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I never knew FM could sound so analog-like! Keyboard Synthesizers
Old 20th March 2015
  #1
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tux99's Avatar
 

I never knew FM could sound so analog-like!

I bought a Yamaha TG77 recently and I have to say I should have done so a lot sooner. What compelled me to buy the TG77 was listening to the demos of this third party sound bank:
Yamaha SY77
I really like those patches, they perfectly suit the kind of music I make.

But besides that, what I was surprised to find is that the AFM part of the TG77 can sound very warm and analog-like. I was surprised by this because I never associated FM with 'warmth' and 'analog' before. I have a PLG-150DX card (equivalent to a DX7) for example which doesn't sound warm and analog at all, it just sounds typically digital FM.

Given that the FS1R also sounds anything other than warm or analog-like (in fact it sounds very metallic, harsh and digital to me) I would guess that the SY77, TG77 and SY99 are the only FM synths capable of warm analog-like sounds.

What do you think, what is it that makes the SY77, TG77 and SY99 sound so warm, is it just the D/A converters or is there more to it?

By the way what happened to the thread by xanderbeanz "this is what a SY77 sounds like", it seems to have been deleted?
Old 20th March 2015
  #2
Gear Guru
I think was when Yamaha realised you can add filters to FM synths and get the best of both worlds. But I think of a DX7 or similar as being an instrument, like a guitar or bass or electric piano with a raw, monophonic instrument level output. Just like a clean DI from any of those instruments isn't necessarily the best tone, a clean DI from a DX7 isn't necessarily the best tone. You can shape it a lot with analog processing (or even guitar or bass amps) and i've heard some fantastic, fat, warm, "analog" tones from DX7's that are very far removed from what comes out the output jack.
Old 20th March 2015
  #3
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tux99 View Post
Given that the FS1R also sounds anything other than warm or analog-like (in fact it sounds very metallic, harsh and digital to me)
Have you spent any time with an FS1R? It has the same modeled analog filters as the AN1X and can do all of the resonant basses, warm pads and filter sweeps of its VA cousin. Most demos of the FS1R highlight its complex FM and formant filter capabilities, but it can be extremely warm and rich with the right programming.

The TG-77 has an earlier generation of the AN1X's modeled analog filters which is a big part of its charm. It has all the ultra-bright FM of the DX-7 and PLG150DX along with analog style filters and some sample ROM. I'm sure you'll have endless fun with it.
Old 20th March 2015
  #4
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robot gigante's Avatar
All in the programming, imho.
Old 20th March 2015
  #5
Gear Guru
Although it's hard to sound like a subtractive analog synth if you don't actually have any filters ... the early classic DX and TX stuff lacked filters ...

But you can always add filters externally ...
Old 20th March 2015
  #6
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I don't see why an FM synth would be used for subtractive analog sounds...that's why subtractive analogs still exist...FM is a totally different beast and really good at what it does!
Old 21st March 2015
  #7
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tux99's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Techeverlasting View Post
Have you spent any time with an FS1R? It has the same modeled analog filters as the AN1X and can do all of the resonant basses, warm pads and filter sweeps of its VA cousin. Most demos of the FS1R highlight its complex FM and formant filter capabilities, but it can be extremely warm and rich with the right programming.
No I haven't. My opinion on how the FS1R sounds is purely based on demos, mainly from youtube.

So you are saying that it can sound completely different from how it sounds on youtube demos?

Well, even if that's the case, with current FS1R prices it's out of my price range so I'll have to make do with my TG77.
Old 21st March 2015
  #8
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tux99 View Post
I bought a Yamaha TG77 recently and I have to say I should have done so a lot sooner. What compelled me to buy the TG77 was listening to the demos of this third party sound bank:
Yamaha SY77
I really like those patches, they perfectly suit the kind of music I make.

But besides that, what I was surprised to find is that the AFM part of the TG77 can sound very warm and analog-like. I was surprised by this because I never associated FM with 'warmth' and 'analog' before. I have a PLG-150DX card (equivalent to a DX7) for example which doesn't sound warm and analog at all, it just sounds typically digital FM.

Given that the FS1R also sounds anything other than warm or analog-like (in fact it sounds very metallic, harsh and digital to me) I would guess that the SY77, TG77 and SY99 are the only FM synths capable of warm analog-like sounds.

What do you think, what is it that makes the SY77, TG77 and SY99 sound so warm, is it just the D/A converters or is there more to it?

By the way what happened to the thread by xanderbeanz "this is what a SY77 sounds like", it seems to have been deleted?
Even the original DX7 can sound analogue and organic. Put certain FM bass sounds through a CHORUS/FLANGER effect for example and you have instant MOOG/TB3O3 BASS sounds.

Analogue will always sound like analogue. FM can sound like anything when you know how to program and PROCESS IT. My next two demos on youtube will show this...
Old 21st March 2015
  #9
Gear Guru
Quote:
Originally Posted by projectwoofer View Post
I don't see why an FM synth would be used for subtractive analog sounds...that's why subtractive analogs still exist...FM is a totally different beast and really good at what it does!
That's the thing - when they added the filters to the later models, it gave you that option. As good as any other VA synth if you know how to program it.

But I agree, the sounds that classic FM synth can create are unique and the main reason to get an FM synth. Although I have found software like the old FM Heaven plugin have replaced the hardware for me. Native FM stuff, not so much - it doesn't have the raw gnarliness of the Yamaha sound.

I have a Korg Z1, which gives an even wider range of choices - FM, VA, modeling ... and it's hard to get modern stuff that does it better, although I think plugins are leading the way now.
Old 21st March 2015
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tux99 View Post
No I haven't. My opinion on how the FS1R sounds is purely based on demos, mainly from youtube.
I believe that the FS1R is the most poorly demoed synth in existence. Most of the Youtube videos I've been able to find of it are just the factory demo sequences videotaped or people playing through the factory patches.

If you're curious about what else it can do call up some AN1X videos. The FS1R can cover any of that territory as well.
Old 21st March 2015
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Techeverlasting View Post
If you're curious about what else it can do call up some AN1X videos. The FS1R can cover any of that territory as well.
That is a strange comment since the FS1R architecture is completely different from AN1X. The sound of AN1X and other Yamaha synths/samplers of that era (CS1x, A3000/A4000/A5000, SU-700) is dependent of the quite good sounding digital filters, but to my knowledge FS1R didn't have the same filter.
Old 21st March 2015
  #12
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robotunes's Avatar
1. everyone's talking about filters and effects, but fm can sound analog without those benefits. yeah, fx definitely enhance the sound, but fm can achieve analog sounds own its own. as robot gigante says above, it's all in the programming.

2. why would you want to make an fm synth sound analog? so you can layer it with an fm sound for added depth (i'm talking about bitimbral and multitimbral synths such as the dx7II, tx802, tx81z, etc.)

3. why do the sy/tg synths sound different?
  • unlike most other yamaha fm synths, the sy/tg can reach a fixed frequency of 0 Hz (versus 0.5 Hz on other models), allowing you to add waveshaping to thicken a sound.
  • the sy/tg have 3 feedback routings (versus 1 on other yamaha fm synths), and you can assemble your own feedback routings with different amounts of feedback per routing. this flexibility is hugely important to adding heft to a sound.
  • you can give each operator a different phase and you can phase-sync some or all of the operators.
  • sy/tg have 16 waveforms to choose from, but even when using just sinewaves the sy/tg sound different to the dx range.
  • the sy/tg have a tweaked modulation index (one of the reasons they can't read dx7 voices).
and all of this is before touching the dual filters

congrats on getting the tg77. it's the modular of yamaha's fm synthesizers, with more than 1,000 parameters. i highly recommend herbert jenssen's sy programming pdf, version 0.60. it's full of recipes for achieving all kinds of sounds, including lots of tips for getting "fat analog sounds" (section 8.4) if you so choose.

i've taken the liberty of distilling it and reorganizing it for my own use, so i have janssen's recipes for making a variety of sounds. even though i'm a veteran fm programmer, i keep it handy when i'm designing sy/tg voices.

my advice for fm programming: don't try to learn it all at once. start small, stick with it.

good luck and have fun!
Old 21st March 2015
  #13
Gear Addict
 

Am working on a track with the DX27 and even this lowly 4op FM synth can be a gritty analog style bass machine. Same goes with the TX81z. Once you throw out all the presets and get in and program them, the Yamaha FM synths are limitless.
Old 21st March 2015
  #14
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by coffee View Post
That is a strange comment since the FS1R architecture is completely different from AN1X. The sound of AN1X and other Yamaha synths/samplers of that era (CS1x, A3000/A4000/A5000, SU-700) is dependent of the quite good sounding digital filters, but to my knowledge FS1R didn't have the same filter.
The FS1R was released in 1998, a year after the AN1X was released. There are endless references online to the FS1R having the identical filter to the AN1X (along with the additional formant filter). Here's one from wikiaudio:

Specifications
Polyphony - 32 (without Filter) / 16 (with Filter)
Oscillators - Digital FM synthesizer with 16 Operators (8 Voiced, 8 Unvoiced) 88 algorithms
Number of Instruments - 4-part multitimbral
LFO - 2 LFO
Filter - Dynamic Resonant physically modeled 12/18/24dB/oct low/band/hi pass filter (AN1x type)

The FS1R can do all sorts of other things besides AN1X style subtractive synthesis, but it can do that brilliantly. I have spent hours in my studio with an FS1R and an AN1X. They are the same filters. Since you say that my comment is "strange", have you spent any time A-B ing the two instruments?
Old 21st March 2015
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Techeverlasting View Post
The FS1R can do all sorts of other things besides AN1X style subtractive synthesis, but it can do that brilliantly. I have spent hours in my studio with an FS1R and an AN1X. They are the same filters. Since you say that my comment is "strange", have you spent any time A-B ing the two instruments?
No I haven't compared them. Thanks for correcting me. It makes the FS1r slightly more desirable but for now personally I'll stick to preenfm2 which has multimode filters, bitcrush etc. too.
Old 21st March 2015
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwi View Post
I think was when Yamaha realised you can add filters to FM synths and get the best of both worlds. But I think of a DX7 or similar as being an instrument, like a guitar or bass or electric piano with a raw, monophonic instrument level output. Just like a clean DI from any of those instruments isn't necessarily the best tone, a clean DI from a DX7 isn't necessarily the best tone. You can shape it a lot with analog processing (or even guitar or bass amps) and i've heard some fantastic, fat, warm, "analog" tones from DX7's that are very far removed from what comes out the output jack.
^^ This, but I'd add that I feel that it doesn't really sound analogue (whatever that means) and it doesn't need to, it just has sounds beyond a DX7, which is a good thing IMHO and is a good example of why this analogue Vs. digital trope has gone way too far in the last decade so that some people (not meaning the the OP) think in these compartmentalised dogmatic ways ... even car reviewers now refer to analogue versus digital in the same pejorative way and it drives me nuts. In my experience there tend not to be cut off points in most things, just a spectrum across which they exist.
Old 21st March 2015
  #17
165099
Guest
brilliant ...earlier today this one disparages perhaps the most analog sounding VA synth to only later claim that one of the most "digital" of digitals sounds analog ..but of course this one also has expert firsthand YouTube knowledge.
Old 21st March 2015
  #18
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^^ To be fair, if you mean the System 1 sound banks thread, I think those demos don't do justice to software that actually delivers the best analogue emulations I've heard to date, but if not I'll keep my nose out! The SH101 and SH-2 are genuinely top draw analogue emulations, bar any mono VI I've heard to date ... and sorry for any derail
Old 21st March 2015
  #19
Just want to say I don't have that much experience with FM, and only have one FM synth but I really really like it. As others said its very unique and kinda gritty in a good way. Adds such great textures or feeling to a track.

Definitely time for Yamaha to reissue some kinda DX synth! With some kinda easy edit capability, sliders etc
Old 21st March 2015
  #20
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sine wave = "warm"...........triangle "warm".......saw waves with filtter cutoff at 500 hz or less = warm....warm is a frequency range or # of harmonics ....it's not a type of synthesizer.....
Quote:
you can give each operator a different phase and you can phase-sync some or all of the operators.
i'm trying to figure out how to make use of this...how do you use this in your sounds? usually i just have all on retrigger
Old 21st March 2015
  #21
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by msl View Post
Just want to say I don't have that much experience with FM, and only have one FM synth but I really really like it. As others said its very unique and kinda gritty in a good way. Adds such great textures or feeling to a track.

Definitely time for Yamaha to reissue some kinda DX synth! With some kinda easy edit capability, sliders etc
It would be sweet if Yamaha would release a 49 key board with a very user friendly interface. Either with knobs or sliders like a Roland JP8000. Or big screen that shows ALL the parameters like the fantastic PX7 soft synth does.

Six operator FM with THE OPTION to use layering and unison mode like the MKII DX7s is perfection. If it aint broke dont try to fix it. But Yamaha have unfinished business with FM.

Me personally ive never had a problem with the ORIGINAL DX7. Because I learnt the major should shapers in days. And once you know them. There are FEW sounds that a DX7 cannot make.

The problem I had (and many had/have) with the latter incarnations of FM by Yamaha like the SY77/99 and FSR1. Was they were trying to overcook the cake. When the students hadnt even grasped the BASIC RECIPE.

6 OPERATOR FM is sonic perfection. It cant be bettered. The MK2 DX7 is the most perfect capable synthesizer ever made. But due to Yamahas lack of an understandable interface and programming access. Few realize this. So it allowed the door to reopen for inferior subtractive synthesis to come back in and take over again.

When if you know what I know. FM should rule. Because it can do it ALL from a funky liquid MOOG/TB303 BASS to. A concert GRAND PIANO. FM is different class.

I wish I had the oppurtunity to design and program a new Yamaha or even another company. FM based synth. I would put something awesome out there on the market. That would become an instant classic.

Yamaha brought out a limited table top FM synth the DX200 over a decade ago.and look how that took off.

Imagine a JP8000 style new FM synth. We are talking world phenom.
Old 21st March 2015
  #22
165099
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by dr_Jezz View Post
^^ To be fair, if you mean the System 1 sound banks thread, I think those demos don't do justice to software that actually delivers the best analogue emulations I've heard to date, but if not I'll keep my nose out! The SH101 and SH-2 are genuinely top draw analogue emulations, bar any mono VI I've heard to date ... and sorry for any derail
that's the topic of which I was referring.

the TG/SY-77/99 are outstanding synths, greatly undervalued and among history's best but to have one claim it sounds so very analog while just earlier saying that the System-1 sounds digital in a bad way that's somehow inferior to the JD-Xi when that person hasn't touched or actually heard either ...to then grace us with an equally unfounded opinion on the FS1r... I'm just left wondering how many other synths of which this skilled YouTube jockey is an expert.

so often this forum just revels in ignorance and group-think... this is really one of the most absurd threads I've seen in a long time.
Old 21st March 2015
  #23
Gear maniac
 
spacefolklore's Avatar
 

The problem with FM is that nobody makes a real hardware FM synthesizer anymore. I'm not talking about the software-like Kronos, limited DIY boxes or modular FM noise makers. I'm talking about the classic style FM capable of everything sentinel3 is talking about.

Yamaha DX7 is a dinosaur synth, a working fossil. If it stops working, what is the replacement? None. The DX7II is a much better synth but it looks so ugly, ehh. I hope Yamaha's next Motif will have full FM implementation not lesser than the FS1r or DX5. At least this seems to be the realistic way. There are too many people who say... FM only is too limited and boring, hence the Motif as the carrier.

If Yamaha's next Motif doesn't have full FM, I'm going to drop all the cash on a mint FS1r and call it a day.
Old 21st March 2015
  #24
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robotunes's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by soulstar606 View Post
sine wave = "warm"...........triangle "warm".......saw waves with filtter cutoff at 500 hz or less = warm....warm is a frequency range or # of harmonics ....it's not a type of synthesizer.....
sine, triangle, and saw sound different on a dx and a moog and a jp-6. they also look different on oscilloscopes.

Quote:
you can give each operator a different phase and you can phase-sync some or all of the operators. ...

i'm trying to figure out how to make use of this...how do you use this in your sounds? usually i just have all on retrigger
using different modulators with different phases adds subtle movement to the sound.

also, setting a sine carrier to 0Hz fixed frequency turns it into a waveshaper for making wild, crazy distorted sounds. changing the phase of that sine carrier brings in different harmonics. tame it all with the filter, or use it in a 2- or 3-stack algorithm as a subtle element in the sound.
Old 21st March 2015
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by projectwoofer View Post
I don't see why an FM synth would be used for subtractive analog sounds...that's why subtractive analogs still exist...FM is a totally different beast and really good at what it does!
in principle i agree, but pushing one machine to try to do something its not meant to can often lead to some unpredictable yet spectacular results, new frontiers if you will.. it happened to me more than once. technically my original intent ended up as failure, but i got something so new and inspiring it blew my mind.

for example, with FS1R and i loved doing female choirs,, one could argue my emu eos blew it away in accuracy running a symponic choir cdrom,,, yet... FS1R was unique, dare i say magical doing this. never heard another machine make that sound. ever. or quasi PPG sounds on JX10... CS80 on JD990 etc.. did many tracks with these... and dont think id replace em with the originals even if i could. they got their own thing going.
Old 21st March 2015
  #26
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robotunes's Avatar
i love fm because it's a synthesizer lab. i feel like i'm not just making a sound but designing my own oscillators and filter. there are even tricks to simulate chorus and reverb.

yeah, external effects add a whole new dimension to final sound, but there's just so much that fm can do.

then sy/tg take that to a whole different level. whoops. just gave myself a boner...
Old 21st March 2015
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clusterchord View Post
in principle i agree, but pushing one machine to try to do something its not meant to can often lead to some unpredictable yet spectacular results, new frontiers if you will.. it happened to me more than once. technically my original intent ended up as failure, but i got something so new and inspiring it blew my mind.

for example, with FS1R and i loved doing female choirs,, one could argue my emu eos blew it away in accuracy running a symponic choir cdrom,,, yet... FS1R was unique, dare i say magical doing this. never heard another machine make that sound. ever. or quasi PPG sounds on JX10... CS80 on JD990 etc.. did many tracks with these... and dont think id replace em with the originals even if i could. they got their own thing going.
Hey, do you still have your FS1R?
Old 21st March 2015
  #28
Quote:
Originally Posted by projectwoofer View Post
Hey, do you still have your FS1R?
unfortunately no, i had to sell it some 5 yrs ago when i was buying new studio/apt and needed every penny.. but i've been jonesing for another ever since.. im looking at classifieds in germany and eu regularly to find a nice price..
Old 21st March 2015
  #29
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by spacefolklore View Post
The problem with FM is that nobody makes a real hardware FM synthesizer anymore. I'm not talking about the software-like Kronos, limited DIY boxes or modular FM noise makers. I'm talking about the classic style FM capable of everything sentinel3 is talking about.
I'm not clear why the Kronos is any more of a "software-like" synth than the DX-7 was. It has one hell of a lot more assignable real-time controllers, it can load any DX-7 patch into its Mod-7 engine and provides a far superior editing environment.
Old 21st March 2015
  #30
Gear maniac
 
spacefolklore's Avatar
 

Quote:
I'm not clear why the Kronos is any more of a "software-like" synth than the DX-7 was. It has one hell of a lot more assignable real-time controllers, it can load any DX-7 patch into its Mod-7 engine and provides a far superior editing environment.
The features of software:

- Superior editing environment: check
- One hell of a lot of assignable controllers: check
- Can load DX7 sounds into its engine (that sounds nothing like any of the hardware Yamaha when you listen critically): check

Bonus:

- A noisy cooling fan: check!

You have basically answered your question yourself.
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