In the 1980s, Yamaha had a big hit on their hand with the release of the Yamaha DX7 synth. Yamaha developed a new way of shaping the sound that was radically different from the traditional analog synths. The Yamaha DX 7 synth used something Yamaha called FM Synthesis.
There were no traditional VCOs or LFOS, envelopes, or filters as we are used to on the traditional analog synthesizers. On the DX7, there were “Operators” that could be strung together in a certain way to create sounds. I am pretty versed in programming your everyday analog synth but when it came to programming a DX7, it definitely got me stomped.
That lack of easy programmability however did not keep the classic DX7 from being a major sales success and the signature FM Piano sound of the DX7 made it into just about every R&B ballad for at least ten years following the release of the Yamaha DX7. The FM Piano sound was absolutely unique but the rest of the sounds that these FM synths could generate were not exactly very useful or impressive.
The method of FM synthesis lent itself perfectly to creating some bell-like sounds but for the rest, for pads, brass, and string sounds, the FM Synths were far from ideal. For today’s producers, there are a variety of FM-style VST Synths available but these also suffer from the limited range of possible sounds that can be produced using FM Synthesis.
So when Tone2, one of the world’s leading producers of VST synths approached me to test drive their newest creation, the Nemesis Neo-FM software synth, I was more than curious. Tone 2’s products have been used by some of the biggest names in the music industry and their VST software synths like, for instance, the ElectraX had won enough accolades from the industry that I had very high expectations.
Neo-FM they call it, beyond FM. It did sound like Tone 2 did plan to break through the limitations of traditional FM synthesis. And did they ever….!
By combining FM synthesis with more traditional synthesis and waveshaping … wavetable and formant synthesis, Tone 2 created a truly unique sounding synth with simply outstanding sonic quality. With an arpeggiator, a trancegate, and a large array of effects, this software synth is in a league of its own. The Nemesis Neo-FM synth comes standard with 1,065 nicely categorized patches and additional patch libraries are also available.
So, how does Nemesis synth sound?
The first thing I noticed was the crystal clarity of the sounds. The Nemesis is definitely not designed just to be an instrument for 80s Retro Pop but it is truly a software synthesizer that fits any style of music. From serious high-tech dance-oriented patches to some of the smoothest pads that I have ever heard from a VST synth…..it’s all there.
I can only congratulate the sound designers at Tone 2 because the sound design of the Nemesis is truly excellent. You can hear that every single one of the 1,065 patches had been meticulously crafted and fine-tuned to perfection. Right from the first patch on the list, you’ll come to realize that this is a different kind of animal. A soft synth that can expand your sonic arsenal and give you tools that you simply did not have before.
It’s not hard to program the Nemesis to create your own patches or to simply tweak and fine-tune the existing ones. On the other hand, you can be blissfully happy with the over 1,000 patches that are already pre-programmed for you. The visual interface is nicely designed and easy to use.
Quite atypical for FM, you will also find controls for setting the filter strength here. In this context, Tone2 points out that the filter settings are calculated directly into the existing waveform and not – as is usual with subtractive synthesizers – done afterward. The filter is designed as a pure low-pass filter with an enormous 90 dB edge steepness and has no resonance parameters, an indication that it is specially designed for the requirements of post-processing the overtone-rich frequency modulation and does not have to serve as another analog sound simulation.
The Nemesis is an absolutely perfect addition to your software synth arsenal no matter what style of music you plan to record. There are a good amount of traditional sounds found on the Nemesis. For instance, the Hammond Organ patches are just super. Crystal clear, yet with a good amount of “soul” and warmth. On the other hand, there are some truly way-out FX sounds and Pads that will get your attention the minute you touch a key. And for the dance producer….Nirvana! So many crystal clear synth patches to choose from. You’ll never run out of musical inspiration.
I do a lot of cinematic music, and soundtracks for movies and documentaries, and for those projects, the Nemesis really shines. It’s easy to create the most complex soundscapes with just the Nemesis. For producers of cinematic music, this one is a no-brainer. The Nemesis is definitely my top pick for creating cinematic music and soundscapes.