New analogue polyphonic synthesizers, nano controllers and a brand new piano revealed…
Ahead of NAMM 2016 we spoke to Ian Bradshaw, Category Manager at KORG, to talk all things synth and find out about the new 2016 product lineup from KORG, the innovative brand and household name in electronic music and production.
Could you give a brief introduction to what people can expect from KORG at NAMM 2016?
Unusually, we will be making announcements ahead of NAMM, as this allows visitors to the NAMM show to plan ahead while at the same time hopefully give us a bit of space around the announcements made elsewhere in the industry. For the show itself, we will be showing our new analogue polyphonic synthesizer, an expansion of our Nano series controllers and a new digital piano.
There is some focus on portability and smaller sizing – could you explain the benefits of these products in more detail and the benefits of compact instruments?
Taking into consideration just the products announced January, the nanoSTUDIO range is an enlargement of a category pioneered by KORG. What we are offering is more features and convenience to an already popular format.
The Minilogue, again another category pioneered by KORG with microKORG over a decade ago, expands our offering of compact synths. Why we continue to include compact synths in our range is because many studios are centred round a laptop with DAW, plug-ins and other hardware. A large central controller keyboard (although it still has its place) is not what everyone wants and is not always practical these days, so by adding a powerful small footprint synth to an existing set-up makes a lot of sense.
Did you feel this was needed for live performances or home recording?
The Nano range is targeted towards studio use which can often be quite a congested environment. By adding a wireless controller, this not only simplifies a studio but also gives the user a lot more freedom – literally! By combining features, having everything within one product makes workflow a lot easier and encourages creativity.
Polyphonic analog is something that has been requested and speculated since the Monotron and Volca Keys were introduced. Having this type of technology accessible to more people in either environment is more of a desire/dream than necessity.
How does the recent changes improve performance?
Rich Analogue sound is now affordable to many more users. Simple interface allows for “on-the-fly” sound manipulation. The latter is not necessary a new thing as there are many well designed products available. However combining all these aspects together will give better results in terms of sound quality and warmth.
Wireless control is far more convenient than having a USB cable strewn across a desk/room. Plus backlit pads allow easier use in low-lighting conditions.
How does the “minilogue”, specifically, benefit musicians who want to create their own music?
For a start the interface is very immediate, almost everything you need to create sounds is available without having to resort to an editor or diving into sub-menus. The sound engine has 200 patch memories (100 pre-loaded inspirational sounds & 100 empty slots) Also, the built in step sequencer makes it possible to create short phrases that form the foundation of musical ideas. We have 8 Oscillator modes, wave shaping and 2 EGs opening up the sonic possibilities considerably.
Could you give more detail about how the interconnectivity and IOS support benefits musicians?
Our range of iOS products that support WIST technology allow you to sync iPad’s together running apps that also support WIST. In addition, WIST can bridge the tablet/phone based apps with our analogue products in the form of a simple SYNC code. The SYNC code is present on all Volcas, Monotribe, Electribes, Minilogue and most likely future products too.
What are the key benefits of the analogue synth circuitry?
The analog circuitry is not new, but what’s different is that we have learned how to build analog products that are more reliable, affordable and sound great. The advancement of microprocessors enables higher resolution AD/DA for parameter values when storing or recalling patches.
How long have you been working on this style of circuitry?
We began studying producing analogue synths again around 2008/9 and shortly after in 2010 we released the Monotron. The filter was were inherited from the original MS20, but of course where components were no longer available we had to find modern equivalents that delivered the same sonic results.
How easily can these products be integrated into your live or studio setup?
Very easily, just like any other product with MIDI or USB connectivity.
Could you sum up these models being shown at NAMM and what you are most proud of?
Minilogue – Polyphonic analogue, robust construction, stunning looks, amazing sound.
B1 digital piano – New designed cabinet, piano voices that now include string resonance for a more realistic sound. MFB speaker technology that delivers distortion free sound with good frequency response.
Do you feel the future of electronic instruments lies in making them smaller?
Korg do not just produce mini or compact products. The micro and mini products are for a specific segment, while our KRONOS workstations satisfy another. There is certainly a future for small gadget products and we will continue to offer what we believe our users want in both compact and large formats.
Do you feel electronic music is moving more towards the “home studio” owner, as instruments seem to be evolving towards a more easy-to-use format?
Certainly not, there are just as many users performing live with the smaller table top products as there are with our workstations. The reason I believe “easy-to-use” is popular because we live in an age where immediacy is so important. We are doing more in less time so people don’t have the time to invest in learning something that is complicated initially. Ideally the 1st impression has to be rewarding and encourages the user to learn more and explore the depth of the products they purchase.
Lastly, what are your thoughts on how KORG will progress and adapt over the next 5 years?
We will continue to innovate and bring products to market that encourage people to create music in unique and novel ways.
Vist our website to find out more about the new innovations from KORG.
Lee Glynn is a guitarist and multi-instrumentalist who lives in Liverpool, England. After moving to the UK from Perth, Australia, Lee enjoyed a successful career as guitarist in Liverpool based rock band Sound of Guns.
After releasing two albums, a myriad of EPs / singles and touring extensively around the world for 6 years including stops at Glastonbury, Latitude Festival, as well as the coveted Reading & Leeds Festivals, Lee decided it was a time for a change of scenery.
Utilising his experience in music journalism, Lee now works within the web team at Dawsons Music, where he can still relay his passion for music by producing great content for the Dawsons blog and social media. Lee is still an avid guitar player and writer.