This little kit form single voice DIY kit was released last year as a commercial manifestation of the development board Korg released the previous year at Superbooth. Which is a DSP synth voice, with user a programmable Oscillator slot and custom effects (assuming you are C- savvy)
Its easy to put together and has a simple display, three knobs, and 7 buttons. It kind of looks cheap and chip-tune like. But that is not what it sounds like...
A simple subtractive voice with a modeled filter, envelope, LFO and three effects - think Korg Minilogue XD and your close.
Snapping it together is easy, no electronics degrees required, just a couple of screwdrivers. Connections are:
Micro USB - for power and MIDI
Stereo Audio in - minijack - allows you to use those effects on external devices
Korg Sync in-out - Volca style
MIDI in - stereo minijack - adapter not supplied and its not the one you use with Arturia, Novation or Pittsburgh - they are the Type B adapter, you need the Type A TRS to MIDI adapter. This was a source of frustration.
Stereo Out (with volume) on minijack
There are six mode buttons to select the functions which swap what the knobs do: OSC Knob1 (wave), Knob2 (shape) Knob3 (
Filter: Type, Cutoff, Res, EG: Type, Attack, Release.
So nothing super deep, though often while holding down the section button, the knobs have secondary functions, so you can access the additional parameters. its simple but effective and yes its a bit fiddly.
Sonically, the NTS-1 has some heft to it, they seem to have used some reasonable audio convertors so the low end is there, if a little noisy at times.
Filters sound fairly good:L LP2, LP4, BP2, BP4, HP2, HP4 with resonance, and the basic waves have a pretty wide tonal variation. Of course, you can buy 3rd party oscillator add-ons from people like Sinevibes and others to expand this further.
See this Reddit thread for a list of suppliers:
There are three simultaneously available, like the Minilogue XD simple parameters - Modulation, Delay and Reverb.
The reverb is great to be honest and you can pile it on thick for heavily modulated ambient bliss.
I am a fan of the sound of the effects, and especially as the NTS-1 has a stereo input, you can add them to your other sources, either via a send or direct in.
Additional oscillator and FX models are installed via the USB port using the NTS-1 librarian. I didn't get the opportunity to add models to this, but found it pretty straightforward on the Minilogue XD so wouldn't expect any different.
One thing that was a bit of a gotcha was the MIDI connectivity, first I only had the B-Type minijack to MIDI adapters (Novation, Arturia, Pittsburgh Modular). Then I figured I could use it with a USB Host device, such as the LAB4Music Sipario MIDI router, but because the MIDI port is not the first in order, I could not route it that way either. I had to plug the Keystep and NTS-1 into my laptop and route the MIDI via a DAW.
That aside, the only other annoyance was the Auto Power off, which does not seem to be disabled.
But what you get is a decent sounding - albeit relatively simple synth voice with some tasty FX for £99 which I think is a bit of a bargain.
Thumbs up from me here.