What is fm synthesis like on other synths (non yamaha dx's)

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What is fm synthesis like on other synths (non yamaha dx's)

Post by Tiger Jackson » Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:37 am

Ive been wondering this. I know that some other non yamaha synths have included fm synthesis engines like the alesis fusion. Do they follow the same principle with sin wave ocillators and algorithms? Does the FM sound like the yamaha's, with bright, glassy sounds?

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Re: What is fm synthesis like on other synths (non yamaha dx

Post by GuyaGuy » Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:53 am

Depends on the synth. The (Poly)Evolver has FM synthesis which allows use of all waveforms. There's fairly prevalent aliasing which creates tones that are pretty far removed from the clean bell tones typically associated with Yamahas.

Some analog synths like the Phatty offer FM but it's much more limited and tends to create more ring mod-type sounds and resulting in pitch instability.

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Re: What is fm synthesis like on other synths (non yamaha dx

Post by CfNorENa » Tue Mar 26, 2013 6:17 am

The MOD-7 engine on the Kronos (and Oasys) does FM synthesis. There are some additional features etc. not found in the DX series, but you can certainly limit it to straightforward 6 OP FM (it can load DX-7 patches, for example). I haven't dug into MOD-7 yet, but the presets are simply stunning. MOD-7 is almost worth the price of the Kronos all by itself!

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Re: What is fm synthesis like on other synths (non yamaha dx

Post by tekkentool » Tue Mar 26, 2013 8:40 am

Sound however you want them to sound.

I and many others are a huge fan of FM8 here...

Y'know scary monsters and nice sprites was originally called "Fm8" unsurprisingly every synth on that song is fm8

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Re: What is fm synthesis like on other synths (non yamaha dx

Post by nogginj » Tue Mar 26, 2013 3:53 pm

On some synths its just a knob - turn up the 'amount' of FM (Yamaha AN1-X).

Must be a ratio-locked osc depth control, or combo of ratio + depth.

On the Casio CZ-101, the FM amount is equated almost 1:1 with subtractive synthesis and opening a filter. The manual almost reads like, 'Ok so this FM dial, that's really the filter', and from then on just talks in terms of subtractive synthesis.

In Logic, the FM synth is just a modulator and some envelopes, along with mod freq control.

Its usually simplified in non-dx synths, that's for sure.

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Re: What is fm synthesis like on other synths (non yamaha dx

Post by atom » Tue Mar 26, 2013 4:17 pm

I have the Korg 707 witch is a FM synth. It sounds thin and in my opinion similar do the DX21 (i also one one of those). Korg had a bit different approach to the editing of the parameters then the DX series, but the sound range is about the same.
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Re: What is fm synthesis like on other synths (non yamaha dx

Post by Bitexion » Tue Mar 26, 2013 4:44 pm

They key to FM synthesis on the DX synths is that you have those fixed operator-modulator ratios. 1:1, 1:2 etc. and the fixed structure layouts (the way the operators are connected to eachother).
Without those you get unclean sounds. Just turning an FM Amount knob isn't very effective other than for making screechy sound effects.

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Re: What is fm synthesis like on other synths (non yamaha dx

Post by HideawayStudio » Sun Mar 31, 2013 6:14 pm

Bitexion wrote:They key to FM synthesis on the DX synths is that you have those fixed operator-modulator ratios. 1:1, 1:2 etc. and the fixed structure layouts (the way the operators are connected to eachother).
Without those you get unclean sounds. Just turning an FM Amount knob isn't very effective other than for making screechy sound effects.
The Minimoog will do genuine analog FM synthesis (ie. not just a fixed fast LFO) thanks to it's OSC3 modulation mode operating whilst still itself being under voltage controlled pitch (this is the reason why I very much forgive the model D not having a dedicated LFO!). It hugely increases the sonic possibilities of this old beast along with the ability to modulate the filter at audio freqencies which can result in some remarkably odd digital sounding effects at times. As I've said before - the model D is deceptively flexible.

With some care it's possible to get some very warm DX like sounds out of the model D - in fact some of the nicest sounding church bell samples I have ever created have been made with the Minimoog. You can also get nylon guitar, hard FM bass, marimba, timpany drums and much more from this configuration on the model D.

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Re: What is fm synthesis like on other synths (non yamaha dx

Post by Zamise » Mon Apr 01, 2013 2:03 am

You can also do FM using a fast sequencer and maxing out things like the pitch bend event in opposite amounts on every other tic. Sounds like poo and don't really give the beautiful ring mod type bell sounds, more like a glitchy old computer game and you risk getting lag and glitches etc. on your sequencer, so probably not what anyone is looking for in this thread, but thought I'd mention it.
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Re: What is fm synthesis like on other synths (non yamaha dx

Post by Bitexion » Mon Apr 01, 2013 3:18 am

FM synthesis of the DX kind needs completely stable "oscillators" to maintain a clean sound across several octaves, so you can play polyphonic sounds like el.pianos and organs or synth brass or whatever. If the oscillators are just slightly off pitch, you get those atonal frequencies in there too.

When you do FM with analog oscillators that drift just slightly, the sounds get atonal on some frequencies and tonal on others. That is why the DX7 was a 100% digital synth when all other synths at the time were analogue beasts.
It needs those completely stable operators to keep the frequency ratios the same across all notes and octaves.

This is why, if you FM modulate a lowpass filter for instance, it sounds juicy and creamy on the G0 and G1 keys, but completely messy on the C0 and C1 keys.

Either that or you need completely reliable tracking, which is extremely rare with pure analogue synths.
Most keyboardists couldn't get their heads around working with frequency ratios and operator volume levels rather than plain old sawtooths and lowpass filters. It's a completely different way to create sounds, but with 6 operators connected in various configurations (the DX7 had 32 algorithms), you could recreate nearly any sound imaginable if you knew how.
You can even create chorus effects by applying just the right parameters to a sound.

One of the first exercises in Massey's "The Complete DX7" book is to improve on the preset EL.PIANO 1 sound. It walks you through how to make it both sound brighter and add a phasing effect, all by just adjusting some of the preset parameters. It's pretty incredible when you do it and hear the results.

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Re: What is fm synthesis like on other synths (non yamaha dx

Post by 8bit9bot » Mon Apr 01, 2013 3:33 am

You wanna hear DIFFERENT sounding examples of FM synthesis... check out demos of the Synclavier - it uses 2 operator setup... but the carrier is additive and you can basically make any waveform you want with it... and then freq. mod. it with a sine.

The way the Synclavier is used is typically many layers of these carrier/modulator pairs (voices)... detuned. Each voice has its own clock... and apparently there is no aliasing/loss as the pitches change... because the clock speed changes PER VOICE. Quite an amazing sound... definitely related to the DX sounds but way more raw/fizzy/deep.

Another "different" sounding FM synthesis is heard on the old yamaha PSS portasound series... very raw and computery sounding compared to the professional DX series.

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Re: What is fm synthesis like on other synths (non yamaha dx

Post by Bitexion » Mon Apr 01, 2013 3:39 am

It is why you can quite easily identify DX7 sounds, specially ones with envelopes, as there is no lowpass filter, you modulate the operator volume levels with the envelope instead, getting a similar effect to a filter cutoff sweep, but still distinctly different.

The later Yamaha FM synths like the SY-series let you use other waveforms than sine waves on the operators too, like sawtooth, pulse, square etc, and lowpass filters. Sort of like the Synclavier you describe.
When all 6 operators are not modulating eachother but in "parallell", you just hear the pure sound of each operator, can do detuning and all the usual analogue type stuff.

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Re: What is fm synthesis like on other synths (non yamaha dx

Post by CZ Rider » Mon Apr 01, 2013 5:31 am

8bit9bot wrote:You wanna hear DIFFERENT sounding examples of FM synthesis... check out demos of the Synclavier - it uses 2 operator setup... but the carrier is additive and you can basically make any waveform you want with it... and then freq. mod. it with a sine.
I was going to mention the Synclavier II that pre-dated the Yamaha series of strictly FM synthesizers. The Sync II is only a two operator FM with an envelope on the ammount of FM, sounding like a filter. The Sync II could also FM a resynthesis waveform for even more fun.
Little demo here of a resynthesis sound of the Lucky Man Moog where I turn the FM ammount to different ratios.

Another demo where you can hear the perfect intervals being dialed in. Octave intervals, fifths, and fourths sound tonal while the in between intervals sound more bell like.

I think there was more real time control of the FM on the Sync II then there was on the DX series? Not sure though, don't have a DX7 but have a TX-802 and a few other similar Yamahas.
I thought to get the same FM sounds on an analog oscillator you need to have a through zero type modulating oscillator? I get similar tones from tuned FM on my Moog, but not quite the same as the FM from the Sync II. They both do FM though.
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The Casio PD way of doing almost the same thing is still my favorite of all those digitals. Something about the sound of those Casios sounds alive, like the oscillators are free runing. Where pressing the same key produces a slightly different sound. Not boring or mechanical sounding at all. Some kind of Casio magic in the circuits.

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Re: What is fm synthesis like on other synths (non yamaha dx

Post by Steve Jones » Mon Apr 01, 2013 7:04 am

I miss my Synclavier II.
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Re: What is fm synthesis like on other synths (non yamaha dx

Post by 8bit9bot » Mon Apr 01, 2013 11:15 am

Bitexion wrote: When all 6 operators are not modulating eachother but in "parallell", you just hear the pure sound of each operator, can do detuning and all the usual analogue type stuff.
ah yes i am not saying that simply detuning is the specialized feature but rather that each voice has its own clock - and it over/under clocks appropriately per detune and notes - there arent a lot of machines that do THAT - its definitely overkill - i believe the fairlight sampler works the same way... and so does the emulator 2

the biggest special feature of the synclav is the additive carrier

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