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Presenting the Korg Volca FM Synthesizer

Korg's Volca series has been with us for a few years now. They've been such a big hit for Korg that the new models keep on coming. So it's time to save your pennies once again for the latest model, the Korg Volca FM.

Back to the '80s

For those familiar with FM synthesis, you can skip the next paragraph, but for those who'd like a quick introduction, read on. FM synthesis is a way to make thousands of sounds by modulating the frequency of an oscillator (vibrato) with the output of another oscillator. Because the rate of oscillation is so high the vibrato can no longer be heard, but a change in sound will be heard instead. Hopefully, this brief explanation gives you some idea of what FM synthesis is without going in to the details of a subject that is enormously diverse. What it means in real terms is that you can generate all sorts of diverse sounds like sharp bass, tight leads, organs, xylophones, bells, clocks and various other sound effects. The sounds can then be manipulated further using a number of parameters. Yamaha's DX7, probably the best known FM synthesizer (and one that the Volca FM is compatible with), had so many parameters it was complex to operate, especially given its small screen.

The Volca FM

The Korg Volca FM is a lot more compact than a regular synthesizer. It has a limited number of parameters, but considering the complexities of FM synthesis, this is no bad thing. As already mentioned, the Volca FM is compatible with the DX7 and can load its sysex (voice data) files, so you're unlikely to run out of sounds - especially considering you can find them on the internet too. Of course, you're free to experiment and make new sounds for yourself using the basic editing functions this compact model offers.


With a polyphony of three, lead, bass or simple chords are no problem. It's even possible to connect two Volca FMs together using the sync cable to double the polyphony to six. You also have a chorus effect at your disposal, which sounds great with pads and strings in particular and there's also an arpeggiator with nine patterns. That's basically it, just like its brothers and sisters the Volca FM is compact, portable and fun.

FM synthesis gives you thousands of sound possibilities to play with. We're expecting the Volca FM to be available from mid-May with a price similar to other Volca models.

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