Imaginando ‘FRMS’: A Versatile Hybrid Soft Synth that combines Granular and FM Synthesis using a Flexible Layering System
Combining the sonic possibilities of Granular and FM synthesis, FRMS is the perfect tool to create a massive variety of sounds
The Portuguese audio software developer Imaginando designed ‘FRMS’ as a complex and rich sounding synthesizer with an intuitive interface. FRMS is a versatile hybrid software synthesizer that combines *Granular, FM (Frequency Modulation), and subtractive synthesis using a flexible layering system. From heavily-dense ambient drones to glitchy mechanical noises, FRMS turns simple sounds into complex evolving soundscapes with up to four layers of synthesis in any combination. FRMS features a minimalistic interface designed to operate in the various screen sizes, ranging from mobile to desktop. FRMS runs with the exact same synth-engine on all platforms ensuring consistent and high quality sounds at any platform. Combining the sonic possibilities of Granular and FM synthesis, FRMS is the perfect tool to create a massive variety of sounds such as soundscapes, leads, drones, crispy metallic textures and much more. Let your imagination run wild through an exciting new world of sound design with FRMS.
*Granular synthesis works by extracting small fragments known as ‘grains’ from a pre-existing waveform, applying time and pitch processing, then linking the grains back together to form a new waveform.
Main Structure and Functions
FRMS features a clean and minimal interface designed to facilitate the control of advanced concepts using a simple, efficient, and easy to use layout. The main window consists of a status bar across the top, a collapsable menu down on the left side, two horizontal layer panels in the center, and a performance zone across the bottom. The layer panels use several tabs for easy access to the different groups of parameters and functions. By displaying two separate layer panels simultaneously, it is possible to manage an intuitive and productive FRMS workflow, for both production and live performance. Let’s take a look at the major features of the interface to quickly catch up the use of FRMS.
▲ Layer panels
In FRMS, there are two layer panels which means you can work on two layers at the same time. Each layer panel consists of 4 layers that can be used as either an oscillator or granulator. Each layer can be considered as an individual instrument. They can be summed together or used as an FM operator. With this architecture, the sonic possibilities are expanded because each FRMSpatch can use any combination of the available synthesis modes. By combining a granular sound with a FM sound, users can generate interesting, complex, and unique sounds that would otherwise require multiple synthesizers to achieve.
▲ Waveform panel (Granulator mode)
▲ Waveform panel (Oscillator mode)
The Waveform panel displays the waveforms and has two possible working modes - Granulator mode and Oscillator mode. As you see the above pictures, Waveform panel can display sound sources as a granulator or an oscillator. There are two layer engine modes on Waveform panel - waveform mode and input mode, and each of these modes controls waveform files and size of the input buffer.
▲ Control panel
There are two layer engine modes provided in Control panel - Oscillator mode and Granulator mode. Despite the main focus of FRMS being the granular engine, it is possible to use each layer as an oscillator source. This Oscillator mode runs based on subtractive synthesis and with this in mind FRMS offers 4 kinds of waveforms - sinusoidal, sawtooth, square, and triangle. With Granulator mode, instead of playing a sound file in a continuous linear way, you can divide that same sound file into thousands of micro pieces, modify them (pitch, amplitude, and duration), and reorganize them in any way you want. Then you can play them individually at any rate, ranging from slow reading (generating discrete or noisy sounds) to very fast reading (generating very dense sonic atmospheres). From a single audio file you can generate a multitude of sounds with different characteristics, maintaining the timbral characteristics of the original file or even creating completely new sounds that have no resemblance with its sources. This Granulator mode offers a lot of controls to users, since you are dealing with individual grains, each one having its own characteristics. Modifying just one parameter can have a huge effect on the overall sound.
▲ Envelope panel
The Envelope panel displays two independent envelopes that can be used to control sound. Envelope Generator 1 (EG1) is used to shape the amplitude of the sound and Envelope Generator 2 (EG2) controls the layer’s filter cutoff. This module can be manipulated directly with mouse or touch, either using the individual ADSR (Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release) knobs or by directly interacting with the visual display of the envelope curve.
▲ Matrix panel
The Matrix panel allows users to define how much a modulation source affects a modulation target. The values can be between -1 and 1. This means that you can modulate negatively or positively a certain target. In order to change a value, choose on the correspondent intersection and then use the slider at the right side.
▲ Modifiers panel
The Modifiers panel gives access to the LFO’s and the Arpeggiator controls. FRMS has four LFO’s available to be used as modulation sources. The Arpeggiator provides 5 playing modes - UP, DOWN, UP/DWN I, UP/DWN II, and RND (Random). GATE knob controls the duration of the notes being played.
▲ Global panel
In Global panel, users can control settings that affect the overall synth performance and sound such as polyphony, FM, effects, global filter, and master output. It is divided into 5 sections - Modes, FM Mode, FX (Delay and Reverb), Filter, and Output. FRMS has an FM engine that enables FM synthesis between the layers. Each layer functions as an individual operator with 8 different FM modes available that organizes the operators in different ways.
▲ Available FM modes in FRMS (Each number corresponds to the layer number)
FRMS has two independent effect units connected as auxiliary channels. The amount of signal that is sent to these units is controlled with the Delay and Reverb knobs that can be found in each layer. The Filter section provides a low-pass and a high-pass filters that can be manipulated directly on the window where cutoff and resonance can be changed. Each of these filters can be modulated by the LFO’s and EG’s.
▲ Keyboard mode
▲ Chorder mode
FRMSprovides two performance modes - a Keyboard and a Chorder. The Keyboard features an adjustable ‘view-port’ which allows users to adjust the amount of keys available on the keyboard to play, a ‘pitch bend’, a ‘modulation wheel’, ‘panic’, and ‘HOLD’ function which allows the sustain of notes, just like a sustain pedal. The Chorder mode consists of two performance parts - the honeycomb keyboard and the strummers. The honeycomb keyboard allows users to play three different chords (minor, Major, and Dominant 7) and the strummers allows a strumming type of play like a guitar performance.
▲ Cloud Sync of FRMS
Regarding a technical support for FRMS users, Imaginando provides ‘Cloud Sync’ functionality, so users can seamlessly shift their workflow between devices for sound design on the go. You can take your creations outside of the studio or start a new sound on your tablet then move it to your DAW while using FRMS.
- 3 Synth Engines (Granular, FM, Subtractive)
- 4 Layers per Voice
- 8 FM modes, Layers as Operators
- Granulate Samples or Live audio
- Up to 20 grains per layer
- 1 Modulation Matrix per Layer
- 2 EG’s per Layer
- 1 Filter per Layer and a Master Filter
- 8 Voice Polyphony
- 4 LFO’s with 5 modes
- Arpeggiator with 5 modes
- Delay and Reverb FX as Layer send
- High Quality Sample Bank
- Built-in Audio Recorder
- MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression) compatible
- Ableton link
Permanent License: €119 EUR
Rent to Own (pause at any time): €11.9 / month for 12 months
*Note that a Demo version for desktop (Windows & Mac) and Android can be downloaded for free:here
**iOS version is only available as paid App.
ImaginandoImaginando creates inspiring musical experiences by combining music with technology. we mix music and technology to create unique audio-visual experiences, whilst empowering artists to maximize their own creativity with the innovative tools that we build. ‘Creativity is our obsession’ - since 2014 it has been the driving force behind everything that we do. Both inquisitive and experimental, our dynamic and pragmatic approach to the development of all our projects, provides an exciting, challenging and ultimately rewarding journey that we love.
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