Stardust Audio has released MObells, a freeware FM synthesizer in 32-bit VST plugin format for Windows-based digital audio workstations.
MObells is an FM synthesizer which was tailor-made for creating bell and metallic percussion sounds, although the interface does imply that the synth is capable of covering a wider sonic palette. The synth features two oscillators with octave, semitone, ADSR envelope, and volume controls, a dedicated FM modulation section, a single LFO module, and a built-in delay effect.
I’m as far from being an FM synthesis expert as one can be so I can’t tell you if the UI and the control layout is objectively confusing or not. Whereas the signal flow and most of MObells’ functionality is a complete enigma for me, chances are that a skilled FM synth user will feel right at home. As for the GUI design and looks in general, I quite like the color scheme and the somewhat retro look of MObells.
For the reasons mentioned above, I couldn’t really take the instrument’s synthesis engine for a proper spin, but I did check out the 62 presets that come included in the download pack. The soundbank covers quite a lot of FM synthesis ground, from glassy bells and metallic sounds to meaty FM bass presets and classic FM pianos. The built-in delay effect is put to great use in the factory presets, resulting in surprisingly large and polished sounding tones. Do note that the included presets are provided in FST format and will only work in FL Studio. It took me some time to figure out how to load these, although it turns out that dragging and dropping them from the plugin folder directly into FL Studio seems to be the easiest method.
The plugin’s biggest drawback is that it will only work in 32-bit VST plugin host applications on Windows. Mac users are out of luck in this case, whereas Windows users with 64-bit digital audio workstations can try loading the plugin through jBridge or 32 Lives. If you’re looking for a more powerful and fully cross-platform virtual FM synthesizer, definitely check out Dexed which is the best freeware option at the moment.
MObells is available for free download via Stardust Audio (2.43 MB download size, ZIP archive, 32-bit VST plugin format for Windows, made with SynthEdit).