KORG has other new product announcements, and I think both are going to be big hits for them.

The SV-1 stage piano falls well into the category of “why didn’t anyone else do this first?” First, it looks beautiful – finally, a keyboard designed for the stage that actually looks good onstage. (I don’t know, maybe manufacturers assume us keyboardists are ugly?) Second, it combines all the sounds many gigging keyboardists need, instead of an odd assortment that covers some bases but not all, or overkill workstation keyboards that do too much and get too complex. Third, it’s finally a hardware keyboard that learns some recent lessons from software – you need to model the characteristics of the real thing, and people expect good amp models, and the like. Fourth, it’s… okay, it’s just really, really pretty, which I expect will change how everyone feels about the whole package.

Updated: Yes, in fairness, Nord has potent competition waiting for the KORG, and available first. I think either the Nord Stage or Nord Combo win handily if organ sounds are important, and both are designed to double as external controllers if you do like software. The Nord also has more bells and whistles for editing and sound control. On the other hand, the KORG will clearly appeal to people who are in it mainly for the electric piano side of the coin. And pretty as the Nord is – as much as they’re both shades of red – I think the KORG is still pretty darned sexy-looking.

In addition to all the specs and such, KORG has the manual online, so you can get into the details.

SV1 Support

Oh, yeah, just one gripe – I always think it’s silly when you put a window in front of the tube. But I won’t knock it; I expect it helps on the sales floor. At least the side that faces the audience looks like a racecar.

Now, I have just one request for the whole industry: some of us really do like our computers. Can we please, please have one top-flight software keyboard controller that’s worth spending extra dollars on and looks like it means business? Unfortunately, the industry has decided the “pros” want nice hardware keyboards, and anyone using software is probably a basement producer – which is why you see the pros, when they want a software controller, using hardware like the Yamaha Motif for the job even when there’s no actual sound coming out of it.


The other announcement is a redesigned WAVEDRUM. For those of you who haven’t discovered the Cult of Wavedrum (and the rival Roland Handsonic), this may be a bigger deal than you think. As it happens, the electronic music world often wants stuff that doesn’t fall in a predictable category. Digital virtual bongo head? Why, yes, people want that – to play virtual conga or tabla, or just as a controller for other sounds. The new Wavedrum is built with more sounds, more effects, and more sensors for a wider sonic palette, including newer features like physically-modeled sounds and the ability to apply different effects to different parts of the surface. I’m guessing it’s still no match for boutique controllers, but it could give the Handsonic a serious run for its money – not least because it looks a heck of a lot better. (Hey, it matters.)

WAVEDRUM Product Page

Let us know if either of these items strike your fancy and I can dig up more from my Long Island neighbors at KORG.

  • Love that SV-1. But, count me as another one that would love a killer, simple controller keyboard.

    I'm kind of surprised that Apple haven't done something there, given their "collaboration" with Apogee on the Gio and Euphonix on the EuCon controllers.

  • Well, but you can see the emphasis on guitars – I think the keyboard market is simply smaller, let alone the high-end keyboard-plus-computer market. Of course, the absence of a product in the category makes for a self-fulfilling prophecy, doesn't it?

  • synthetic

    I'm also game for a pricey controller keyboard. Of course, the case, power supply, keybed, display, etc. are where the real money is spent on a synth. The actual synth engine and audio outputs are a small percentage of the total. So a nice controller keyboard might cost only 5 or 10% less than a nice synth, so maybe they figure there's no point. Or maybe they traditionally sell poorly, like fader controllers.

  • jack t

    Wow, the SV-1 looks fantastic! Nice to see some competition for the Nords. It's cool they got Neal Evans on the video, though I won't believe that he really likes it until I see it on his touring rig.

  • Not only is there a window for the "tube", but there's a virtual tube and window in the control software as well!

  • @Joshua: Well, that's so you can have a clear view of the tube model. 😉

  • CPRoth

    Not being a wise guy here, but didn't Nord 'do this first'? And do it with realtime access to drawbars? Sorry, I loves me some Korg but I've got better organ sounds, both factory and home spun, on my Triton Studio 61, which is starting to get a bit long in tooth.

    A for the ultra deluxe keyboard controller, I think part of the problem here is that a lot of manufacturers have 3rd parties making the actual keyboards for them, as well as the knobs and faders, leaving the technology of the instrument as the product they are trying to sell. But if they're up to it, the one thing they could all learn from the original Kurzweil Midiboard (one of which STILL is the center of my studio rig), give it a flat top to stack other stuff on top (like a lap top?). Then of course there's the VERY subjective subject of action (donning flame suit)…

  • No, you guys are right. I should have mentioned the Nord. On the other hand, these are very different. Die-hard organ fans are clearly going to want not only a Nord, but the lovely new Combo. If you're looking for a light, cheap replacement for an electric piano and digital piano, though, the relative simplicity of the Korg may actually be an edge. So it is indeed great to see multiple offerings in this space, which has been pretty quiet. And this looks much cooler than the stage piano offerings from Yamaha and Roland, all due respect to their lines – they don't have anything quite as focused as this product, or as purty.

  • mrbarnardo

    More info on the WaveDrum please!

  • fintain

    I think this is a direct response to the nord. Personally, I think the nord has not too much to worry about, the big three lost the plot along time ago, the glowing "ooohh look" valve is a further example. People avoid products that resort to this type of gimmick thing?

  • Well, wait a minute, aside from the fact that both this and the Nord are red, shouldn't there be a fairly decent-sized market for good, versatile stage pianos? 😉

  • netch

    Wavedrum!!!! the most sought-after "percussion"!

    The return, can't wait to try it.

  • J. Phoenix

    A new WaveDrum! Awesome sauce!

    I'm still hoping I someday get ahold of the first model.

    Can't wait to see how it compares the Mandala (

  • As a long-time keyboard player, I'd say Korg have got it right here with the SV-1 by not trying to do too much. I much prefer 'standard' non-weighted keys or a 'waterfall' style keyboard for playing organ/b3 stuff. It's pretty hard to do all the gliss work and doggy-paddle etc on weighted keys, since those techniques evolved on organ keyboards and the action on weighted keyboards is too heavy. So I would say this makes a good base keyboard for stage rhodes and piano. If you want to play some organ (and have the money!), supplement it with something like the Roland VK8.

  • Rupert Lally

    As someone who owns and loves his Nord electro 2, I still want one of these ,in addition, to the Nord. In terms of ease of use I think it hasthe edge on the electro 3, which seemed to trying to offer too much in one box. Whats always curious with these things is what manufacturers choose to leave out – no ring mod effect (definitely one of the best fx on the electro 2)and no keyboard split (or so it seems)something that bugs me on the electro 2 as well (except for separate organ sounds) and too be honest I doubt anybody changes those virtual drawbars on the nord whilst playing – waaay too fiddly!

  • Oooh. Hopefully they will make the new WaveDrum in sufficient quantities and at reasonable prices. I am in lust already. 😛

  • Isn't Fatar known for high quality controller keyboards?

  • WOW, me wants.

    I've been using mainstage with a couple midi controllers, and while it's a very capable setup, I find myself really in envy of the guitar guys … just plug your thing in and play.

    There's always something wrong with my rig. Either the USB is flakin' or the computer's freezin, or I forgot one of the ten-thousand cables I need.

    There's something to be said for the all in one, SIMPLE instrument. I like the lack of a display here ALOT.

  • cobb

    the new wavedrum wd-x actually seems to drop i/o features from the original: no exp. pedal in, no midi. the midi was only good for backing up presest and using the re-10(i think) external fader control editor thingy. so might not be a big loss.

    the first wavedrum also used some physical modeling type sounds mixed with pcm sound creation. one of the 1st presets demoed here is pretty karplus-strongy. it could almost be conceived as well mic'd drumhead run through some highly specialized effects processor getting beefed up by a sample-based sound generator that maps physical gestures on the drum in an intuitive and musical way… very, very close to an acoustic or electro-mechanical instrument in expressiveness and subtlety of tone

    exciting stuff, video demos of the wd-x suggest that it is an evolution of the original's design. spent hours looking into the original rabbit-trailing from the randy jones/intimate control story on cdm . great stuff. i truly hope this thing catches on, proving there's a market for electronic instruments that gain deeper control of the sound through nuanced physical interation, instead of just throwing more knobs or blinking lights on a product. i love me some knobs and blue leds, but i'm ready for the tactile revolution.

  • Michael Pearson


    Check out the Electro 3 – Electro 2, but with actually usable digital pianos and the combo's organ engine.

  • This is a big shot at Clavia.

    The street price is actually coming in below the Nord Electro 3 for the same number of keys ($1,999 versus $2,199).

    As far as comparing the Nord Electro 3 and the Korg, you are getting more tweakability on the Nord as well as better organ control and sounds. You get keyboard split on the Nord Electro 3.

    The Nord is still tops but really seems like a solid entry by Korg.

  • it's analogue/digital hybrid, isn't it?

    I've noticed that it has MIDI and USB-MIDI+editor.. that means you should be able to control it from your favorite DAW, or programming environment (MaxMSP, SuperColider, Chuck, AcToolbox), and so on, right?, you can also control all the parameters from there, including the sounds type, and timbre parameters, and so on, in order to make algorithmic composition, or generative stuff, and so on, right?

  • it makes me remid a bit the ideias behind the line 6 amplifiers in terms of analogue+digital hybrid

  • rob

    I wouldn't really see the Wavedrum as a direct competitor for the Handsonic. The HS shines as a MIDI controller, but it's onboard sounds are utter crap. The new WD doesn't appear to have MIDI, and even if it did, it's basic deign wouldn't let it be as versatile a MIDI controller as the HS, and the tactility would be hart to translate to MIDI anyway. OTOH, it looks like it would be a whole lot more fun to play than a Handsonic. I have an HS already, and I'll be picking one of these up as soon as they're available. (Looks like that should be in about three weeks here in Japan!)