Tracktion has introduced F.’em, a new software synth for macOS & Windows that they say is one of the most powerful FM synthesizers ever made.
F.’em features a freely configurable 11 operator matrix, and it’s a hybrid quad-timbral synthesizer that can function as an FM, VA and Sample based instrument. Other features include a dual multimode filter, a complex effect section and a flexible modulation matrix.
Here’s the official overview:
- 4 Layers, each with 4 effect slots.
- No fix algorithms, feed any wave operator into any other wave operator forward and backward.
- Wave operators feature hard sync like in analog synthesizers and offer different waveforms from sine wave over analog waves to the waves found in some classic FM synthesizers.
- Two multisample operators. One can frequency-modulate any of the other operators, the other multisample operator can be frequency-modulated by any of the other operators.
- Noise operator that can frequency-modulate any other operator.
- 2 filters with overdrive stage, freely routable in series, parallel or anything in-between.
- Each operator has its own pitch and level LFO and its own pitch and level envelope.
- 2 Flow LFOs with freely editable LFO shapes.
- Tempo-synced, loopable envelopes with up to 32 stages.
- Keyboard level scaling of each operator.
- Modulation matrix with up to 200 entries.
- Modifier matrix with up to 32 modification algorithms.
- Quick edit panel for quick and easy adjustment of timbre and overall envelope.
- Automation of most continuous parameters.
Pricing and Availability
F.’em is available now with an intro price of $107.40 USD (normally $179).
17 thoughts on “Tracktion Intros ‘Face-Melting’ 11-Operator FM Synth, F.’em”
Interesting. Finally something starting at the SY77/99 level and moving forward.
According to the manual it does have MPE support, which must be activated per patch and per layer.
However, it does not have built in microtuning support.
Clever name. Marvelously clear overview video!!
Based on that overview, this looks like a fantastic implementation of a modern digital synth. The modulation options seem very complete. I saw “rel velocity” in the example window (a good sign).
I didn’t see any microtuning options, but otherwise, looks very full featured, logical, with a nicely designed GUI.
I’ve been a glowing Tracktion fan. Love seeing this! Maybe they could include a smaller ‘light’ version of this into their upcoming next DAW update!
But …but …but …I don’t WANT my face melted!!!
that makes me think of the meme: “People who say ‘go big or go home’ underestimate how much I want to go home.”
‘I never thought synthesizers would melt MY face,’ sobs woman who voted for the Synthesizers Melting People’s Faces Party
I see what you did there.
It’s usually annoying to see cross-domain sh*tposts leeching through, but honestly that one was pretty darn good.
Looks like a very nice synth. But it being mainly FM oriented may turn out to be a problem. Of all the synthesis methods, FM has proved to be the less intuitive to create sounds. With all the operator cabling that this synth allows, it may turn out to be very difficult to obtain a specific desired sound. Patch designers may have to experiment a lot with it, and then to save when interesting (and unexpected) things are happening. On a DX7, there was even a random button that could be engaged has many times required to get a satisfying sound – but certainly not a planned one… This is why I am not a big fan of FM based synths.
To add onto that, I’ve never been super excited about the “best of” what FM provides. That said, if the rest of the synthesis engine is strong, then it’s not bad for a “core structure”.
I’m a fan of samples, but if the sample oscillator doesn’t let you do something with key and velocity ranges (i.e., like loading soundfonts); then it might be too limited.
This synth kind of reminds me of a refreshed version of Big Tick’s Rhino which is still pretty great.
I echo Un, a bit. Next to additive, FM demands more work than anything else. The Work > Gain ratio requires some familiarity to prevent excessive flailing around. If its your thing, though, the Copy/Paste controls here will become welcome buddies. I get ample good from DEXED, but this is the most approachable, potent FM synth I’ve seen.
People who don’t want to get lost in small details of FM programming for hours and hours and days and weeks are not the target market for this.
Happily, I am the target market, and am dancing with joy that we finally have an FM softsynth with dedicated pitch envelopes per operator, more than 8 operators, automation for every parameter, and flexible multi-stage envelopes for everything.
For experimental folks who like to go deep into programming, this may be a dream synth.
Out of interest what kind of algorithms / modulation structures do you have on your 11 operators? I can understand people using lots of operators to mix sounds, but I struggle to imagine nesting deeper than 4 operators (like the DX7). I already find 3 deep (DX11) is pretty tough to get my head round.
(Edit. I know that the DX7 is 6op. I am asking about the depth of what modulates what, and you can’t have a chain of more than 4 operators on the DX7.)
Being able to set carriers in particular to different sub-audible frequencies can result in marvelously strange sounds, Using a ton of modulators on one or two carriers but having each at a very low level with subtly different envelopes on each can create really rich patches that sound like naturally occurring sounds – except that they aren’t familiar. But for more traditional sounds or even new ones within typical categories of pad, lead, etc, no, you probably won’t use 11 operators unless you have a lot of patience and a are featuring the instrument in a solo or near-solo setting.
I know that I’ve often wished for more operators. And dedicated pitch EGs per (actually that does exist on the FS1R but my god that interface and even the existing external programmers are a nightmare). This is taking off from where the FS1R was heading things (albeit without the dedicated formant stuff) and that’s good news for FM nerds like me.
Thank you for the super interesting question and answer people. Internet at its best. Seems to become so rare these days..
Interesting, thanks. So staying maybe two or three deep but with a few carriers and several modulators on each, all with different envelopes on them.
I often thought that FM should sound natural, in theory as well as in practice, like a primitive physical modelling. I mean, vibrations will cause an object to change in size/shape as it vibrates, changing its frequencies and harmonics at audio rate.
They should call the synth Antifa or Molotov Cocktail.
F.’em sound like a straight man who go drunk at a gay bar and now is confused about their sex…
Happy Pride Month!
Now if you don’t wanna pay $107.40 0r $179 for a bomb try Dexed a free FM software synth.