• Wish list
  • Choose your store
    All countries
  • 0

Thomann's Cool Online Guides: Synthesizers

4. FM-Synthese

The first mainstream commercial FM synthesizer was the Yamaha DX7 which debuted in 1983, and was 16-note polyphonic, with 32 patch memories and a ROM/RAM cartridge slot. In those days, analogue synthesizers in the same price bracket such as the Juno 6 had a maximum of 6-note polyphony. Even leviathans like the Sequential T1 could produce only 10 notes at most. The DX7 was far cheaper, could produce 16 notes, and was fully digital, with a radically different sound to anything that had gone before.

Yamaha DX7 FM synthesizer

The ‘FM’ (Frequency Modulation) in FM tone generators such as the DX7 is based on the same principal as FM broadcasting - an electrical wave called the ‘carrier’ is modulated by another called the ‘modulator’, and this combined signal faithfully conveys the original content of the broadcast when decoded. The difference is that the FM used in synthesizers lowers these waves to audible frequencies, and the decoding is dispensed with. Unlike analogue synthesizers, where the waveforms (saw, square, sine etc) are often the main focus of the controls, FM, like additive synthesis (a rare type which uses multiple sine waves to recreate sounds), is much more concerned with harmonics/partials and the spectrum of the sound.

The basic structure is a series of identical components called ‘operators’. Each operator has the software equivalent of its own oscillator, amplifier and envelope. An operator can be used as a sound source (carrier) or as a modulator. The carrier signal determines the pitch of the note produced, and the modulator determines the shape or timbre. When a low frequency output from the modulator is fed into the carrier, it produces a tremolo effect by slowly changing the carrier’s level over time, as we would get with normal subtractive modulation of an oscillator’s amplitude. But if the frequency of the modulator is increased into the audible range, then the type of sound produced is determined by how the modulator’s frequency relates to the carrier harmonically, if at all. Injecting a harmonically related signal generates harmonics that sound more ‘in-tune’. The amount of harmonics produced is dependent on the level of the signal injected into the main oscillator. The amount of modulation or volume level applied to the second oscillator is commonly known as the modulation index. If we increase the modulation index of a sinewave that is modulating another sinewave, the resulting waveform changes from a sinewave at modulation index 0, through an increasingly more complex and bright waveform, to noise at a very high modulation index. The change to noise is quite sudden, and this can be used in many creative ways.

Because of the nature of FM synthesis, a method of providing flexible routing between operators was needed, so as to enable the programming of a wide range of timbres. This was achieved by grouping the operators into preset ‘Algorithms’. The DX7 had 32 different Algorithms, each consisting of up to 6 operators.

Native Instruments contemporary FM8 software synthesizer allows you to create any number of algorithms using a programming matrix. Multiple carrier operators can be routed to the output, each connected to its own independent modulators. Algorithms can then be stored for later recall as the structure of another sound.

Native Instruments FM8 FM synthesizer software

Like the original envelope generators in the DX series, FM8’s Time/Level envelopes allow you to specify both the level of each stage of the envelope, and the time it takes to get from one stage to the next. In addition you can define how many stages you want in total by creating your own breakpoints – highly flexible!

Your Contact People
Phone: +49-9546-9223-30
FAX: +49-9546-922328
Question!
Question! Give the right answer and win 1x Harley Benton Electric Guitar Kit Single Cut worth 98 €.
What is the name of the monthly published and competitor-feared newsletter from Musicstore Thomann?
Conditions of participation
Terms and Conditions for participation
in online competitions

Note: Participation in an online competition runs independently from any purchase at Thomann GmbH. The following Competition Rules apply when participating in any online competition run by Musikhaus Thomann:

  1. Competition

    1. The competitions are organised by Thomann GmbH, CEO: Hans Thomann, Hans-Thomann-Straße 1, 96138 Burgebrach, Germany.
  2. Participation

    1. Competitions are only open to persons of full age.
    2. To take part in the competition you must answer all questions correctly, fill in the registration form and submit your entry to Thomann GmbH by pressing the "send" button.
      By pressing the "send" button the participant accepts the aforementioned terms and conditions.
    3. The participant is responsible for entering their email and/or postal address correctly. Entries to the competition will be logged electronically.
  3. Qualifying Entrants

    1. Staff of Thomann GmbH and any cooperation partners and their dependants are excluded from participation.
    2. Should these conditions of participation be violated, especially by using illegitimate means, Thomann GmbH reserves the right to exclude persons from the competition. In case of such violations prizes can be withdrawn and claimed back subsequently.
  4. Announcing the winner

    1. The winners will be notified by Thomann GmbH by email or in writing and their names may be published on the homepage www.thomann.de. The winner accepts this form of publication explicitly.
      Should for whatever reason the winner not claim their prize, then a new winner will be drawn.
    2. The prize presented to the winner may not be identical to the item description. There can be deviances regarding the model, colour etc.
    3. The merchandise prizes will be sent by Thomann GmbH or by one of its contracting delivery companies, per freight forwarder, courier or postal service to the postal address indicated by the winner.

      The delivery is free of charge. Only extra transport costs and customs/duties must be covered by the winner. In the case that the delivery has to be made through a freight forwarding company the freight forwarding company will contact the winner to arrange delivery timings.
    4. An exchange, cash alternative or replacement prize is not possible.
    5. The claim to the prize or replacement of the prize cannot be assigned to a third party.
  5. Data protection

    1. The participant accepts explicitly that Thomann GmbH saves all necessary data for the duration of the competition and forwards them exclusively for purposes related to the winning process to the respective cooperation partner, who is also permitted to save the personal data only for the duration of the competition. The participant is free to withdraw his entry at any time. Please direct the withdrawal to:

      Thomann GmbH
      to the data protection officer
      Hans-Thomann-Straße 1
      96138 Burgebrach, Germany
    2. Thomann GmbH is obliged to consider the regulations for data protection according to the Federal Data Protection Law (BDSG) valid at the conclusion of the competition. In this context the general data protection regulations under notes regarding data protection should be noted.
  6. Liability

    1. Thomann GmbH will be released from any obligations by handing out the prize.
    2. Thomann GmbH is not liable for the insolvency of a cooperation partner and the resulting consequences for the implementation and processing of the competition.
  7. Other

    1. Legal proceedings are barred.
    2. The law of the Federal Republic of Germany applies exclusively.
One of our Fans
I was kept informed throughout and so I knew wher it was at every step of the way.
jtjoxxxbk@gxxx.com, 05.04.2017

Synthesizers overview

(1)
(1)
Feedback

Found an error or want to give us feedback about this page?

We're looking forward to hearing from you and aim to solve any problems as soon as we can.

cancel