Korg Volca FM Synthesizer (Sneak Preview)

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At the 2016 NAMM Show, Korg was displaying an as-yet-unannounced Volca FM synthesizer.

The Volca FM is a 6-operator FM synth that can read and play DX-7 patches. It also offers an enhanced version of the Volca sequencer.

The Korg Volca FM synthesizer isn’t official yet – but we’ve got an exclusive audio preview of the latest in the Volca line:


  • 3-voice, 6-operatory polyphonic FM synthesizer, with powerful step sequencer
  • Fully compatible with Yamaha DX-7 sound files
  • Offers new additions to the Volca sequencer, including Warp, Active Step and Pattern Chain
  • Onboard Chorus effect
  • Memory: 32 Programs and 16 Sequence Patterns

Pricing on the Volca FM is expected to be in line with the other members of the Volca line. Availability is to be announced.

61 thoughts on “Korg Volca FM Synthesizer (Sneak Preview)

  1. I am pretty curious of how much midi control is possible, at times I could see it being fun to use just as an FM module if I can control lots of parameters etc from a daw.

    Also very curious what “warp” function is.

    1. Of course the video sounds awful, it’s somebody randomly twiddling knobs on an FM synthesizer.
      Thankfully, if you actually know what you’re doing you can make a ridiculous pallette of sounds with six operators. This might be the best Volca yet!

      1. If Korg have captured the real power of the DX7 and fm in this small unit. I will be buying it. Because its super portable and will mean I can sound design on the go.

    2. Do you mean the quality is bad? Or that it sounds like the 1980s?

      Sounds pretty good to me. 3 voices means it’s not great for DX Rhodes EPiano (fulltines), so I guess the Reface wins that one. But for bass and leads, pretty cool.

    1. Because the Reface is designed to be both powerful AND user-friendly, which is a first for hardware FM synths.

      The original DX’s were limited to sine waves – the Reface DX isn’t, so it can do the classic FM sounds, plus more harmonically aggressive ones, too.

      I really don’t see any reason for this Korg FM knockoff to exist, when you can get a full size classic Yamaha FM synth used for about the same money. And the Yamahas are built to last forever and have legit polyphony.

      Why would anyone want to settle for the limited power and menu interface this tiny thing has?

      1. Funny thing is, Reface can’t read DX7 patches which is why I passed on it.
        Korg corrected that big mistake with their box.

        1. The only reason people want to read old DX7 patches is that people never figured out how to program old FM synths, because they were a royal pain in the ass to try and create patches on.

          Yamaha fixed that problem with the Reface DX, and they made the synth architecture a lot more interesting and better sounding.

          So the Korg box only makes sense for people that don’t play synths (because a vintage DX7 will be massively more playable) and that aren’t synthesists either (because a Reface DX is massively easier to create patches on).

          If you just want a hardware box to sequence baselines on, what’s the point of even going outside of the box, instead of using one of the excellent FM soft synths? The Volca FM certainly won’t be more fun to work with, as tiny and as underpowered as it is.

      2. Size, sequencer (including automating the algorithm), arpegiator, sync ports, simplicity, at least *some* knobs, battery power… Most of the DX7s that would be cost competitive with this are pretty worked over.

        Just depends what you’re after.

      3. Because I don’t want to haul that old beast to a gig. I have the rack mount tx81z, and that thing is heavy and large by toaday’s standards. By your logic, nothing new should be made unless it sounds completely new. I don’t mind having a tiny, inexpensive remake of a classic. I certainly wouldn’t haul all of my old studio gear to a gig, would you?

      4. Where are you finding DX7s for under 200 bucks? And don’t compare 6-op FM to 4-op FM (which is still quite expensive– a DX100 is hard to find under 300, and it’s even hard to find a DX21 (4-op FM and pretty terrible sounding– I used to own one) under $250. And the modernish DX200 FM groovebox (the last DX7-in-a-box, and comparable to the Volca FM) is still $300ish used. The TX81Z has the same issues as other 4-op FM synths, although it is quite inexpensive these days. But I don’t think I’d buy one, even for under a hundred bucks, not if something that sounds so much better were available.

        So yeah, I’d be happy to drop $179-199 on a Volca FM (and I probably will) to get some 6-op FM action.

        1. Keep your eyes open on Craigslist and it’s not that uncommon to see them available for around $200. Yamaha sold a ton of them and they are indestructible, by today’s standards, so there are still a ton floating around out there, unlike most vintage synths.

          1. none of the ones you listed have a sequencer built in. Thats part of the attraction of the Volcas….instant pattern making on the bus with batteries…and then tweaking fun at the gig. if all we want was a “sound source” that makes DX sounds we would just get the FM7 software why the hell would anyone bother with a TX81Z clunky old piece of rackmount box.

            Yamaha’s new Reface is at least $300 bucks too much. This new Volca just demonstrates that further…ouch

            1. +Chris there is no comparison betweem FM7 and A REAL HARDWARE DX7 believe me I Have 24 years of experience with the real thing
              And have used all the soft synth versions


              They are very good and decode for the lazy the mystery of FM. But they simply cannot capture the magic of those 12 DAC converters. Or the joy of your fingers hitting the best keybed of alltime.

      5. The reason to get this is it PROPERLY captures the full POWER of 6 op FM. Anyway you dress it up 4 op FM is a shortfall. Ive had experience with a real DX7 for 24 years. Check my channel out PROJECT DX on youtube and you will know I know what im talking about.

        If Yamaha ever reissue a modern DX7 with a more user friendly interface. I will be the first person in the que. To this day there no more powerful synth in history. Its charactor and sonic potential as a PURE SYNTH has never been surpassed.

    2. Yep – I have the Reface and it is a great little instrument, but I just wish so much for 6 operators – this alone would actually make it superb for its price.

    3. Exactly run this through a controllet board. And you have a DX7. And as a DX7 fanatic (check my channel). I HAVE TO give this a massive thumbs up. Yamaha should have done this not Korg. But in glad they have…

    1. It can’t be more true!!
      take a look at that cool diy/accessible/open source/open hardware project
      tons of possibilities (multitimbrality:D…)
      worth checking

    1. TL;DW:
      * Can store 32 presets
      * 16 sequences
      * Can load any DX-7 patch via sysex dump (lollerskates at the Reface)
      * Arpeggiator
      * Can edit **every parameter of the sound** as painfully as the originals: select an operator, select a parameter and use the data wheel. He didn’t say if those could be motion sequenced.

  2. 30 years later the synth that killed analogues before their time returns in miniature form to irritate the shit out of us all over again.

    Least favourite synth of all time. Horrible.

      1. Don’t think age has anything to do with synth snobbery. Age may have something to do with being synth bitter though. 🙂

        The DX7 was the beginning of the end for a lot of companies and product lines people still love today.

        1. True, but it also made it possible to find old analogues in thrift stores for practically nothing. Even music shops sold good stuff cheap- I got an Arp Odyssey for $300 before the Internet was a thing.

      2. Not being old enough to remember something isn’t a quality, it’s just a fact. Another fact is, along with the DX-7 came Souless pop music and the end of electronic music evolution for a decade.

        The DX7 is the synth equivalent of silicone breast implants.

        1. With the DX7 also came a huge sonic palette that Brian Eno used to great effect.

          Like the other guy said, don’t hate the instrument, hate the player. There was crap music being made before the DX7 too.

        2. Have to disagree.

          The DX7 was and is a great sounding synth, and is an extremely capable synth in the right hands.

          And that’s why it decimated the American synth market – keyboard players wanted a synth they could actually play, without limitations, and that wasn’t available at an affordable price with the American synths of the day.

          Even today, no analog synth manufacturer is making a synth that can play 16 voices, or that is as robustly built or expressive as the DX7

          The problem with the DX7 wasn’t the sound, it was the interface for creating patches. For most people, it was essentially a preset synth.

          And THAT fact contributed to the homogenization of synth sounds in the 80’s. There just weren’t that many people that had the patience to come up with their own original sounds on those things.

        3. The DX7 in the right hands is as expressive. More powerful and limitless than any analogue synth.

          True Yamaha made it very difficult for a superficial lazy person to ever summon forth the true power of this instrument. So they overused a handful of presets until everyone aside from the most ardent DX7 fanatics were sick of them.

          But dont think you know this instrument because of that. Im old enough to have seen them all from the Minimoog to the Minilogue. No analogue or even modern day keyboard can surpass the power and versatility of this amazing synth.

    1. I still want it but this is hilarious. I plan to run it through my pedal setup. I use a bunch of pedals on a volca bass now and it’s so much fun.

  3. This looks pretty cool. It’s thin an noisey when compared to any other fm synth I’ve heard, but so are the rest of the volca line, and they are a smash hit.

      1. Yes, but this noise is undesirable. I have an FB-01, and dig the sounds. This sounds like the rest of the volcas, very lofi. In the hierarchy of noise, volca noise is nowhere near the top.

        1. I personally am quite fond of the noise and lo-fi nature of my Volca Sample, its dirty in the right ways in my opinion, disliking the scratchy EQ pots though (yes it was like that out of the box). I guess the noise characteristic of an instrument, like music itself, is a subjective thing 🙂

    1. but they’re so small, you can run them through guitar pedals and still not take up a lot of space in a studio or on the go. Think poor man’s modular.

    1. they couldn’t get rid of them fast enough after they came out. I got my dx-200 for something like $100 on closeout , it had a really short retail lifecycle. I still use it all the time and it is one of my favorite machines…

  4. I like..

    I like it a lot. Now I have to decide. …volca fm or minlogue. ….. and NO I can’t fit either of them into my fictitious budget and fantasy rock and roll lifestyle. (Insert emicon father of wee child here)

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