equipment - detail

Yamaha DX7s

Yamaha DX7s

This actually belongs to my brother and was my first experience with a 'proper' synthesiser. It came with a manual that didn't explain anything about FM synthesis, so for many years it was just used for its presets. We found that by changing the algorithm or the output level of each operator you could change sounds but that was about as far as editing went. It was all very confusing, especially to an impatient 16 year old!

Once I'd got the SoundDiver editing software for the Mac I decided to have another look at FM synthesis. When you're using a synth editor program that lays out all the synth parameters logically on a big screen, it's a lot easier to understand what the hell is going on in there and how altering a modulator can affect the carrier, etc. By messing around and reading up on it more I finally got to grips with it, it all boils down to fancy maths in the end but the user doesn't really know that. Using SoundDiver, I managed to create my own sounds for my tracks or edit presets into something more useable. It's amazing what you can knock up from half a dozen sine waves.
I now have a fairly decent understanding of how FM synthesis works, which helped when I got the Supernova, because that can use it too, although to a lesser extent.

I have a certain fondness for the FM/DX sound because it was the first synth I had come across and it was so popular in it's day. Just about every week someone would be using a 'DX' on Top Of The Pops!