We originally saw the EssenceFM synthesizer at Synthfest in France last June and we were quite stunned by this 300 voice FM synthesizer with a touchscreen interface. They are looking to ship the first units in February and have open preorders to get the ball rolling.
As is the trend at the moment Kodamo hope the EssenceFM with make FM synthesis more accessible. Some other manufacturers have attempted this by putting a load of knobs and sliders out on the front panel. Kodamo has gone the touch-screen route to offer a more visual approach to the complex magic that lies beneath an FM synth.
EssenceFM is a 6-operator FM synth that can layer up sounds made from 12, 18, 24 or more operators to fill up to 300 note polyphony. You are free to design your own algorithms and envelopes via the touch-screen display. There are 24 customisable waveforms, built-in effects and microtuning. But it’s not all FM; you also get a resonant filter to scrape away at those harmonics.
EssenceFM navigates via 4 modes:
- Performance – is where everything plays together with the fullest polyphony and is ideal for MPE controllers.
- Patch – where you split and layer voices, detune and use the arpeggiator.
- Voice – Individual layers with envelopes, frequency and ratio parameters and filters.
- Global – all the boring stuff.
The interface is colourful and fruity and offers the approach perhaps of a large workstation keyboard. The depth and detail is comprehensive and offers a deep programming experience. The fact that you can design your own algorithms, waveforms and envelopes is something I’ve never seen before in an FM synth. It’s perhaps not going to be as intuitive as an FM synth with all the parameters out on knobs, this is a bit more intentional, a bit more of a programming environment perhaps. It’s a lot of synthesizer though and the price of €1290 doesn’t seem too bad for the power that’s on offer.