Many in the CDM community miss the days when big-name gear inspired real love. Peer into the studios of even the most dedicated DIY software and hardware maker, and you’ll still see products from big manufacturers. And, much as some may unfairly deride newcomers, the lifeblood of electronic music is the person who opens a box and falls in love with a synth for the first time.
Much of the Korg product line can’t inspire the kind of raw passion that its older products, and boxes from the likes of Roland and Yamaha, once commanded. But then, at its supposedly entry-level end of the pool, something magical happens. It’s hard to put into words, but people really do love some of this stuff.
It’s hard to put into words in English, anyway. For a real demonstration of why Korg is cool and beloved, look no further than Jet Daisuke, who, peering at the Internet onlookers through crazy-colored shades and hoodies and knit caps, speaks to the music tech geek in a way that transcends language (especially as the viewers often don’t speak a word of Japanese). He reviews Korg in a way that silences haters, and he does it alongside reviews of yogurt. (Not a Yogurt soft synth — just, you know, yogurt.)
First up: the microKORG XL. It’s got a silly name that’s a contradiction in terms. It’s pricier than the original microKORG, and, being a typical American, I wondered if the heavier, larger, more feature-packed R3 wasn’t better.
Well, now in translation, Jet explains why the XL is an example of superior Japanese engineering. It’s absurdly light, and ridiculously simple to operate – so who cares if the R3 does a little more? The keys feel fantastic. And when you open a box, joy comes out – certainly in his capable hands.
(For the translation of what he’s saying, you may need to click through to YouTube.)
Jet also has a lovely little jam he’s put together with the microKORG XL and GarageBand. It’s an exercise in minimalism: use what you need, and don’t bother with extra features. Have fun. (Oh, yeah … fun.) Lastly, add bright, neon colors. Awesome.
And then, he takes the nanoKEY ultra-compact controller out on a Shinkansen, the train that makes us rail lovers ready to learn Kanji and causes the Acela to cry itself to sleep every night. Personally, just as with the XL, I love that the nanoKEY is so divisive. Some people hate its action, which feels like the keyboard on a laptop. Some people have managed to break theirs. (Yeah, it’s time for a road-worthy little case, maybe made out of pressed bamboo, a material I’ve been exploring lately.) But there’s one thing you can’t argue with: it’s small. It’s too bad Korg doesn’t just offer these in six packs, so you can grab one whenever you need.
This one isn’t translated, but I think he’s speaking the universal language of music geeks. (If he says anything especially worth noting, to our readers in Japan, feel free to let us know.)
So, Jet loves Korg. And, quite frankly, we absolutely love you, Jet Daisuke. You’re an icon for everything we believe in. Keep the mobile music jams coming:
Jetdaisuke conducts the gadget orchestra [Boing Boing Offworld]
Jet Daisuke Wins the Internets
By the way, Korg, if you think this means we’re letting you off the hook and drawing your name in little hearts, we’d like to see more of the Good Korg out. For starters, you did notice that Jet picks up on the fact that the microKORG XL lacks a shoulder strap. Given that we’ve heard Roland’s upcoming keytar — erm, make that a “shoulder-mounted keyboard” — may be on the pricey side, maybe you could offer one strap as an accessory, huh?
Thanks to LA FORCE in comments for pointing this out to us. And you know what, man? You’re right.