Korg’s Volca FM 2 synth adds more voices, reverb and randomization

Korg arguably kickstarted something of a synth revolution when it launched the Volca line. And the Volca FM has been a consistent favorite in the series. (It was also the first “real” synth I ever got, so I have something of a soft spot for it.) Now, some six year later, the company is issuing an updated model, the Volca FM 2. Like the Volca Sample 2 it released in 2020, this is a mostly incremental improvement on the previous model, but it does address some pain points. 

Let’s start with what hasn’t changed — the core six operator, 32 algorithm synth engine. The Volca FM remains an unabashedly traditional take on the Yamaha DX7. The form factor is also unchanged, and you can still power it with six AA batteries. You also still get the same 16-step sequencer with “motion sequencing”.

Physically the changes are subtle. The display is now blue eight-segment LEDs instead of red. The five-pin MIDI DIN has been replaced with a TRS MIDI jack, but that has also made room for MIDI out, incase you want to control other gear with the Volca’s sequencer.

The big changes though, are under the hood. For one the the Volca FM 2 is a six voice synth, instead of a three voice one. That’s a huge change and allows you to play bigger, richer chords. And it now responds to velocity over MIDI, something you basically needed a hack to get before. There’s also a reverb effect built-in, in addition to the chorus. A little reverb goes a long way when you’re dealing with a synth, especially a digital one. So this is another very welcome upgrade.

Lastly Korg has added a randomization feature. This allows you to quickly create new and unique sounds, without having to master the arcane art of FM synthesis. 

The Volca FM 2 is available to preorder today for $170.

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