King Korg: The Jack of All
There’s been a lot of hype surrounding Korg lately, with a seemingly overwhelming amount of too good to be true products soon to be hitting the shelves and with price tags to match I have to say I am gladly one of those riding their wave. The anticipation builds for the release of the MS-20 mini and three bundles of joy going under the name of Volca, meanwhile out of nowhere lands the hefty King Korg. Labeled as a live Synthesizer its fair to say that this latest edition comes across as a Jack of all, a swiss army knife of keyboards if you will, but what is it master of?
Unboxing the synth, the hardware appears very straightforward, a 61 note semi weighted keyboard , midi in and out with an uncomplicated interface that most novices with a basic knowledge of synthesis would not feel uncomfortable with.
All the basic functions are there in clearly labeled sections including three fx sections pre, mod and rev/delay with a total of 18 fx, oscillator and filter. The feature sets included have very little in the way of knobs to tweak but the ones on display are all a player would need for smooth easy manipulation of sounds on the fly with very little cocking up.
The character of the sounds included over the 200 presets use Korg’s XMT (expanded Modeling Technology) system, an analogue modeling synthesis based on many classic units from the past and does a fairly convincing job, introducing character and depth not often seen on this style of digital synth. They are split up into 8 sections with a handy button for each including all basics like bass, lead and piano.
There are three virtual oscillators with 127 types 2 timbres and an impressive array of waveforms with the ability to create some interesting results, some of them being dual or unison adding a second timbre with a further 3 oscillators its pretty easy to get osci-crazy giving beginners an insight to the world of synthesis and seasoned tweakers something to think about.
The filter section is where this unit really shines modeling such classics as the Prophet 5, Moog and an appropriately labeled Acid LP3 based on that old squelcher we all love the Roland TB-303. It applies the character to each filter fairly convincingly with a low pass, band pass and high pass for each. Including 2 knobs one for cut off and one for resonance for live manipulation.
Looking at the envelope section there is 2 LFOs, one for filter and one for pitch to create those ever present wobbles in todays music, and 2 envelopes one for filter and another for the amplifier.
If you want to delve deep into the King Korg there is a menu where the editing of features such as the arpeggiator and global parameters is accessible but most of what’s needed is slap bang right under your nose exactly where it’s meant to be.
Some other impressive touches are the vacuum tube that really adds some nice grit to the sound. An xlr input on the back for plugging in a mic and getting freaky with the vocoder. The old Korg favourite joystick for note bending and modulations, and even a CV/GATE out for controlling analogue gear. There is also the integration of USB so when connected up to a computer you can download a librarian software from Korgs website to manage your sounds, a way to work within DAWs away from the standard midi in and outs would be nice but hopefully something Korg will introduce in the future.
After a good work out with the Korg I really was impressed with its ease of use and immediacy, for anyone starting out and wanting to get something hands on with an all round piece of hardware it really wouldn’t be a bad place to start if a little on the expensive side at £999.
The overall sound of the presets were a little thin on the ground for me but with the right combination of tweaks and effects you can certainly acquire usable results.
The King Korg really is a master at being a jack of all which although contradicting itself, seems to be its greatest trick.