1980s FM Synths

Over the last few months I have been writing software to control some of my FM synths, or black boxes using Max/MSP. It started out with making Guru patches in Renoise.

It was easy to program the more well known ones (Yamaha DX Range), but for others it was the most illogical, and painstaking process of trial and (midi) error .

The results have been really good though, and I may stick a video online of how to use them if anyone is interested? Does anyone still use any FM synths? What have you got?

Here is a demo I made using the software/synths I made:


cool demo

Software, Microtonic and Permut8 have varying degrees of FM.
Synplant has more of a traditional approach with A carrier B modulator.

Slick demo by the way.

DX9 I get a surprising amount of good sounds out of using the right input hardware. I may get a Yamaha TX802 one day, if I really get nerdy an FS1R. FM is really underrated because it is hard to program and sounds harsh if you’re not recording it properly.

I’ve a friend who recently made this insanely cool modular setup with polyphonic analogue filter envelopes applied to polyphonic hardware FM. That basically means a beautiful analogue filter system shaping the nice harmonic structure of FM in full poly - making for wonderful sounding pads and all sorts of other ‘never heard before’ type sounds in such lovely quality.

Native Instruments FM8?!

Thanks, I tried to get a balance a of Skillrex style brostep with some Amon Tobin-esq stuff.

Im talkin HARDWARE!! But I`m sure these are great - Waldorf Attack VST is a little FM beast.

I have a TX802, and cant recommend it enough - all the DX7 editors work with it and the MIDI buffer never overloads. Havent heard of the FS1R; I`ll look it up. Any sound samples of the FM/analogue setup? sounds cool

ALL: The Yamaha TX81Z is an absolute beast in the right hands, and really cheap these days. AND I wrote a GURU patch for Renoise that covers EVERY element of programming down to the patch name!

That’s great to hear midi error! I’m glad to see another enthusiast here. I’ll make sure to post any news of new music in the songs forum…

ah Hardware… ok. dont need that because of the superb quality of softsynths these days…

I have 2 HW FM synths: tx81z and PreenFM2

That Preen synth has some cute sounds to it. :)

Yeah. Version 2 sounds even better since it is supplied with floating point engine now. And it has one of the best UI’s for FM-tweaking.

How it sounds 1 (apart of echoes)
First, percussive combo was sequenced and sampled with octatrack from mixer, then played from octatrack + 2 new instruments (cycled clang + metallic chords).

How it sounds 2
Renoise is sequencing 4 instruments of PreenFM2 simultaneously (cause it’s multitimbral) via USB Midi then signal was routed to 2 mono outputs, one for bass and one for everything else + send to echo. Then whole mix was sent to soundcard input and recorded.

Cool, whats the preen like? Did you make it yourself? I see it can load DX7 patches

I love hardware. And I especially love my Yamaha SY-77. FM to die for and a really nice master keyboard.

Yeah it was built from the kit:

My sample pack was finally released today: http://www.loopbased.com/electro-house-loops/fm-synths.html

Please share it with anyone who might be interested in dirty, gritty and raw FM sounds!

Your sounds have inspired me to continue to explore my tx81z. And yes, a video would be cool.

Cool, thanks. If you don`t have it already download Guru for Renoise. You can edit and save Tx81Z patches using it

All Loopbased sample packs with 25% off at the moment


I got an endorsement from the Crystal Method too :D

“You can tell a lot of detailed work went into this collection. Great original sounds. Superb work capturing that raw analog feel. We look forward to hearing more great sample packs from midi.error” - The Crystal Method

For those with TX81Zs (those who want one - i`m selling one!) I have made an editor in MaxMSP. Should be Mac/PC compatible, and requires version 4 runtime.

Can be used to transmit CC messages direct to the synth. One thing that my Guru patch for it can`t.

Anyone able to test it?