Incoming: volca fm

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The Korg volca fm was released today and mine arrived this afternoon. It’s a three voice six operator FM synthesizer that can also load old Yamaha DX patches. I started it up and went through the preset sequences. I’ve never been deeply into FM synthesis, but to my ears it sounds great. It has the same 1/4 tempo setting as the volca keys, so you can stretch out one measure to last four. Plus it’s the first volca to have an arpeggiator, and it looks like that can be used as a filler for 1/4 tempo sequences. Patch two – musicbox – is set to do that and it sounds fantastic. Sounds like 16th or 32nd notes throughout the four measure sequence.

So, there are five volcas for me to get through now. I’ve been playing around with the beats, bass and keys, but it’s taking a while to get used to tweaking instead of playing. Maybe another week or two and I’ll be able to post something.

I also bought the new Korg Minilogue last month, but that’s still in the box while I find somewhere to put it. I’ve been waiting thirty years for an affordable polyphonic analogue synthesizer. It’s a mystery how they’ve managed to do it. It has its limitations, but for the price it’s amazing. The sound reminds me a lot of my old Casio CZ-101. It’s a very modern-looking, clean-sounding synth, but a lot more versatile. The first patch I got out of it was a really crisp, harmonically rich, FM-like bell sound. Not the kind of sound you’d think was easily achievable with a basic analogue synth.

Korg started the recent analogue revival with the Monotron in 2010. The volcas, the MS-20 Mini, the ARP, then the Minologue followed. There are so many interesting options. Other makers have tried to respond in their own way – both Roland and Yamaha releasing compact digital versions of past synths – but failed to hit the spot in the same way that Korg has. They’re gadgety, but not quite gadgety enough. And they’re not real analogue.

My house is starting to look like a Korg showroom. Even my daughter has one.