UVI FM Suite – Time Capsule
UVI is synonymous with synthesiser sampling and FM Suite looks to further the company’s
ever broadening catalogue of high-quality vintage recreations. With an already large supply of boutique and rare hardware synths available in the Vintage Vault library, is this just fuel for the fire, or can FM Suite bring more to the table than just good looks?
It’s always a blast receiving new instruments to review, and though UVI never stray too far from their well-established workflow, being introduced to some extremely rare hardware in a familiar environment makes for immediate familiarity and faster integration into your projects.
Looking forward to this, lets get FM Suite downloaded and installed.
FM Suite is an expansion sample library for UVI Workstation or Falcon platforms. The 37GB library contains over 1000 presets from over 10 well-known FM hardware synths and modules, separated out into 5 banks.
Not a true synthesiser as such, FM Suite contains samples recorded from the original devices (specifically restored for this library), each with UVI’s signature synthesis controls and effects.
Each patch can be loaded as single preset or layered as a multi in both the free UVI Workstation or the flagship Falcon platform. Falcon contains much more in-depth modulation an editing tools to further customise your sounds.
Downloading UVI expansion libraries is a breeze. Once you’ve activated the online licence, the single file sits on your hard drive in a predefined location along with others you have bought and then shows up as a item in your Workstation/Falcon library.
Out of the box, the familiar UVI overprocessing is immediately apparent and put to good use. Patches sound full and wide with plenty of lush delay and chorus effects. This will not appeal to a purist, but for immediate gratification, UVI certainly know how to make an impact.
Anyone familiar with the basic workflow of a UVI title will navigate their way around any of these synths as the similar global workflow is carried over the majority of UVI products.
Each synth includes “oscillators”, arpeggiators, reverb, delay and chorus effects, all combined to sculpt patches way beyond what the original device was capable of.
UVI go to great lengths to maintain the illusion of a synthesiser, though, in reality, this is a rompler with quasi-synth processing. You cannot affect the core oscillator, nor manipulate the sample algorithms. Top level filter, envelopes and LFO do provide enough control over the samples to simulate a synth-like experience.
There is a definite contemporary vibe with most of the presets. Though it is easy to strip back the processing for a more true-to-life sound, out of the box everything sounds very modern and on trend.
This is probably the least remarkable of the lot. It comprises a vague mish-mash of cheap synth modules. The manual says the Yamaha TX81Z and DX100 are included. I was not a fan of either of these units in hardware form.
Happily, the UVI presets sound rather nice, mostly I think due to utilising copious amounts of Sparkverb and Thorus to thicken the sound, but certainly UVI has provided an excellent selection of presets showing off FM Suites’ abilities to convert possibly the worst examples of FM synthesis hardware into quite an excellent sounding, all be it rather contemporary, category.
A good start, but it get better.
Wonderfully analogue sounding, UVIs sampling of the big and brash FVX-1 responds well to the UVI lavish effect treatment.
Most of the presets have a slight organ-like tone, lending this synth perfectly to rock/prog solos or anything needing a punchy vintage vibe. The polysynth category is pure lead synth heaven, and the quirky Strings category contains some of the best patches in the library.
The pad category showcases the flexibility of this synth with some really interesting presets that might surprise you. “A Night In Moscow” is one of my favourite patches from the entire library.
This is a stripped down GS2 in full mono glory. It is a difficult synth to like at first due to its very lo-fi, plinky-plonky nature, especially after playing through some of the other mega-synths included in the library. I do, however, quite like the sound of this synth when layered against one of the other pad presets. The GS cuts through quite well and adds a nice attack.
As a stand-alone instrument, it is not for me. But I appreciate the effort UVI have made to present the GS as close to the original as possible, something the purists will surely love.
This DX1 in hardware form is exceedingly rare, considering only 150 were ever made back in 1982. It was a super-DX7 of sorts, containing the same presets and sounds with a bunch of wave samples thrown in. This must be close to the holy grail of FM synthesis and probably where most fans of the genre will head first.
The FMX1 has that classic DX7 sound we are here for, no doubt. I struggle to hear any special “DX1ness” about it, but I expect that anyone familiar with the hardware can point out the differences. But as for a solid DX7 tone, yes this is right on point.
Most of the patches I remember from the DX7 are here, renamed slightly I presume for copyright reasons. The classic FM Brass, Orchestra, and the oh-so-cheesy Analog Piano will take you back down memory lane.
As you can expect, everything is slightly overcooked with effects producing a much larger-than-life sound. I do very much like this, but of course, some might find it frustrating to dial back everything.
Included is a huge selection of patches to go through which all sound great. I am particularly fond of the bell tones, but to be fair, everything here is a slice of history in audio format – you can’t load a patch without attributing it to one famous song or another from the 80s.
Finally, the FMX2 category, another mish-mash of oddball keyboards to pad out the content. Its very interesting that UVI have put the TQ5 in this category, and I am wondering if this is a manual error. The signature sideways design is what the FMX-4op uses as its GUI, so I am not sure what the samples are in the FMX2 category.
**Update: I have a response from UVI support clearing up this.
” FMX2-XL and FMX-4op both include samples of the TQ5. The difference is, the TQ5 samples included in FMX2-XL have been recorded both with and without hardware effects (reverb, chorus, distortion, etc, hence the HWFX switch on
the interface), whereas the TQ5 samples included in FMX-4op are in their rawest form, being in mono, without any hardware effect. “
Regardless, almost everything sounds really nice. Again, I think a lot of work has been put into these presets to make them sound larger than life, and certainly a lot better than the hardware units sounded on their own back in the day.
The pad category is brilliant, especially the “Majesty” presets, which I’m sure is an homage to the signature “Fantasia” that made these early synths so popular.
Overall these presets are less exciting than the FMX1, and maybe a little too cheesy for most people. Not that they are unusable – far from it. But they feel a little left behind, or at least overshadowed by the excellent FMX1 patches.
Where Vintage Vault 2 may be a little too broad for some people, FM Suite squarely focuses on classic FM heritage in a well curated and value bundle. There is a good variety from cheap’n cheesy through to polysynth monsters, with plenty of scope for editing and layering.
Vintage FM synth-head purists will probably find the presets massively over cooked with processing, and though this does show off the capabilities of the platform and presents the vintage sound in a more contemporary way, its easily pulled back to a more natural level.
Though this rompler’s veiled synthesis veneer may disappoint fans hoping to dig deeper into the oscillators and filters, some recourse can be found with the flagship Falcon platform, offering all of the advanced synthesis tools you will ever need. With a $100 voucher towards libraries like this, purchasing Falcon is recommended route for serious tweakers.
There is very little to criticise with recent UVI expansions. The core UVI Workstation and the incredible Falcon platforms are so well designed and optimised they are very serious contenders to the rather bloated and pricey Native Instrument Komplete system.
At $149 USD this is amazing value and a good alternative to the huge $599 Vintage Vault 2 bundle, especially if you are primarily interested in the FM vibe. A great addition to the UVI catelog and one I know fans of the genre will adore.
Find more information and purchasing options at UVI www.uvi.net