Surprise! In addition to the hit minilogue, KORG are unveiling a volca series that does FM synthesis. And KORG are even making a friendly nod to their Japanese rival with a DX7 color scheme.

I got to play with the new volca FM, and – well, there’s a lot of cool things I can already share about it.

volcafm1

It’s a real 6-operator FM synth. 3 voices, 6 operators. It really is like a DX7 that fits in the palm of your hand.

It’s also a volca. So it’s got MIDI in, sync in and out, and the classic volca rectangular form factor and battery power.

It’s got a volca sequencer – and that got more powerful. Like the other volcas, there’s touch access to step sequencing and motion recording (for automation). But there are new features, too: WARP, ACTIVE STEP, and PATTERN CHAIN.

There’s chorus onboard, plus an LFO. That adds extra sound control features, so you aren’t restricted to just playing back presets.

Extra visual feedback is available on the display. Amazingly, a full alphabet gets crammed ono the 7-segment display. (Hey, this is a product from Japan, after all.)

There are tons of presets. The FM staples are all built in, but KORG also says you’ll be able to load in DX7 sound files via SysEx.

volcafm2

You can dive into programming settings. Yeah, okay, this is a surprise. If you want to get deep into actually programming FM presets, you can.

There’s a lot you can control hands-on live – combined with the step sequencer. Now, just having a little box that could dial up classic FM synth sounds would be fun, but let’s say we want more. I got to grill designer Tatsuya about how you might use this live. After all, it is a volca – messing around with knobs while you play and improvise is the whole joy. Here are some tips:

  • You can muck about with transposition as you play. I was curious about that big octave fader on the left and why KORG chose it. Turns out it’s actually a lot of fun transposing up and down by octave as a sequence is playing.
  • You get dedicated attack/decay controls for the modulator and carrier.
  • You can automate the algorithm. Let me just say that again. You can automate the algorithm. So as a sequence is playing, you can twist the algorithm knob and radically impact the sound, then record that as automation. This feature alone will probably have you buying one.

I’m already insanely addicted to the volca sample and have gotten a few tracks out of the volca keys. So I’m looking forward to this one, yes. It’s an unexpected gem of NAMM.

No word yet on availability (I’m not sure even KORG know); stay tuned.

volcafm3

  • Yung Spleen

    I am going to buy the absolute hell out of this when it drops.

  • Onetwo

    Instapurchase! FM <3

  • Robin Parmar

    Wow 3 voice 6 operator and editable algorithms? Volca just grew up. As capabilities improve, I wonder if they will go back and version the previous models?

  • super4mod

    Anybody knows where I can find a 5x Volcas rack? Yes, it will definitely be my next purchase. Korg is KILLING it this year!

  • STFUDonnie

    Damn, and I thought I was clever automating the algorithm on Dexed! https://m.soundcloud.com/umanyes/elsewhere

  • Oh wow…! Very keen to hear it!

  • Phylum Sinter

    Really want to get my hands on this too, i wonder if i can swing this and the minilogue this year.

    Korg has very much got their pulse on a huge amount of untapped potential, Roland is starting to catch wind too – Yamaha, you’re up next πŸ™‚

    Let’s see a handheld, user friendly FS1R.

  • Korg is on a roll this year

  • af

    Will it be possible to daisychain two or more volca fm to get 6 or more voices?

  • southpole

    dont wanna rain on the parade… but i wonder if people are aware of the preenfm2 which is way more powerful in a similar form factor

    • super4mod

      Was not aware that this exists! While I’ll still get the Volca version, I fully support DIY community, great stuff there!

    • Ed Emberly

      preenfm2 is a kit though.

      Very limited run too. AFAIK there’s only another 25 kits being made available and then you’ll have to source all the parts yourself.

  • Fayek Helmi

    this is probably the best news i’ll wake up to all week! but i have to say it’s kind a shame they didn’t do a volca mixer like that mock up render that some fan did a while ago! i feel there’s a severe lack of integration between volcas, you wanna talk about untapped potential? i’m sure 80% of anyone who owns 1+ volca will automatically buy a volca mixer with some added cool functionality!

    • super4mod

      Cannot believe they would pass on this. Every Volca buyer who got those because of their cheap price would buy it instead of getting a cumbersome Behringer or Peavey, and pros would still buy it for playing on the road. They just can’t lose money producing it. NAMM is not over yet!:D

  • misksound

    now *this* is useful

  • jm2c

    I just wish they had added a MIDI out and a poly chain functionality to this one. Woulda made a lot of sense to have two of these for 6 voice polyphony!

  • NRGuest

    And sold.

    Now if only they would give us a proper mixer.

  • itchy

    i would love if they put all these volcas on a panel added a main touch plate and built in mixer and called it a synth. there great but having all these little boxes floating around my desk would make me mad. give a nod to the ocd crew please πŸ˜‰

    • itchy

      or eurorack modular versions would be ok as well πŸ™‚

      • doclvly

        you could easily pull tjis off though. They are cheap enough and easily modded.

    • super4mod

      Connections are a problem. I think they thought people would buy “The Volca that suits them the most”, but it ended up people buying all four (until now, which will be 5 for me). I need a good solution to keep them all organized, and I bought angled power adapters and MIDI cables to help get them out of the way.

  • Tatsuya Takahashi is a good’un isn’t he?

    Gonna modulate the frick out of those frequencies while riding the bus.

    • super4mod

      Maybe with people like him companies will realize it’s not a wannabe keyboard player who’s gonna convince us to get a product.

  • Alex Sleepy

    Volca FM is definitely a game changer

    • Stereo Reverb

      Like the author says, definitely the most game changing game changer there ever was

  • Will

    It’s official. I have a full crush on Tats.

  • J_

    6 op 3 voices seems kinda backwards, especially with only attack and decay?

    why not variable op 2 or 4 op to get more more voices and true polyphony meaning unique sounds not homophony, multiple versions of same sound?

    eta: assuming this is priced same as other volcas, as FM nerd, of course ill probably get one. πŸ™‚ i just don’t get why companies don’t seem to get FM = drum awesome. give it 6 mono outs so i can run it into other stuff for processing and i’d get 2. πŸ™‚

    • I’m in the same league. 6 op are great for “FM acoustic emulation” of the 80s which is not, apparently, the Volca target. A lot of today’s noises which are made using FM synthesis are often only 2 op (that is a single “FM pair”) and the loved “lately bass” is from a 4op TX81z.

  • Stereo Reverb

    I was hoping people would stop using the word, “Game Changer” way back in 2012. I was wrong. So this Volca changes the world of FM synthesis? Sign me up!!

  • Will

    Cuckoo’s got a video with more sound exploration:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9g5CoRxcnpI

    And Nick from SS has a good interview:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6JYELE0aVA