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In-depth Feature:  Korg microKORG
Rob G writes: .

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Front panel video pans

microKORG sports quite a complex synth architecture for a unit at this price. Each timbre (two may be layered in a single program), is formed by 2 oscillators and a noise generator. Of the two oscillators, Osc 1 is the more flexible, offering saw, square, triangle or sine waves or noise, as well as the more unusual vox (simulating a waveform similar to vocal chords) and 64 DWGS waveforms. DWGS provides distinctive digital sounding synth voices, particularly useful for bells and other metallic sounds. Alternatively, one of the two audio inputs may be used in place of Osc 1, allowing filtering and effects to be applied. A pair of controllers can assigned to Osc 1 providing access to more detailed shaping possibilities, such as pulse width modulation.

Osc 2 is more basic, limited to saw, square and triangle waveforms. Osc 1, however, may affect the waveform generated, through ring-modulation or oscillator sync. Osc 2 may be detuned relative to Osc 1, for detuning or musical intervals. Both oscillators and the noise generator are routed to the mixer, allowing control over relative levels.

The filter is, again, surprisingly flexible and will happily self-oscillate. A choice is offered between a powerful 24dB-per-octave low-pass filter and 12dB-per-octave low-pass, band-pass and high-pass filters. The filter, in addition to the usual cutoff and resonance controls, offers a full ADSR envelope generator and key-tracking, both with variable depth.

The amplifier has a similar ADSR envelope-generator and both allow EG Reset, causing the envelopes to reset each time a key is played - otherwise the release level is retained from the last note. The amplifier allows you to specify the overall level of the sound, although for layered programs this acts as a balance between the two timbres, the pan position and key-tracking, as well as distortion. The distortion is a simple on-off affair, relying on the levels set in the mixer to determine how much distortion is applied.

The two LFO's are virtually identical - the only difference being the waveforms on offer. LFO 1 allows saw, square 1, triangle and sample and hold, while LFO 2 offers saw, square 2, sine and sample and hold. Square 1 is a standard square wave, while square 2 is a positive-only square wave. Both LFO's support key sync and may be linked to internal (arpeggiator) or external MIDI tempo at 4 beats for each cycle to 1 beat for 2 cycles.

4 'virtual patches' are available, allowing a some pretty creative routing, modulation source (LFO's, velocity, keyboard tracking, pitch bend and mod wheel) can be routed to pitch, Osc 2 tune, Osc 1 control 1, noise level, cutoff, amp, pan and LFO 2 frequency at a specified intensity (depth).

More Resources              Articles - full listing
  • microKorg@synthsite
  • short vocoder example
  • On board demo 1 (MP3)
  • On board demo 2 (MP3)
  • microKorg video of front panel

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