Synths are great. You push a key, turn a few knobs and suddenly you're making "music.
Enter the Volca line keyboards. Of the highly focused new Volca models bass, loops, beats, etc. Both use frequency modulation to create a "metallic" sound -- sort of as if your keyboard were attached to a piece of aluminum siding.
Similar to the Monotron line, the Volca FM has a ribbon keyboard so you're not going to be hammering out complex songs in real time on the touch-sensitive layout. Still, thanks to the step sequencer that can link as many as 16 sequences of 16 steps together, so you can build incredibly elaborate patterns.
It even records knob twists. So if you want to crank up the modular decay during a certain hit that's part of your final loop, go for it. It's all great until you try to edit a sequence. While building out your steps, going back to correct a mistake or just make an adjustment is frustrating, and I usually ended up starting over. For simple patterns it's not that big a deal. But if you're creating something complex, get ready for a long night of throwing your hands in the air.
But the Volca is so crammed with features that any minor frustration is quickly eclipsed when you're playing the arpeggiator, LFO, chorus and the choice of three voice polyphonic sounds, monophonic or mono setting. It even supports the file formats of the DX7 so you can add additional sound patches. The deeper you dive into this keyboard, the better the value. The electronics are housed in a smoky translucent case that feels solid enough to handle being transported to gigs.
There's a tiny speaker on the bottom that's serviceable but won't replace headphones for the best sounds. But thanks to the addition of battery power, the Volca FM quickly became the go-to test bed for off-the-cuff ideas at my house. Why dig a synth out of its storage case, plug it into the wall and find some headphones when I can have this tiny synth in my lap right when the mood hits me? Another pleasant surprise was that in the studio it didn't exhibit the line noise that makes the Monotrons less than ideal for live performances.
And while there's no tap tempo button, you can sync it via MIDI to devices so you're not trying to line up your beats on the fly while on stage. Throw in an old-school seven-segment LED display and the Volca FM is a fun and surprisingly powerful synth that should be equally at home on stage and in your living room.In my last post I talked about FM synthesis using Dexed. This is great, but it's a VSTi so you have to run it on a computer and I'm somewhat allergic to relying on computers on a gig.
In theory the Volca is a cheap-ish solution that can run Dexed patches on hardware without fussing with a computer, but there are a few challenges.
Here's a video with instructions on loading Dexed patches into the Volca -- you'll just need a computer running Dexed hooked up to the Volca via 5-pin MIDI:. The MIDI In port means that when you're not loading up new patches you can hook up a proper keyboard and stop poking at the tiny toy one on the Volca.
Because it's just FM synthesis, it will play any pitch you like so it copes just fine with a seven-and-a-half-octave piano keyboard. This already opens up the possibilities of its patches pretty radically, although in many cases they work best in a smaller range than that. I've had no problem running the headphone out into a chain of guitar pedals, which can very dramatically buff up the sound.
After all, there's no onboard reverb or delay, the built-in chorus is weak and a LP filter can tame the Volca's tendency to make popping sounds. Just start with the volume off and inch it up until it sounds right, as the headphone signal is of course a fair bit hotter than a guitar pedal usually expects.
Things may change in the future. As always, unsupported firmware made by a stranger on the internet is installed at your own risk, but so far reports have been positive and you should be able to go back to Korg's official version if you run into problems.
The latest Korg firmware release is 1. At the time of writing the link posted on Reddit was down but the files are available at Ranzee's site. I debated whether to mirror them here, but this is a quickly-changing situation and I don't want my copies hanging around if they go stale and a better version comes out or an issue is discovered.
Panjen's update is, in my opinion, well worth installing and I hope is leads to a community project to make hacking the FM a bit more accessible. I would love to get involved, but I have no practical experience with assembler and don't have the time to learn it from the ground up. But the potential here is pretty great for such a cheap little box. For me, the highlights are the new global settings, all of which are off by default this leaves your Volca behaving the same way it did before the update.
These can be changed by booting up the Volca while holding down Func, then turning the corresponding numbered lights on and off with the mini keyboard, then hitting "Rec" to save:. So, obviously, I have all three of these permanently enabled. Note that the Volca seems to benefit from a harder velocity curve than I'd usually choose but that might be just my controller, the patches I've experimented with or my playing style.
I haven't explored the latter much because the Volca is still something I'm just playing with, but if and when I want to set it up for a performance it will be massively useful to be able to send a batch of CC messages from my main controller to change patch, sequencer pattern and mod wheel behaviour. There's also CCs for the built-in chorus but I'm personally not a fan of it so it tends to always be off.
If you haven't done it before, I recommend updating to Korg's official firmware first.
Yamaha DX7 SYSEX
I'm not sure very much can go wrong but it will give you a feel for the process and if you do something wrong, Korg's customer support should be able to sort you out. Once you're familiar with the process, the 1. Korg Volca FM: Firmware 1. This is a quick brain-dump of what I've learned over the past two weeks about the Volca FM.
The 5 Best FM Synth Reviews 2021
Here's a video with instructions on loading Dexed patches into the Volca -- you'll just need a computer running Dexed hooked up to the Volca via 5-pin MIDI: The MIDI In port means that when you're not loading up new patches you can hook up a proper keyboard and stop poking at the tiny toy one on the Volca.
Firmware 1. These can be changed by booting up the Volca while holding down Func, then turning the corresponding numbered lights on and off with the mini keyboard, then hitting "Rec" to save: Setting 9 turns MIDI note velocity on and off. This was my main reason for installing the patch.
I can't imagine why anyone would want to play a keyboard with one hand and ride a slider with the other to control velocity; I do get that some people might just want to use the built-in keyboard but I'm not one of them.
This is great as previously I was getting some pretty poor matchups between a patch made in Dexed and the same patch once installed in the Volca.
I haven't tested this much yet and I'm sure it's still not perfect but I'll take any improvements I can get.John Chowning is known for having discovered the FM synthesis algorithm in In FM frequency modulation synthesis, both the carrier frequency and the modulation frequency are within the audio band. In essence, the amplitude and frequency of one waveform modulates the frequency of another waveform producing a resultant waveform that can be periodic or non-periodic depending upon the ratio of the two frequencies.
When you think of 80s music, some of the sounds that come to mind are sparkly electric pianos, metallic basses and cheesy orchestral elements. Many of these sounds came from one synthesizer: the Yamaha DX7.
It was released inand was the first digital synthesizer to have an impact on popular music. Along with its eventual spiritual successors, the Roland D and Korg M1, the DX7 marked a move away from warm analog sounds, to complex digital sounds.
For a producer, the DX7 meant more sonic options in one box, and more versatility in a recording studio. The DX7 generated its sound using a new method of synthesis called FM synthesis, which allowed it to create percussive sounds, metallic sounds, and acoustic sounds such as flutes. Although released inthe technology behind it was developed in by John Chowning, a professor at Stanford University.
Korg Volca FM Review
FM synthesis was complicated, especially compared to the simple monosynths and polysynths before it. Programming sounds was also cumbersome on the DX synths, involving menu diving and adjusting of numbers and ratios to create a new sound.
Because of this, the DX7's presets were used more than new sounds, so the same recognisable sounds started to crop up in pop and rock sounds from onwards. Par Arnaud Wyart. A digital synth that changed electronic music forever. For us, we immediately go to: 1. The dry immediacy of gated snares and, more importantly for the purposes of this short article, 2.
The metallic sheen of the Yamaha DX7 synthesizer. One of the first mass market synths to feature FM synthesis instead of the subtractive method favored by the likes of Moog, the Yamaha DX7 introduced the world to an entirely new world of sounds. The synth also played an instrumental role in shaping the sound of Detroit techno. Now, you can dig deeper into the story of the Yamaha DX7 thanks to a new video essay released by YouTube channel, Polyphonic.
After our brief histories of the Roland TR drum machine and the Roland TB bass synthhere is a brief history of another highly influential electronic instrument: the Yamaha DX7 synthesizer. One of the most popular digital synths ever was the DX7 from Yamaha, released in FM synth is an incredible tool for anyone in the music industry and is a powerful form of synthesis that guarantees the production of clear sound output.
There are various FM synthesizers in the market, making it a bit tricky when selecting the best. For you to choose the most ideal, there are things you need to consider, includes; the sound quality, brand, cost, and features.
The following article will provide you a guide on what to look for when choosing the right FM synththe best FM brand synth, and a review of the five best FM synthesizers you should consider.
Later the concept was licensed and commercialized by Yamaha Corporation. The patent by Stanford University on the FM synthesis expired inallowing Yamaha to use the technology freely. FM synthesis stands for Frequency Modulation Synthesis and is an incredible tool used in the music industry. It is one of the most important and useful types of synthesis. It is a digital form of synthesis that involves two-oscillator concepts that includes a modulator and the carrier. The modulator modulates the timbres of a carrier without using filters to create new frequency information in the developing sound.
In this concept, you only get the output from the carrier, and MIDI sources like a keyboard typically control its pitch. FM synthesis can create sounds of harmonic and inharmonic nature. For the synthesizer to create a harmonious sound, the modulator should be in a harmonic relationship with the carrier. A consonant sound implies that the sound grows progressively with an increase in the frequency of modulation.
In enharmonic tones, the modulator has rates that are non-integer multiples to the carrier. There are many models of FM synthesizers in the market, for an individual to choose the best FM synth, the following are some of the factors to consider.
The two main elements that you should look out for are the memory and the MIDI implementation. A higher ROM capacity is better as it will enhance in saving and expanding sounds. Different synthesizers have different user interfaces. The FM synth interface has a significant influence on how well you interact with it and the resulting sound.
The usability and aesthetics of an FM synth are the two essential traits you should consider when assessing the interface. Choose a synth that has an interface that is more program-friendly, and that is easy to use. The look might be non-factor to some, but if it matters to you, choose the one with an appealing look with inviting controls. There are many brands in the market, but it is advisable to go for the best FM synth brand that is well known and has excellent reviews in producing great quality instruments.
A brand that has been around for many years will guarantee its quality and durability. Brands such as RolandYamahaand Korg have been around for over thirty years. Everyone likes an instrument that produces excellent sound. When looking for the best FM synth, consider the quality of sound a synthesizer provides. Some synth has the capability of creating particular sounds and textures while others can combine several sound styles.
Therefore if you need a specific sound, you should consider a particular synth. The weight of the best FM synth is an essential factor to consider. If you want an FM synth that you can move around with, you should opt for a lightweight synth that you can easily carry. The price of the best FM synth varies a lot. The prices are mostly dependent on the features and brand of the synthesizer.Since then, five more Volcas have been launched - plus a mini mixer for those who own multiple models - bringing the likes of sampling and both FM and modular synthesis to the family.
Each Volca has the same form factor and there are some features that are common to all models other than the mix. These include a built-in speaker, a battery-power option, a sequencer, a 3.
Yes, there are hints of classic Electribe to its physical modelling synth engine, but its multi-part, dual-layered design and resonant send effect give the Volca Drum a sound all of its own. For all its popularity, however, the DX7 was notoriously difficult to program and edit. Kudos to the Volca FM then, which replicates a classic DX-style FM engine but pairs it with front panel controls that are not only great for hands-on tweaking, but can also be automated using Motion Sequencing.
The Volca Modular is very much genuine, though, and absolutely lives up to the hype. With modulating oscillators, low-pass gates, micro patch points and a wonderfully oddball digital reverb, this is pure West Coast weirdness.
The sequencer even has a microtuning function. True experimental synthesis for the masses! Of the original trio of Volcas, the Bass is certainly the one that has aged best. There are three oscillators that can be tuned and sequenced independently for thick detuned patches and paraphonic sound creation, and for our money that gives it the edge over the more recent Nubass. A meaty filter based on that in the MiniKorg S rounds off the package nicely. In reality, the filter and drive do most of the heavy lifting here when it comes to adding character.
Tube talk aside, with its slide-equipped sequencer, gnarly LPF and snappy envelope, this is a really great tool for resonant, acid-style basslines. With just a single synth voice aimed at shaping analogue kicks, this is arguably the least flexible of the Volca range. Tweaking the amp envelope can push this into throbbing, techno-style bass territory, and the fact you can sequence sounds chromatically means it can do melodic loops alongside percussive ones.
The analogue drive, punchy envelopes and gritty oscillator - based on a resonant MS filter - combine to create some truly meaty sounds here. Essentially, the Kick is a beast, albeit one that will appeal primarily to a pretty specific subset of techno producers.
The fact that Korg brought out an analogue poly at this price is still a marvel. In use, the Keys can be pretty fiddly and eccentric, though - the controls are small, making precise filter or tuning tweaks hard, which means sound design can be a touch unpredictable. The single headphones output serving four drum tracks is a pain, too. A handy tool for owners of multiple Volcas - if simply for use as a power hub - the Mix allows users to chain three instruments from one mains connection.
While the effects sound good, the controls are a little fiddly and connectivity is a little limited. As it stands there are probably better compact mixers out there for the price. MusicRadar The No. Image 1 of 6. Image 2 of 6.With the original Volca range Korg was right there at the peak of the revival of analogue synthesis.
Yet there was Korg with three Volca synths that recreated all of the fun of analogue, much of the sound albeit from a small speakerthe playability and tweakability, and in boxes that cost a shade over a hundred quid each. I say easy but what I mean is easier than the notoriously difficult-to-get-your-head-around synthesis employed on the DX7, surely the most famous FM synth of all time. It was a keyboard that had millions of fans but only a few notably Brian Eno could get to the bottom of it.
So FM is based on a fundamental waveform modulated by other waveforms to produce sounds. Volca FM has six of these with up to 32 combinations algorithms.
The beauty is that the front panel features the main parameters for these as controls including Envelope Generators. There are 16 gold keys that not only function as playable keys but also memory locations for sequences; plus they also give you access to other parameters like Voice Modes Poly, Unison, Mon etc ; tempo variants; metronome controls; and finally parameters for the Motion Sequencer. The standard sequences are played by pressing the main Play button on the middle right of the fascia and then step through them with the Memory button.
Recording onto them is as easy as hitting the Record button and playing along in time; erasing data as easy as clearing per step, all data or clearing during playback. On to the Motion Sequencer, and it has been a Korg staple in its range of Electribes for 15 years and allows you to record knob and button presses and turns.
Here, though, any number of controls will give you almost as dramatic — albeit less predictable — results, and it is so easy to change one of the presets to get super creative very quickly. OK oh so FM so far and an initial play might under whelm you but wait! But even just sliding the Velocity fader will give you different results and, more dramatically, switching on the arpeggiator and moving a few controls in real time gets you something way away from the original sound.
Before concluding there is just space to cover some other features. The Teenage Engineering PO series offer beats, bass, arcade noises and a lot more over six entertaining units and are silly money, if a little flimsy. The Yamaha reface DX also offers a little less FM power but within a more standard keyboard set-up and I liked it a lot when I reviewed it. Then, of course, there is the rest of the Volca range. The original three offer the best of analogue or Sample which gives you your own sounds back at you.
The negatives — such as they are — from the original Volcas still largely apply: battery numbers, small speaker, plastic feel and small-ish controls, but so do the positives.Volca fm vs. DX7
Volca FM is surprisingly sturdy and compact, it sounds great and is eminently tweakable. Yet the biggest surprise is that the shift away from analogue has helped rather than hindered the unit.Roku displays your channels in the order in which you added them. That is unless you select Options (visible on the upper right) using the asterisk key from the Home screen, and reorder them so that your most frequently watched channels are at the top.
If you have a non-streaming stick Roku, it's taking up some real estate next to your TV. If you missed those last few lines, there's a quick way to catch up. When you hit the Instant Replay button on the remote you also get the text on the screen. Though Roku has a ton of different channels and things to watch, you'll probably still want to access your locally stored content on your TV. Download the Plex app. New live TV services are popping up regularly, from Sling TV and DirecTV Now to PlayStation Vue, all of which are available via Roku (Hulu With Live TV is reportedly coming soon).
If you're not sure which one is best, check out our comparison chart. If you have a subscription to HBO Now or Showtime, meanwhile, you can watch shows and movies as they are broadcast. Sports fans can pay for MLB. TV, NBA League Pass, and NHL.
TV and watch games as they happen. NFL games are streamed live and available on demand on a number of services. A number of live TV streaming services offer cloud DVR. But if you have an antenna to watch live TV, you can also record it with a device like Tablo TV. Cutting the cord doesn't have to mean cutting yourself off from televised local news. NewsOn gives access to local news broadcasts from outlets nationwide. If you're just looking for the weather report, then you can get it with Weather Underground.
If you're a fan of the CW's superhero shows (Arrow, The Flash, and Supergirl), then your day was just saved. On Roku, The CW channel no longer requires a sign-in or subscription. You can watch the last five episodes of any CW show, with new episodes available the day after they air.
There's no such thing as too much content. Unless you're looking for something specific. Instead of scrolling through the offerings of every Roku channel, you can search across lots of them. When you click on the magnifying glass in Roku-level search, you'll get results for over 100 channels whether you have them or not. Search by title, actor, or director and you'll get a comprehensive list. Similarly, use Roku Search to compare costs of streaming content.
Type in a movie, show, or star and you'll get a list of available titles and the prices across channels and services. Or for any model of Roku, you can use the Roku app on your phone. Open the app and plug headphones into your phone and you're set. If you have a 4K TV and a Roku that supports it and want to get content that takes advantage of that spectacular resolution, visit Roku's 4K UHD section, which features channels that have 4K content.
If your Roku is struggling to keep up with your streaming, there are a few steps you can take to try and resolve the issue. First boost your Wi-Fi signal with one or all of these 10 tips. If none of them work, play around with the placement of the Roku itself.