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Recorded LIVE! Weds at 4pm GMT
In-depth Feature:  Inside Synthesis
The DX-7 can be your friend
William H writes: .


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8:16 mins
Freeq Me
This week's episode provides an introduction to FM Synthesis. Most modern virtual analog synthesizers provide at least two operator FM (one modulator and one carrier), including the Access Virus, Alesis ION, Korg Prophecy, Nord Lead and Modular Series, Novation Supernova, and many more.

Some discussion of ratios is included in the video. When using a virtual analog, you probably won't have an option to set ratios between modulator and carrier. Instead, you'll set the pitch of the modulator by adjusting its pitch setting. The PDF file below has a convenient table for this.

If that sounds at all like gibberish, it won't after you watch the video.

More Resources              Articles - full listing
  • PDF with extra information on ratios
  • William H @Blogspot

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       30 Comments...  
    John Dill    Said...

    Thank you. Thank you.

    I would love to see more about FM. Maybe construct a few well recognized FM sounds (DX7 tubular bells and some specific pads).

    01-Feb-08 08:35 AM


    SQ    Said...

    Normally, I rarely post a comment, but these articles are just too good! Thank you for making them, I can recommend those episodes too everyone interested in modern synthesis. These episodes have been well made, have been very well explained, and are fun to watch.

    Thank you!

    Sorry for the bad english :)

    01-Feb-08 09:36 AM


    Selbstklang    Said...

    One of the simplest and most straight forward introductions of FM synthesis explanations I have seen. One is truly able to grasp the content even with minimal basic experience. Seeing it visually added much to the experience. Thank you. Well made. Well Done.

    01-Feb-08 11:40 AM


    FuNKmaster    Said...

    amazing episodes!!!

    i can see it is going to broaden my horizon on how to apply different methods of synthesis.

    my there be more and more of these episodes!!!

    01-Feb-08 12:24 PM


    De Vries    Said...

    You forget one very good synthesizer which has a very flexible 6-op FM synth on board: The Alesis Fusion 6HD or 8Hd.

    01-Feb-08 04:35 PM


    z    Said...

    Thank you for this tutorial. GREAT job!

    Looking forward to Algorithms.

    01-Feb-08 07:06 PM


    Ian Copeland    Said...

    I have been programming the DX7 since the mid-Eighties and in all my conversation and research on the subject, never have I heard an explanation as succinct and lucid as yours. I hope that this course will fuel the rediscovery of digital. Like all the episodes: great work! Looking forward to more.

    02-Feb-08 08:06 AM


    Jay C.    Said...

    Thank you!! I'll be waiting for the 2nd part of FM Synthesis anxiously. This gives great hope to all of those FM synths out there that sit around all these years just playing presets.

    Unleash the FM potential!

    02-Feb-08 12:51 PM


    Gerald    Said...

    Very good video. It shows that FM synthesis isn't some type of voodoo art form. It's really simple. It's the interfaces of certain FM synths that make it complex.

    02-Feb-08 03:35 PM


    Inside Synthesis    Said...

    Thank you everyone - I appreciate your comments.

    It took several re-writes to figure out a way to portray FM in a simple way, so I'm glad that it was worth the time.

    02-Feb-08 11:27 PM


    Ferg    Said...

    Love this series and this is probably the best one yet. Just one comment: turning one oscillator up 2 octaves gives you a 4:1 ratio, not 3:1. To get a 3:1 ratio you need the modulator to be approximately 19 semitones higher.

    03-Feb-08 11:04 AM


    Howling Terror    Said...

    William H.....much appreciated and now anticipating

    04-Feb-08 11:43 AM


    kieran    Said...

    superb videos'thanks!

    04-Feb-08 03:48 PM


    Robin    Said...

    I am not a frequent comment maker, but these series are great! Thank you and keep it coming!

    05-Feb-08 12:10 PM


    Insty2000    Said...

    Great Video (just saw #4)! Very clean, succint and informative. Great work!

    06-Feb-08 09:42 PM


    Scott    Said...

    This entire series is OUTSTANDING!

    06-Feb-08 11:44 PM


    Aidan O'C    Said...

    DONT STOP THIS STUFF!!!!!!!!

    07-Feb-08 09:03 AM


    Venya    Said...

    Thank you for this video. I was at the point of selling my G2 because I always felt that it was a bit thin compared to my other VAs despite it versatility.

    After I saw this vid I really got into FM and realized that FM is where it really shines, now I can't get enough of it. More please!!

    13-Feb-08 06:40 PM


    Condra    Said...

    Great stuff!

    14-Feb-08 08:49 PM


    Valentin    Said...

    Super informative, and made with wit! I remember emailing you when you took the inside synthesis vids off of youtube - the first one with the MS2000 drum machine, and rifing through the net for another host. But you came back with three more - blew my friggin socks off!

    17-Feb-08 02:10 PM


    Biopharmer    Said...

    I understood FM synthesis way before i even knew about subtractive synthesis (crazy as that sounds). I've become really good at programming my DX-7 (with E!) and always thought that people should explore FM synthesis a lot more, it has a huge range of unexplored territories. I think the DX sounds pretty good. I just think people need a more user friendly interface.

    20-Feb-08 06:31 PM


    selercs    Said...

    dude, you SHOULD make a dvd on sound design and release it, it WILL sell like hotcakes...your mini episodes itself have helped me a great deal to understand the basics without beating my head against the wall! THANK YOU!

    02-Mar-08 08:48 PM


    mike huckaby    Said...

    i agree with selercs. a tutorial dvd would be great...

    when is the next episode comming out ?

    i cant wait.

    10-Mar-08 09:28 AM


    synthacon    Said...

    Very good job with these. I own (among others) a nord modular and a dx7, and they are my two favourite synthesizers of all time. There is NOTHING as unique (and I think beautiful) as the sound of the dx7, but the nord modular for FM has the advantage of being able to use waveforms other than sine. I think this video series is probably helping out a lot of people. Kudos!

    12-Apr-08 11:30 PM


    Rod    Said...

    finally. after 25 years of messing, i understand the basic principals. n1 :)

    05-Nov-08 10:46 AM


    Manni    Said...

    Great introduction to FM. I took away the secrets. Short and easy to understand. Thanks.

    23-Dec-08 11:04 AM


    bbow73    Said...

    EXCELLENT VIDEO! What's next? Additive synthesis? Phase Distortion? Keep em coming! You Rule!

    07-Jan-09 09:28 AM


    ill demon    Said...

    Fantastic video - I've been becoming more interested in FM synthesis lately and this is a great introduction.

    Where's part 2?

    15-Jan-09 02:03 AM


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    03-Jul-09 10:14 PM


    Brandon    Said...

    Awesome tutorial. You really need to put out the 2nd part! I would even buy a dvd if you sold em.

    18-Sep-09 10:55 AM


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