Modern FM Synthesis


Wondering if anyone has some good examples of modern artists/tracks that prominently use FM synthesis. experimental/rap/idm &c

I love the percussive FM sound sounds that SOPHIE uses on tracks like “Hard”:

as well as the twinkly bell sounds on Danny Harle & other PC Music stuff.

and the metallic bass on this Lord RAJA song:

-It’s all over Autechre’s Oversteps record, and their track “Fermium”.

-Toro y Moi’s Boo Boo has DX7 throughout

Anyone else have good examples?


Actress using Monomachine and Machinedrum (with lots of FM synthesis) on his records Splazsh and RIP:



Sweet, I didn’t realize there was Monomachine on those. I’ve always loved the plasticky bubble sounds on “Holy Water”.


This is perfect. Listening to some of Mark’s stuff also reminds me that I heard a bunch of good FM-ish sounds when I saw Kindohm play recently.


totally. if you’re curious how he got the sounds on Lime, this livestream goes pretty in-depth into his process linking Harmor to Tidal


Though it’s a trifle bit dated by now, I still really enjoyed the late period Egyptrixx records where he utilized a lot of FM sounds

Also I’m fairly certain that most of the recent Gábor Lázár material is FM, though I recall reading that someone said it was actually additive synthesis.


Egyptrixx totally underrated


never realised the actress cover looks like the london olympics logo

*btw i have a dx7 for sale in London if anybody wants


The last 2 Oneohtrix LP’s have a lot of FM8, I’d say recent James Ferraro too also.
Probably a lot of these HIFI modern producers are deep into them now, sounds like new Lee Gamble EP has a lot of fm stuff, also a lot of PAN’s sound design-y releases seem to use em. Even the stock Logic fm synth is pretty damn wild. I reckon i’ve heard it on some Pev / Livity records and a few others from that Bristol bass scene. They are great fun to get into.

The post above reminded me Mark Fell + Rian Treanor both seem to use FM fairly heavily still.

Got a dx100 and it still fucking rips, also the FM engines on the op1 + monomachine are great, super sad my mono crapped out and the tech support wouldnt point me in a direction to fix it cause its 1st gen. Those digitones look like the kinda fun i need. I sold all my analog synths for these hardware digital / fm synths, lot more fun and versatile imo


good on ya, mate. hardware puritanism honestly gets a bit tiresome to me. I love softsynths and am a vocal advocate for them but I also think there’s a lot to be said of finding a middle ground. I’ve bought and sold many synths over the years but I sprung for a few of the Roland Boutiques recently (including the D-50 FM module :slight_smile:) and would love to pick up an OP-1 if they ever resume production…


The OP is quite amazing but seriously limited (almost a selling point with this one). Once you get your head around the fact you need to play to its strengths and not try make it sound like something it isnt, its one of the most fun and intuitive synths ive owned. worthy of the high price. something like 8 synth engines (the wavetable is great), sampler, radio tuner, 4channel digital tape recorder, drum synth and drum sampler you can load yr own samples into and FX… whats not to love… They are coming back soon apparently.
Can show you some FM demos of it when im home if you’d like


amazing news!

have you used the Volca FM? if so, what are your thoughts? looks really fun (and it’s cheap).


Yo looks like right on cue theyre back in stock but at and extra few hundred $$ for the new screens they had to source…

Only toyed with the Volca fm, was on a mates who had it setup with some classic dx presets which i thought was a bit of a waste.
Surely you get it to go ham on trying to take it into new places with its modern abilities. I’m not too sold on the Volcas as a range but the dx looks fun, im sure itd be fun to use and multitrack sorta like I do with the OP1 and did with the mono, just not sure on how good or deep the seq goes… I’d rather fork out for a digitone and eat beans for 4 months. Those new buchla volcas on the other hand… could be cool


The Kick is banger to be honest. And I’ve heard some good stuff with the FM but the others are def meh.

My main axe is the Nord G2. Just found those Autechre patches for it and peering at their architectures has been fairly mind expanding. Some simple FM structures, some interesting tricks. But the open format of the G2 allows all manner of wacky internal patching, often yielding some glitchy gold.


A lot if not most of Autechre in recent years seems like it is FM and post Quaristice the consensus seems to be mostly in in Max - there is a really versatile implementation of a simple FM set up (one carrier one modulator) in a Max tutorial patch which seems to be is in quite a bit of their stuff. Obvs there will be more depth to it than that but that patch is really powerful for percussion, for example. I’m convinced the snare / weird fx noise in Four of Seven on NTS Session 1 is done with that patch.

Gabor Lazar is probably Lazerbass or a version of it in Reaktor, which is additive synsthesis, but one assumes is sequenced in Max - something else is going on in GL’s stuff to get that modulatation, some chat on the forums about him modulating the phase (again, control via Max one assumes).


LOVED that mark fell interview…this was one of the more inspiring things I read all last year:
I can’t understand why anyone would have a studio full of lots and lots of stuff. I see photos of other people’s studios and there are all these racks of equipment and stacks and keyboards and things and it just doesn’t compute. I was a kid in my bedroom for three years, with one piece of equipment, and I just explored in micro detail what that equipment could do, so I understood every little quirk of it.


i dunno, i think Mark might be a little autistic or something. just because it’s not his approach, doesn’t mean it’s not a valid approach for someone’s else. i remember reading somewhere a million years ago Neil Young explaining that each guitar he buys has a couple new songs in them…and i do think there’s something to that. one might even argue that Mark’s been making the same tune his entire career lol.


haha, totally…or maybe he’s just dogmatic. I guess I should have added why i was sharing that quote. it was one of those things that got me thinking a bit differently about production; it sounded more like something a sculptor might say. I know something I struggle with when making tracks is trying to bring too many different instruments or options into a session view and definitely try to implement limitations wherever possible/reasonable. sometimes i feel like learning to use a program like able is like trying to learn how to play infinity, and thus find quotes like Fell’s really helpful in re-orienting my thought towards working within a certain set of strictures.

and i certainly wouldn’t disagree with mark making the same tune his whole career lol…frankly, that’s what i admire about him!


I get both sides of it, it’s a matter of the right tool for the job though. Not going to chop a tree down with a hunting knife obviously.

Lately I’ve been exploring my JP8080 and getting the most of it while helping a friend write a forthcoming EP (trailing a forthcoming album) for a well known label who shall not be named at this time. What the 8080 does as a standalone synth is amazing, but if I want real chintzy FM bass I bust out my TX81z, or maybe dust off my M1R if I want that organ2 on the quick. I’ll still use my Max/MSP algorithmic patches to send tunes and or rapidfire CC change messages to it if I’m feeling frisky. Like I said, right tool for the job.