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NAMM 2020: Is Korg about to spring a new FM synthesizer on us?

(Image credit: Reddit / user:moon_master345)

NAMM 2020: Just when you thought Korg had fully shown its hand for NAMM 2020 - and between the Wavestate, ARP 2600 and SV-2, it’s already an impressive line-up - it seems like the Japanese synth titan might have one more surprise up its sleeve. Several reliable-looking posts across Reddit and Instagram seem to suggest that a six-operator FM keyboard called opsix has quietly appeared on Korg’s NAMM booth ahead of the show’s official opening on Thursday.

With a design that has more than a touch of the Yamaha DX7 about it, the opsix appears to be a frequency modulation (FM) synth with six operators and 32-algorithms. While online chatter is abuzz with excitement that Korg might release a modern FM synth equipped with niceties like Motion Sequencing automation and full MIDI parameter control, it’s worth remembering that Korg has, in fact, already released a six-op, 32-algorithm FM synth with Motion Sequencing and MIDI control – the excellent Volca FM.

A quick A/B comparison between the algorithm diagram printed on the opsix and that included with the Volca FM confirms that the two are identical (both are also near-enough identical to that of the original DX7), suggesting that the opsix could essentially be the Volca FM engine built into a full-sized, keyboard-equipped synth.

This would certainly be no bad thing - the FM is objectively one of the best of the Volca line. The abundance of sliders and rotaries would imply that there’s additional hands-on control compared to both the Volca FM and DX7 too. 

From the control panel, it does appear that - much like Elektron's Digitone - the opsix might add a filter into the mix too, moving the engine beyond the remit of traditional FM synthesis into something more like a hybrid FM/subtractive design. There also appears to be mentions of wave folding and ring modulation.

Assuming this is the case, we’d also hope the opsix might up the polyphony of the Volca’s three voices to at least the 16-voices of the DX7.

There’s no official word as yet, so right now this is all wild speculation. Assuming the opsix pictured is real, there’s still every chance it could be a ‘concept synth’ created for the NAMM show floor rather than an actual upcoming release. It’s worth noting that Korg does have form when it comes to sneaking new products onto its NAMM booth though – the original Volca FM, in fact, made an unannounced entrance at NAMM 2016.

Either way, we’ll be sure to investigate further when the NAMM show doors open.

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