The DMX is a programmable digital drum machine manufactured by Oberheim Electronics. It was introduced in 1981 at a list price of US$2895, and remained in the company's product line until the mid-1980s.
The Oberheim DMX was the second digital drum machine ever to be sold as a commercial product, following the Linn LM-1 Drum Computer in 1980. Its popularity among musicians of the era contributed to the sound and evolution of 1980s new wave, synthpop and hip hop music.
Immediately following the success of the Linn LM-1, other manufacturers began to develop and release drum machines intended to compete with the LM-1's ease of programmability and realistic sound quality. The DMX featured sampled sounds of real drums, as well as individual tuning controls for each drum voice and a swing function. In addition, it boasted several humanizing elements such as rolls, flams, and timing variations that were meant to mimic those of real drummers.
The DMX features 24 individual drum sounds derived from 11 original samples  and allows for a maximum 8-voice polyphony; one voice per card. It also featured eight separate outputs for individual processing, and allowed up to 100 sequences and 50 songs. One of the distinguishing features of the DMX is that it allowed integration with Oberheim's proprietary interfacing system (the Oberheim Parallel Buss) that pre-dated MIDI and allowed Oberheim equipment to be synchronized with the machine. Later models included factory-fitted MIDI ports and third party companies also manufactured MIDI interfaces for the DMX.
Drum and percussion samples are stored in EPROM chips placed on removable voice cards. The data format is 8-bit PCM using μ-law companding, increasing sound resolution to approximately 12 bits in the analog domain (a design technique also employed by other early drum machines, including products by Linn Electronics, E-mu Systems and Sequential Circuits).
The DMX's punchy and very realistic drum sound made it attractive towards many artists and producers involved in the fledging hip-hop scene and it is featured on many of the genre's early landmark recordings. It is in continuous use in dancehall reggae music.
Notable artists and songs that feature an Oberheim DMX
Introduced in 1983, the Oberheim DX was a slightly stripped down version of the DMX, available at a list price of US$1,395. The look and feel of the machine was similar to that of the DMX, but it only featured 18 sounds instead of 24; allowed for 6-sound polyphony instead of 8; had a 4-digit, 7-segment display instead of a 16-character alphanumeric display; and had fake plastic wood instead of walnut. Additionally, the voices were stored on EPROMs directly on the circuit board instead of removable voice cards. The DXa model added MIDI support from the factory. Like the DMX, the DX was popular among early hip-hop artists.
- Paul White (2011-11-02). "DMX Files Frequently Asked Questions". Retrieved 2011-11-13.
- Roger Lyons (April 2004). "Recreating New Order's 'Blue Monday' Live". Sound On Sound. Retrieved 2011-11-13.
- Richard Buskin (March 2004). "Classic Tracks: The Police's "Every Breath You Take"". Sound On Sound. Retrieved 2011-11-13.
- "Interview with Sean Booth for Reverb Magazine, 2008".
- "Young Turks by Rod Stewart - Song Facts (relevant post by co-writer Duane Hitchings)".
- "DMX / DX Comparison". Retrieved 2011-11-13.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Oberheim synthesizers.|
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GflqqvEZ9Ag Demonstration of classic DMX hip hop beats, programmed by Harlem Nights Music
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8P1a-795NI Demonstration of classic DMX disco beats, programmed by Harlem Nights Music
- http://www.electrongate.com/dmxfiles/index.html Technical information
- http://www.electrongate.com/dmxfiles/eproms.html Samples
- http://www.polynominal.com/oberheim-dmx/index.html Oberheim DMX page: info and audio clips