About synths that defined the 80's. DX7 was the most iconic instrument of it's time. I urge Behringer to take the challenge and take it to the next level, with even more visuals and a smaller footprint. Not only that, but feature the most hands on operation of any FM synth in history. I'm positiv it will be the highlight of the studio, and a creative tool based on FM. I've spent a few hours in Corel Draw to design this, so please have a look!
And... I made a short video.
Now that Behringer have a DX1 they will understand that Yamaha put the Rolls-Royce of converters under the hood of the King. As I understand it although they were both 12 / 14 bit, the DX5 did not have those exact same convertors. I've had the pleasure of playing both instruments and for whatever additional reasons, the DX1 is just on another level in every way. I'm sure that Behringer could reimagine even "easier" access to DX editing and I think people would get into it. It might be a useful tool in the studio, so you have a valid suggestion...But I doubt it will sound as mind blowing as a DX1 and it certainly won't play like one. So you might as well fully map DEXED to a controller keyboard.
There is something about the way a DX1 plays that connects the user to the instrument in a way I have never experienced from any other synthesizer. Playing the EP or a Mallet on fully weighted polyphonic aftertouch keys and hearing genuine vintage DX components is an absolute treat to the point you actually start to experience this weird guilt, like you've just enjoyed a vintage whiskey by yourself and without permission.
Thank you. After reading your comment, I made some changes to the suggestion. It's now a DX7 clone instead of DX1. And I updated the drawing after some thinking. Behringer could try to clone the DX1 converters and implent it into the DX7 clone. If it sounded better, then who am I to complain. The behringer synth action keybed is probably not the same as DX7 either, but it's closer than DX1 for sure. I'd like to have the 12/14/16 bit rates emulated and made as selectable choices. I'd even like 32-bit oversampled at Mhz rates like the newer FPGA synths are capable off, it would encrease the sweetspot for FM-synthesis for sure!
I hope you like the drawing.
Yes, this is a great idea and absolutely should be done. However, I've noticed that a few manufaturers have taken on FM synthesis again. And I've noticed that UI is still a problem. I can't believe how such a simple solution has eluded so many companies for so many years.
Yes, Behringer should do an FM synth. No, it should not be a clone. Yamaha already did that and made the same mistakes that killed FM the last time they tried it. Like Behringer's other offerings, it should be updated for the modern industry standards... specifically, the UI.
Yes, FM is deep but there are only 3 programming approaches to consider for gradification: intentional, relative and controlled randomization.
1. Intentional. Start out with the most basic architeture osc, pitch, amp, env*, lfo, vel (maybe after touch). with all the appropraite knobs. Then make 6 "voice" buttons that select one or multiple voices to edit with all the traditional knobs. Next to the 6 voice buttons is a 3 possition switch for the modifiers: amp, pitch & FM. When the switch in set to FM then move to the next section: a bank of 6 sliders. Based on what voice button is active, these sliders are sends for the amount of frequency modulation effecting the other voices. The sliders are important because unlike a knob you will have the choice of editing one parameter at a time or multiple parameters for either realtime expression or gross exploration. ***IMPORTANT: NO ALGORITHMS each voice is already routed to the other 5 voices with a default value of zero.
2. Relative. Once you've got a crazy preset with gobs of specific parameter settings it can be a pita to keep doing that. The solution is taken from an old Opcode DX7 editor: select a target preset and then a second preset as a modifier, adjust a knob to morph between the values of all the parameters between the two presets. When you find the sweet spot, do your fine tuning and save to a new preset. If Opcode could figure it out in the 80s then I'm sure a modern processor can handle it. AND, take a page from the TG-33 and put joystick in there to morph values between 4 presets... or 4 modulation set ups... whatever.
3. Controlled Randomization. Magnitude 1: Totally Random. hit a button: random values on all the parameters (the only restriction being the carrier's sustain and release set to an audible setting). Magnitude 2: Semi Random. Select a preset, hit SR, and only the parameters that have an existing entered value are randomized. Magnitude 3: Only randomize FM modulation parameter values. This part is important. Since there are no algorithms then it would be handy for modulation set ups to have a seperate memory bank. It would be fun to pick a preset and then scroll through different set ups.... or vice versa which brings us to Magnitude 4: Only randomize non-FM parameter values.
Finally, give it a resonant filter and some simple effects (chorus, delay, reverb)
If you REALLY want to wow people and offer a jazzy way to explore FM then add a SECOND joystick (seperate from the TG-33 one) with 6 user definable assignments (ex, set one to pitch on voice 2, amp on voice 3, FM send amount on voice 4, FM recieve on voice 5 & .... filter cut off? LFO depth? idk.
The market is and has been domiated by subtractive synthesis both virtual and analog. Synth people would love FM synthesis if it was accessible: intuitive, tactile and kinetic. And here it is. All three qualities for 3 approaches to quickly and easily program FM sounds.
thanks for starting this thread, I was really excited to someone thinking about FM again.
About clones. I don't think a clone needs to be identical, in my opinion. It must have the synth architecture intact, but many design desitions can be changed. There is a big reason to clone the DX7, and that is all the sounds available on the web for it, and therefore it needs to have algorithms, and the rest of the engine intact. not to mention, it is the best known FM architecture out there, so many synthesists know their way around it.
The algorithms isn't unintuitive in my opinion, but there is a reason why I would stick with 6-OP 32-algorithms, because 8-OP 88-algorithm design by Yamaha is much more confusing. The two extra OP's doesn't make much sense. The briliant thing about the algorithms, is in the way the operators are arranged and that you can quickly switch to a different one if you need a different arrangement, and your Operators will be rearranged in a smart way that makes sense. The alternative is some kind of matrix where the Algorithm is created by the user, but I would leave that out of the DX Clone, and probably implement it in an FM synth that isn't related to the DX series.
I agree about the UI. FM synths always have been given horrible UI's. My purpose is to solve this with a reasonable design. My design philosophy is to make the most commonly used parameters available on the front panel with maximum of "one press of a button" to access the parameteres. This means it had to end with the Operator selection buttons, so that a complete operator is represented with dedicated contols on the panel at all times. As you mention (1.) You could add a modifier selector, which would downsize the frontpanel, but in return, you would have to make a second or third selection after selecting the operator, and it would be more tedious to program, which is what I'm trying to avoid. But it would make sense on a 3-octave keyboard version, or desktop module because of limited space.
I will try to make a modern FM synth design soon, and including stuff you mention, like morfing, vector synthesis type stuff. It will be a challenge.