Korg’s drumlogue has a killer app: the incredible-sounding Sinevibes Nano dual-oscillator synth, with all the extras. And that app gets a ton of new stuff in a free system refresh. Add that to the separate, 3rd-party synth based on Mutable Instruments’ Braids macro oscillator, and … drumlogue is like two shampoos in one!
Maybe the drumlogue has been a little unfairly maligned in some quarters. The drumlogue’s analog/digital hybrid engine sounds different from other drum machines out there, and it’s terrifically capable. There are some kinks and workflow issues when you use it – note that there aren’t always dedicated controls in that compact layout – which make me wish 2020s Korg would look back at some of their peak-era Electribes for more performance-oriented features. But it’s at least solid, with a lineage from Junichi Ikeuchi and a flexible architecture. And you can drag and drop some PCM sounds to balance out the drum set.
That said, there are plenty of drum machines that can do something like that. The drumlogue’s edge is unquestionably the inclusion of Sinevibes Nano, which makes this into a one-stop shop for both your synth/bass line and percussion. And Nano is something really special – ring mod, 4-pole multimode filter, and its own envelope generator and multi-waveform LFO.
Now to that, you get a bunch of new features in addition to that:
- New notch filter
- New distortion algorithms: Hard, Crush, Shred (atop existing Soft [clipping] and Diode)
- Reset oscillator phase with trigger events
- Improved motion sequencing for envelope parameters
- Improved oscillator quality in the lower key range (basically, fixing the low-end scaling of a level compensation calculation, removing some possible noise artifacts at the low end)
- Oscillator detune range is now -36 to +36 semitones. (I love that; then you can make some evil two-tone sounds.)
- Recalibrated oversampling “for a slightly brighter sound”
Well, you had me at distortion. Nano already sounded terrific before these tweaks; now it’s irresistible. (I got to test 1.20 earlier this year, so – trust me.)
Here’s another quick test, showing the output on the Korg oscilloscope (the drumlogue is what’s producing the sound, hosting nano):
Of course, the other advantage of the drumlogue SDK is the ability to customize the unit – though note that this SDK is incompatible with the ‘logue SDK for prologue / minilogue xd / NTS-1. (There’s different hardware inside.) Boochow Instruments makes two. minitone is arguably a little redundant with Nano as a choice. But LILLIAN is interesting – it combines the macro oscillator code from Mutable Instruments’ open source Braids with two envelope generators and eight CV signals:
With those two as options, this is one fun hardware box. I mean, yeah, I’d still probably buy a Roland TR-8S first just as it’s easier to use live and ha a really broad, multi-engine sound set. (Uh, CR-78 now.) And for nice drum sounds, you’ve got other boutique competition like Erica’s LXR-02 (or get your hands on an MFB). But the drumlogue’s synth-plus-drum machine design is compelling and flexible, and there’s still less menu diving than on the (more expensive) Elektron options.
My other concern with drumlogue – and why I held off a bit on a review – was some issues in firmware. It appears they’ve addressed a number of those, and it’s time to give this box a full run-down. Also in this update:
- Fixed issues with some special characters in sample/program/kit/unit file names when transferring files to/from a computer.
- Fixed a problem with tempo synced delays when drumlogue is clocked externally.
- Fixed an issue where the current tempo was not saved properly after a CLEAR ALL PATTERN operation.
- Fixed a display issue when changing a step from TIE to RACHET on the MULTI part.
- Allow navigating between bars when in CLEAR STEP MOTION mode.
- Some improvements to overall MIDI latency.
- Various other minor bug fixes and improvements.
Street nowadays is around $599.
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Korg Drumlogue Hybrid Drum Machine [Sweetwater]
drumlogue Analog + Digital Drum Machine [Perfect Circuit]
drumlogue Analog + Digital Drum Machine Demo sale ($549)
Oh yeah, and the “two shampoos in one” reference, well –