Sam Battle from Look Mum No Computer has pulled the FM engine out of a Sega Megadrive and turned it into a fabulously accessible FM synthesizer with analogue control.
Sega Megadrive Synthesizer
The Sega Megadrive had a Yamaha YM2612 FM chip built-in to provide the music and sound effects. It’s a 4-operator FM engine and was recently turned into a VST plugin by Inphonik. But why use a plugin when you can rip the guts out of an actual Sega Megadrive and build a custom synthesizer to give access to all the controls? That’s what Sam’s done with the Sega Megadrive Synthesizer.
What’s striking about this particular project is that amongst the madness and fabulously zany style of Sam’s presentation he gives us a total master class in FM synthesis.
He’s pulled out 11 parameters for each operator and put them on knobs which gives an instant level of control you don’t normally find. These are also CV controllable. The result is fierce and dynamic with the sort of movement and modulation that brings out the best of what FM has to offer and yet is normally so inaccessible. The FM engine has 6 channels and so has the potential of offering 6-note polyphony, but he hasn’t got that working yet. As it is he can work on 5 different sounds at one time and switch between them.
This is all about FM by feel rather than by programming; it’s quite brilliant.
Looking forward to him ironing out the bugs and getting the polyphony working.