We saw this back in NAMM knocking around as a partially functional prototype and now just a couple of months later it’s ready for us to play with (nearly). The Korg Volca FM is the new member of the already classic Volca range of little synth boxes. It looks an absolute treat, pulling its colour palette from the mother of FM synthesis, the Yamaha DX7, the sound of which this aims to reproduce.
The Volca FM is a three-voice digital FM synthesizer featuring 6 operators and 32 algorithms, making it completely compatible with the DX7 – you can even load in files from that 80’s classic synth. FM’s biggest problem was the complexity of editing, which is why so many of the DX7 presets became famous. Korg have thought about this and created a user interface that gives simple control over the most useful combinations of parameters. The Modulator and Carrier knobs are mapped to multiple parameters giving instant satisfaction and obvious sound changes. If FM synthesis is your thing then you can deep dive into all the parameters via the tiny menu display which will be frustratingly familiar. The synth is rounded off with a chorus effect.
The Volca side of the box brings in a 16-step sequencer that you can use with the Stylophone-style keyboard which you can play or enter a note at a time. There’s room to store up to 16 patterns in the internal memory. These patterns can also be chained together for playback giving a possible 256 steps in your sequence. You can also record knob movements to give the sound a bit of movement. Warp functions allow you to mess the patterns about and generate more irregular rhythms. This is also the first Volca to feature an arpeggiator. As with the other Volcas you have sync in and out so you can maintain time with any other analog box. If you wire two Volca FM’s together you can clone sound data and sequences between the two. The MIDI in port helps you incorporate it into a larger MIDI setup. Rounding it all off is the battery power and little internal speaker which lets you play with it anywhere you want.
At first glimpse you knew this was going to be an excellent addition to the Volca range and as a previous owner of a DX100 I can’t wait to get my hands on one. Unfortunately they are not shipping until May so this is Korg’s way of driving us crazy, but for GBP £129 will it fill the FM hole in your life?
More information: http://www.korg.com/uk/products/dj/volca_fm/