The Best FM Synths for your Music Production Setup

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fmsy 128x71 1The Best FM Synths for your Music Production Setup

Best FM Synths

Looking for a way to get into FM synthesis? We’ve selected some of the best FM synths that offer both sound design and song-creation tools with built-in sequencers and effects.

From the get-go, FM synthesis was sold somewhat short by the approach used in the legendary Yamaha DX7 back in 1983. To make matters worse, the DX-7 became famous for its factory patches rather than its synthesis capabilities.

Nevertheless, it became the standard on which many great hardware and software FM synths were based. Over time, more boutique and modular manufacturers entered the market with different design philosophies and features.

What is FM synthesis?

The Digital FM synthesizer was first prototyped by Yamaha in 1973. Its sound creation process uses two main components: a carrier and a modulator. The key concept is that the frequency of the carrier oscillator changes according to the modulator’s amplitude.

FM synthesis uses operators rather than the oscillators we’re familiar with in subtractive synthesis. These operators consist of an oscillator with an envelope controlling its amplitude and can function as carriers or modulators.

The fact that the relationship between the carrier and modulator can be either harmonic or inharmonic really opens up the scope of the sound creation possibilities of FM synthesis. So although it may seem obscure at first, it’s a very versatile form of synthesis.

Choosing the best FM synths

Everyone has different reasons for getting into FM synthesis. Perhaps you want sound design or sequencing capabilities, or maybe you just need some classic DX7 sounds.

We’ve selected a few options that offer a range of possibilities in different areas. From keyboards to modules, there is a variety of ways to approach FM synthesis, so let’s get into it.

Korg opsix

The opsix gives you a DX-like sound and approach without too much menu diving. The 6 operators have 5 modes including FM, Ring Mod, Filter, Filter FM, and Wave Folder with a total 32-voice polyphony.

With the mod section, you have three envelopes and three LFOs plus a 32-step polyphonic sequencer and 30 chainable effects. Overall, opsix might be rather pricey as your first FM synth but it provides creative freedom in a fun-to-play instrument.

Korg opsix

Korg opsix
Korg opsix

Customer rating:

(33)

Available for 498.00 € at thomann

Twisted Electrons MEGAfm MKII

If the “MEGA” lettering looks familiar, it’s because the MEGAfm MKII uses chips modeled on the ones from the SEGA Megadrive 2 games console. What’s more, these Yamaha YM3438 FM chips are interchangeable.

So you have two slots with which to mix and match FM chips as you please. The MEGAfm uses 4 operators and 8 algorithms to provide up to 12-voice polyphony. In addition, you have 4 voice modes and 3 LFOs plus a sequencer and arpeggiator.

Twisted Electrons MEGAfm MKII

Twisted Electrons MEGAfm MKII
Twisted Electrons MEGAfm MKII

Customer rating:

(3)

Available for 555.00 € at thomann

Elektron Digitone

With only 4 operators and 8-voice polyphony, the Digitone might seem somewhat basic compared to other FM synths. However, the polyphonic sequencer provides 4 synth tracks and 4 MIDI tracks and the ability to create whole arrangements live.

You also have features like micro timings and the ability to edit sounds per step, which opens up a lot of possibilities. If you’re goal is to make music rather than simply play around with FM synthesis, this is the option for you.

Elektron Digitone

Elektron Digitone
Elektron Digitone

Customer rating:

(190)

Available for 899.00 € at thomann

Kodamo EssenceFM MKII

For those looking to go beyond merely tinkering with FM sounds, the EssenceFM MKII aims to make FM synthesis a fun and intuitive creative process. It’s a 16-part multitimbral synth with 300-voice polyphony, so you can create sounds by stacking them.

The multitouch display with 6 controllers makes it easy to navigate the interface and the extensive synthesis features like 6-stage envelopes and a multimode filter provide great sound design tools. What’s more, you’ve got 8 outputs and you even can load DX7 files.

Kodamo EssenceFM MKII

Kodamo Essence FM MKII
Kodamo Essence FM MKII

Customer rating:

(10)

Available for 1,280.00 € at thomann

Bastl Instruments Pizza

For creating FM synthesis patches in your Eurorack rig, the Bastl Instruments Pizza provides a great starting point. Purists may sneer, as this digital osc module combines both additive and subtractive methods rather than traditional FM.

However, one simply can’t argue with the sonic depth or quality possible, or the level of tweakability. So if your goal is simply to add digital FM-style sounds into your arsenal, this is an option worth considering.

Bastl Instruments Pizza

Bastl Instruments Pizza
Bastl Instruments Pizza

Customer rating:

(1)

Available for 309.00 € at thomann

Also worth checking out:

  • Elektron Model:Cycles
  • Korg Volca FM 2

More about FM synths:

  • The History of the DX7
  • All about FM synths
  • More polyphonic synths
  • About sound design

Videos:

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The post The Best FM Synths for your Music Production Setup appeared first on gearnews.com.

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