KORG is kicking off a new product line – the DIY-focused Nu:Tekt – with a $99 screw-together instrument. And it has the same programmable guts as you find in the prologue and minilogue xd, complete with SDK.
The Nu:Tekt NTS-1 is funny to describe, in that it represents different things to different people. For the very few of you who are actually audio programmers, it’s something special … but it might also be of interest if you just want an inexpensive sound toy or particularly like operating a screwdriver. Let’s break it down.
If you just really love using screwdrivers: Yes, this is a kit. There’s no soldering involved, if you need the smell of hot solder flux more than the calming grip of a Philips head.
But if you do enjoy a bit of assembly, you do get the NTS-1 in pieces you screw together. If you love screwdrivers but also have … misplaced all of them (I feel you), there’s even one in the box.
If you want an amazing pocket instrument for $99: Holy crap. The NTS-1 is very possibly the most synthesizer per dollar I’ve seen. KORG actually don’t even really describe how powerful this is in the press release, sheepishly saying it’s “inspired by the MULTI engine” on the prologue and minilogue xd.
So, you have something that’s small and has some onboard jamming features, like a KORG volca, but with the audio depth of their flagship instruments. And it’s even cheaper than a volca – even if you’re the one doing some of the final assembly, and the case and fit and finish are a bit more ‘rustic.’
It actually is the guts of the ‘logue voice. See the developer section below; the NTS-1 retains compatibility with the prologue and minilogue xd.
So that means you get the single oscillator from the ‘logues, plus a multimode filter, a single envelope generator, three (!) LFOs, and three (!) effects processors – reverb, delay, modulation.
Clarification: I spoke with KORG engineering; the “guts” here aren’t exactly the same as the ones we saw on the logue SDK development board or that exist inside the prologue and the xd-edition minilogue. But to the end user, the behavior is essentially the same. (The architecture was ever so slightly shifted around for this model.) Developers, there are some subtle differences to performance, but without altering SDK compatibility. I definitely want to have a full developer piece for the fall. It’s a fascinating little box.
You can play that, volca style, using an onboard arpeggiator. Or you can connect MIDI input. Or there’s an audio input, too, making this a very handy pocket-sized effects units for other gear.
For those of us who love collecting little sound boxes, like the Pocket Operators, volcas, Twisted Electrons, and our own MeeBlip, I can see the NTS-1 doing double-duty as an effects box and extra sound source. Life is getting pretty darned good for us – you can literally put together a full studio of gear for the price of one high-end Eurorack module, you know.
That’s already worth a hundred bucks, but the really interesting bit is that the NTS-1 is supported by the ‘logue SDK. This means you’ll be able to load custom effects and oscillators onto it, almost app style.
There are 16 custom user slots for loading your own oscillators, plus 16 slots for custom modulation effects, 8 reverb effects slots, and 8 delay effects slots.
That’ll be fun even if you aren’t a developer. As a non-coder, you probably don’t want to mess around with GitHub and the SDK, but KORG is planning a librarian and custom content page you’ll be able to use on the Web. which will eventually be here:
And if you are a developer, well –
If you’re a developer: This just solved two problems for you in getting into KORG’s SDK for the ‘logues. First, it makes your price of entry way cheaper. (And even developers I know who own the keyboards are considering buying this, too, because it looks like fun.)
Second, if the NTS-1 takes off, the installed base of people who can make use of your creations also expanded.
The SDK here supports both custom oscillators and custom effects, as with the full-fledged keyboards. Check out the dedicated SDK page:
- Ribbon keyboard
- 1 digital oscillator, 1 multimode filter, 1 EG, 3 LFOs
- Multiple effects: Mod (chorus, ensemble, phaser, flanger), delay, reverb
- Minijack audio in and out
- Minijack MIDI in jack
- USB port (necessary for loading custom programs as well as power; apparently no USB MIDI support)
- Runs on USB bus power (< 500 mA)
- 129 mm x 78 mm x 39 mm / 5.08” x 3.07” x 1.54”
- 124 g / 4.37 oz
- USB cable, manual, and screwdriver in the box
The NTS-1 ships in November. I’ll definitely try to get one. US$99.