Are there any fm synths that are most like the fm machines in the monomachine?

as the title suggests, i’m looking for a synth (hardware or software) that is most like the fm machines in the monomachine. i’ve heard the digitone and native instrument’s fm8 are the best choices. what do you guys think?


Great question.

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Those are all pretty different, the Monomachine has a specific and limited set of macro-controlled algorithms whereas Digitone and FM8 are more open and allow for deeper editing. The Monomachine manual goes into detail about how the algos work so you could easily replicate their behaviour with synths that allow for user-defined FM algos like the Opsix or Nord Modular.


I have both the MnM and the DN. I am officially learning FM synthesis at the moment on the DN. I’ve had the MnM for years and I find the FM architecture super confusing. The Digitone makes understanding basic FM synthesis fun. Also, I think the Digitone has fixed frequencies on the operators and the carriers, which makes it easier to get more control of harmonics. On the Monomachine, it’s mostly a guessing game (for me at least). It even says so in the manual->
“It is not necessary to understand the detailed machine descriptions of the FM+ machines.
Good results should be possible to attain only by trying out the effects of the parame-
ters and get a good “feeling” for them”
And as @estragon said, the MnM FM machine details are in the manual.
There is also this, which you could try. Doesn’t seem similar to the MnM to me, but the author feels differently.

Good luck


I would say it’s all in the mapping of the underlying FM engine, the controls are pretty unique. But I suspect it’s linear FM and not phase modulation (like FM8, Digitone, Operator, DX7 etc) since it detunes the oscillator(s) when applying feedback.

It also doesn’t reset the phase of the oscillators, so you’re bound to get a more ‘lively’ timbre than a lot of other FM synths which typically either always resets the phase per note on or lets you choose. (usually phase resetting being the default)

You can definitely make the same kind of sounds on a lot of other FM synths, perhaps besides the behavior of the feedback (which in my opinon makes it a lot less useful)

Perhaps a good question to ask would be what kind of sound do you want or expect? What is it about the Monomachine FM engine that you like?


It isn’t FM, but I recommend Volca Drum. It has the same gritty crunchiness of early FM synth. Moreover it sounds great as the karplus strong synth.

A good call actually. I think one of the charms of this machine is the rather low internal resolution (both sample and bit rate), which gives warmth and great low end. I think it’s grittier than 4-op Yamaha synths.

The similar engine should be in MachineDrum, but it’s not the answer you are probably looking for…

Also PreenFM could be in some way close (it uses linear FM too, if that’s the case), but it sounds quite clean.

one characteristic of the monomachine fm engine that i like is that it’s easier to experiment with because ratios aren’t a limitation like in the fm dynamic machine which uses free ratios and modulators

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I see - well you can do that with almost any FM synth out there, most of them have fine tuning or fractional ratios (including Digitone, if you want an Elektron sequenced experience)

Depends on what kind of sound you want to make, no? For tonal sounds having “free” ratios can be very hard to navigate since it will easily detune the fundamental pitch of the sound. For atonal stuff like effects, some drums, etc you may have a lot more happy accidents… Which is why the Monomachine has several FM engines, each made for different type of sounds in mind.

There aren’t actually that many FM synths out there that actually map the underlying engine to more macro-ish parameters, which is kind of a shame. After all, the DX7 and subsequent “main line” FM sytnhesizers are all pretty much modular (or at least semi-modular) which can make it hard to reach the same point as just flicking a few knobs on the Monomachine. In a sense, those kind of synths are far less “blindly explorable” as you may have to have a goal in mind and an idea how to get there, you can’t just (as easily) fiddle around and get a satisfying result.

But you could definitely replicate all of it on a more open ended FM synth such as Ableton Operator, FM8, Dexed, Digitone, Sytrus… What will be missing is the unique filters and overall structure of the Monomachine which really makes it shine in my opinion.

On that note though, I actually found the FM synth in the M8 Tracker to be quite close to the Monomachine sound in some ways, although which much better control.


Great to see Sytrus getting a mention…

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One of the very best! :slight_smile:


its that SOPHIE sound we crave! :laughing:

FWIW, OctaSine got a big update, and an even clearer UI for FM programming:

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To me it’s not just about the sound of Mnm; it’s also about …well… everything else, the overall industrial design, the layout, colors, materials, simply brilliant!

NordModular contains it all :wink:

The Yamaha DX200 does this to some extent by giving you access to its underlying DX7 style engine through a set of “broad sweeping” controls: FM Depth, FM decay, Harmonic control and “modulator group”. The latter gives you four choices (1-2-3-ALL), each representing a set of pre-selected operators. Which operators are selected depend on which algorithm is in use.

It’s a slightly similar happy accident experience, but since there are so many more underlying parameters, it’s impossible to get a grip on what’s actually happening “underneath the bonnet”. It’s a fairly clouded experience…


As others have said, I think it’s more about the sequencer, the filters, and the FX than the actual engine itself. For those seeking the “MnM experience” sans buying an MnM I’d recommend the Octatrack paired with something like a Microfreak. Before investing in hardware though, I’d say Vital is also capable of doing linear or phase modulation FM and will probably give you more interesting results on a pure sound design level than most hardware synths. It can also do speech synthesis, wavetable synthesis, and a bunch of other stuff. Paired with something like Valhalla Supermassive I’m convinced you’ll get the results you’re looking for and then some.

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I’m curious how close the Kodamo EFM gets to those type of sounds… with all the customizable algos, filters and mod matrix I would imagine one could get pretty close.