Oh, microKORG, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways:
You have two oscillators and a noise generator, 8 different waveforms, 4 voice polyphony, 4 multimode filters, 2 LFOs with 6 waveforms, a vocoder with 16 filters in 8 pairs, 3 types of delay, 3 types of mod FX, a step arpeggiator with 6 arpeggio types, 4 virtual patches, 128 built-in synth and vocoder programs and loads more features about which I have the sketchiest understanding.
And I know it’s shallow, and probably the worst reason for why you choose a synthesizer, but I LOVE the way it looks.
It’s got great retro styling (the casing is metal and imitation wood) an old-fashioned digital display, and a satisfying number of LEDs dotted around the console.
The knobs and buttons feel good to use too: the program and edit select buttons have a purposeful click to them and all the buttons are microswitched. The other knobs and wheels (pitch bend and modulation by default, though you can patch these) feel sturdy and well made.
The keyboard is miniature (natch), and non-weighted but the keys are pressure sensitive. Playing a chord is not easy, unless you have tiny child like fingers, which sadly I do not.
I got this as a combined Christmas/birthday present by my wonderful girlfriend (so much of what I’ve been able to do has been made possible by other people’s generosity!) and just about every day in the months leading up to Christmas I’d go into my local Dawsons on my lunch hour and have a play around with one. Didn’t spoil Christmas one bit, merely whetted the appetite….
But that’s enough about how it looks. How does it sound?
Well, I don’t really have the adjectives or the skill to describe synthetic sounds, so here are some examples of the ‘out-of-the-box’ settings.
The voices (that’s what they call them, voices) all have funky-fresh names.
So this is ‘Diginator’
And this one’s called ‘Lazy Pitch’
Switch on that arpeggiator, and this little synth really comes alive.
Check out, uh, ‘Dirty Motion’
And of course you can modify these voices, or create your own from scratch. I’m modifying existing voices at the moment, I’m a little intimidated to try building my own. But what the hell! It’s only sound, right?
Do I have anything bad to say? Only that it seems like a waste of space to have the effects settings listed on the device casing: if you need to look them up you use the instructions (which will give you the values); if you don’t need to look them up, you don’t need them on the casing. However, I have found that space useful to put other devices on (eg, the DS) for dual playing. So maybe it’s not a design flaw after all.
To be honest, I’ve only scratched the surface of what this synth can do. I’ll be blogging about further techniques as and when I discover them.