Volca FM

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Mind Flayer
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Post by Mind Flayer » Thu Sep 12, 2019 1:29 pm

I have a Reface DX, which I love. I am interested in getting a 6 op FM synth. I could go with the OG DX7, but I don't really have room for another full sized keyboard, and I've heard it is quite a bear to program.

I was thinking of a Volca FM, but the 3-voice polyphony limit and lack of velocity sensitivity are problematic.

I've read that there's a retrokits cable that allows you to polychain two volcas together. Anybody have any experience doing this with the Volca FM?

Suppose I polychain two VFMs together. How does that work with patches? Do I need to load the identical patches on both units? If so, what happens if I change a parameter on the master unit -- does that translate over to the slave unit, or would I end up getting two sets of sounds if I played 6 keys simultaneously?

Or does the master unit take control over the slave unit?

Also, I recall seeing a reference somewhere that using the retrokits cable enables velocity sensitivity on the VFM, but I can't seem to find that, and I'm not sure why it would.

Any help appreciated!

** UPDATE: According to the retrokits website, it looks like the retrokits cable adds velocity sensitivity. So my only remaining questions are about how the poly chaining works in practice.

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Post by ugokcen » Fri Sep 13, 2019 8:49 am

Someone can correct me if I am wrong but I believe you would need to dial up the same patch on both volcas and your edits would not automatically transfer.

All these after market "hacks" are midi processors of some kind, they cannot get around the limitations at the hardware level. The velocity kit for example is not real velocity in that you can articulate every note, but rather a remapping of velocity data to some channel level controller.

I have come to enjoy Volca FM for what it is despite its limitations. It does not make a very good poly synth - it is nothing like playing an original DX7 or a modern synth like the DSI stuff. But as a monophonic sequence/melody line it holds its ground. The polyphony simply avoids the notes being cut off and decay naturally, a bit like MI Rings in that sense.

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Mind Flayer
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Post by Mind Flayer » Fri Sep 13, 2019 11:13 am

Thanks. Yes, the Volca FM is cool as is, even if it's not a great poly synth. I was just hoping to find a small form factor piece of hardware that could give me the 6 op sound with at least 6 voice polyphone. A couple of used Volca FMs plus the retrokit cable would be an affordable solution, but maybe it's not going to work as I was hoping. I could probably live without the true velocity sensitivity, but not having the two units match up in terms of the patch changes on the fly would be a no-go for me.

The other options I was thinking about were a Tx81z or a DX200. But both of those seem like a pain to program.

Maybe I'll end up just biting the bullet and getting the original DX7 and making some room for it somewhere.

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Post by chvad » Fri Sep 13, 2019 11:27 am

Mind Flayer wrote:Thanks. Yes, the Volca FM is cool as is, even if it's not a great poly synth. I was just hoping to find a small form factor piece of hardware that could give me the 6 op sound with at least 6 voice polyphone. A couple of used Volca FMs plus the retrokit cable would be an affordable solution, but maybe it's not going to work as I was hoping. I could probably live without the true velocity sensitivity, but not having the two units match up in terms of the patch changes on the fly would be a no-go for me.

The other options I was thinking about were a Tx81z or a DX200. But both of those seem like a pain to program.

Maybe I'll end up just biting the bullet and getting the original DX7 and making some room for it somewhere.
" The other options I was thinking about were a Tx81z or a DX200. But both of those seem like a pain to program. "

There are a number of editors for the TX81z that make it a fair breeze to edit. This is the one I use and it's free. Also a librarian:
https://mgregory22.me/tx81z/programmer.html

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Post by nectarios » Fri Sep 13, 2019 1:42 pm

All sounds excluding the kick and the first hat that the track comes in with, are the Volca FM, processed through a selection of effects, but its the source for everything...hence the track name.


[video][/video]

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Post by seta666 » Fri Sep 13, 2019 3:00 pm

nectarios wrote:All sounds excluding the kick and the first hat that the track comes in with, are the Volca FM, processed through a selection of effects, but its the source for everything...hence the track name.
Very nice one, makes me want one.. :banana:

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Post by seta666 » Fri Sep 13, 2019 3:12 pm

Edited..posted twice

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Post by naos » Fri Sep 13, 2019 4:51 pm

Mind Flayer wrote:I was thinking of a Volca FM, but the 3-voice polyphony limit and lack of velocity sensitivity are problematic.
A couple of guys over at the gearslutz forum are hacking the Volca FM (and volca Sample) firmware. That lack of velocity is fixed already. Just waiting for the public stable version to be released.
The new features of the Volca Sample (they're still figuring it out) seem endless.
It sems the Retrokits RK-002 lets you do polychain, but I'm not sure that would be worth it, for the price of 2 VFM + Retrokits you got a PreenFM2.
A friend of mine found a DX7 for 50 bucks at a yard sale the other day, that's definitely the best option.
Last edited by naos on Sun Sep 15, 2019 4:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by wechard » Sat Sep 14, 2019 6:29 am

If you haven’t totally ruled out a larger keyboard, the MODX is worth a long look. It doesn’t sound crunchy like some of the older Yamaha FM synths, but it’s a staggeringly good FM implementation, it can load DX7 patches (after conversion), and the rompler side can also come in handy or can be totally ignored if you want.

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Post by Mind Flayer » Sat Sep 14, 2019 8:22 am

wechard wrote:If you haven’t totally ruled out a larger keyboard, the MODX is worth a long look. It doesn’t sound crunchy like some of the older Yamaha FM synths, but it’s a staggeringly good FM implementation, it can load DX7 patches (after conversion), and the rompler side can also come in handy or can be totally ignored if you want.
Thanks. I actually had the MODX6, but I ended up selling it. It sounded great, but I couldn't stand the interface. It wasn't a problem with the FM interface per se, but really more the overall interface of navigating around the synth. I've spent some time with a DX7 and actually found programming that synth to be much more intuitive and enjoyable.

I think I'm probably just going to pick up a DX7.

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Post by kinkujin » Sat Sep 14, 2019 9:20 am

The Volca FM is still on my list. One of these days I hope to grab one on trade. The vid with Tats playing with the arpeggiator sold me. 3 voice only matters not to me as I only “imply” harmony in my music.

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Post by Technologear? » Sat Sep 14, 2019 10:46 am

nectarios wrote:All sounds excluding the kick and the first hat that the track comes in with, are the Volca FM, processed through a selection of effects, but its the source for everything...hence the track name.
[video][/video]
That track sounds awesome. Love the sounds, arrangement, restraint. It's what I'm into at moment, using cheap or unusual sources through good fx to create.
Did you sample the VFM through effects chains for many of the sounds? What did you use to sequence?

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Post by minimalist » Sat Sep 14, 2019 11:08 am

naos wrote:
Mind Flayer wrote:I was thinking of a Volca FM, but the 3-voice polyphony limit and lack of velocity sensitivity are problematic.
A couple of guys over at the gearslutz forum are hacking the Volca FM (and volca Sample) firmware. That lack of velocity is fixed already. Just waiting for the public stable version to be released.
link to Gearslutz

Any chance of a link as I wouldn't mind looking into that? ..... Nevermind, I found it.

I think the Volca Sample could be one of my favourite sources. Sequenced externally with lots of modulation, it can sound incredible. If it could switch between samples using midi cc it would be a game-changer for me.

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Post by nectarios » Sun Sep 15, 2019 3:18 am

Technologear? wrote:
nectarios wrote:All sounds excluding the kick and the first hat that the track comes in with, are the Volca FM, processed through a selection of effects, but its the source for everything...hence the track name.
[video][/video]
That track sounds awesome. Love the sounds, arrangement, restraint. It's what I'm into at moment, using cheap or unusual sources through good fx to create.
Did you sample the VFM through effects chains for many of the sounds? What did you use to sequence?
All Volca sounds are sequenced using the onboard Volca sequencer.
The Volca FM was processed with Dreadbox Epsilon and Mutable Instruments Clouds.

And thanks for kind words.

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Re:

Post by chachi » Fri Jan 10, 2020 4:40 pm

huron wrote:
Sat Apr 02, 2016 8:35 am
What's next for Korg Volca series?

How about a Volca Mini Semi-Modular with tiny little patch cables like the ones on the Folktek Matter?
this post is from 2016, exactly this released three years later....??

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Re: Volca FM

Post by huron » Wed Jan 15, 2020 7:33 pm

I was ahead of my time!

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jabberwalky
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Re: Volca FM

Post by jabberwalky » Wed Jan 15, 2020 8:37 pm

Fun fact, the developers are here....hiding behind various potted plants, listening intently to the banter and actively bouncing the ideas to their marketing depts. in real time!
www.karlojanpa.com - film composing
https://www.youtube.com/user/jabberwalky - Synth Youtube channel

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Re: Volca FM

Post by galaxie » Thu Jan 16, 2020 1:21 am

We need more synth developers to design products that can 'talk' to each other. More CV I/O for inter-modulation universe!

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Re: Volca FM

Post by naos » Mon Feb 10, 2020 3:55 am

seen on gearslutz, works like a charm:
pajen wrote: Hey guys, I'm back with a little bugfix and update for the Volca FM!

A lot of people has kindly informed me about the screw-up in FW 1.08 concerning the Program Change not respecting MIDI channels - thanks for the feedback! It is now fixed. One user (u/gerardjugno) said an on/off switch would be useful, so now Program Change needs to be switched on in GLOBAL SETTINGS number 12 (PCMidi on/off).

New feature:

SYSEX Parameter Change support.

The original DX7 could receive individual patch parameters updates over sysex, see e.g. https://github.com/asb2m10/dexed/blo...sex-format.txt section C. There are 155 parameter settings for a patch.

This is perhaps not for everyone, but it means:

a) You can use dexed (or anything built targeting a DX7 really) with a MIDI cable as a live frontend to tweak patches.

b) You can automate all patch parameters in your sequencer of choice.

Important: the parameter changes will NOT propagate into already playing sounds. It is hard to make it do that. Besides I am not convinced that it is a good idea - the FM algorithms are stateful and messing with envelopes and frequencies in currently playing sounds can easily introduce a lot of zippering and discontinuity artifacts (yes yes I understand that EXACTLY this is probably what a good chunk of you think you really REALLY desire).

There are also SYSEX commands for setting 14 Function Parameters like aftertouch, portamento etc in the original DX. Those are NOT supported here.

Also, I put the SYSEX Parameter Change commands as NRPN number 0-155 if you e.g. happen to have a MIDI controller with NRPN support.

As an example, to set the ALGORITHM (parameter number 134) to "22" you will send CC99:1 (MSB NRPN#), CC98:6 (LSB NRPN#) and finally CC6:22 (NRPN value) etc. or B0 63 01 B0 62 06 B0 06 16 for MIDI channel 1.

Get it here while it is fresh: https://we.tl/t-VU0pPYAOTh (expires feb 13th)


In other respects, it behaves like the 1.08 FW ( velocity on note in, LFO fix, patch transfer, more CCs etc ):

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