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FM synth emulations tend to be good at the mathematics, but less good at capturing the imperfections of the digital implementation and the hardware: DACs, reconstruction filters, buffer amplifiers, etc., can all contribute to the special ‘timbre’ or ‘feel’. As an example: the original Yamaha DX7 only had 12-bit resolution for some internal digital signals, and these (plus analogue reconstruction filters, and more) give the output sound a very distinctive ‘noise floor’ and other characteristics that a modern 16/24 (or higher) resolution digital emulation needs to add to compensate for the relative perfection! The Reface DX has its own uniquenesses, as you say, and actually, Alchemy probably does as well, and these could be in the digital domain (dithering, headroom, gain staging…) or the analogue domain. One synthesis technique that rarely gets talked about is Analysis/Synthesis, where the difference between the source sound and the synthesized version is produced (a ‘residual’) and then that residual is synthesized as well, in an iterative approach that gradually gets closer to the source sound…

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