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.
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.
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.
I think this is one of my DXi (like the B4) that are 'mature'. I think this kind of software programing needs to be applauded. I use this intrument %80 percent of the time. Glassy Piano...and tons of other presets are delicious. I also like the fact that you can import DX7 patches all day long....whewww....need i say more...the FM7 rocks
I came into the synthesis world in love with the sound and character of FM, and that love has not changed to this day. You can just imagine how happy I was to discover the likes of FM7, and even with me owning it now for over a year and a half, I still find myself turning to it over and over. I have noticed you'll find some days, you'll just love the sound, and other days, you can't figure out what you can do with it, but this synth is one that for sure grows on you over time. Hard to imagine that an old VSTi these days, but despite the age, FM7 is still aging well. I keep hoping NI will do a major update to FM7, but I simply can't imagine what they could do to drastically improve upon such a powerful FM emulation. I cannot recommend FM7 highly enough if you truely like FM synthesis, as NI took FM to the next level.
Make no mistake, FM7 is a great plugin and when it first came out it was beyond anything in this type of sound really available. For DX-7 emulation and enhancement you won't find anything better. But almost two years after release independent developers like Big Tick and it's excellent Rhino, fellow NI Absynth, almost ready to be released at 2.0 and to a degree rgc:audio's z3ta+ all cover a similar range with Rhino and z3ta+ and the VirSyn CUBE on the horizon being more flexible in their own sonic signatures.
But that is the issue to consider. Do you want a DX-7 that is super-sized with filters, effects and a modulation matrix that really allows for some outstanding timbres or do you want a synth that works differently but achieves similar timbres? That is the central question to ask about FM7.
The manual will not teach you how to program FM synthesis, and this is the real deal, not a analog subtractive emulation as many FM implementations attempt to use. To seriously program you will need to study. To convert DX-7 patches and mess with them FM7 will rock, but it is something to consider especially when looking at the price.
I like FM7 and some of the timbres that are included are exceptional although one wonders why NI couldn't have included more banks of DX-7 freeware and spent more time exploiting the synthesizer they unleased. And it is important to take a historical consideration to FM7 because it was one of the first new breed VST instruments, one that was able to emulate and beat the hardware hands down.
So, I appreciate what FM7 can do although it's time for a new version, maybe one with a step sequencer, formant filters or a similar design to Yamaha's FS1r which had incredible potential and a horrible interface. It would also be good if NI took a look at the SY77/99 as sample import and/or interpolation would make FM7 2.0 a top of the list synth.
As FM7 stands it is pricey but worth having if you like FM synthesis. Being able to work exactly like you did on a hardware synth only with a vastly better interface may be priceless to the right user.
Casual users spend time with the demo and see if you are happy with the programming options. There is a simplified mode but you get simplified results from it. Considering other 2 year old synths FM7 has aged well, but it 'has' aged. At the $69 deal it's a no brainer purchase. At it's normal price you will need to give some serious consideration.
Since FM7's being kindly donated by Native Instruments for this month's contest,maybe this will inspire some of you... FM7 is a masterpiece!I've owned it for 10 months,and it still makes me smile every time I fire it up.Between user-programmable algorithms,resonant multimode filters,the ability to read Yamaha 4-OP and 6-OP sysex,the adjustable bit rate,etc.,they've brought a classic into the modern age.You can use an external audio source as a carrier or modulator.The envelopes are great,with up to 32 breakpoints,with positive or negative curves.And did I mention the randomization options(for all us lazy people)?Not only can you choose what you want to randomize and a % value;you also have the choice of mild or aggressive randomization. The manual's written by Craig Anderton,and is logically laid out and easy to use. The sound?I've owned 3 FM hardware synths(a TX81Z I bought as a guitar synth module,a DX7 and a V50).If any of those had sounded half this good and were this easy to program,I'd still have them. So,enter the contest and win it!If you don't win,buy it.It's money well spent.
ok it takes a worrying amount of time to load into logic but hey...
sound... jesus f££cking christ this this is so good. dream synth preset makes me cry... phat and dirty, it is low and great.
i have only been into all this shit for about a year and a bit and before this synth i did not really know what analogue and fat really meant. now i do. that is probably the best review it will ever get.
read the computer music guide to fm on www.computermusic.co.uk if you want some more info. fm is like a worn in jumper.. some how better.. you will know what i mean
fm7 is the bee's knees man. best $200 i ever spent on gear. it's cold demeanor actually can cover a lot of tonal ground (from glassy, to a palpable grit). i cant even begin to describe how much joy i have derived from it. just buy it.
This is the best sounding virtual instrument there is IMO. the sound of the oscilators are world class. I have no interest in recreating DX7 sounds. Once you get into programming this thing its capable of anything. No doubt it is the worlds most powerfull FM synth. It might not be as much fun if you dont want to dig in and program it yourself but the presets are very good and wide rangeing. For its sound quality the cpu useage is great. Just go and buy it :)
This synth is a class of it's own. This is the best FM VSTi. For what it does the CPU usage is quite low. This alone is worth it. The sound character is awesome. I would like to give it an 11 for the sound. Everything from cutting through to super washy pads to monster basses to rhythmic ravers. The presets that come with it are very good and usable for me. And it can import DX7 patches. So I can load all these cheesy 80's sounds. And all the good ones, too. The Easy Edit page is very good and the random thingy does the rest. :-) The one thing that I have to critisize: THE FILTER IS ONLY IN MONO!!! There are two filters, why not making a stereo mode? That would make this synth even better.
I have an old DX7 (1st generation), It has a very good keyboard but although I used to dream about buying one (before actually doing so), I almost never use it - it is noisy and the patches are all the same so I use it to control my VST studio. The FM7 is totally the contrary - it has usable patches and a very clean sound, noiseless one. some patches are great and the added FX and control sliders actually make it the perfect FM synth. But the price tag is too high , If one man companies like rgcAudio and LinPlug can sell excellent synths at 50 - 100 bucks why should a multi million $ company sell theirs at 300 ? they DO have a bigger resource of money and developers. Maybe someday the FM7 or maybe a younger and stronger brother will find its way to my VST host at the mean while I will use my DX7 and the DX7 embedded inside VSampler
UPDATE: About to get my copy - paid 188 U$ + shipping from www.musicians-gear.com . Ignore my review and buy this toy ! Read more
Wow, I always wanted a DX7, now this is more like the DX1! The extra functionality is superb and makes a fantastic instrument even better. Can't fault it, I thought teh VX7 was good, but this blows even that away.
Now if they could use samples within the operators like the SY77/99 does, I could sell my SY77 and get another VSTi (or two)
This one is a winner... and a keeper... and it's simply amazing.
It covers all FM sounds that we loved to love and hate over the last 2 decades (it even loads the original Yamaha DX sysex data), but it can actually do much more.
The engine offers way more features than the old DX synths, like free FM matrix, additional waveforms for FM oscilators, filters, amazing envelopes with almost unlimited points plus host-syncable loop options and chorus/delay FX. That makes this beast sound so much better than any 80s FM synth.
The only negative point would be that the plugin is not multitimbral, so it's one sound per plug (you can use program changes or multiple instances though). It's got also some minor bugs, that are not fixed yet (guess NI was too busy with other stuff lately ;). The GUI is also great, the only missing thing would be that there are not enough keyboard shortcuts.
All in all, a great (if not even the greatest) virtual synth that sets a new standard...
I cant do anything than give FM7 a perfect 10 on all places. After a week of hard testing and playing, not a single glitch. Documentation are great, sound are great, GUI are fantastic, presets are great.
Not only typical FM sounds, but also analoge sounds that really stand out in the crowd.
Fantastic product. Compelling sound, the GUI is very easy to navigate and the CPU performance is excellent. Very hard to find fault with this instrument, one minor request would have been multi-timbral support, but with Multi-instancing this is not really a problem. As with the NI B4, the FM7 is essential to any virtual studio. A very important breakthrough.
One of the best vsynth ever. No one other can have this sound, no one other can recreate this FM synsthesis as FM7 does. I'm sure about this. Tweak its controller and you will know about it and its architecture !!! Try it out SOON !!!!!
Well, you can make it sound like a pure analog synth (route A-F osc/ops via Z), like a wavetable synth a la PPG or like a pure FM synth...or any combination of those, so it has almost endless possibilities. If you could use your own wav files in the ops, it would be the perfect synth, no less. A complex, but rewarding, beast to work with. Seems to have a few bugs, though, with sudden CPU usage bursts causing clicks and noise. All in all, however, an instant classic and as essential to your VST collection as Pro-52 and PPG Wave 2V. Man, I remember my first FM synth (Yamaha CX5 Computer, around 1983)...we have come a long long way since :-) Only 256 presets included with FM7, but since it can read DX/TX sysex banks, about 25.000 patches (which was what I found in like 15 mins) are avaliable for download out there. FM7 reads them just fine.
In summary, the FM7 is great as an emulator of the DX7 but not convincing in being more than that:
Probably it's because of the hype, but this thingie really is a bit disappointing. Hell, it is synthesis from the early eighties, and that's the sound you get. Ten out of ten for being accurate on that, but there were little if no surprise-and-smile-effect, when I stepped through the presets: already had the impression of having heared similar sounds somewhere. If the sound of past decades is just what you're looking for, then - on the other hand - FM7 really is worth a try, especially the sound editing gui is impressive and quite intuitive. However, the yellow-green-brown color mixture isn't contrastive enough and the fonts are sometimes too thin and/or small. Besides that, the gui seldom gets in your way.
This is definitely the best VSTi that I have tried to date. I am very impressed as to how well NI has copied the DX7 architecture. Actually, it seems to me that they have modeled it more after the SY77/TG77 than the DX7. They have also added several new and innovative features while flawlessly retaining backward compatibility sound-wise. The addition of a filter operator really gives the FM7 a lot more flexibility at replicating more traditional analogs type synth sounds. The “Easy Edit” feature is great for quick "on the fly" tweaks.
IMO this will be the new yardstick that all VSTi’s will be judged by… Well, at least for a little while.
As I said in the forum, it's possibly the best VSTi to date in terms of sound, user interface and features. Very intelligent MIDI learn function, which can be setup in several ways. 'Easy Edit' function makes hard work (as changing six envelopes at once) a breeze. Filter operator will not dissapoint at all, but maybe X operator should have been more agressive. Zooming in and out in envelopes could have been less tricky too. Overall, you get lush pads, great leads, arpeggio-like effects and sounds from another dimension. Definitely much more than traditional FM (which does really well too). Finally, the price lowers a bit down the final rate.
Fm7 is incredible. It sounds great and comes with outstanding presets. I'm disappointed it doesn't work with Orion at the moment.Also missing is the change in some patches when you use the modulation wheel.For example, some patches created by Bo Tomlyn "Top 40", moving the mod wheel caused some pretty wild changes on the DX7, that I've not been able to duplicate with FM7. But hell, that's just being nit picky compared to how good this thing actually sounds. It's rather ironic that I'm using my DX7 as my controller to play this thing! Read more
A perfect 10. This is a landmark product! I've been waiting for a VSTi that could emulate the TX817's famous 'Lately Bass' patch exactly for a long time, so I could finally put all my old hardware gear in storage. I tried the FM heaven, and all the other FM vsti's and NONE of them could do it right. THE FM7 DOES IT EXACTLY!!! The all virtual studio is FINALLY complete. With the addition of the FM7 to my arsenal, I can finally take the remaining old gear I have out of the studio, and move it into the 'museum' section with the rest of the old gear that has been replaced by software versions. BUY IT NOW!!!
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.