The instrument that brought professional, affordable synthesis to the masses the; Korg Microkorg Synthesizer Vocoder has quickly become a fan of musicians of every type with bass players, singers, guitarists, producers, DJs, and even horn players adding it to their arsenal. Released in 2002, even today the Korg Microkorg Synthesiser Vocoder remains one of the top-selling synths the world over with its 37 mini-keys, battery powered operation, simple-to-use interface, and phenomenal sound.
Armed up with the same dual-oscillator DSP synth engine as the infamous MS2000, the Korg Microkorg Vocoder Synthesiser offers a staggering selection of waveforms. Oscillator 1 is packed with 71 covering all the traditional types along with a good choice of alternatives; such as the Vox wave and cross wave. On top of this you have 64 exclusive DWGS waveforms lifted from the Korg DW-8000 to give you instrumental sounds that are usually hard to obtain on from an analog synth. Combine this with the Korg Microkorg Synth’s Oscillator 2 and you can apply Ring and Sync modulation.
Four filters are onboard, giving you extra steep low pass, low pass, high pass and band pass, all with resonance. You also have two MIDI-syncable LFOs and two ADSR envelope generators. In addition the Korg Microkorg also a Virtual Patch matrix, which enables you to create advanced modulation settings.
With the Korg Microkorg Synthesiser Vocoder coming supplied with its own microphone you can use the 8-band vocoder, and all it’s features, to add your voice to your performance straight away, at no extra cost. Freeze the formants of your voice and play it with the keyboard or alter the formant frequency to make alterations to the sound of you voice easily, all without leaving your synth.
With a full range of editable effects your sound will never be short of those extra dynamics. The Korg Microkorg Synthesiser Vocoder offers up three modulation types, three delay types (that can be synced with the arpeggiator or to a MIDI clock), and a 2-band EQ.
Setting you up from the off, the Korg Microkorg in crammed with 128 presets covering many genres, in addition to 16 vocoder programmes. A Pitch Bend wheel, Modulation wheel and five other knobs gives you complete control over all the necessary parameters, and Edit Mode gives you the ability to alter sounds and create your own.
The Korg Microkorg features a fully-fledged arpeggiator with six built-in patterns and control of tempo, gate time, swing, and up to a 4-octave range. Also, with functionality akin to a step sequencer, you can add and remove the steps of a pattern at your whim.
Opening up even more possibilities the Korg Microkorg Synth has two external audio inputs so you can hook up instruments and audio players (such as an MP3 player) to the synth and us its filter and effects to create astonishing new sounds.
The perfect companion for travelling musicians, or for those whose studio space is at a premium the Korg Microkorg Synthesizer Vocoder packs all its features in a seriously compact and portable unit that is quite happy running off a bunch of AA batteries. It also works great in a computer-centred studio set up with its five real-time knobs capable of transmitting MIDI messages when using it a software controller. The 37-note velocity-sensitive mini-keyboard can also be used to control other gear or as a hands-on controller of your sequencer.
Manufacturer Korg Model Microkorg Dimensions(WxDxH) 524 x 232 x 70mm Weight 4.85 lbs (2.2Kg) Colour Champagne Keyboard 37 note, mini-key, velocity sensitive Sound Source Analog Modelling Display 3 characters × 1 line with 8 segment LED Connectivity AUDIO IN 1,2 Level switch LINE/MIC AUDIO IN 1, 2 (LINE) AUDIO IN 2 (MIC) L (Mono) + R Out Headphone Out MIDI In/Out Included Accessories AC Adaptor Condenser microphone
This is, of course, a positive and negative reflection. It is testament to the quality and range of sounds, but also to the fact that this can be a pig to edit.
But I will start with the good parts - this truly is an amazing synth. I don't really get tied up in the whole digital vs analog business, as long as it sounds good. And this sounds good. I guess it may not have the slight random variations that a true analog synth might have, but it has more of a raw character than (for example) my Novation A-Station in my opinion.
Sounds are built up from 2 independent timbres - so you can create subtle variations for a unison patch, or go all out with totally different sounds for something crazy. One of the presets is a full on tempo synced kick/noise-snare type pattern that you can tweak all over the place. And while the basic voice architecture is fairly standard (though comprehensive with 2 oscillators, 2 Envelopes, Filter and 2 LFOs) you have a heap of waveforms (including special digital wave samples) and you can modulate pretty much anything with anything else.
The midi-spec is full and detailed allowing fine control via a sequencer, and all the controls transmit so you can use this as a controller. The knobs operate in catch mode, so there is no sudden jump in the sound if the pot is in a different position to the parameter it controls.
So, the inevitable gripes.
The keys are small, and not overly responsive feeling. And with the small LED display and so many parameters editing can be a pan. At very least you need to make sure the light is really good so you can see where the knobs are and read the matrix list. But these are forgivable at the current street price. And a 3rd party editor is available.
The polyphony (4 voices, which means two if you are using a patch consisting of 2 timbres) is not great, but I have to say I have not found it limiting, as the sounds are good enough that they don't really need to play chords.
The biggest, and why I have only scored this a 3 is that when you change program the sound glitches horribly. I am talking 1-2 bars where you lose the output while it thinks about the next patch. Also when using the digital waves I have found that I need to save the patch before I can hear it if I have changed the waveform which with no undo makes it really hard to make details and sober edits. And the arpeggiator creates the same kind of stutter when switching it in and out.
All in all, I find the sounds this synth makes really useful, and still exciting 10 years on. But I do not use it as much as I should to make new patches...
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