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Well... The microkorg. I used to own this synth a few years ago hen I was playing in a band, now I must be honest, the synth itself is brilliant but there is areas it falls down in. First of all let's focus on the good points...
The synth offers a wide range of sounds, samples and effects that can be modulated and manipulated to do what ever you need them to do. This is great for any DJ, pop artist or even rock bands. The synth is only 2-3 octaves and therefore is easy to transport and you need nothing more than a shoulder bag to carry it. It's easily connected upto any PA or amp itv the use of a single 1/4 inch jack-jack.
I have however noticed some bad points...
When I first took the synth out of the box and got it hooked up, it was very complicated to select sounds that I liked to work on and/or store a bank of sounds I'd created. Aswell as this the sustain button on the synth isn't sustain at all. With sustain you expect a nice ring out while the key fades out. However, on the microkorg this is not the case the note will just keep on going for minutes... Possibly hours but I never got that far. This was frustrating as all my melodies came out in stacatto.
I don't want to put anyone off this product but if you're buying just for fun I would steer clear. A good product but a few downfalls.
*37 note, velocity sensitive keyboard
*Dual oscillator DSP synthesis engine
*Wide selection of waveforms
*Four filter modes, all with optional resonance
*Two ADSR envelope generators
*MIDI syncable LFO's
*8 band vocoder
*3 different types of modulation
*3 delay effects
*6 types of arpeggio pattern
*Control over arp tempo
*Control over arp gate-time
*Control over arp swing
*Arp step sequencer
*4 Octave range
*128 amazing preset sounds
*Ability to customise and save your own sounds (note: must be saved over existing patch)
*16 vocoder programs
*Pitch Bend wheel
*Five other knobs provide control over filter cutoff, attack, release and many other parameters
*Two audio input jacks
*Batteries not needed, but battery power is an option for portable playing (6 AA batteries)
*All parameters located on front panel for easy access
*Large main dial and LED screen, plus LED illuminated buttons
*Wooden side panels
*MIDI In and Out jacks
The MicroKORG is approximately 20.5 inches x 9 inches, a relatively small synth, easily to transport and store. Lightweight, so it's easy to cary for a long period of time. (Don't know why you'd need to but hey ho...)
The 128 sounds are divided into 8 groups
Bands that use the KORG MicroKORG
Just so you get a feel of what can be achieved with a MicroKORG, here are some of the many bands that use the synth:
I've had my little KORG for a year now, I've managed to make some massive sounds from this monster synth. But play around with it for two hours and it starts to get boring, I's recommend buying this if you already have other synths, or plan on using it as a MIDI keyboard. I wouldn't buy it to use on it's own, like I did, unless you're in a band and plan on incooperating it into your live shows. I've produced a few demo tracks using it with Propellorhead's Reason 4 and an Electric guitar, and I found this really fun and challenging.
I really like the vocoder, it's a fun piece of tech that I love to use to play songs like Daft Punk's stuff. I also like how retro it is, the design, feel and basic idea of it is great, and the wooden side plates add to the retro effect.
One thing that really annoys me is the size of the keys and the weight of them when you press them down, I hate semi-weighted keys! Especially challengingly small ones that your fingers can only just play without pressing down adjacent keys. I wish I was a smurf, it'd be the ideal synth! But sadly I'm not, and I doubt you're one either, so no, it's not the perfect synth, but it's a great deal.
Other MicroKORG Models
The MicroKORG can be bought with reverse colour keys, meaning white keys are black and visa versa on this model. The MicroKORG was redesigned, and the new model was renamed the MicroKORG XL, available in Black and Red. I haven't tried this product so I can't compare it to my MicroKORG, but I thought i'd mention it incase you're wanting to buy a synth.
I'd say a MicroKORG is good for anyone who's in a band and wants to expand their capabilities, or for anyone who wants to expand their studio set up. However if you want a synthesizer to use on it's own and mess around on, then this isn't the one. But you could explore additional purchases along with a MicroKORG, like the Kaossilator, that could turn out quite fun and experimental.
If you're looking for a fairly easy to use out of the box, affordable starting synth then the microkorg is the keyboard for you.
The microkorg has several editable parameters, countless pre-made patches that are grouped into different genres (Electronica, Trance, Techno / House, S.e. / Hit, Retro and Hiphop / Vintage) which can all be played around with. A cool feature is the arpeggiator which can also be edited and manipluated to suit your needs. The synth has two octaves up and down from the 'central' position so you can use it from C0 - G2 and these are easily used since colour coordinated lights tell you which octave you're currently using. Another good feature is that the product is battery powered and light weight and so can be carried around and set up easily for live performances if that's what you want.
One thin i must stress is that the microkorg is, to most intents and purposes, an instrument just like a guitar or a bass etc. so don't expect to be using it as a drum machine or a sequencer or something.
Finally, the microkorg also features an awesome vocoder with a condenser mic provided for all your voice editing fun!
I purchased my MicroKorg around about a year ago, and it does pack a large punch for a musical object that is so tiny.
I'll start with the positives. As a musical novice (I purchased mine to just relax with and muck around, and sometimes make music with my guitarist friend and drumming friend) the MicroKorg was easy to set up and get started.
There was a manual that may as well have been in a foreign language - you are better of just plugging in some speakers, and experimenting with it (I would also advise looking at some youtube guides of the sort of awesome stuff you can do on the machine.)
There are 8 different sound settings (ranging from Techno, to Drum and Bass) with 16 different sound settings for each genre.
Other nifty buttons include a tempo dial and other dials you can twist and turn to make the sounds different every time.
With the MicroKorg comes the vocoder, which I find slightly disappointing. There are a few settings that can make you sound like a robot when you talk down it, but quite often it is inaudible.
You can run the MicroKorg through the mains or with batteries (I haven't tried the latter.)
For a musical novice, as I say, this is a great little buy and I find it great for unwinding and just experimenting.
Now for the two obvious flaws that I find.
Firstly, the small keys; it may sound trivial, but my fingers can struggle not to press two keys at once, although after a while you do get used to it.
Second of all, I have had great difficulty recording some tunes onto my laptop. I purchased a USB cable which connects it to the laptop and installed 'fruityloops' but for a novice, it was all too much to handle.
When I search how to record onto laptop, I have struggled to find a comprehensive guide. Me and my friend ending up recording it through his phone and it did sound pretty good (I'll save your ears from the youtube link!)
All-in-all, a highly recommended piece of kit - unless you are taking your music very seriously (I wouldn't fancy playing a gig with such tiny keys!)
I have to say that im pretty dissapointed with the Microkorg.
For the price i paid for it i was expecting something more.
This aside it is very simple and easy to use. You dont have to have any prior knowledge of synthesizers and synthesis to use it.
The sounds are in catagories based on their genre which is quite limiting and annoying to switch across sounds all the time. Also without the manual you dont know what sound you are listening so have to search through them all till you find something you like.
Since i have bought it i havent really found much use for it. I know it has been used by lots of artists but i find it quite hard to get a good sound out of it and lots of the presets arent great. I do get some cool experimental noise when you mess around with it for long enough but i wont use this very often.
There arent really enough keys to play a complete song with chords but it is fine for monophonic stuff. I quite like the feel of the keys, though they are incredibly unrealistic. The vocoder is also a disappointment with poor presets and with the gooseneck mic looks silly and just gets bent.
It is very plastic and i think it will break if i dropped it.
The Microkorg has been used by some pretty damn good artists. To name a few we have Air, Beck, the Prodigy and also some bad artists such as the Killers. (only joking, they used to be good until they released Day & Age)
So why did they choose this over the Microkorg XL which boasts a chipset based on the Korg Radias and a more sleek design...
The Microkorg is the cheaper option of the two and has its sound engine based on the old MS-2000. This makes its sound capabilities great but possibly not as great as the XL which has its chipset based on the Radias (as the R3 does).
In saying this the same sort of parameters are still available only layed out differently.
The Microkorg lists all of its parameters in a table on the right hand side which may appear complex to the novice but in fact it is an easy reference tool to see which parameter a specific rotary knob controls.
Using the two rotary knobs in the middle you can select a parameter category to adjust and then under each of the five on the right will be a corresponding set of effects to adjust.
The down side on the synthesis side is that there is only a four note polyphony so we can only use four voices at a time on a specific sound which does seem limiting but you can still produce some great monologue style sounds.
This does however better the XL in that you have an easy to adjust step arpeggiator with 8 buttons which can be used to turn on or turn off segments of the arpeggio.
There are many other differences between the two which can be found on the review of the XL itself.
In essence, the microkorg has 37 miniature-size keys (and if you don't like the size you can always hook up an external midi keyboard to control its onboard sounds), 71 waveforms and DWGS waves to choose from on one of the oscillators and many other standard effects you would expect to find.
Not forgetting to mention the 8 band vocoder... the Microkorg is an excellent affordable synth.
The microkorg is great for either beginners or professionals.
It features 37 keys and 127 programs that are user-rewritable, giving you a lot of variation. These sounds range from electric pianso, basses , guitars, bells, synth pads etc.
The different sound sections include - Trance, Techno/House, Electronica, D'n'B/Breaks, HipHop/Vintage, Retro, S.E Hit, Vocoder.
All of these sounds are great to the beginne to play with, but when you start to actually use this with a band is when it becomes hard to get the sound you actually want. It is possible but takes a lot of tweaking.
The keys on this thing are quite small compared to other synths so if you have 'big' fingers it can be difficult to play at times!
For the price this synth is very cheap, especially as it has a built in vocoder. But like the most of the sounds this is something you are only going to use once or twice!
If you know your stuff you can get a lot from this synth, but it will take you a while to get the hang of it. Flicking through the manual kind of helps you to do this but it can still be tricky to ge the hang of it.
I would recommenr this synth as it is capable of a lot, I don't know why it has such low ratings form other users!
Like any instrument, NEVER base your buying decision on just a review. Make sure you always try the instrument at your local mucis store or if a friend has it then play it. Nothing worse than investing in something and a week later realising it doesn't do what you want, so do your research!
I recently got the chance to use one of these in a studio- having lusted after one on paper several years back, but eventually buying an original analogue 'MS-10'.
I'm really glad I went for the seventies synth. The microkorg falls somewhere between a casio keyboard and a digital synth- whilst it has been dressed up to look cute and analogue, it is actually a soul-less digital beast, with impenetrable controls, and an array of artifically reverbed sounds that just don't sound good to these ears.
Of course- the thing that will first attract people to this, is the nifty inbuilt vocoder, and that IS a nice thing to find on such a keyboard, but there are only so many times you can use that effect before the novelty wears off- such an instrument must rest on its inbuilt tones, and this machine simply doesn't deliver.
If you want something that looks cool and sounds decent- buy a casio keyboard and spice it up with some cheap guitar pedals. It would at least sound more unique than the generic, synth by numbers sounds this delivers.
Tiny keys vs. Big sound.
Plastic feel vs. Real time controllers.
Cheesy presets vs. Excellent analog modelling synthesizing.
It depends what you want from the instrument! It is small, the keys are not weighted and it is, admittedly difficult to play. But once you've got the hang on the tiny, half sized keys (and please don't get confused - they're just helf the length, not half the width of a normal piano key) you can create some pretty cool sounds. (Well, if cool for you is sweeping 80s saw wave tones!)
I really enjoy playing around with this machine. There's an almost endless set of possibilities and plenty of online patches you can download. The online software is also very handy - basically, you can download a piece of software that allows you to modify the various features of a waveform on your computer, rather than finding your way through the various sub-menus in the keyboard itself.
I know this is a lot to request, but I would advise purchasing a properly weighted digital piano and using the piano to control the microKORG via MIDI. That way, you can let your fingers play on a "nice" feeling keyboard and still create the same whacky sounds from the microKORG's synth engine.
The microKORG is one of the best selling synthesizers worldwide and has been used by several electronic bands such as Enter Shikari and Massive Attack.
The box simply contains the tiny 2kg microKORG itself, the vocoder microphone, power supply and manual. Users may at first be surprised by exactly how small the product is if they haven't seen it in real life before. It has only 3 octaves, and the keys are reminiscent of those found on a toy keyboard. One thing is for sure; don't expect to be playing any Bach or Beethoven on this baby, as it is almost impossible to get any articulation or expression in the cheap, plastic, weightless keys.
The preset sounds that are supplied are the epitome of mediocrity. On the other hand, the modulation wheel on the left of the keys is extremely handy and easy to use. However i felt that apart from the modulation wheel, it was very hard and complicated to change any of the attributes of the sound - mainly because the unit is so small that there is no space for the adequate amount of knobs a decent synth would need.
Next comes the vocoder. I was extremely let down by this feature. I found that the microphone was cheap and useless, and you can easily find a much more effective and easy to use vocoder software at a lower price.
Finally there is the completely pointless LED screen, which is capable only of showing 3 digits. Surely one would expect much better quality than this when paying a price of £350.
I wholeheartedly warn you to steer clear of this product. The microKORG is useful only when playing live sets due to its light weight, and is admittedly easier to use when plugged in to a laptop or PC.
So in conclusion, i think you're better off avoiding this product - and instead you should look in to software synthesizers such as MASSIVE by Native Instruments and FL Studio by Imageline. These have the bonus of greater power and they are also easier to use!