This is a tricky tech question, and I’m guessing Mutable folks have the knowledge base to answer this question.
There are two FM synths I really love: PreenFM2, and Korg 707. To my ears, they just sound huge, 3D, the oscillators easily phase in and out of each other real nicely, and they have all the character of analog synths, just in a digital way. And they sound MUCH fuller to my ears than software.
So I’ve been looking for other hardware FM/digital synths that sound as good, but can complement these with other options. Here’s an example of the sort of sounds I’m looking for: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OQ3s8rfHVA. All the easy tweaking and in between sounds are great to my ears, and fit my spacerock meets industrial music. Not into ambient, I like my FM full and flangey, and the Korgs and Preen have that, and decent user interface helps get that.
But looking for other FM/digital synths which are also like this has been difficult. Demos of the DX7 MkI and Casio CZ series seem woolly and noisy. Tried the Yamaha Dx200 and it sounded real sterile and flat. Just played with a Korg Kronos with its Mod-7 VPM/FM engine, fun waveshaping with the FM, but still sounds too refined, too tame, too much like software. Kawai K5000s without its effects sounded really thin to me. I’d like to try a Yamaha SY line, or maybe a Casio VZ, or a TX802 or DX7II, but seems so much overlap with the Preen.
Here’s my question: TECHNICALLY speaking, what is it that the 707 and the Preen have in common that is making them sound good? One is 4op 16 bit FM, and the Preen is sort of 18 bit. Both just sound to me like they have real depth to their sound. Maybe it’s just better stereo imaging, or maybe easy tweaking is allowing me to just get those types of sounds better. But they seem technically quite different in terms of processors, DACs, etc. What makes these sound good? And knowing that, should I be looking now at the Yamaha SY line, Alesis Fusion, or something else? Or just use FM8 for the rest, cause the more refined hardware will start sounding like softsynths?
What makes hardware digital, when you strip the effects away, sometimes sound full and like HARDWARE, and others sound plasticky? An Sq-80, even if you use just digital with no filters, sounds brittle but still phasey and organic and not like software. Is it just the 12bit waves layered and detuned into a hardware amp? I also played a teenage engineering OP-1 recently, maybe too quickly, but while it had a ton of bass, it also sounded a bit flat and plastic to my ears. What does that?