The new synth maker Kodamo has unveiled a prototype of its Essence FM synthesizer at SynthFest France. It’s a 300-voice, 6-operator FM synth that has some very interesting features like waveform drawing, graphical envelopes, and MPE support.
Kodamo is a new company that was founded in France in 2019. The Essence FM is its first product, and boy is it ambitious. According to the developers, the Essence FM was conceived to overcome the limitations of other FM synthesizers. That’s why it has a “very graphical approach”, as Kodamo claims, with realtime waveform displays, graphical envelope editing and drag&drop operator design, among other things. Kodamo says that the hardware design is still a work in progress, but most of the features have already been implemented.
6 operator FM with 300 voice polyphony
The Essence FM is a 6-operator FM synth with free drag&drop algorithm design. As a nod to subtractive synthesis, it also features a resonant lowpass filter for additional sound shaping. Of its 12 waveforms, 11 can be user-edited. From what we know now, it looks like you’ll be able to draw any waveform you like on the Essence FM’s touch screen, or import waves from an external source. There are 14 envelopes per voice, which you can also edit graphically via the touch screen. The LFO (1 per voice) has independent controls for FM and AM per operator. The modulation matrix seems to be very flexible, with 20 sources and 40 destinations. And did we mention 300 voices of polyphony and 16 parts multitimbrality?
Polyphonic aftertouch and MPE support
The Kodamo Essence FM also seems to supports polyphonic aftertouch, and MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression). That means that you should be able to control its FM engine with multi-dimensional controllers like the Roli Seaboard Rise or the Joué. Nice! I’m not so sure about the rackmount enclosure, but Kodamo says that it can also be used as a desktop synth. Either way, I’m really looking forward to trying the Essence FM myself.
Price and availability
Kodamo says that the Essence FM should be available by the end of this year. The company expects a price between 800 and 1200 Euros. That sounds very reasonable for this kind of machine!