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Oh the 1980's... when hair styles and fashion sense were questionable and the music was...

FM8 Tutorials

How to Make a Classic 80's FM8 Pop Synth Tutorial

Oh the 1980’s… when hair styles and fashion sense were questionable and the music was ruled by the synthesizer and the almighty square wave. This quick tutorial shares how to design an 80’s FM8 pop synth for when you need a little touch of retro in your projects!

This is one of those classic sounds that will transport you back in time, to the 1980′ when the synths ruled the airwaves. It’s a style of sound design similar to that of the super saw, where multiple instances of a sawtooth wave form are combined for a big edgy sound. Except this approach uses square waveforms (also called pulse waves), which is a classic sound that has been made incredibly popular through the years, mostly in the pop genres of music. Making an FM8 pop synth is really quite easy, and once you have one set up the way you like it, it can be used as a jumping off point for another sound. This is what a lot of musicians were doing back in the day, and it is still a valid approach today.

Starting off with the FM Matrix, you can see that this sound is very basic. The slight edge to the sound is coming primarily from the feedback, and the motion is coming from the pitch variations and the modulation being introduced to Operator D. This 80’s style FM8 pop synth begins sounding familiar at this point. Two of the operators are panned in opposite directions to create a wider sound.

How to Make a Classic 80s FM8 Pop Synth Tutorial by OhmLab 1

As you can see in the image below, the operator envelopes are all identical to ensure even delivery and development. Te only change made here is that the release parameter has been extended.

How to Make a Classic 80s FM8 Pop Synth Tutorial by OhmLab 2

On the Master window, the total number of unisono voices has been been increased to five. The synth has been detuned and panned for a wider and deeper sound. And some Analog Quality has been introduced for more character.

How to Make a Classic 80s FM8 Pop Synth Tutorial by OhmLab 3

The last step in making this FM8 pop synth is to finish shaping the sound with some EQ. First, a Shelving EQ is used to accent the high and low end frequencies. Then, a Peak EQ is used to attenuate the mid-low frequencies to remove a small amount of muddiness and accent some of the mid-high frequencies for a brighter delivery.

How to Make a Classic 80s FM8 Pop Synth Tutorial by OhmLab 4

Below is a small audio sample of this 1980’s style FM8 pop synth playing alongside some drums.

[audio:https://www.fm8tutorials.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Classic-80s-Pop-Synth.mp3|titles=Classic 80s Pop Synth]

Don’t forget to shoot us a message with any tutorial requests or feedback you may have for us. Thanks for stopping by!

Cheers,
OhmLab

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