Saturday, 13 March 2010

Patch 016 - XyloBell FM8

I have been getting into the theory of frequency modulation (FM) having caught a couple of really good videos online after the topic was raised on the Micron yahoo group recently (a great resource; if anyone does not know about it, they can find the group here). I got Native Instruments' FM8 synth quite some time ago and spurred on by my recent curiosity I loaded up an instance of it in Logic. Before now I have only ever been a preset surfer with FM8 but with my recently acquired knowledge I was keen to try and figure out what this beast is all about.

So far on Alesis Micron - Patch a Day I have followed "instructions" from various sources on how to achieve a particular sound rather than copy patches to the letter. Given all the differences in filter types, approximations of envelope times etc together with the sometimes major difference in synth architecture, copying patches from other synths is generally not a simple process. Given that a number of FM8's patches are simply based on envelope modulated sine waves modulating each other I was keen to investigate if it was possible to replicate some of the FM8 patches exactly on the Micron and if not I was interested to hear how different these synths would sound. The only complication was translating the tunings from FM8 (ratios) to the Micron (octaves, semitones and cents) for which I had to get my calculator out!

So this is the first patch in a series trying to replicate these FM8 patches. FM8 does have some incredibly complex algorithms so where necessary I have simplified the FM8 patches to 3 oscillator versions that can be reproduced on the Micron. Often, like in the following example FM8 uses a duo of 3 operator patches panned hard left and right which the Micron cannot replicate. In this instance I have gone for a mono patch with no panning. The only parameter that I had to use some judgement for was what FM amount to use - in FM8 the level of the modulator represents the FM amount and the difference between a 50% modulator level in FM8 and a 50% FM amount on the Micron was quite startling. I ended up using very little FM amount at all, just enough to give a nice metallic ringing noise.

XyloBell FM8

It's a nice patch. But..... not as nice as FM8 which has a very delicate sound.

Tomorrow I'll attempt to recreate an FM8 guitar.


  1. hello

    I just bought a micron, and am in the process of learing how to program it. I was a bit disapointed by the presets on the device: Numerous though they are, there are so many types of sound missing. Sounds I am interested in. Among those are bell sounds like xylophone and vibraphone.
    So I'm glad you did some work on this as well. The problem is that all your patches are no longer online. Would it be too much trouble to put them somewhere where they can stay available? I'm sure I am not the ony one looking for those scarse micron resources on the web.


  2. Sorry Ernst, I'll put a link up in a new post.