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In-depth Feature:  Native Instruments FM7
Bruno writes: .

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The wealth of sounds available from the FM7 make it suitable for many tasks, it is easily integrated into any sequencer set-up and runs well without glitches. I tried the FM7 both on a 450mhz G4 tower running TDM Protools and Direct Connect, and on a 500mhz G4 PowerBook running Emagic Logic 5.0, in both cases it performed well without noticeable CPU strain.

Used in conjunction with Logic 5.0 I found the FM7 to be radical and very creative, the automation possibilities allowed for some amazing time synced editing, all of with occurred without audio glitching.

There is very little software in competition with the FM7, notably Loftsofts FM Heaven is the only real option; although this lacks the precise editing that the FM7 offers.

At around £175, the FM7 is comparable in price to Native-Instruments own Absynth and is around £50 more than the B4 or Pro-52. Loftsofts FM Heaven retails at just £50 and can be bought via there website at but as I mentioned earlier the editing is incredibly basic. What makes the FM7 worth the money is the fact that it is what it is, by which I mean, it was originally a digital synthesizer, here it is offered not as a model of itself, but as an improved and updated version of what it first set out to be. You can argue that analog modelled synths sound fat or organic but when you compare them to the real thing they are generally a disappointment, here we have something that actually improves on its namesake and adds features to make it a viable modern product, not just a re-release of an historic piece of gear.

The most exciting thing about the FM7 is the fact that it allows those of us who either ignored FM synthesis the first time round due to its complexity or simply are too young to remember it, a second chance. FM is a great form of sound generation and given Native-Instruments new interface where it is laid out in a manner all of us can easily understand we can finally explore it further than just flicking through presets.

The only other options to the FM7 are Yamaha’s DX200, which incidentally will act as a hardware controller for the FM7, or a search through the classifieds for an old DX. The former is a good option, with excellent editing software and the freedom of hands on expression, the latter probably not for reasons I have already highlighted. The added gain of the FM7 is its internal timing, which under VST is far better than midi ever could be.

Bear in mind, those of you running Protools that Native-Instruments are releasing RTAS and HTDM Plug-in versions of many of their products, if this is to be the case with the FM7, it may well be worth waiting, as a distinct delay is apparent when running midi via the IAC bus.

More Resources              Articles - full listing
  • FLATRON demo by Thomas Fiedler
  • Mystery copyright 2001 DFMedia, Inc
  • FM7 pages @ N.I.
  • FM7 (mac)
  • FM7 (PC)

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