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FM8. Better than DX7?? Save me some money...

Posted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 2:20 am
by solaristica
I love FM8 and can't get enough of it. I have, however, been contemplating getting a real DX7, or maybe even some other hardware FM synth, like the SY77, or even one of the racks, TG33, etc.

NOW, I never really spend time with the hardware stuff. I have messed around a bit with a DX7 at this used keyboard shop in the Village (the dude is asking $300, for the most beat-up DX7 I've seen...) but not enough to say it sounds better than the softsynth....

Can you guys chip in and tell me what you think? I don't want to spend some money on something and then figure out that I had it just as good with the NI stuff...

Thanks.

Re: FM8. Better than DX7?? Save me some money...

Posted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 3:05 am
by Jinsai
There is absolutely no reason to get a hardware DX/TX series synth unless you want a hardware synth to perform with rather than a soft synth

FM8 has more flexibility and as good/better sound than the hardware units, which are all old and a pain in the a*s to program.

Re: FM8. Better than DX7?? Save me some money...

Posted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 5:46 am
by Taxidermy
The keyboard on the DX7 is good. The interface isn't nearly as difficult as people give it credit for, however, the native instruments interface is much more efficient. And they both sound as good as eachother (soundcard depending).

SY22 on the other hand, is a great synthesizer to play with and has a great keyboard too. Boards of Canada seemed to use it exhaustively on music has the right. You can get one for about $100. If you are looking for anything I would suggest that. I wish I never sold mine.

Re: FM8. Better than DX7?? Save me some money...

Posted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 9:57 am
by HideawayStudio
Taxidermy wrote:The keyboard on the DX7 is good. The interface isn't nearly as difficult as people give it credit for, however, the native instruments interface is much more efficient. And they both sound as good as eachother (soundcard depending).

SY22 on the other hand, is a great synthesizer to play with and has a great keyboard too. Boards of Canada seemed to use it exhaustively on music has the right. You can get one for about $100. If you are looking for anything I would suggest that. I wish I never sold mine.
Don't forget the rackmount version; the TG33 - well actually it's more desktop than rackmount. Although these are quite nice for very little money they are FM/PCM hybrids and the (2OP!) FM side of the synth is very limited indeed. The FM engine is made up of presets used almost like basic waveforms in a wavetable synth. They are vector synths and I'd say much of their sound is actually due to the PCM side - that said they feature some lovely PCM string presets and were designed by Dave Smith!!

The FM synth I always recommend is the 6OP TG77 or, if you want a nice mother keyboard, the SY77. This is a monster synth and features some of the deepest FM synthesis ever devised. It's not cheap these days though!

Although I am very impressed with the soft FM synths I doubt they will ever fully emulate the DX7 etc due to some of their "magic" being due to shortcomings in the hardware. The early FM synths were complex and made use of both analog and digital technology due mainly to a lack of processing power available at the time. Many FM synths, especially the 4OPs, had noticable aliasing - esp. noticable on the tails of bass presets.

Re: FM8. Better than DX7?? Save me some money...

Posted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 10:05 am
by Pro5
I Use FM8 quite a bit and really like it. I don't see it as competing with my DX7 II as such, as when I program/play/use the hardware DX7 I tend to do different things and it is very nice to play (in solo/mono mode esp).

I wouldn't pay $300 for a beat up mk1 though... no way. And part of the reason I bought a hardware DX7 is because I just HAD TO... having spent the best part of my childhood dreaming about owning one someday. I love having it around in a way that FM8 doesn't give me. For production though, FM8 is great and gets the job done and then some. If you have no strong desire to own a DX7 and already own FM8 then the answer is obvious.

Re: FM8. Better than DX7?? Save me some money...

Posted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 10:16 am
by Yoozer
Don't pay $300 for a beaten up one; wait.

The DX has the great keyboard going for it (and the crappy MIDI implementation). Nostalgia was my reason to want one, too (and I've got 3 4-ops and 2 6-ops now). I absolutely adore its design aesthetic; I think it's one of the most beautiful synthesizers ever made.

Re: FM8. Better than DX7?? Save me some money...

Posted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 11:38 am
by CS_TBL
If you're an FM8 power user, then there's no point getting a DX7 or SY77. FM8 does so much more, mainly thanks to the effects and the operator waveforms, that the sounds you get have little in common with the old sound palette of the DX/SY. Also, the vast polyphony of 64 per FM8 instance is highly practical. And that's all without even bringing in user interface arguments.

But, check out http://www.youtube.com/user/mvsmsx and judge for yourself.

Coming up next: 1492 - Conquest of Paradise - FM8 remix. With wordless choir, piano, the percussion, the reverb, the whole shebang.
-working on it in the other window, as we speak!-

Re: FM8. Better than DX7?? Save me some money...

Posted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 1:54 pm
by Tchammosaur
I have both FM8 and a TX81Z, and I still use the TX81Z because it's a different instrument with a different sound. It clearly isn't the "hardware" part that's exciting, because I use software to program it. It's an instrument on its own, and I guess it can sound more gritty than FM8. I owned FM8 before the TX81Z, and having this new instrument opened some new horizons for me.

Re: FM8. Better than DX7?? Save me some money...

Posted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 2:53 pm
by Synthaholic
One reason to get a DX7 (mkI) is that its 12-bit converters give it a grit that's hard to replicate in FM8.

I wouldn't spend $300 on a beat-up one though. Look on eBay, you'll surely find one in better shape for the same money.

Re: FM8. Better than DX7?? Save me some money...

Posted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 4:15 pm
by solaristica
Thank you all. That is reassuring, and it will make my wife happier with me (altough you all know how it is, I might end up getting one anyway)... But yes, have to say that the biggest motivation was to see that "elegant" designed synth in my apartment... Just like the other fellow poster, I dreamed of having one as a child... And every time I see a picutre of Brian Eno next to one, I get really excited...

I'm all software right now, and would like a hardware synth. Maybe the AN1X? (I know it is not strictly FM, but I think it would give me something different than all the NI softs I have....)

Re: FM8. Better than DX7?? Save me some money...

Posted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 4:42 pm
by vanpet
Soundwise, FM8 is largely better, lots of FX8 very good presets, ease of use that a DX7 owner can only dream of.

But the hardware DX7 is pure love. The keyboard is excellent (it's my main keyboard for years) and if you're nostalgic, it's cheap enough to get one and be happy!

Re: FM8. Better than DX7?? Save me some money...

Posted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 5:46 pm
by Jinsai
I owned a DX7 and a DX7II for years.

The keyboards on the DX7 (and the II) do not allow/provide full range of MIDI velocity transmission, topping out at 100 even if you're practically jumping on the keys. As a result, I found them a poor choice for controllers, especially with the wealth of other options available today.

Regarding the converters on the DX7, they just give the instrument a high noise floor - personally I wouldn't characterize them as "grungy" in any positive way. Any "character" they impart can be duplicated by putting a bit crusher on the output of FM8.

I can imagine the posts now: "Man these VST emulations just don't capture the character of the old converter chips. Those chips really add something to the sound." It never ends!

Re: FM8. Better than DX7?? Save me some money...

Posted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 6:11 pm
by HideawayStudio
Jinsai wrote:I owned a DX7 and a DX7II for years.

I can imagine the posts now: "Man these VST emulations just don't capture the character of the old converter chips. Those chips really add something to the sound." It never ends!

I have been known to say just this! BUT I will agree that old convertors don't always add "magic" - for some reason in the Roland D-50, for example, the hardware makes this beast sound fantastic and I've yet to hear a soft synth emulation that comes close but I will admit I've often thought the aliasing present on some DX series synths has actually -detracted- from the overall sound. So - like everything in life - you need to be pragmatic about these things and not just blindly say -everything- old is better - 'cos it just ain't true! :)

Re: FM8. Better than DX7?? Save me some money...

Posted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 6:47 pm
by Pro5
FM8 is cool as I said, I already loved my DX7 II but recently picked up an SY77 at a good price (too good to refuse) and It's awesome.. not just the sound but the whole package. A digital Monster... still can't bring myself to sell the DX7 though :(

Re: FM8. Better than DX7?? Save me some money...

Posted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 7:51 pm
by cornutt
Yoozer wrote:Don't pay $300 for a beaten up one; wait.
Yeah, that's way too high. I see good ones going for around $200. Don't forget, Yamaha made over 100,000 of those things; there's no shortage of them.