Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Plug-In Spotlight #2: NI FM8

Native Instruments - FM8

Although I had no experience of the revolutionary Yamaha DX7, the cut-down DX100 with its short keyboard and simplified editing parameters was a defining sound in early Techno - mostly due to it's use as a cutting edge bass and percussion instrument by Derrick May. 

Via Neuro Politique's Matt Cogger I was fortunate to inherit Derrick's DX100 with it's familiar 'hard bass' preset and made it a feature of my own earliest productions.

FM synthesis seems tailor-made for Derrick May's brand of thoughtful, complex Techno. Sharp, angular with an icy emotion in it's clean, yet far from pristine digital output. With it's lack of deep bass, it also leaves plenty of space in the mix for the layers of percussion in those early Rythim Is Rythim (sic) releases.

FM8 - follows on from FM7 in being Native Instruments modern software equivalent of the Yamaha FM philosophy. 

The DX7 was legendary in it's programming difficulty and complexity. I must admit, parts of FM8 'Expert' editing features elude me, but thankfully there is a useful and quick 'Easy' editing section with the basic parameters that alter timbre and envelope shape. 

My favourite feature of FM8 is the often overlooked arpeggiator which has some powerful preset patterns and a neat randomize feature. The morph square is another intuitive performance tool which NI so excel in and a useful selection of onboard effects make this incarnation of FM synthesis the best yet IMO. Still unbeatable for edgy percussive bass and techy-tones.

Easier to edit than previous hardware FM synths.
Powerful arpeggiator.
Creative Morph feature.

In-depth FM synthesis inherently complicated.

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