The Volca FM is a small, portable frequency modulating synthesizer capable of creating a huge range of sounds. The three-voice polyphonic digital sound engine is fully compatible with the classic DX-7 from Yamaha. Quite a few patch collections are available to immediately give you preset access to some iconic FM sounds like the “Lately Bass” or the FM Rhodes. Users also get 32 factory presets and a fairly complicated FM synthesis engine for anyone patient enough to learn how to craft unique sounds from scratch.
Versatility is the name of the game with this unit, and as a result producers of nearly any genre of music would find something of value here. The sounds possible here range from thicker-than-analog basses to thin, metallic strings, to sci-fi FX, and everywhere in between. While the face of the Volca FM does indeed have a 2-octave keyboard and sliders that change velocity and transpose/change octaves, you’re not going to get too far using them to program the 16-step sequencer. Use of a separate MIDI keyboard makes it much easier to add nuance to your playing since the surface controls are not particularly useful, especially for any type of live performance. 1/8th inch cables allow MIDI sync to other Volca units and also are needed for the single stereo out. The Volca FM runs on 6 AA batteries or with an optional AC adapter.
The Volca FM, while lacking in it’s on-board controls and programmability, is definitely worth a look if only for the sheer variety of noises it is capable of putting out. There’s definitely something for everyone, but also a vast amount of sounds you’re not going to like or find useful. If you are worried about feeling limited by the three-voice polyphony, a great alternative would be the rack mount TX81Z from Yamaha. The TX81Z bumps you up to 8-voice polyphony and can be bought used at the same price point as the Volca.
|Year of release: 2016||Polyphony: 4|
|Oscillators: 6 FM Operators||Patch Memory: 32|
|Format: Desktop||Control: Midi / Sync|
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