Kasser Synths DAFM, compact, multi-timbral FM synthesizers with built-in vintage Yamaha chips (YM2151, YM2612…) that bring back the flair of retro FM synthesis.
You can not only buy synthesizers at the big music shops like Thomann, Sweetwater …, they are also available at online shops like Tindie or Etsy. Very special synthesizers often appear here that never make it into the big stores. Some of them are true hidden synth gems.
If it can be a little crazier and dirtier, I have something for you. Kasser Synths from Spain offers interesting, compact FM synthesizers with retro charm on the Tindie platform.
Kasser Synths DAFM
The DAFM synthesizers, not Moog DFAM, are compact multi-timbral FM Synthesizer that uses vintage Yamaha FM ships for the sound generation. There are different versions, each with a different built-in chip.
The model ARCADE uses the YM2151 that is an eight-channel four-operator sound ship. It was used in the Yamaha SFG-01 and SFG-05 FM Sound Synthesizer units for example. Eight different algorithms set the operator relationship inside the ARCADE synth. Then, you have ADSR envelopes, frequencies, and low-frequency oscillators (LFOs) that give you a lot of freedom for sound design.
Besides the YM2151 sound chip, the unit also hosts a YM3012 stereo chip for converting the digital signal into clear and clean analog sound says the developer. Having the separate DAC allows the DAFM synth ARCADE to output a louder and cleaner sound. The interface offers two rotary encoders and a complete menu with 4 blue OLED displays. You also get a tactile keyboard of 12 notes with an octave option with which you play the synth right away.
Sounds can be conveniently saved in the RAM or on an SD card as DMP files that can be opened with VGM trackers. On the connection side, it offers a 3.5mm stereo output jack, MIDI input, and a USB Type B input to power the device. Handy, all parameters are available as MIDI CC messages. This allows you to control them with an external MIDI controller or to automate in your favorite DAW.
The DFAM ARCADE ships with characterful presets from iconic arcade videogames including Street Fighter 2, Space Harrier, and more.
The DAFM GENESIS is similar to the Arcade in many ways. There are differences in the FM synthesis which is based here on the famous YM2612 chip. The Sega MegaDrive/GENESIS gaming console is one of the most famous devices where this chip is installed. It has six channels with four operators channels. Also here, you get ADSR envelopes, frequencies, and LFOs to modify the sounds.
The developer gives you the option to choose between the classic YM2612 or the YM3438 which is a modified version of the YM2612. The latter has a peculiar form of crossover distortion in the output aka the ladder effect. The YM3438, on the other side, has a louder and cleaner sound without this effect. If you are interested in making retro, nostalgic sounds, I would go for the YM2612 which is more noisier and characterful.
On the backside as well as in the MIDI implementation is everything the same.
If you prefer to assemble your own synthesizer, there are also flatter versions that come as a DIY kit.
Funny little FM synthesizers from Spain. Not for everyone but for musicians who like retro FM sounds certainly interesting sound generators.
Kasser Synths DAFM ARCADE & GENESIS are available now on Tindie for $259,99 USD and the DIY versions for $159.99 USD.
More information here: Kasser Synths