The Yamaha DX7 is a digital synthesizer used by Prince and his band in the mid-1980s. Prince acquired one during the Purple Rain sessions and it was used on Around The World In A Day, Parade and Sign O The Times. It was one of the first affordable implementations of FM synthesis and was capable of producing a range of acoustic, percussive and metallic sounds that were impossible with older analog synthesizers. It became one of the biggest selling synthesizers in history. It was notoriously difficult to program, and Prince largely used the DX7's presets (see a full list below).
The DX7 was purchased for Prince to use on the song "Love and Sex" (from the Purple Rain Deluxe edition). Prince first commercially available song featuring the DX7 was "When Doves Cry" , where the patch "Koto" was used for the main keyboard part. The DX7 was used extensively on the Around The World In A Day sessions , appearing on most of the songs. Prince would continue using the DX7 on Parade, Sign O The Times and Lovesexy albums . Lisa Coleman , Dr Fink and Boni Boyer all used DX7s live on the Purple Rain, Parade, Sign O The Times and Lovesexy tours.
Prince sold his Yamaha DX7, along with his Emu E-max II sampler in 1995. The DX7 and E-max II were put up for auction in 2020. The DX7 has the following written in tape above the patch selection buttons - Strange, Let’s Work, House LP, Pony Smpls?, Bass Riff, The Shit LP, Huh LP, Dope Drum, Segway LP, Tambo LP, Yea Yea, Scream 1, Bell Kiss LP, Another LP, Another LP, Put Huh?, Open Girl, Crowd, Girl Laugh 1/2/3/4. It's possible that these are samples that were triggered using the DX7.