Suggestions for a good FM Synth?

I just installed my first Cubase (Pro 11) this weekend, and I’m trying to get up to speed on it. One thing I miss, coming over from FL Studio, is having a decent FM Synth. I had become quite proficient at FL Studio’s Sytrus, and Sytrus is available as a VSTi so if I get that I won’t have to climb that learning curve again.

Has anyone here used Sytrus on Cubase and were there any gotchas? Any good reasons to switch to a different FM synth? And finally why does Cubase “Pro” not have a native FM Synth?

Dexed is the most well known free FM Synth. But it’s not quite as polished. Native Instruments FM8 and Arturia’s DX7 are the other two that i’m familar with - which are more polished. I’d say FM8 is the closest to Sytrus, but it’s probably at least as expensive to buy too(?).

Not sure why Cubase doesn’t have an FM synth as Yamaha have it in their heritage and also added it to their most recent Motif range when it became the Montage/MODX. The Motif range shares a lineage with HALion sound library - so perhaps a dedicated FM synth will happen? Who knows.

What kind of sounds were you using Sytrus for? Serum is potentially a replacement too, and it offers a wider sound palette - but it’s not additive synthesis, it’s traditional subtractive - even though it has some FM elements, plus the wavetable engine has a similar shimmer/sharpness to FM.

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I don’t care about “free”. I want “good” and “supported”.
I don’t have a particular “kind” of sound I need to make; I want a powerful flexible tool I can use to make whatever sound I need from scratch. For example, last year I was studying Japanese pentatonic scales so I decided I needed a koto for some music I was composing for a video, so I built one in Sytrus.

I like how you can take a bank of separate oscillators; give each one of them its own unique waveform and harmonic structure and a zillion other parameters, and then interact these as operators on each other and with separate filters and effects through its modulation Matrix. That matrix is a great concept!

The other thing that’s great about Sytrus is that each oscillator (“operator”) allows you to hand-draw the waveform from scratch if you want. If you know your physics, you know that means that you have complete control of the harmonic structure, And you don’t just get one of those, you get 6 of them. So there’s virtually no sound you can’t make. Albeit it’s a LOT of work.

I have both Sytrus and FM8 on Cubase 11 running in Windows 10. No problems at all.

One of the most recent and pretty powerful software FM synthesizers is f.'em by Tracktion. It’s an awesome instrument and a lot of fun to create sounds with. I don’t know Sytrus, though, so I can’t compare the two, but you can download a trial version to check it out yourself. It works nicely together with Cubase as well.

I have a lot of projects so I don’t have time to play around and try out lots of tools. As it is I’m way behind because I have several videos waiting for their music and I took time off to install and learn Cubase. So I need to focus on major synths that have been around long enough so the composing and sound-design communities have some experience about their practical pros and cons.

The Tracktion product is very new - it hasn’t been out long enough to develop much of a track-record and basis for comparisons by real-world users. Traction picked a “cute” name to appeal to adolescents but it’s also a bad choice because I’ve discovered that on forums and in reviews people all spell it differently which makes it hard to Google (and that’s bad for SEO so not so good for Traction)

I’m a big fan of Arturia’s stuff. I have been using their CMI V (Fairlight emulation) for a while and love it. They take classic synths, model them and also extend the functionalty for the modern user. This is their take on the DX7:

I agree, the Arturia software instruments are awesome. The V Collection update (plus three free additions) is currently on sale, so it might be a good time to get it.
BTW, it’s possible to get Analog Lab Lite for free from Soundbetter and then benefit from the update price.

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Great, buy the synth you know and love then - Sytrus. Easy answer.

I’ve been looking at the Arturia products but it’s clear that a big selling point with them (and lots of other synth software makers) is their ability to model classic synthesizers of the past, e.g., the Yamaha DX 7 and lots of other historical synthesizers. As Arturia says in their advertising: “recreations of the most iconic instruments of all time.”

That’s NOT what I want. If you use 1980’s synthesizers you’ll make 1980’s sounds. What I’m looking for is something that allows me to make completely new, arbitrary sounds from scratch. I was very pleased with the koto I made with Sytrus, but a koto is easy compared to many other instruments. I’m looking for a versatile, powerful tool where I can start with a blank page and make any sound I want, incorporating all the waveforms, acoustic properties, resonances and other raw materials that make a sound.

Yes, I get your point. In this case you’re indeed better off with a more generic and more flexible synthesizer, e.g. something like Omnisphere. But if you need to finish your current projects quickly and you know Sytrus inside out, I agree with @skijumptoes, just go with it. You can always check out alternatives later.

Omnisphere is interesting to me. But they have a very weird way of exposing it to potential users. They don’t offer a downloadable demo version, and it’s too expensive to just buy on a whim to check out like I did with the PianoTeq the other day. Instead, you have to call their representative in your country - ILIO Enterprises LLC, 800-747-454 in the US, where I live, and they will try to set you up with an in-person demo somewhere. So right now they’re going to try to set me up a demo at a nearby Guitar Center.

…but yes, Omnisophere is a long-term possibility.

If you are into these top of the line, “workstation” synths like Omnisphere, then there’s also UVI Falcon (amongst its myriad sound generating options there’s a 4 OP FM synth as well) and Melda MSoundFactory which has a powerful FM synth in it as well.

I have Native Instruments Komplete, and FM-8 comes with it. It has all of the editable parameters of the DX-7 built into it, and it can run DX-7 patches. You probably already know, but you can find lots of DX-7 patches on the web, including all the original patches. I used to have a DX-7 but I found it easier to use FM-8 because it was all within the computer. (My son still has the DX-7 which he uses as a mid controller). If I understand correctly, the DX-7 was digital inside, so I have been convinced that FM-8 is just as good.

I had done a piece where I used almost all FM-8 patches just for fun. You can find it here:

Just one more thing I’d like to add: you posted a question about best VSTi pianos, and I would like to mention that NI Komplete comes with a lot of digitally sampled pianos. My favorite is Grandeur. It sounds the best to me. I understand the concern about sympathetic vibration. I think they have somehow solved it. I have a Kawai grand here at home, but it’s a lot easier and more reliable for me to use Grandeur. I’m not that great a pianist, and I don’t have the room acoustics or mics to properly record the Kawai.

As I explained in the thread - I don’t understand why everyone has made such a fetish over reproducing the sounds of the classic synthesizers of the past such as the DX7, Arp, Korg M1, etc, etc. If we use the synthesizers of the past we’ll make the sounds of the past.
I’m looking for a synth that allows me to create any arbitrary sound from scratch. I’ve had pretty good results with Sytrus because it has 6 separate oscillators where the waveforms can be hand-designed to create any harmonic structure, and each oscillator has a complete set of controls, envelopes and other settings, and then all of these can be combined with more filters and effects in a big matrix. (that matrix scares everyone off, but it’s amazingly powerful if you master it)

But I want to take it to another level. For example, I’d like to replace some of those oscillators with samples. And I’d also like a good physical modeling synthesis module, but that’s probably pie-in-the-sky.

What I’ll probably do is just buy a Sytrus VST to use while I research other options. People have suggested Omnisphere but they don’t sell a demo version and there are no in-person demo’s near me.

@GlennO claims to be a main developer of Omnisphere, but I don’t recall him making his presence known around here lately. Perhaps you could try to send him a private message?

Sorry, I thought you were specifically looking for an FM synth.

UVI Falcon.

Yes, I’m the principal designer of Omnisphere (and Stylus RMX and Trilian and Keyscape) :grinning:. If somebody has an Omnisphere question, feel free to ask.