Let’s get KORGanized, because the Japanese maker dropped a whole lot of synth news at once. Wave-which now? Reissue? Here it is all in one place.
It’s great to see a glimpse of some of what’s in store here – and there is a lot to drool over. No amount of northern hemisphere Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a match for this; this would melt just about anyone’s heart.
These are all previews – some of them even still in development. KORG Germany is publishing prices; KORG in the USA is not. There’s not availability information for most yet, either, but – well we’ll be watching in the coming weeks.
Pricing: 1.799 € / no US/JP pricing or availability date yet
Quick pitch: It’s KORG’s ARP2600 remake, only smaller. Same circuits, smaller size, and now it has USB host so you can plug in any MIDI controller.
What’s special about it: Made in Japan, true of all KORG’s latest vintage remakes. And the remake, made in collaboration with ARP veterans, was great to begin with – including both generations of filters and an authentic design. So we’re just waiting on price, but hopefully, that’s significantly downsized, too.
KORG miniKORG700 FS
Price: 1.999 €
Japan availability: June [source: korg.co.jp]
Quick pitch: Adding to the reissue mayhem in the world of synths, here’s a real rarity – the first mass-produced synth KORG ever made. They say it’s a faithful reissue of the original, with the addition of an arpeggiator, joystick, CV and gate inputs, spring reverb, and memory program buttons.
What makes it special: I mean, it’s just so pretty in that suitcase. This seems made for someone who somehow managed to survive getting through Tokyo’s amazing used synth boutiques, to finally do in their wallet. But the main thing is, even if the original was a big part of KORG history, it’s a little too esoteric to be much use. Adding all those control features makes it into a new hybrid, complete with the soul of the original – and that’s actually quite clever.
And this one is also made in Japan, with the direct collaboration of Fumio-Mieda, miniKORG’s original developer/engineer.
And that was adorable. But really watch this: the legendary KITARO. (English subtitles are available via YouTube.)
Price: 799 €
Japan availability: June
Quick pitch: There’s a lot of wavetable stuff out there generally, and now KORG wavetable synths are even competing with other KORG wavetable synths. But this is an all-new instrument built on the company’s original DW-8000. That’s the 1985 original that combined wavetables with analog filters, which is, you know, a terrific combo.
What makes it special: Well, how about 32 notes of polyphony, for starters? And there’s now the all-new Kaoss Physics-based modulation (this is a new concept from them), plus what they call Motion sequencing 2.0, so there are loads of ways to animate your sounds. And that fits perfectly with wavetable sounds.
KORG has a dual wavetable strategy here. wavestate is all about wave sequencing; modwave is all about revisiting the DW-8000 but imagining new modulation animation and … more sequencing. It is in fact a little confusing, but they come from different engineering teams. There’s just a lot of KORG to go around.
CDM contributor at large Francis Preve worked on sounds for this, so I’m publishing his in-depth guide separately.
KORG wavestate SE
No product page / pricing yet
Quick pitch: “What a minute, am I dreaming? Wasn’t there already a wavetable synth that’s all about animating sounds with wavetables?” Well, yes. KORG just has so much engineering talent that two teams came up with two great wavetable synths. The wavestate has this novel concept of wave sequencing.
What makes it special: Now it has a 61-key keybed in the SE, aluminum panel and knobs, and you get aftertouch – with updated presets to match.
And yes, that means it’ll be tough to pick between this and the modwave. Plus there’s that opsix FM synth which is arriving.
Honestly, you should probably get all three and a big keyboard stand, reach out your arms Jan Hammer style, and just deafen everyone with all the wavetables and FM. Uh… barring that maybe we can offer some insight into which to choose later.
One more thing – there’s a keytar
They also stuck the microKORGXL+ engine into a keytar, with a built-in vocoder. Yes, a keytar that has an onboard vocoder. (It’s also maybe not so clear in the image, but they have woodgrain with a clear finish to show it off, battery operation, and it comes with a soft case – plus a slim 37-note slim keyboard means this thing isn’t overly huge, which on some of those bigger Roland models made most people look… weird.)
It’s called the RK-100S, and will be available in all-black (2BK) and red two-tone as seen here (2RD).
And what’s out now
Among other products, two new additions to the KORG line are arriving now that I’m especially excited by.
There’s the very hands-on, deep-looking SQ-64 polyphonic sequencer:
And for FM fans, the opsix: