dexed: downloading and Getting started

We’re big fans of dexed, the free emulator of the Yamaha DX7. We’ve waxed on about it before so you may be wondering – “where do I buy this thing? It sounds fun.” Well, the good news is that you don’t have to buy it – it’s completely free. We’re going to share the steps to downloading, installing and checking out your first dexed sounds – let’s get behind the wheel!

Downloading dexed

When I first learned of dexed, I thought “great, a free plug-in!”, then, when I realized that you didn’t actually buy it, have an installer process, and company support, I thought “great, a free plugin!” – LOL. The short story is that because dexed is a free plug-in, there is no traditional infrastructure for installation, downloading, and authorization for the synth. It’s slightly more involved than commercially sold plug-ins, but nothing you can’t handle.

The first step in the installation of dexed is to head over to the github site where the dexed versions are kept and maintained. It’s located here (also stored for posterity in the Resources section at the end of this post):

Here’s what you’ll see at the dexed landing page:

dexed runs on OSX, Windows, and Linux, and has a separate installer for each. If you are on Mac or Windows, it’s easy – just click on the “Mac” or “PC” icon in the upper right corner of the landing page to start the download. If you are on Linux, there’s no button on the main page, unfortunately, so you will need to follow this link to the releases page, then download the latest version for Linux, which is named “***”, where *** indicates the latest dexed version number. Once you’ve selected and dowloaded your version, simply un-zip it and we’re ready for our next steps!

Here’s a brief guide for each installation:


  • Run the downloaded installer file.
  • Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation process. You may need to specify the folder where you want dexed to be installed.
  • After the installation is complete, dexed should be available in your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) as a VST plugin.


  • Double-clicking the .mpkg file will generate an error. Since dexed is an open source project, there’s no traditional “developer” and “signed, identified developer” process like those apps from the App Store. Once this error occurs, you’ll need to go to “Settings > Privacy & Security” and scroll to the bottom of the windown and click “Open Anyway” in order to proceed with the install.
  • You can selected Standalone, VST3, and AU installs – they are *really* small, so your best bet is just to install all three if you are not sure.
  • Once installed, you’ll need your DAW to scan the new plug-in and add dexed to your list for use. You can also just launch the stand-alone version at this point.


  • Extract the downloaded archive to a folder of your choice.
  • Make sure that the plugin file (usually with a .so extension) is executable. You can do this by right-clicking on the file, selecting “Properties,” and checking the “Allow executing file as program” option.
  • Move the plugin file to the appropriate folder for VST plugins on your Linux distribution. This location may vary, so consult your DAW’s documentation or online resources for guidance.

First playback:

Assuming you are a “quick gratification” person like me, let’s launch the stand-alone version of dexed and check out some sounds. Double click the dexed program icon and you’ll see the main screen:

You’ll need to set up your MIDI input and Audio output in order to get that instant gratification, so click on the “Options” button in the upper left corner of the window:

This screen will pop up, allowing you to select your Output for audio (External Headphones in my case – it’s early AM), as well as sample rate, audio buffer size and active MIDI input. In my case, I’ve selected the KL Essentiall 49 mk3 controller, and I’m ready to go.

Once you close that window, you’ll then be able to select and play sounds. Now, we have a lengthy tutorial already written about how to load new sounds here – but for now, let’s just select one of the default sounds that is loaded with the installation.

You may change sounds by clicking in the highlighted area of the main dexed window:

You’ll then see a pop-up window showing all of the currently loaded “Cart” sounds.

THERE – it’s done! We’ve installed dexed and checked out some new sounds. As mentioned previously, there’s a article that highlights adding new sounds to dexed here. There’s an entire universe of new sounds out there that you have not have in your arsenal. Don’t forget, either, that so far you’ve auditioned sound in the stand-alone version. Once you load it into a track on your DAW, there’s another level of sound design available once you add effects processing  to the mighty FM generation synthesis available in dexed.

We will be continuing our series on dexed in the coming weeks – including generating custom CARTS, which is up next. Thanks for tuning in!








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