The sound of FM synthesis pretty much dominated the first half of the 80s. Yamaha had been the top of the tree for some years in the '70s with their analogue polysynths such as the CS80 but that market was snatched away from them by the Prophet 5 and later, the Oberheims. As fabulous as the CS80 was, it was a big and heavy bugger and had to be treated with kid gloves on the road otherwise all the sensitive little trimmer pots could be knocked out of whack leaving the thing horribly out of tune. It was also extremely expenive. The Prophets and Oberheims were light and portable by comparison and a lot cheaper (if you consider £3,000 'cheap'!). Not only that, they were totally programmable unlike the CS80's somewhat kludgy programmable four patch memories.
But in 1982, they came back with a vengeance when they released their legendary DX7.
Almost everyone bought a DX7 (or one of its derivatives) and its sound was everywhere from back-street pubs and cabarets to headline stadium gigs. Every record you heard was littered with DX sounds until Roland and later Korg killed Yamaha's domination with their D50 and M1 respectively.
Yamaha tried to hang on with more and more variations on the FM theme but this eventually dwindled to nothing - Roland and Korg's sample-based instruments were the new standard and you could barely give away those FM synths that were once the height of musical fashion.
It was a surprise then when, in 1998, Yamaha released their FS1R.
Here was a new, 32-voice FM synth module with not a sample in sight! But this wasn't '80s FM - this was FM on steroids with more operators, more algorithms, new 'formant' operators, multi-mode resonant filters and multi-effects.
It was also a surprise when, with over a thousand almost uniformly stunning on-board sounds, the FS1R was not a commercial success and it sank pretty much without trace just a few years later. The FS1R's collapse in the market has largely been attributed to its impenetrable user interface but the polyphony wasn't generous (and halved if you used certain filter types) and it was a difficult concept for many to understand. The 1U rack mount form factor probably didn't help either and its fortunes might have been different had Yamaha released it as a keyboard with more knobbage and a larger, better screen. We will never know.
That said, an FS1R will fetch good money on eBay today and are much sought after and not without good reason - it can make THE most astonishing sounds. Even if you never hit the EDIT button and use it solely for its presets, there's a wealth of fabulous noises to be had, many of which are captured here.
In collaboration with Dutch FS1R owner, Martijn Buiter, I have a comprehensive collection of outstanding samples that cover the gamut of lush strings, sparkiling electric pianos, spiky clavs and basses, sonorous bells, swirling organs and the high spot of the collection - the expansive, spacious pads which are truly out of this world.
But these are not your typical two-a-penny FM sounds - this is FM with attitude! If you have ever fancied an FS1R but can't stump up the sometimes hefty eBay prices (or are intimidated by the programming), here's an opportunity to dip your toe in the water with this comprehensive collection of FM sounds, old and new with an easy to use UI for quick and easy tweaking.
PLEASE SEED THANKS