Is this FM?

Is this FM synthesis in this tune? Can the A4 replicate what’s going on in this song?

Can you be more specific? There are a lot of sounds in this song. :slight_smile:

For example, the sound that comes in at 0:24, and the bells…

Yes, there is quite a lot of FM going on in this video.
Bells: yes! (Although a bit more Casio CZ-sounding, but that is practically the same thing) Sweeps at 0:24, sounds like a layered sound, but yes - sounds like some FM there!

The Analog Four does not have typical “FM synthesis” like the Yamaha DX/TX/etc series - their implementation is actually phase modulation due to the inherent issues with FM. Secondly, the LFOs in the Analog Four cannot operate at high enough speeds to achieve the sort of classic FM sounds you would expect from a TX81z or DX7.

However, you can get sort of close to some of the sounds if you program it very carefully. A bit too lengthy to go into detail about right here and now, but I think there are a few more ‘classic’ sounding FM sounds in the Mini FM soundpack I made:

Regarding the exact sounds used in this video, the A4 can make similar sounds for sure, but not exactly the same. Bell-tones can be achieved with AM (paired with oscillating peak filter tones), 80’s “brass” can be made like usual (subtractive), the long decaying FM sweeps can be achieved with a frequency locked LFO. However not straight forward to program. (expect for the brass I guess!)

And how does FM typically sound like?
Well, here is a good example of one of my favorite Yamaha FM synthesizers, TX81z:

And if you feel like learning more about FM, this is a pretty good video:

Is FM the best kind of synthesis ever conceptualized? Objectively, yes. :diddly:
Is the OPL3 chip in Soundblaster 16 the best FM-chip Yamaha has made to date? Yes. :diddly:


I had a Volca FM for a while, but found it very limiting (no velocity on on midi note on, 32 patch maximum, really hard to play and program without external influence)…

Maybe a reface DX is in order. The second video leads me to believe a 4 op FM synth will still give some great FM sounds…

Here is a question, if you use Neighbour, can you extend the operators of the FM synthesis on the A4?

If only Elektron released a full fledged 6 op FM synth with the sequencer, modulation options, and overbridge of the A4…


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The A4 does not have operators per se, the LFOs are used instead - neighbor track functionality will not extend the LFO modulation per track.

Personally I prefer 4 OP FM. More operators does not equal “better” sounds. 4 OP is just nicer to work with, really - less headaches when designing sounds (especially considering those god awful multi-stage yamaha envelopes)

The TX18z also has different waveforms available than the DX7 which only has sinewaves - this is a huge plus.

Reface sounds really good, but lacks feedback (it has waveshaping instead - advertised as feedback though, but does not do the same thing obviously)

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Do you mind adding a source for this?

This is something I noticed when trying it out myself.
Listen to the examples in this video around 1:23

I’ve heard it explained as positive/negative feedback, but it sounds very much like pure saws and squares to my ears. Not a bad thing at all, it’s just not at all similar to how feedback sounds on for example a DX7 or TX81Z.


And if I’m looking for that bitey harsh “Sega Genesis” style synthesis I would need feedback? Seems like this waveshaping is also really cool, since like the TX18z you can select between a sine, square or sawtooth, with a triangle being somewhere in between I’d imagine.

The issue I’d have with the TX18z would be editing and sequencing (mind you I have an Octatrack).

At the end of the day, do you think the Reface would do the job for this synthesis, or would I need something like the DX7 or TX81Z.

Or is Elektron going to solve all my problems :3lektron: :wink:

I don’t think the Reface sounds anywhere near the Mega Drive FM. It’s very clean and crisp (and sounds great if you want that)

FB01 is probably the best bet for that sound, although quite different from the MD chip as well.
(However close to the YM chip in the Sharp X68000 home computer, which sounds really nice)

FB01 can be found for cheap, I would go for that. There is a good editor for PC as well - Mac, not so much.

And why not check out Casio’s side of things… The CZ-101 has a very nice sound to it, quite lofi and quite cheap.

As for bitey harsh, TX81Z is pretty much the best in that regard. Great feedback sound.

Side-note: Genesis/Megadrive … What horror! So many different hardware revisions just for the MK1, each with their own buggy sound output. I went through three MDs before I found one that sounded good. The amount of quantization noise and aliasing is crazy! But… Nice crunchy FM!

There is actually a MIDI interface for Gen/MD called GenMDM, but it’s sort of out of production and very rare. I had one for a while, worked great.

But for the best retro gaming FM experience , OPL3 all the way. Specifically with SammichFM (MidiboxFM) - modern MIDI control over one of the finest Yamaha FM chips ever made. The sound of the OPL3 (Soundblaster 16) is really special.

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I think the PreenFM2 is the best hardware FM. You can dial it from 3-6 OP, multiple waves, “true” FM feedback, and tiny to boot.

The DX11/TX81z are both great, as are the 6OP, but all of the old Yamaha gear has poor MIDI control. The PreenFM2 you could sequence with a MnM/MD/OT and go nuts with CC plocks:)

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I have a Casio VZ-10m for my FM fix. can do DX style FM with a little easier programming. has a pretty crazy unique structure to it as well. not quite Phase Distortion synthesis, not quite Phase Modulation (DX style “FM”) synthesis. can be found for 3-400 usually. they had a Keyboard version too the VZ-1. I’d avoid the VZ-8m unless you want to use it to add more polyphony but the vz-1 and 10 are 16 voice poly as is. o_O

Cool thing about Preenfm2 is it’s diy. And relatively inexpensive. Might be a cool little project :smiley:

Eugh, trying to track down Sammichfm or preenfm is proving difficult…

There are builders you can find, but the PreenFM2 is like an hour and a half tops. You’d save money buying a soldering iron and doing it yourself. Very simple build

That is not the issue, finding the kit is. The main site and the distributor are away for the summer, so there are no kits available.

I just cant understand why there isn’t a proper FM groovebox in the market. Not like a DX200, something more complete, many 6op voices and full spec sequencer. The shittiest modern chipset can manage all that. And don’t tell me the old “FM is hard to understand” rubbish idea so many have been repeating for so long. Today’s kids can understand much more complex stuff than FFT.


It’s not that FM is difficult to understand, it’s that no one has made a really usable interface for it.

8 posts were merged into an existing topic: PreenFM 2