Recently Propellerhead approached me about designing some sounds for a new FM synthesizer in Reason. As you may recall from some of my previous video tutorials, I showed you how to create an FM synth out of several Thors and a Combinator. The purpose was to demonstrate how to get some of the more modern, edgy FM sounds that we associate with dubstep and electro.
Although my method for creating FM sounds this way worked, Propellerhead have made this easier now with a new FM synthesizer engine, the PX7, now available as a Rack Extension for Reason 6.5. The PX7 is a true six-operator FM synth with some dazzling math behind it, resulting in a replica of the Yamaha DX7, the first commercially available FM synth from the early 1980s:
Just so you all know, the DX7 and I didn’t have a great relationship when we first met. I first encountered it in the labs at Berklee when I was studying music synthesis. It was a million miles away from what I wanted to achieve soundwise. I was very into the big, fat, warm analog sounds that I was hearing in all the drum’n'bass tunes I was into at the time. The DX7 was also difficult to program at first. It didn’t make sense to me and was really tedious. It had a very small display that required you to scroll through dozens upon dozens of parameters to create and edit a sound. More importantly to me at the time, it was seemingly not capable of producing the analog sounds I was into.
Years later, after a revival in software form, FM synthesis has found a very special place in my heart. I now find it to be very exciting as I am now very clear on what I can and can’t do with it. I have developed an appreciation for the highly detailed and exotic sounds that FM can produce. So I hope you all enjoy and appreciate the irony of this situation and my love/hate relationship with FM throughout the years. Most importantly, I hope that you enjoy the lesson in the PX7 and ultimately FM synthesis. – Chris Petti
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