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Thursday, September 23, 2010

2007 - Korg MicroKorg

I know, I know, these synths are everywhere.
Used on loads of albums apparently too(that's what I hear, but have no citations backing me up).
They have a bad rep for the presets being used on these albums as well.
Using factory preset sounds is a pointless waste of an otherwise fun and very useful little synth.
I've had mine for a number of years, and every time I've thought about upgrading or cross grading to other gear, this one never hits the sales room floor.
Why?
Well I have to admit I quite like this little synth.
It's patch panel is excellent and the ability to use the filter, vocoder and fx without having to to use the oscillators is a very handy feature.  It might not be the warmest sounding bit of virtual analogue out there, but it does have oodles of charm.  You can rout almost every parameter to just about everything else.
There are limitations of course. Ideally I'd like to see some control over the built in effects via the LFO & EG section. As there has been an update to the hardware with the XL model, I doubt the MK OS will get a look in.
The first thing I did when I got the synth home, was demo all of the presets.
The second thing I did was erase them. 
When the system is set to default (shift + f3), you get a single saw oscillator.
From there you're open to tweaking to your hearts content. The Sine oscillator allows for some simple FM style synthesis, and is fantastic for playing the Dr who intro or just get creative and modulate as much as you can to just see what happens. The rest of the oscillators have more basic control, and as to be expected the Square had PWM control which makes for great big bass patches.
This synth can do pads quite nicely, though I spent a lot of time programming electric piano and organ type sounds to it. It'll even pretend to be 8bit if you treat it right.
My only beef is the keyboard. The lack of velocity control is a little disappointing (it's available on the ms20 soft synth controller, which has the same keys). Also as there are two synth engines available, having the keyboard splittable and/or at least each voice being controlled via separate midi channels would have been a great bonus for playing live. At least you can do whatever you want with multitracking in this regard.
I've owned a number of korg products over the years and this unit is as well built and capable as any of them.
Each of them had a specific option that I'd have liked implemented, but the lack of options sometimes increases creative opportunities.
The MicroKorg is a great synth and at around $500AU 2nd hand is well worth the money.

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