DX7 to Nord Modular.


This conversion project has two goals:

1 to be able to recreate the sounds of the DX7 on the Nord Modular and

2 to experiment and further development of FM synthesis by features the Nord Modular is capable of.

The Project

Some Modules in the Nord Modular design are special developed to emulate the structure of the Yamaha DX7 Synthesizer. The 'OscSlvFM', the 'NoteVelScal' and the 'Multi-Env' have the same parameters as their DX7 equivalents.

Yamaha DX7 (photo Gemeentemuseum Den Haag)

On the Internet there are different sites providing DX7 sounds in SySex Format, free to download. Because the Midi implantation of the DX7 is known, a small conversion tool could be developed. The DX7 Files are available in Zip Files, containing several Banks of 32 sounds. At the end of the conversion process 22 135 Patches/sounds were in the Archive, which seemed a lot, however... One to every 20 patches was corrupt and had to be repaired. A great deal of Patches had a name given also to other Patches and most of them seemed to be the same sound, sometimes slightly different. The reason is most DX7 musicians use the same sounds in different Banks, is related to the songs or gigs they play. Sometimes a name is changed into a song title, which seems logical to me. However, such a large Archive is already difficult to search, so doubles or triples aren't welcome...

Jan Punter constructed a tool to check this out. However it determined on [Cable] (= Algorithm) and [Parameter] only. One Parameter slightly different would result in a different sound, judged by the computer, even when only the attack of one of the Env was changed from 0.5 to 0.7! Other Parameters don't affect the sound at all, even when there is a great difference between settings, e.g. the NoteVelScal. A computer isn't able to sort this kind of trash out. For that reason the remaining 9 460 Patches can contain doubles. If the user of this Archive will find any, please report to Wout Blommers at blommoo@wanadoo.nl

To create a useful library the Files had to be renamed., because in my opinion these Files will be treated as 'Sounds' rather than Patches. (In fact there are only 32 real Patches) Against this idea stands those names were given by their authors and would be lost. I've chosen to rename the File towards the 'the kind of sound' it produces, so the user can search on 'Bass' sounds, 'Brass' sounds, 'Piano' sounds or more specific on 'Trumpet' sounds and 'Trombone' sounds. Mostly the original name bears those categories already. They are numbered to group them together. The additive by the author is placed behind this number, so RockBass3HM is filed as Bass125Rock and SuperBass is stored as Bass159Super. Some sounds kept their original name (Mostly because the sounds didn't fit a category) and total useless names or scrambled ones were stored as Patch##.

Yamaha DX7 MSX (photo Gemeentemuseum Den Haag)

There are differences in the Parameter setting of the DX7 and the Nord Modular. The later has a large range, 0-127 values. The DX7 has a max of 105. Therefore sounds are relatively less loud, which can be change by turning up the Mixer Parameters, although the relatively settings have to be remain intact.

The Algorithms

The Structure of the DX7 consist out of 32 different configurations, from complex FM to additive synthesis. To research the structure of the Algorithms and to open these in the Editor click here
(warning, there are many image files to download on this page!)

For more technical backgrounds about FM synthesis, see Rob Hordijk's Workshop about the issue or see the article about FM harmonics, by clicking here.

The DX7 Patches themselves are in the Patch Archive, collected in the Folder 'FMforXmas'

Wout Blommers.