Ok, This will be a review in 2017 of this great FM8 synth.
I'm a long time user, like this synth from the beginning when it was called Fm7.
First things first, I cannot hide my bad feelings about the existing bugs NI don't repair.
FM8 should deserve some little development to complete the almost perfect realization of a modern FM synth.
Here's the "bad" list - critical things need to be fixed :
1) IF YOU PUT MANY PRESETS IN YOUR PRESET DATABASE, YOU MUST TURN OFF THE OPTION "DATABASE HIT COUNT" - IF YOU DON'T DO THAT, PRESET BROWSING WILL BE REAL SLOW.
2) IF YOU INSTALL THE LATEST VERSION, AND YOU USE THE 64-bit PLUGIN, THE ARP SIMPLY IGNORES THE FIRST STEP - SO IF YOU WANT PERFECT FUNCTIONALITY, YOU WILL USE THE 32-bit PLUGIN, EVEN IF YOU HAVE 64-bit OS AND 64-bitDAW.
3) IN REAPER, IF YOU USE 32-bit PLUGIN (EVEN IN 64-bit REAPER), IT'S OK - IT WILL BE BRIDGED. UNFORTUNATELY ONE MORE LITTLE WINDOW APPEAR. SO YOU HAVE TO CHECK "RUN AS"/"EMBED BRIDGED UI" OPTION - AND FROM THIS POINT, THE 32-bit PLUGIN WILL APPEAR JUST AS YOUR 64-bit PLUGINS APPEAR.
Here's the "Nice to have" list of things that are not critical like the things above:
- FM7 colorful look disappeared with the new version. FM8 should look not white imho - it should be just as colorful like a JUPITER synth. In FM8 you can find great piano sounds, great guitar sounds, great synth sounds - so many different instrument and how does the software look like? It's white - nonsense.
- GUI resizing, or option of change between different sizes. A feature we can see in many synth, even those that considered being "old". If we can see a resizable Sylenth1, or change the size of the ImpOSCar gui, why can't we do the same in FM8? If Arturia can update their synths to modern GUIs, why can't NI?
- Skinning possibilities. Think of it like outsourcing : the plugin developer only need to create the possibility of skinning, and from that point, any gui designer can create nice skins to that plugin. I'd like to see this in fm8.
Show-stopper list : FM8 is just one fm synths, many great are existing - maybe the newest you can find is from Arturia.
So if fm8 won't be developed, people will start to buy more modern synth like the one from Arturia, or perhaps a synth that is just partly fm, like Zebra or Bazille. So this list is about real new functionality:
- Layering & defining keyboard range: FM8 is on the list of synths that can use very small amount of CPU. So why can't we use it in 4 or more layers defining the key range of each layer (with overlapping)? Like the zone editor in Avenger.
- Locking : if you lock some part of a preset, after changing to another preset the locked parts remain the same. Locking arpeggiator, locking effects, etc.
....... I could sit here and write many things, but won't. To sum up things, FM8 is quite good synth, with some annoying silly things (this is why my rating is only 7). It has a great "fanbase" (like Massive), and therefore I don't see why NI don't publish the "roadmap" for its development. Maybe NI will handle FM8 and Massive like they did with Pro-53 and B4 and Kore.
this synth is just perfect, It sound very good, easy to use... this is the kind of synth you're not ashamed to use with real analog synth. The effect section are really good, but i 'd really like to able to change the orders of these. Not a surprise that huge composer like reznor still use it....
It's the bees knees of digital synthesis; FM synthesis made easier by the highly graphic user interface. If you're in the market for FM, then eventually you'll make your way to this, whether you plan to or not.
If you don't mind, I've received quite a few PM's on the subject of 'how do I?' with this synth, so maybe this review could get a little technical.... bear with me, I'll keep the jargon as easy as I can...
For 'oscillators', read 'operators'; instead of subtracting harmonics with cutoffs, you create harmonics by 'buzzing' the original wave using a 'carrier'. Sounds complex? Take an operator, make it whatever wave shape you like, and even if you don't have the first clue about FM, just grab a handful and start experimenting! It's this visual feedback that makes FM7 such a joy to program; one of the few synths that proves indisputably the superior potential nature of software.
Each operator goes beyond the DX7 by including sines, saws, triangles and complex harmonic-rich waveforms. The matrix-style basic interface lets you mingle and mix-up carriers and operators until you end up with a wonderful mess - FM's own equivalent of analog patchwire heaven! You also have the options of noise and a filter section [with adjustable poles], and you can patch this into the mix in whatever order you like. As a comparison, consider it as a 6-oscillator synth where each oscillator can interfere with any other, or even itself....
The real power of FM8 comes with the envelopes, which can be effectively drawn freeform like Absynth. This means evolving 'scapes, pads and leads which can flick in and out of the patch, looped sections which don't have to rely on LFO modulation, and attack/release patches that don't have to hang their hats on the old ADSR principles. Of course, ADSR and LFO's are there too - you can make this sound as simple or as whacked out as you'd like it to!
So, to mention the newer features of FM8 over FM7. I'm not as keen on the white colour scheme, or the fact that any Intel mac owners need to upgrade just to get FM7 sounds back on their machines - but there's no doubt now that the XY patchmorpher and the Kore-type browser have more potential than the simple randomise/sysex browse features of FM7. The FX section's much more comprehensive, too.
Fortunately, they've left in the 'easy edit' page for beginners, and assigning controllers to this page gives some hands-on realtime control. Because of the potentially huge changes that a tiny operator frequency change can have on everything else, sometimes a big 'handful of knobbage' in the analog-style can take your gentle swash pad into a glitch-IDM ear-splitting screech - be careful!!
Having said that, this remains a synth which rewards patient programming, and all the sonic" whoosh and swoop" is best setup as part of the patch rather than something which needs hands-on control to implement. I tend to start by imagining how the end result will sound, and working backwards...
So, the proof's in the pudding - how does it sound?
The answer is like nothing else. It's got that crispy, eerie, digital sound, with a real reputation for pads and motion-filled soundscapes. In my opinion it outdoes Absynth in this regard - FM8 spheres sound more 'musical' and less atonal. It also does a mean set of leads and basses, although if it's capacitor "squelch" you're after, look elsewhere. Even if you don't plan on programming it, there's a huge selection of patches out there - mine included - specifically designed for FM7/8, and thousands of original DX7 patches from the hardware's 20 year legacy of success. In my opinion, some of the best sound designers here on KVR have contributed great banks for this machine, and it's always an education to see just how they've done it. It's a fantastic preset machine!
Expensive? Yes; Worth it? Yes. Hard work? Yes, but only if you intend to really get stuck in under the hood. And even then, it's a learning curve less steep than the one which took you into this VST lark in the first place. Start now, and even five years down the line, you'll still have a relevant and highly rated synth.Read Review
I owned a Yamaha DX7 for a few years. It was cheap, light, and one of the first affordable synths with velocity sensitive keys. With all the benefits of using this keyboard on stage I hated the sound. FM7 is a software version of the DX7, developed by Native Instruments with the blessing of Yamaha. When FM7 hit the market I wondered why anyone would want a program that sounded like the thin, lifeless DX7. It was a year before I gave in to the positive reviews and tried this VSTi. To my surprise this is the one VSTi based on a hardware synthesizer that sounds better than the hardware. Much better. No DX7 ever made the luscious pads available on FM7. This is partially due to greater processing power of the host computer, a higher processing rate, better D/A’s, multi-stage eg’s and a decent effects section.
There are 100’s of patches available online for the DX7 and FM7. I received the extra sound set from NI free when I bought FM7. It has 128 beautiful and useful patches. Programming FM is very different than subtractive synthesis but at least FM7 has a tab designed for simple programming. I prefer to tweak patches created by others rather than start from scratch.
FM7 responds will to sustain pedal, after touch, pitch bend and modulation wheels. However, it does not allow the right click CC control assignment found on many new VSTis.
User Interface - Looks nice and provides tabs to access many functions and an easy mode page.
Sound - Very good.
Features - FM synthesis with excellent eg’s and effects.
Documentation - A decent book book.
Presets - Not a lot but what you get is good.
Customer Support - Better than what you get from a hardware company.
Value For The Money - A bit expensive for but this is still THE FM VSTi.
Stability - Never crashes my system.
Copy Protection - Occasional CD check.
Frequency Of Use - Maybe half of my songs.
CPU Load - Very light.
Remote Patch Change - Patch increment and decrement works from my keyboard workstation. Only holds one bank so bank change is useless.
Fun Factor - Medium if you like programming FM.
I would buy again, but first I would consider some of the competition that is half the price. The low CPU usage for a sound this good is probably the best reason.Read Review
To Miroslav, about the archive files with extension .sit:
The archive files with the extention .sit are a nightmare! Above all for all the people using Windows or Linux.
AVOID the archives .sit files!!.
You compel to install a specific expander for these files which are in a proprietary format! The standard archive/unarchive tools are ALL incompatible with this proprietary format! And even worse, even the specific tool itself change its specifications from a version to another.
To unarchive .sit files, first you compel to install StuffIt Expander... that generally we have not on our systems. So we install this tool... but it's then necessary to know that the last version that expanded the .sit file was the 2010 version. Starting from the 2011 version... Stuffit expander expands only the .sitx version, no more the .sit version.
And above all, whatever your operating system... use .zip files or .rar files to stay compatible with every body.
Even you Stuffit tool can create .zip and .rar files to stay compatible with everybody.
To avoid the bothering installation of this specific expander totally unnecessary in the daily use of our systems and so to give access to these four files to EVERYONE, some minutes ago I just reuploaded the four files in the universal standard format that everybody can read natively, the .zip format! And I have set the four files in a one package.