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FM Synthesis (techniques, anecdotes)


Guest skibby
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i guess one thing that makes me still want a dx7 is the realtime parameter changing slider thing. does the tg77 let you do that too?

 

but yeah on the dx7 you can set the mod wheel to control stuff in each voice am i right?

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I still like firing up my TX81Z occasionally but I think software's the way to go for this one. Especially modular where you can wire it up however you want and don't have to deal with some goofy interface. Y'all might have more free time than me though.

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Anyone already used a DX200 here? Never heard about this synth before and it looks nice.

 

After 3 years of owning a DX9 I'm starting to get more consistently into programming it and I feel frustrated about its limitations (the main one being the absence of velocity response ; bad MIDI implementation is also a problem).

 

Anyway everything seems to lead me towards purchasing a DX7 but I'm still looking for alternatives and this one looks nice.

I have a Dx200, it's a great little machine. It's main strength is it being a groovebox and being probably the most editable Yamaha FM synth ever with the knobs on the front panel . Don't get your hopes up too high though because editing it 'deeply' is actually harder than other yamaha units. Also I'm not sure if there is a software editor for it out there unless you find the one for Windows 98.

for me personally I love the FB01, it's the closest Yamaha synth besides the music computer that actually resembles lofi gritty arcade/sega type sounds. The software editing isn't too hard and making kick drums on it is really nice. Also can be found for $20-70 used

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Wow that's some serious french accent in that preenfm2 video on the official website, it made it hard for me to concentrate! I don't really have time to watch now but it looks like a nice DIY project. I'm not afraid of soldering and I'd be glad to support such a "home-made" project if the synth happens to suit what I'm after.

 

I kind of missed it but the DX11 looks like a good option for me, thanks to point it out Mesh Gear Fox. I'd have another question for those of you who already compared 4-OP and 6-OP FM synths : how big is the difference? Is 4-OP a big limitation when you're used to 6-OP? For me FM is still a kind of unknown land where a lot of surprises can show up so I still have a lot to learn with 4-OP, but once you get more familiar with FM, do you feel frustrated about having just four operators?

 

Another one : I more or less just now FM with sine waves. Is it a big plus to have other waveforms to use for modulation?

 

And the last question goes to John "honest-man" : what do you mean when you say that DX200 is harder to "deeply" program as other Yamaha FM units? I just saw a couple of videos yesterday and have no idea how you program it really but it seems more user-friendly. Though, I asked myself if it provides the same amount of control as say a DX7 where you can tweak really a lot of stuff for each operator.

 

Loving this thread right now, thanks guys!

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is there much difference between fm and pm in terms of sound? the same principles of modulations, sidebands etc apply, yes?

 

Same principles except feedback. PFM2 can't do this because of dc-offset. For example Blofeld can't do this too, if you'll set osc to modulate itself you'll get unstable pitch at first, and rather chaotic results if you gonna go further.

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And the last question goes to John "honest-man" : what do you mean when you say that DX200 is harder to "deeply" program as other Yamaha FM units? I just saw a couple of videos yesterday and have no idea how you program it really but it seems more user-friendly. Though, I asked myself if it provides the same amount of control as say a DX7 where you can tweak really a lot of stuff for each operator.

i should have been more honest, the DX200 can't really be 'programmed' like a Dx7 as far as i understand (i dont own one so i cant be sure) so in a way its more of a very tweakable preset machine, where just by using the front panel knobs and switches (like algorithm choices, FM envelope, FM depth, harmonic, etc) you can essentially make your own patch. It is also the only groovebox/sequencer + fm combo that I know of besides the monomachine (someone please correct me if im wrong)

Edited by John Ehrlichman
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happy to help :)

 

personally i think 4op fm provides plenty of possibilities even without the extra waveforms, so the dx11 will be a good move. plus ae and mike p have made plenty of use of em. i think it's right to say that the best waveforms for fm aren't full on saws and squares but more like shaped sines. think rectified, parabolic or half-period sine waves. i assume this is partly why yamaha included them as extra wave shapes and not more traditional ones instead.

 

also if you can grab one, a yamaha sy77 is a really powerful fm synth from the late 80's that can be picked up for around the same price as a dx7 if you're lucky.

 

i guess if you had the choice between a dx11 and a dx7 i'd say go for the dx11, but it's a tough call. dx7 would probably be better at pads and being more moody and dark. if the dx11 sounds like my tx81z which it's based off, it'll be very clean and bright compared to the dx7

 

but a sy77 trumps all, it's debatable if you should just go for fm8 at this point though. not sure of the prices in your area either but good luck!

 

ps there are a few free sample packs of my tx on my mgf audio bandcamp, check my sig!

isn't the tg77 the one that trumps all before the FS1r? or did you just mean trumps all the ones you previously mentioned

 

nevermind the Tg77 is just a rack sy77

Edited by John Ehrlichman
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I'm going to start another thread cataloging all FM hardware (and maybe software too?) I'll set aside the modular stuff for another time. Anyone want to help? It seems like some other people in this thread have a greater understanding of the Yamaha series

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i just crashed my fb01 and had to reboot it. the tx81z gets midi buffer overflow errors. anybody else have hardware fm synth anecdotes like that?

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yamaha tg 77

100pounds

very.good.

pm me some editing software plz

share some patches with each other?

 

awm can do subtractive synthesis and drums

fm can do a lot too

 

thought the awm would be poor but it has some good.uses. shame the pitch.eg for that is only.two octaves.

 

effects are tasteful

 

deep machine, very deep

full of potential

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Wow that's some serious french accent in that preenfm2 video on the official website, it made it hard for me to concentrate! I don't really have time to watch now but it looks like a nice DIY project. I'm not afraid of soldering and I'd be glad to support such a "home-made" project if the synth happens to suit what I'm after.

 

I kind of missed it but the DX11 looks like a good option for me, thanks to point it out Mesh Gear Fox. I'd have another question for those of you who already compared 4-OP and 6-OP FM synths : how big is the difference? Is 4-OP a big limitation when you're used to 6-OP? For me FM is still a kind of unknown land where a lot of surprises can show up so I still have a lot to learn with 4-OP, but once you get more familiar with FM, do you feel frustrated about having just four operators?

 

Another one : I more or less just now FM with sine waves. Is it a big plus to have other waveforms to use for modulation?

 

And the last question goes to John "honest-man" : what do you mean when you say that DX200 is harder to "deeply" program as other Yamaha FM units? I just saw a couple of videos yesterday and have no idea how you program it really but it seems more user-friendly. Though, I asked myself if it provides the same amount of control as say a DX7 where you can tweak really a lot of stuff for each operator.

 

Loving this thread right now, thanks guys!

 

4-op is great. 6-op is even greater. if you're used to the DX9 you'll like the DX7 because it's very similar, just with two more operators and a velocity sensitive keyboard. the midi implementation is still rudimentary though (on the mark1 at least). other 4-ops have a grittier sound as modulators and especially feedback have a stronger effect, also the envelopes are different. generally the later 4-ops are easier to get your head around, part of it is the patches are simpler and there are less algorithms to choose from, and part of it is the envelopes are simpler. but any yamaha DX synth is great and all have a definite family resemblance!

 

i can't comment on the extra waveforms as i've never used a DX11/TX81z - but I think the main selling point of these two is that they are 8-part multitimbral and you get 2 LFOs. Not 2 LFOs per part, mind, but 2 LFOs of which you can route one to each part. This is important because on, for example, the DX21, you have a single LFO while on dual mode so both parts will be modulated in the same way, which sometimes produces great results but which can be limiting sometimes. As long as you don't need too much polyphony, multitimbrality really adds a lot to 4-op FM and makes it really powerful if you're willing to program complex, multi-part, patches.

 

from what i've heard, the dx200 might be unfriendly because you can't really do much editing from the front panel and there aren't many editors available.

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here's me demoing some patches i made on my sy77

i edit it with a patch i made in max, pm me if interested

 

wow! some nice sounds there, especially the pads! seems like i should get my tg77 out from under the bed again! (it's true btw. i'm currently keeping it under the bed. :cerious:)

 

i even remember dling your max editor, but can't find it on my computer anymore. revenge of the digitals i guess for all the analog rytm love in the past couple weeks... will pm you when tg77 vital signs are confirmed! i guess the editor will work with the tg version as well??

 

nice camera work too btw. :wink:

Edited by rst
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In the FM world, what makes certain chipsets better over other - Is there like a distinct DX7 sound to differentiate it from say an opl-3 one ? Likewise in the VST world: would a free VST FM like FM-Four have much of a difference in the sound to the fully fledged s'pensive FM8 ?

 

How do FM gurus feel Ableton's Operator performs in its FM sound ?

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pretty cool: http://thump.vice.com/words/Diode-Milliampere-ms-dos-interview

 

FM lushness:

 

If you listen to the emulated FM version of the same track you will hear a huge difference.

 

been playing with the SDL version of Adlib Tracker, but I want to get a CRT for my Pentium now :)

Edited by forlon
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I'm definitely up to participate to another thread on FM hardware. I actually almost created one instead of bumping this thread.

 

@ skibby : I also experienced MIDI buffers problems on my DX9 and I'm concerned to hear that it also happens on more elaborate FM synths like the TX81Z...

 

@ poblequadrat : thanks for the insights, I know feel I got all the information I need to make my way into the world of FM hardware synths.

 

I took a closer look at preenfm2 and it looks great. Less than 200€, a couple of hours to build (which must be quite fun actually), both simple and complex algorithms (from 3 to 6 OP), multipart (4 instruments addressable on different MIDI channels), interface looks nice, compatible with DX7 patches, overall project looks like the kind of thing which deserve to be supported, Christmas is not too far now, etc... Can someone here elaborate on his experience with a preenfm synth?

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whoops, I have another question concerning this thing with the impossibility of making feedback loops with the PFM2 : on Yamaha DX synths, feedback is a quite important parameter to modify the character of a sound. Is there anything equivalent on preenfm?

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preenfm has Saw waveshape, so you can mimic feedback somehow, i guess

 

i have pfm2. i love it, it's fantastic. however, don't expect sy77 or fs1r lushness. it's pretty lo-fi, noisy, sounds flanging (a bit of dc-offset is still present in more-than-2op-stacks) and aliased on octaves higher than 5. it's low end is badass though.

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