Product Review: Page (1) of 2 - 02/23/02 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at page facebook

Native Instruments FM-7 Synthesizer

Software version of the vintage DX series synthesizer is a winner By Richard Alan
I remember just how blown away I was the first time that I got to use the newly introduced Yamaha DX-7. I was an intern at a NYC recording studio, and like interns everywhere, when there was downtime (and I had no critical tasks such as cleaning the bathroom to attend to) I was using anything and everything in the studio!

Graphical editing (click image for larger view.)

What made the FM synthesis based DX-7 seem so cool at the time were the electric piano and the bell/chime patches. Being a synth junkie (even at 16) I knew that there was no way sounds like that were going to be possible with anything analog, short of a full-blown Moog system. It wasnt until a few years later after all of the DX-7s presets had been terribly overused by Madonna (and other great luminaries) that the charm wore off a little bit.

Over the years there have been other DX series instruments both keyboard and module based that expanded upon the promise of FM nirvana. While I am not sitting with Yamahas sales figures in hand, it is my impression that none of the later DX series synths were ever as popular as the DX-7, which was the top-selling synthesizer of its time (introduced in 1983).

Which brings us to the present day. Germanys Native Instruments (who have distinguished themselves with past offerings such as the Prophet-5 virtual instrument software Pro-52 and Hammond organ virtual instrument B-4), has recently introduced the newest member of its Vintage line, FM-7.

Sound Library (click image for larger view.)

FM-7 is a software based emulation of the DX series synthesizers for both Macintosh and Windows computers. Not only does FM-7 emulate the sound of the DX synthesizers, it can actually read (and reproduce) patches that were developed for the DX-7, DX7-II, DX11, TX81Z, DX21, DX27, DX100, TX802, up to and including Yamahas newest FM synthesis module, the DX-200. This is a wonderful thing if you sold your Yamaha hardware, but still have patch information stored somewhere.

FM-7 may be utilized as a standalone program as well as a plug-in. Supported interfaces include: VST 2.0, ASIO, MAS, Sound Manager, and FreeMIDI. FM-7 also allows for the insertion of external audio which can function as a modulation source (or be processed by the effects section) by way of VST and MAS interfaces.

FM-7 can display a virtual 5-octave keyboard with pitch-bend and modulation wheels, and by clicking on the virtual keys you can audition sounds without the need to have a controller present. The virtual keys respond to any incoming MIDI information, and I had a few entertaining moments watching the screen try to keep up with my fingers. The virtual instrument window may be hidden if desired.

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Related Keywords:synthesizers, emulation, DX, FM-7, Yamaha, Native Instruments, digital audio


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