I had a DX7(IID). I spent the first months finding my favourite patches, and pretty much stuck to those for 15 years. I got a Volca FM and it played most of those patches just fine. I got a decent MIDI keyboard and didn’t need the DX7 keys that much anymore, and sold it – someone else was going to get a lot more out of it than me. The Volca covered my FM bases – ting-tingy atmospheric bells (I add lots of reverb), deep brass, good bass.
However, again, I’m pretty much stuck to those patches. I never dug deep into DX-like FM synthesis like I thought I would. I’m getting older and don’t have the most time in the world (two teens, full-time job), so I’m unlikely to start now.
Other gear I have is a Digitakt, Blofeld, Bass Station 2, Neutron, 404SX, Volca Drum. Some pedals. They cover a lot of ground. I make mostly atmospheric beat-based music.
If I sold my Volca FM to help fund an M:C (and I could not rationalize getting an M:C without doing that, period), how much would I miss it? What kind of palette is the M:C able to cover synthesis-wise? The Blofeld can cover a lot of ground as far as pads etc. I don’t need chords really. I like a wide variety of interesting sounds. The M:C seems like a fun way to get them.
And no Digitone – just more than I need.
Thanks in advance for the thoughts.
M:C is a different instrument. It’s not an fm synth. It’s an fm drum machine. It is quite deep inside its borders, but it’s still very limited. You won’t achieve most of the sounds you can do on your volca.
It’s such a cheap and readily available item that you could just go for it and see. You won’t lose much money at all. Test it out!
Edit: They really are very different. I sold my M:C because I found it limiting. But if you love playing the old familiars with the Volca why change?
it’s still twice the price of volca
Yeah, just read the full post and amended!
Edit: And I have to say M:C won’t get anywhere near a polyphonic instrument like DX7/Volca. As @vasilymilovidov says, it’s more suited to drums, with some complimentary tonal stuff thrown in. I ended sampling my favourite chord machine and tone machine settings and moved it on quick smart
that said, it is an incredibly fun and intuitive instrument. every time time I pick it up I come up with something interesting. on the other hand, I’ve never been able to incorporate it. everything kinda stays in M:C. this groovebox grooves hard, but I would keep volca.
Thanks guys – so it’s less of a matter of would it replace enough FM for me, and more, would I just rather have the Cycles and what it brings more than the Volca FM. Given my other drum options, probably not.
Exactly this. It can compliment, not replace
I don’t see it as a drum machine at all lol. No rule saying it’s a drum machine really. I think it’s a fantastic fun machine. To me it plays nice with others and the only limitation is the user in my opinion.
90% of the sounds on this recording I did is cycles… Samples is doing the reverse loop sample thing and some other weird sound but other than that it’s all cycles
Also cycles is doing the weird bell like thing on this recording I did while messing with one of the knobs and turning it up and down…
Sounds like it’s good with the bells. Hmm, you’ve muddied the waters!
I think you can get some good pad sounds out of the chord machine as well, and some pretty raunchy bass tones out of the “tone” machine and the “kick” machine. “Tone” for melodics does have a hard time breaking out of the “everything is pretty much a bell” problem with some FM though The lack of proper polyphony can make the chord input feel a little neutered but I still think M:C is really a crazy device. I haven’t messed with Volca FM so I can’t really compare there, but I would agree with @Brockstar that it’s not really fair to say M:C is just a drum machine. I make a lot of music with M:C that is very melody/harmony driven. Here’s a recent track:
I really think it just depends on what your style is as a musician. I appreciate M:C because it has some really strong drum synths paired with some great tone-generating and melodic bits. I’d say it’s abilities are oriented slightly more toward a drum machine, but as long as you’re willing to spend the time programming in chords and melodies it’s really strong. Beyond lack of true polyphony (Chord machine kinda lets you do it), no arp is probably the other biggest downside to the device if you wanna do more than drums, but I’ve generally found both of those easy enough to work around.
I had a cycles. Didnt like it at all. The look, the feel, the sound. The interface. Just a big no thanks to all points from me.
The Cycles is like an FM version of an electribe. Which isnt a bad thing as such, but you would definitely miss your DX patches, and if you like playing your own chords, or poly melodies, yeah cycles is going to involve much work arounds.
Sounds like a case of GAS. Personally I would spend my time digging deeper into the gear I already have, rather than buy some other thing.
My two cents:
It’s not really the kind of machine where you can think of a sound and use synthesis techniques to construct it. If that part of FM synthesis is your way of working, you probably won’t enjoy working with the M:C. It has a way of designing sounds that is only vaguely connected to traditional FM (the Tone machine is the only one where you have direct access to operator ratio, amount, feedback etc).
But that’s an advantage imo. I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s incredibly fast to dial in sounds, and if you get a bit clever with LFOs and velocity assignment+retrig (as well as misusing the machines) it can be taken into weird territories.
It won’t replace a polyphonic FM synth, nor is it designed that way. It is its own thing, it resonates with some people and is uninspiring for others. It’s a “forever” instrument for me.
@Brockstar - ANTECEDENT is a lovely piece! Nice visuals too.
imo its like others have said its a whole other thing. its kind of like some of the yamaha fm products that came later. it has its own thing going on. it definitely wont replace the volca but its waaaaay more than just an fm drum machine. i really like the limiting factor because i can really get lost in sound design and just not finish anything. and the chords are just like an icing on the cake i really thought i would get no use out of at all. one thing that just blows me away is:
just the model cycles and a squelchy acid synth/seq and you can get some tasty detroit style tracks or house in no time without a bunch of gear and in a small compact form factor.
As previously said it could complement but certainly not replace DX7 sounds. Digitone would be closer, but the fundamental differences between 6op and 4op FM make it hard to replace one with the other.
Used to have a Volca FM. sold it to buy a Digitone.
Missed the Volca so I bought a DX7.
I’ve done a fair bit of FMing (PMimg mostly, for the pedants) now and nothing I’ve used for FM sounds much like the next thing I’ve used for FM, except for the DX7/Volca FM/Dexed triangle, and even then the DX7 definitely sounds a little better.
I like the look of the m:c, might buy one one day, but it would never be as a replacement for my other FM synths, it just can’t come close, and neither should it, it’s a very focussed tool for a fairly narrow set of uses, as compared to the very open playing field of DX7/volca.
Keep the volca.