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Posted: Thu Nov 26, 2020 3:58 pm
What are your thoughts on the new Korg Opsix? Is FM synthesis too much of a pain to learn and use?
Re: Korg Opsix
Posted: Sat Nov 28, 2020 3:59 am
Since there have been 87 views as I type this, but no replies, I'll start by referencing what I posted about this synth in the article about it on the main page of the forum...
"The fact that it has dedicated knobs and sliders to control the frequency ratio and level of each operator gives it a great hands-on approach to allow people to zero in on a particular sound or explore new ones by getting immediate feedback on how changing the different operators affects the sound for a given algorithm. This should give it much more usability and flexibility than the classic FM synths that required you to hunt and peck a control panel and individually adjust each parameter with a single lever."
I used to have a DX-7, and while it was capable of some pretty cool sounds, it was kind of a hassle to program, and it never gave that classic synth feeling of being able to grab some knobs and sliders to get to the sound you want. And of course, except for a few limited functions, there was almost no ability to do any live tweaking of the sounds.
I'd love to get my hands on one of these just to see what it could do. I recently bought a Roland GAIA SH-01, which I like very much. This Korg isn't that much more expensive than my GAIA, so it would be interesting to see if it is capable of any vast improvement over the GAIA, or if it is just simply different. At least, as far as I can tell, the Opsix has full sized keys! That is something that far too many newer budget-priced synths are lacking these days.
Re: Korg Opsix
Posted: Sat Nov 28, 2020 1:52 pm
It's not even in stores yet, so only Internet influencers have gotten thier hands on one. Anything anyone can post at this time would be pure speculation.
Hand-on controls do simplify the programming process, but the concept of FM is completely different than subtractive synthesis, whether it's analog or digital. FM uses harmonically simple waveforms (in the original Yamaha units, nothing but sine waves) to create harmonically complex waveforms.
The terms you read about like "operator" and "algorithm" are really simple concepts. The hardest part of FM is envisioning how to create particular sounds with it. Having direct control may simplify the learning and programming process, but it's not as simple as learning how to program a basic analog synth. You need to spend time reading about it and watching videos to get the basic concepts down and then like all sound design, it's up to you to explore what it can actually do.
Re: Korg Opsix
Posted: Sun Nov 29, 2020 3:18 am
No doubt, FM is quite a bit different than subtractive synthesis. But from what I've read, the Opsix will have at least one filter, giving some traditional control over the sound. And then a while back, I read something interesting about FM synthesis on a Yamaha synth website. I don't know if this is true or not, because I never noticed it or tested it when I had my DX-7 (I read this article LONG after I sold the DX-7), but it sounds interesting. Basically, it said that when you have a simple 2-operator algorithm -- one modulator modulating the carrier below it, then the following is true: If the frequency of the modulator equals the frequency of the carrier, then you get a sawtooth wave. If the frequency of the modulator is double the frequency of the carrier, then you get a square wave. If the frequency of the modulator is triple the frequency of the carrier, then you get a pulse wave. When the modulator is tuned to other successive multiples of the carrier frequency (4x the carrier, 5x the carrier, and so on), then you get a pulse wave with a narrower and narrower duty cycle. I assume they were talking about using standard sine waves for the ops.
Like I said, I don't know if this is true or not, and since it's been a while since I read that, I may even have the carrier and modulator values switched. Additionally, I doubt if you get "pure" versions of those waveforms. But even if this is close, then that really gives people a good starting point for FM synthesis, as it relates to analog waveforms. And then, as you adjust the output levels of the modulator, that is equivalent to adjusting the cut-off of a filter, and then applying envelope or LFO to the modulator would give the classic wah-wah type effects.
So, imagine a 6-op algorithm, with the algorithm being 3 pairs of ops as I described above -- in other words, 3 pairs of ops where each pair has 1 modulator and 1 carrier. That would give you the equivalent of a 3-oscillator synth (like a Minimoog), with each oscillator having its own filter. Again -- a great starting point. Then, you can start experimenting with modulator-to-carrier ratios that are not exact integers, and that should add some interesting color/harmonics to the sound. And then of course, you could start experimenting with different algorithms -- especially if the Opsix allows you to design your own algorithms. Hey, stack ALL 6 OPS, one on top of another! That should be good for some gnarly sounds! Or some white noise!
Re: Korg Opsix
Posted: Sun Nov 29, 2020 5:10 pm
SciNote wrote: ↑
Sun Nov 29, 2020 3:18 am
it said that when you have a simple 2-operator algorithm -- one modulator modulating the carrier below it, then the following is true: If the frequency of the modulator equals the frequency of the carrier, then you get a sawtooth wave. If the frequency of the modulator is double the frequency of the carrier, then you get a square wave. If the frequency of the modulator is triple the frequency of the carrier, then you get a pulse wave. When the modulator is tuned to other successive multiples of the carrier frequency (4x the carrier, 5x the carrier, and so on), then you get a pulse wave with a narrower and narrower duty cycle. I assume they were talking about using standard sine waves for the ops.
That's true, integer ratios give nice tonal sounds, fractional ratios give lots of noise
By assigning an EG to the mod depth, the result is like sweeping a filter, the greater the depth the more harmonics are generated.
It's when you get past the 2 op stack that things get a little harder to understand...feedback, etc. With 6 operators, one basic algorithm is three sets of 2 ops each. It can be treated like a three oscillator subtractive synth (each with it's own filter and EGs) for layering three different sounds. This is where a lot of the flexibility of the 6 (or more) operator FM synths really get interesting.
Re: Korg Opsix
Posted: Wed Jan 13, 2021 10:59 am
Im an SY77 and SY99 'nut', and also love MOD-7 on the OASYS thought still don't understand it fully.
Some quick thoughts on the Opsix: It is great, sounds fantastic, and does offer a whole new approach to using FM synthesis.
But - (there's always a 'but') - coming from the SY world - AFM synthesis with the programming parameters of the SY's, and coupled to RCM (where you can use PCM samples as operators); delivers FM programming that is, at most, one step away from being 'virtual acoustic' in its performance and sound design capabilities. So the approach to the SYs is to design sounds of quite detailed character, then to be played (and the Opsix keyboard is too short).
Of particular importance on the SYs is the detail of the EGs - and the fact that you can set loop points along the them - it really is as important as any other feature, and what enables amazing 'acousticness', and amazing flexibility in sound design.
So sometimes the devil is in the detail - and the SYs deliver that. But still, with a 64x240 LCD screen - the SYs are not hard to program - and you get very quick at it.
So the Opsix has its place - realtime interaction and likely suiting EDM and related music genres. And I think you'll quickly tire of turning the operator amount and frequency knobs - I know they are vital to the character of FM sounds, but actually, its how you manipulate operator amount over time for each of the 6 operators using the EGs is where 90+% of the versatility of FM comes from - and as said - the Opsix offers nothing special in that department and it doesn't approach the territory set out by the likes of the SYs, or MOD-7 on the OASYS/Kronos (which is immensely complex but in any case goes _far_ beyond FM synthesis and is in fact a complete digital modular synthesizer of immense depth and flexibility).
To get sophistication from FM, you need to spend time at it. For me the SYs hit the sweet-spot - sufficient detail to be endlessly complex and engaging, but not too much detail that it's a labour. I don't want to sound negative about the Opsix as it offers a whole new world of possibilities - but as said, a lot of that control panel isn't dedicated to FM; with the only new advantage it offers FM wise being the controls for operator amount and frequency - useful, but far from the whole story in designing FM sounds.