Recommend me an FM synth

Ive suddenly joined a post punk band, with the intention of going as synth heavy as possible without turning into a minimal wave band. I’m supposed to be in charge of synths and programming, but I’m missing a key element: an FM synth for those icy cold leads and pads.

Now I could get a dx7 for fairly cheap, but due to the small size of my home studio I would rather get a module sized synth instead. Also, as always, i would like to get it for as cheap as possible, as I have an iPad and there’s plenty of VST’s for free.

What options do I have, hardware wise? Lets day tue budget is 300 euros. no volca fm because i want more polyphony.

Sonicware Liven XFM would be my suggestion if you can get hold of one (looks like June, but a second hand ELZ-1 with the same engine might be in budget) - there’s also the Volca FM but unless you want to port DX7 patches over I think the XFM is less fiddly.

There’s also the Yamaha Reface DX which is a high quality bit of kit but a bit more expensive. Korg Opsix or Digitone would be well out of budget.


I’d like to have at least 4 voice polyphony for simple chords, so the Volca FM is out.

I’m also like to keep the budget relatively low as ive just joined and don’t know how far it will go. And I can manage with my iPad for now.

What about those 80s and 90s synth modules? I know theyre probably really annoying to program, but I would be quite happy with patches downloaded from somewhere.

+1 for Yamaha Reface DX. its an excellent and affordable FM synth, well built and good size too.


Reface DX looked pretty cool, and if I find one used it should be within budget.

1 Like

Model: Cycles with a midi keyboard? It’s not polyphonic but it’s possible to trick it into doing it via midi.

Edit: Ah, I forgot it’s out of the price range you suggested…

+1 for the used Reface DX!

Yamaha TX81z is the best.
Yamaha FB01 is the cheapest (and shit, but it works ok as a preset machine).

I’d probably plump for a DX100 over a reface, it’s not much bigger and can still be had pretty cheap.

Whatever you do, don’t get a DX7. Don’t get me wrong, I love mine, but they weigh more than Pluto.


forgot to add- also really nice/intiuitive to program

If you can push your budget a bit the OpSix is amazing, I’m totally in love and I was an FM virgin…


I could, but at this point it’s not that sensible. Maybe if this thing turns out to last for a while I might invest more in gear.

1 Like

Could you make a Volca FM plus midi keyboard work? Not much polyphony but good sounds for a little box.

No, i need polyphony and have an iPad that works like that. I want a real fm synth with at least 4 voice polyphony.

1 Like

They’re def good. If you’re in the uk gimme a shout - I’ve got one that’s sorely underused.


not located in the uk sadly.

1 Like

Perhaps someone could ‘Gift’ you a Korg Opsix or Digitone. :slight_smile:

Only kidding. For that budget you will struggle to get anything. Free up some space and get a DX7. Go big or go home as they say.

1 Like

Korg Volca FM?

Small, cheap, and loads DX7 programs.

Edit: Sorry, doesn’t meet polyphony requirements.

1 Like

Volca FM has 3.

1 Like

Hah, third times the charm… I need polyphony and I have a passable option with my iPad. I want a hardware fm synth with at least 4 voice polyphony.

I wish! Actually my partner is in the band, hah.

DX7 is a bit too big for my home studio, i want something I can easily carry around. Shows are a distant thing right now but maybe some day…

Just gonna leave this here…