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XFM2, an FGPA based FM synth
Old 2nd February 2020
  #1
XFM2, an FGPA based FM synth

This thing looks awesome for $100 in parts

https://www.futur3soundz.com/xfm2
Old 2nd February 2020
  #2
The sound generating capabilities are doubtless awesome.

But without an intuitive UI to get at the sound potential in an accessible way, it may be destined for underutilisation of its potential like so many FM synths before it.
Old 2nd February 2020
  #3
I think it's very early, hopefully there will be an editor app or VSTi/AU interface
Old 3rd February 2020
  #4
Gear Nut
 
rylos's Avatar
 

Yep, the UI is extremely important.

I'm tempted to get one of these, and hang it on my touch control panel, see what it can really do.
Old 3rd February 2020
  #5
Gear Nut
This is the future of synths: FPGA.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field-...ble_gate_array
Old 26th February 2020
  #6
Here for the gear
This looks super cool. I've really missed my TX81z since I sold it when I moved. Seems like it'd be nice to turn a little box on and get all those FM keys....

Will be watching for the development of a UI very closely.
Old 26th February 2020
  #7
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dharma one View Post
I think it's very early, hopefully there will be an editor app or VSTi/AU interface
then what would even be the point of having this over Dexed (or just any software in general)?
Old 26th February 2020
  #8
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robinkle's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by naos View Post
then what would even be the point of having this over Dexed (or just any software in general)?
I would say the same about a touch panel.
Old 27th February 2020
  #9
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robinkle's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by dharma one View Post
This thing looks awesome for $100 in parts

https://www.futur3soundz.com/xfm2
I can make an idea for an interface. Keyboard electronics can be bought from doepfer. But I have no idea how to put a box together with metal cutting, bending, holes and printing. I don’t even know what the equipment to do it is called. But it puts my mind through a spin that’s for sure.

Not to mention front panel electronics. :S
Old 28th February 2020
  #10
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Mastropiero's Avatar
I'm thinking about getting the parts and build myself one.

By the way, the guy who has made this synth worked for Cakewalk for 6 years. He wrote many of the virtual instruments/FX that came shipped with the SONAR DAW. He was also the creator of the SFZ file format.

Respect.
Old 28th February 2020
  #11
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Mastropiero's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by vcs3_pt View Post
This is the future of synths: FPGA.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field-...ble_gate_array
Nothing to do with past, present or future.

It's just another way of implementing a digital device, and it isn't new: E-mu romplers and samplers from the 90s are FPGA based.
Old 2nd March 2020
  #12
Gear Maniac
 

Interesting. Might let my Low Frequency Expander chops loose on this....big knobby interface with several modulators and mod matrix...
Old 3 weeks ago
  #13
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Mastropiero's Avatar
I've just ordered the BOM for building myself an XFM2.

I'll try to design a 3D-printable case as well for it.

Old 3 weeks ago
  #14
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mastropiero View Post
Nothing to do with past, present or future.

It's just another way of implementing a digital device, and it isn't new: E-mu romplers and samplers from the 90s are FPGA based.
Seriously, people have gone cuckoo about the fpga stuff.

It's about specialization but provides no inherent advantage for sound design or audio fidelity beyond potential lower overhead for computation.

A regular ole CPU-based digital fm synth *can* do it all.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #15
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Mastropiero's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by nkozyra View Post
Seriously, people have gone cuckoo about the fpga stuff.
Yeah, it seems they've just discovered that FPGAs exist and believe it's kinda new alien technology coming from outer space.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #16
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BobTheDog's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mastropiero View Post
Nothing to do with past, present or future.

It's just another way of implementing a digital device, and it isn't new: E-mu romplers and samplers from the 90s are FPGA based.


Are you sure they were FPGAs and not ASICs?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #17
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Mastropiero's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by BobTheDog View Post
Are you sure they were FPGAs and not ASICs?
To be honest, both ASIC and FPGAs are used.

According to the service manual, an Altera EPF6010 FPGA is used for the mainboard, as well as for some expansion cards (e.g. ADAT expansion).

Check the attachment.
Attached Thumbnails
XFM2, an FGPA based FM synth-e-mu-e4-fpga.jpg  
Old 3 weeks ago
  #18
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There must be a good reason the developer chose to use FPGAs.

FM is prone to aliasing. Do any of the current batch of FM soft synths employ oversampling to avoid that? I couldn't find any mention of it in the specs for Operator or FM8.

Seems to me one inherent advantage to going FPGA would to get that calculation overhead to minimize aliasing as much as possible.

EDIT: I do see Sytrus uses 64x oversampling. I also recall seeing a good tutorial on waveshaping using Sytrus... you could even customize waveshaper tables.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #19
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BobTheDog's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mastropiero View Post
To be honest, both ASIC and FPGAs are used.

According to the service manual, an Altera EPF6010 FPGA is used for the mainboard, as well as for some expansion cards (e.g. ADAT expansion).

Check the attachment.
Thanks for the info, that's quite interesting that they were using an FPGA at that time I must admit in the 90's I would have thought it was mostly comms stuff using them. I learn something new
Old 3 weeks ago
  #20
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Mastropiero's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by psionic11 View Post
Seems to me one inherent advantage to going FPGA would to get that calculation overhead to minimize aliasing as much as possible.
I don't get it. Why should FPGA be an advantage for oversampling calculation? Dealing with aliasing is always a pain in the neck, no matter what technology you use hahaha.

I think the developer chose this FPGA because the price is very cheap for what it offers; furthermore, it's small and has prebuilt all the surrounding circuitry, making easier and simpler the design of the product. Lower power consumption and an integrated USB plug are also an advantage over other solutions.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #21
Gear Nut
 

FPGA offers no inherent advantage to combat aliasing
Old 3 weeks ago
  #22
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Rezisehtnys's Avatar
It's because FPGA is the new buzz word thanks to Peak/Summit; the way Novation talks about them they're magical, and why the Peak/Summit won't alias within the frequency spectrum of human hearing.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #23
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Mastropiero's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rezisehtnys View Post
It's because FPGA is the new buzz word thanks to Peak/Summit; the way Novation talks about them they're magical, and why the Peak/Summit won't alias within the frequency spectrum of human hearing.
That's a misunderstanding of how FPGAs work/what are.

The actual reason Peak won't alias within the frequency spectrum is that it uses extremely oversampled oscillators (in the range of the MHz), but it isn't something inherent to an FPGA design. They have used FPGAs because they are cheap nowadays and you can toast your design on one unit (just as you would do with an EPROM or a PAL chip) without the need of manufacturing a batch of 10,000 at once (as you do with ASIC chips).

In other words, using FPGAs on a commercial product is like if you buy a music CD from your favourite artist, and they give you a CD-R (a blue/yellow one) with the music recorded on a home computer instead of a regular audio CD (manufactured in batches).

That said, I've just received the FPGA and the other stuff to build the XFM2.

Wish me luck!
Attached Thumbnails
XFM2, an FGPA based FM synth-fpga.jpg  
Old 3 weeks ago
  #24
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BobTheDog's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mastropiero View Post

That said, I've just received the FPGA and the other stuff to build the XFM2.

Wish me luck!
I'm interested to see how this goes, keep us updated.

Is that the corner of an E6400 there I see?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #25
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Mastropiero's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by BobTheDog View Post
I'm interested to see how this goes, keep us updated.

Is that the corner of an E6400 there I see?
No, it isn't.


It's an E4XT Ultra
Old 3 weeks ago
  #26
Lives for gear
The online demos sound pretty impressive. Suscribing to the thread to keep an eye on your build @ mas topiero
Old 3 weeks ago
  #27
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mastropiero View Post
That's a misunderstanding of how FPGAs work/what are.

The actual reason Peak won't alias within the frequency spectrum is that it uses extremely oversampled oscillators (in the range of the MHz), but it isn't something inherent to an FPGA design. They have used FPGAs because they are cheap nowadays and you can toast your design on one unit (just as you would do with an EPROM or a PAL chip) without the need of manufacturing a batch of 10,000 at once (as you do with ASIC chips).

In other words, using FPGAs on a commercial product is like if you buy a music CD from your favourite artist, and they give you a CD-R (a blue/yellow one) with the music recorded on a home computer instead of a regular audio CD (manufactured in batches).

That said, I've just received the FPGA and the other stuff to build the XFM2.

Wish me luck!
Right, although a cdr versus commercially printed ends up being fundamentally the same product in the end.

The FPGA theoretically also reduces overhead and can be more efficient if properly designed. But you can mass produce MCU-based digital synthesis even cheaper that is no more nor less inherently prone to aliasing.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #28
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BobTheDog's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mastropiero View Post
No, it isn't.


It's an E4XT Ultra

Similar to my 6400 ultra:
Attached Thumbnails
XFM2, an FGPA based FM synth-img_0006.jpg  
Old 3 weeks ago
  #29
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Mastropiero's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by BobTheDog View Post
Similar to my 6400 ultra:
Sure. The panel is exactly the same for all Ultra models.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #30
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BobTheDog's Avatar
 

That will be why then
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