NDS-3 Classic FM is No Dough’s third release in a series of libraries for software samplers. This one focuses on the sounds from some classic Yamaha synthesizers, the DX7 and the TX81Z.

Before I start, it’s probably good to know that while I enjoy “modern day” FM synthesis, I don’t particularly like the typical pluck/thump bass or brass synth sounds vintage FM synthesizers are known for. I rarely use those kind of sounds in my own music, yet I do happen to have a soft spot for synth pop music.

My dad was a DJ in his younger years and his record collection included tons of early 80’s music, a time when synth pop was pretty popular. Nine hour summer vacation car trips to Austria were filled with the sounds of Ultravox, Level 42, OMD, Phil Collins, Duran Duran, A-ha, the Human League, etc. I guess this made quite an impact on my musical preference. Browsing the sounds of No Dough’s Classic FM sure brings back some happy memories.

The Hardware FM sound is very distinctive and has created some of the more unique and memorable sounds in modern music. This pack epitomises the best of Hardware FM Synthesisers, from the DX7 to Tx81z we have created almost 250 hybrid sample instruments that bring some of the most famous, and unique sounding synths to the sampler of your choice.

NDS-3 is No Dough’s largest sample library to date, with the sample content weighing in over 4.1 GB. The 246 patches are sorted in 6 categories:

  • 54 x bass
  • 37 x string
  • 56 x lead
  • 49 x synth
  • 26 x organ
  • 24 x percussion & fx

The samples were recorded with expressiveness and playability in mind, capturing the vibe of the hardware. Use of scripting and/or modwheel modulation would make things even more dynamic, but there’s none of this in NDS-3.

Generally patches average about 20 samples for single velocity instruments, with two to four times that amount for multi-velocity patches – even up to 140 samples for the rather deep sampled Lately Bass sound!

Outboard analog gear was used to process the samples, creating ready-to-play sounds that should fit right in with your productions. Patch names typically indicate the type of sound so it’s quite easy to find (back) what you are looking for. The samples folder reveals there are just over 100 individual sounds sampled, so the rest of the patches are designed variations, combos, etc.

Check the audio clip below for some sounds from the Classic FM sample library.

NDS-3 Classic FM is available in Kontakt, EXS24, NN-XT, and HALion formats.

So what do I think?

Product: NDS-3 Classic FM by No Dough Music
Format: 24-bit Wav + sampler patches
Price: £22.49 GBP (regular £29.99 GBP)
Like: Large variety of sounds, high quality
Don’t like: No modwheel
Verdict: 9/10

FM synthesis is hit and miss for me. There’s some real love – complex FM pads and strings – but other sounds make me cringe, really.

Classic FM has its moments (ChibedRhmba is just gorgeous), but it was not made for me. Too many of those bass, lead and synth sounds that I simply can’t see myself using. I like my FM a bit more “modern” for lack of a better word.

That is not to say this library is no good. On the contrary. Personal preferences aside, I do appreciate the quality of this library. The sounds are solid and well recorded. NDS-3 reminds me of synth pop from the 80’s, but you know what, everything old vintage becomes modern again at some point. And so it is with acts like Justice, La Roux, Little Boots, etc. that the sound of synth pop is part of mainstream music again.

NDS-3 Classic FM lets you infuse that synth pop flavor into your productions, so if you want the sounds of the DX7 and TX81Z without having to use the actual hardware, this library is for you. Check it out.

More information: No Dough Samples / NDS-3 Classic FM