FM or Subtractive Synthesis

Discussion in 'Production' started by Kothy, Jun 1, 2012.

  1. Kothy

    Kothy Member

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    What's the pros and cons of each? Is one better than the other, witch is more versatile, etc?

    I'm really debating witch software to stick to NI Massive or FM8 (Obviously going to learn both but I want to really get to know one of them atleast first!)
     
  2. T:M

    T:M Dusty Techno Workout

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    If you are just starting out and trying to learn synthesis (i.e. making your own patches and such) I would suggest that you focus on subtractive synthesis first as it is much easier IMO to understand/grasp than FM. As far as which is better, it's a matter of personal preference as both methods can render pads, leads, basses, fx, etc. Many of the sounds you may want to replicate more than likely will probably have come from subtractive synthesis though. If you have access to both synths have a listen to presets (or at least demo tracks) from both, as FM usually has it's own distinctive sound. Personally, I find FM synthesis good for hollow or "wooden" sounds although it can sound aggressive too.

    You might find that Massive includes limited FM functionality too, although I'm not sure of this because I'm not a Massive user, perhaps someone who is more familiar with it can clear that up.
     
  3. megagnome

    megagnome Member

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    It's true. But very basic compared to FM8 for example.

    I agree with T:M to get into subtractive synthesis first, because it covers a great variety of sounds. I wouldn't necessarily start with NI Massive first, though. It is a great synth for filthy sounds and I use it myself quite often, but as far as understanding synthesis goes it might not be your best bet. Subtractive synths are quite similar regarding the UI and the overall way they work. Massives interface is in comparison, well massive; and some of the more important features aren't that easy to find. I would recommend FXPansion's Strobe for newbies. It has only one filter, all controls are in one tab and there is a display whre you can actually see whats going on with the waveform. If I'm not mistaken you can download a free 30-Day trial. After you played around with Strobe a little bit, it will be a lot easier to get into any other subtractive synth.

    As far as FM goes it's a bit trickier than SS and not that predictable eihter, if you don't have a little practice. There are some sounds that are easier achieved with FM - evolving and bell sounds for example. Basically everything, where you have rather complex envelopes. I suggest to listen to the presets of FM8 to recognize the differences.
     
  4. groelle

    groelle Well-Known Member

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    id stick to subtractive aswell, and if you can do that, learn fm.. currently learning fm8 aswell and lovin it so far. bit harder to get basic sounds tho..
     
  5. T:M

    T:M Dusty Techno Workout

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    I forgot to mention this in my first post. While I don't use Massive I've played around with it on occasion and I wouldn't really recommend starting out with it. If you want to get into learning subtractive synthesis I really recommend you find yourself a freeware subtractive synth to play around with first. TAL-NoiseMaker is a great one to start out with regardless if you are on Windows or Mac, if you are on Windows there is also Synth1 which is pretty popular as far as freeware goes on Windows. There are actually several great freeware subtractive synths available, any of which would probably be a better starting point for getting your mind around synthesis than Massive, due to the bare basics of their layout. Also don't underestimate the power synths that don't have flashy features, you'll be surprised the number of sounds you can get out of 1/2/3 oscillators and a filter alone.

    Once you understand subtractive synthesis though you will have a better understanding of how the rest of synthesis works. Subtractive synthesis is the most basic form of synthesis and many synths and samplers be they FM, Additive, Granular, Wavetable, Physical Modelling, etc will have similar/familiar controls available to you to shape your sounds.
     
  6. lostnthesound

    lostnthesound Burns Easily in the Sun

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    Definitely go with Massive first my friend (IMO). It's quite a lovely hybrid synth, capable of subtractive & wavetable synthesis. Critics will often complain about Massive's "limted" or "generic" sounding qualities. However, the rabbit hole is quite deep with massive and you really create just about any type of sound you're looking for whether it be for the construction of a bass, lead, pad, arpeggio, etc.

    FM synthesis is a whole other beast on it's own in that it relies on simple wave forms that are modulated to create partials and what not. I'm still coming to grips with my FM8, which is a bad ass synth, but requires a slightly different school of thinking when creating sounds. Once I got the hang of Massive, I found that FM8 (and FM synthesis in general) began to make a bit more sense. Sticking with NI products is a good idea too (again, IMO) because you can quickly begin to feel "at home" with the varying interfaces of their synths.
     
  7. Kothy

    Kothy Member

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    Thanks for all the feedback, been playing with Massive. (I use all my basses, those are no problems for me, just making things such as pads, leads, bell sounds, and things like that is a pain for me, but basses are quite easy for me on the other hand.)

    Using Massive, FM8, Nexus and Z3ta+ xD
     
  8. ApeCat

    ApeCat Human Dubplate

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    I'm still happily rocking the 3xOsc, not that it's helping me get any tracks finished...

    ---------- Post added at 03:48 ---------- Previous post was at 03:48 ----------

    ...but I do feel I'm learning a lot about synthesis through using a pretty bare synth.
     
  9. Sulihin

    Sulihin Active Member

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    You can also get Synth1 for Mac now. That and Crystal were the synths I played with until I got Zebra2.
     
  10. T:M

    T:M Dusty Techno Workout

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    Oh yeah, forgot there is a mac version now, sadly last I checked it was VST only no AU :( probably why I forgot about it

    Crystal is a beast too, not a fan of the GUI but it's capable of some nice sounds!
     
  11. Labrat

    Labrat Active Member

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    get fm8 and a sampler imo. Learn the functions of a synth and sampler (pretty much the same basics), once you understand how a synth works its a piece of piss to use most synths. FM will get you some crazy sounds but will be harder to learn. IMO massive is gash but if your after that sound itll do the job. NI make very good synths however massive isnt too logical to learn and might just confuse, takes the advise from whoever saying get some free synths and learn how they work from the ADSR to filters, LFOS and envelopes, that way you wont need to use presets
     
  12. Kothy

    Kothy Member

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    I know basic synthesis, ADSR, Filters, LFO, Sin, Square, Triangle, Sawtooth, you know the basic shit on synths, what type of sound each waveform give off, etc.
     
  13. Labrat

    Labrat Active Member

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    i guess try demos too, that helps but i really just would urge anyone to avoid massive, theyre is a million otherways to make those over the top bass sounds that will give you a far more unique sound, but its your call ey
     
  14. lostnthesound

    lostnthesound Burns Easily in the Sun

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    I have to respectfully disagree with this.

    The entire interface of Massive is found on a single screen, with all modulation sources (Envelope, LFO, etc) found within a single area and accessed via numbered tabs. Routing is as simple as clicking and dragging said numbered tab to any destination you desire, and then clicking and holding to adjust the polarity range. Everything is clearly labeled and, if you do manage to get last in the signal chain, one of the tabs conveniently provides an overview of said signal chain allowing you to see what's going where.

    It really doesn't get much easier than this in that Massive is a "what you see is what you get" interface from the inside out. The biggest learning curves are getting to know the waveforms (as there are TONS of them) and the getting to know the character of the sounds they're capable of producing.

    Cheers.
     
  15. Labrat

    Labrat Active Member

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    fair call bro, i remember it being easy to use but for a noob it can look daunting (i guess most vsts and daws do though)
     
  16. lostnthesound

    lostnthesound Burns Easily in the Sun

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    All good Labrat, I know exactly what you mean. When I first purchased Logic and opened up the ES2 I was pretty overwhelmed/terrified. Between the "filter wheel" and vector/modulation matrix, I thought I was operating a fucking space shuttle. And don't get me wrong, Massive upon first opening for a noob can be a "what the hell have I gotten myself into" moment. But when compared to a lot of other synths, I think it's a good set of training wheels to learn on.

    Cheers!
     
  17. Kothy

    Kothy Member

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    Thanks for all feedback guys!
     
  18. Simon Sauter

    Simon Sauter New Member

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    If anyone needs to brush up on the basics of the above topics then you can do so by checking out this post on subtractive synthesis containing an introduction to acoustics and synthesis for those just starting out.
     
  19. miszt

    miszt BASSFACE Royale

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    learn as much as you can, and be experimental, cant go wrong with either, its all about you use them









    ps. FM rules :D