Mensla releases MS-2, a freeware FM synthesizer plugin for digital audio workstations Windows and macOS.
There are plenty of free synths with subtractive or wavetable capabilities, but shockingly few that dive into FM synthesis. Mensla has added its own take on FM synthesis with the release of MS-2, a three-operator FM synth packed with controls and features.
At its surface, MS-2 presents a rather daunting interface. A quick perusal of the home page reveals every single function of the UI, and what users end up with is a rather nimble and fun FM synth. There are only three operators for MS-2, but it isn’t lacking in sound design grunt.
The three operators have selectable waveforms, moving past just general sinusoidal oscillator waveforms. This lends a little more flexibility, and some of the more complex waveforms can give the illusion of a few more operators to play with, particularly the square and saw waves.
Each operator has its own individual pitch and envelope controls. This is a typical arrangement for an FM synth, and each operator is present and accounted for on the single-tab layout of the synth itself.
After dialing in the specific parameters, users can easily take on the routing of these operators through the matrix at the bottom of the synth’s layout. Users have the option of swapping between frequency modulation, phase modulation, and amplitude modulation, making this little synth quite the powerhouse in terms of synthesis.
Also present is a multimode filter, handy for taming out some of the harsher frequencies and aliasing FM can be prone to having. The filter has the option of utilizing its own LFO as well as ADSR for modulation purposes. The resonance can reach self-oscillation, so there is room for absolute mayhem to be waged when playing around with it.
A trio of effects and an arpeggiator rounds out MS-2’s interface. The delay, reverb, and distortion all suit the timbres you’ll produce in MS-2, and the arpeggiator is rather flexible, with a good deal of parameters to control it.
MS-2 ships with no presets by default, but a donation to Mensla can net you a preset bank if you want to forego the world of FM.
MS-2 is available for Windows and Mac computers. Windows users only have the option of utilizing VST3, and it requires a 64-bit client. Mac users get a singular AU plugin, again requiring a 64-bit client to run. Unfortunately, there is no indication as to whether MS-2 is Apple Silicon compatible or not.