas.  I've been playing them quite a bit lately and wanted to determine if it was possible to obtain the subtle nuances associated with playing the real instrument. I was sucked right in and must have played for at least 45 minutes before I realized it was time to check out other features.  I really dug the tactile response of the pads; going from open conga to slap was as intuitive and responsive as playing the real deal. It did take a moment to overcome hitting the raised triggers, but once I cleared that learning curve, the experience was really invigorating (and much less painful to the hands)!

    The next test was timpani. I mean, how real could timpani be on an electronic device? Well, I was floored. The response is so close to the real timpani experience, one would be hard pressed to know the difference with your eyes closed. Additionally, while I didn't have one of Yamaha's FC7 foot control pedals, I could have added one and performed extreme pitch bends. And have you ever schlepped timpani to a gig? This takes away all of that headache.

    There are over 1,000 instruments packed into this little box, and I didn't find any that sounded "canned" or screamed "imitation." Very impressive.



    The DTX-Multi 12 has ports for connecting the Yamaha KP 65  Bass Drum Tower (or the KU100 Silent Bass Drum Controller), the Yamaha HH65 HiHat Controller, and the XP120T 12-inch DTX Pad so that you can turn the Multi 12 into a complete portable drum kit. This makes it an excellent choice for a church. songwriter round, or coffee house venue. You can also use Yamaha's DT-50 Series Triggers on your acoustic kit to trigger the Multi 12's sounds. 


    Uses and the App

    The Yamaha DTX-Multi 12 isn't just for percussionists. it's equally suitable for an acoustic guitar player to enhance a one-man show or use in a drummer's setup to augment an acoustic drum performance. DJs can add a new element to their shows, and it can even replace an acoustic percussionist's setup for convenience or to overcome space limitations. You can even patch it directly to your computer via USB to perform direct-to-DAW tracks. Furthermore, for the performing musician, downloading and using the iPad app lets you dial in specific sound sets and instruments and even tempos for a set list - with all this as easy to change as a drag and drop. You can even make adjustments on your iPad (live) for reverb, pitch, and a plethora of controls. Great news - the app is free, but please know it requires the Apple camera connection kit and a USB printer cable.






    Although nothing  can take the place of playing live instruments in front of a crowd, this unit gives you a dazzling array of sounds with a satisfying, highly playable tactile experience  in a  convenient and portable unit. And if you do use it, the audience will be amazed that all those sounds emanate from your playing a small black box. Imagine showing up with over 1,000 percussion instruments for a gig - you'd need a Ryder truck! With the DTDX-Multi 12, you can show up with a backpack and a messenger bag. You'll still have 1,000 instruments, and they'll all fit in your Prius. The Yamaha DTX-Multi 12 is the percussion you need...in a box you'll want.



    Yamaha's Official DTX-Multi 12 Web Page







    Preset Kit:



    Play Mode:







    Pre-Set Patterns:




    Trigger Function:




    Music Production:



    DTXM12 Touch App: Overview-




    iPad App:  Create Your Own Voice! "Clap"



    To Purchase:


    Amazon Music

    Musician's Friend


    B&H Pro Music

    Guitar Center

    Sam Ash






    Dendy Jarrett is the Publisher and Executive Director of Harmony Central. He has been heavily involved at the executive level in many aspects of the drum and percussion industry for over 25 years and has been a professional player since he was 16. His articles and product reviews have been featured in InTune Monthly, Gig Magazine, DRUM! and Modern Drummer Magazines.


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    Thank you for this excellent review.  I am planning on getting one of these or the Roland Octapad SPD-30. Can you tell me if it's possible to do a cymbal choke with the Multi12?

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