Is the Korg Drumlogue worth it in 2024?

US Developments for Korg's instrument have been slow but promising.      29/03/24

Is the Korg Drumlogue worth it in 2024?


£339, that's what I paid for a Drumlogue direct from Korg. The machine, originally priced at over £500 seems to have been a mild flop, failing to set the market alight. So why did I bite? Firstly, it's an instrument that I was actually able to play for myself at a synthesizer conversion and enjoyed the punchy tonality of the kick and snare. Secondly, it has a few cool tricks like parameter sequencing, sample start/end point modulation and a nice little VPM (ie FM) synth.

But there are also a few drawbacks (in my opinion); no dedicated cyclical modulators (I usually want LFO's on my LFO's!), no sustain stage for samples (they fade out rather quickly, no matter their length) and the bizarre choice of making it incompatible with the v1 SDK of the Prologue, Minilogue XD and NTS-1. Yes, the Drumlogue's v2 SDK is more powerful, but SO many cool oscillators and effects have been coded for v1 already. With no backwards compatibility, new engines were very thin on the ground for some time, giving the appearance of an open source dead-end.

Thankfully, several clever beans did code new engines and, alongside the positives in my opening article, made me temporarily lose control of my debit card. Let's take a brief look at a few of them:

 

  • Nano (Sinevibes) - The Drumlogue's original synth engine has received various updates over time. Initially came ring modulation, then a new notch filter and more distortion types: Hard, Crush & Shred.
  • Lillian for Drumlogue (Boochow) - An implementation of Mutable Instruments' Braids macro oscillator, with an additional 2 envelopes that can be combined in interesting ways. Braids with parameter recording? TAKE MY MONEY!
  • Minitone (Boochow) - A 2 oscillator VA synth with duophony, ring modulation, sync and an LFO.
  • Tesseract (Dukesrg) - A 4-dimensional vector synth. Each vector axis coordinate can be affected with wavetable-based per-axis LFO. Alternatively, unused axis LFO can be used as AMP EG.
  • Logue Pad (Dukesrg) - a 16 track(!) sample player with multiple play modes (including sustain!) and a random round-robin mode!
  • Resonator (Ice Moon Prison) - A pretty comprehensive Karplus-Strong engine that allows excitation from any internal Drumlogue sample(!)
  • Delay Lab (Boochow) - A stereo delay with modulation and filtering, finally making chorus effects possible on the Drumlogue.

 

Whilst this is small beans compared to the wealth of SDK v1 creations, I feel there's enough interesting stuff here to warrant a purchase. But I haven't even mentioned the user synth I'm most excited for yet: FM64!

Looking at the parameter list, you can see quite a lot of tweak-ability there. Essentially it's halfway between a fully-editable FM voice and a simplified "macro" approach. You feed the Drumlogue a converted bank of DX patches (sounds from the web, your own Dexed creations, whatever) and then start tweaking. The parameters can offset detune, feedback, EG rate and more; there's plenty of scope for turning fairly banal presets into something exciting.

But that's not all, you can tweak the algorithm (types from the DX7, SY77 & Korg Opsix!) and, brace yourselves, import your own waveforms, which you can then select for the carriers & modulators. I'm not entirely sure how long these waveforms can be (the default is 256) but this is not a hard limit, wow!

So if you don't see me for a few months, I'm ok, I'm just making weird FM sounds with my Drumlogue!

https://www.korg.co.uk/products/c-drumlogue

Posted by MagicalSynthAdventure an expert in synthesis technology from last Century and Amiga enthusiast.


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