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Rating and Reviews: Korg Kronos 88 Keyboard

Play and produce any style on Korg's top-shelf Kronos workstation keyboard, with customizable sounds from nine synthesis engines and an 8" color touchscreen.

User Ratings
Overall
Sound
Features
Ease of Use
Quality
Value
Manufacturer Support
The Wow Factor
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"Set Lists a gigging musician's dream" submitted April 20, 2012

By Doug Archerd in Battle Ground, WA
Overall
Sound
Features
Ease of Use
Quality
Value
Manufacturer Support
The Wow Factor
Musical Background: Play professionally, record in home studio. Play piano and other keyboards as well as guitar
Music Style: Rock, blues, new age, jazz
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SPOTLIGHT REVIEW
Overall: I upgraded to the Kronos 88 from my trusty Roland RD600 with JV-1010 expansion module rig when my bandmates started complaining about the time it was taking me to change setups between songs (I'm in a "classic rock" band). This was my first experience with a keyboard workstation after years with what was basically a digital piano with a lot of extra voices, and even after several months, I'm still just getting my feet wet with what it can do. But the single best feature, and what sold me as a regularly gigging musician, was the Set List feature. With several hours of initial setup, I've programmed all the necessary voicings (with effects and keyboard splits as needed) for each song in the band's repertoire into a master set list. Now it just takes me an hour or so prior to each gig to copy and paste each song's full setup into a separate set list for that gig. Come time to perform, I simply step through the entire set list in order using the well-lit touchscreen (no more fiddling with a flashlight on a darkened stage trying to read the setup parameters for the next song and then find all the buttons, knobs, and sliders needed to prep the rig and be ready to play. Other things I like about the Kronos 88 include the feel of the fully hammer-weighted keys (I'd still give a slight edge to the Roland key touch, but the Kronos is definitely playable). The piano sounds are very nice and realistic, and you even have the option of emulating the difference in sound between the piano lid closed, fully open, or anywhere in between. Though I should note that I also seriously tried the Yamaha Motif-8 and actually found it's piano sounds slightly better than the Kronos - but the Kronos is still quite good and the other features like the very easy-to-use Set List made it the choice for me. The board is nothing if not versatile, and you have an amazing degree of control over your sounds. I've not even tried the sequencer for recording or sampling my own sounds yet, but it's nice to know they're available when I'm ready to learn it. I do have a few minor beefs. The full users manual is only available on the accompanying DVD disk (it does come with a printed "quick start" guide, which is somewhat of an inconvenience. For folks with their board set up in their studio with their laptop by their side in order to refer to the manual when needed, I guess it wouldn't be a big deal, but it would be better for me if it were all printed so I could refer to it wherever I and my board happened to be (I have printed out sections from it as I've needed them). As other reviewers have noted, you should definitely plan on spending the time viewing the intro video with your board set up as soon as you get it home. It will save you some hours of frustration. Other minor gripes are that the joystick for modulating effects real-time is too loose and thus easily bumped out of position by your arm or sleeve when selecting buttons in the middle of a performance. I've had a few times in the middle of performing where an expected sound just wasn't there, only to find I'd inadvertently joggled the joystick. Korg would be well advised to stiffen the resistance on the joystick movement. Another gripe is the necessity, when creating a new set list, of copying and pasting each song from one setlist to another one at a time, stopping to write the new set list each time (i.e. if you just paste it into the new list and then go back to your master list without writing the new one anew, you lose your changes). It would be so much faster if it would remember the pasted/inserted songs in the new set list for as long as I had the board turned on and just let me write the new set list once I was done with all the changes. And like many high-tech products, I ended up paying for features I didn't want or need, such as the Karma self-generating accompianiment feature, which they tout highly and is a fun toy, but I can't see using either in performance or recording. Maybe if I'm ever trying to do a gig as a one-man band... But those are pretty minor complaints. All in all I'm quite pleased with the playability, sounds, and above all, the convenience the Kronos 88 offers while performing.
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"Pianos alone make this product worth every penny!" submitted September 9, 2011

By a customer from yahoo.com
Overall
Sound
Ease of Use
Quality
Value
Musical Background: Piano, since age 5
Music Style: Classical but can play just about anything (except jazz)
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VERIFIED BUYER
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Sound: As a pianist first and foremost, the pianos on the Kronos are nothing short of amazing! The German Grand pianos (Steinway) put my acoustic baby grand to shame. The Japanese Grand pianos (Yamaha) are also incredible. Can't wait for the forthcoming Austrian piano to be released (Bosendorfer?). Although the Kronos does everything, it was the pianos that sold me. Ease of Use: As a pianist... just turn it on, select your piano taste and play! Quality: Solid and well built. Keyboard action is fantastic! Value: For everything that this DAW does, its worth every penny! The Wow Factor: This DAW is as far above all other synthesizers/DAW's as we are above the amoeba. When Korg said this changes the game... they meant it! Overall: In 2000 I purchased the Korg Triton Pro/X. At the time, that was THE synthesizer/DAW for me. I kept/used it for 11 years, and would still be using it had Korg not come out with the Kronos. I foresee using the Kronos at least that long.
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"Over-hyped Disappointment." submitted October 14, 2011

By a customer from gmail.com
Overall
Sound
Features
Ease of Use
Quality
Value
The Wow Factor
Musical Background: Hobbyist
Music Style: New Age
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Sound: The pianos are obviously the big selling feature of this keyboard, and while light years ahead of other keyboards on the market, they still sound thin to me compared to the real thing or even to some virtual sound libraries. The other sampled sounds (strings, acoustic guitars, flutes, brass) are quite weak and no better than any other higher-end keyboard, and virtual sound libraries totally put these sounds to shame. Drum sounds appear to be streamed from the SSD and do sound really good and some of the synth sounds are very nice. Overall though, for as much hype as this keyboard is getting, I am disappointed with the sounds. If you want the best quality sampled sounds, there simply isn't a keyboard that competes with VSLs, Kronos included. Korg is moving in the right direction by using an SSD drive, they just need to take it a step further by including better sampled sounds of other instruments besides piano/drums. A 30 gig (with 14 gig remaining) drive doesn't leave much room for expansion. Feature: Karma is interesting and can be fun to play with, but I can't see ever recording with it. Not bad for idea generating though. Ease of Use: No major complaints with ease of use. Korg crams quite a bit of stuff into some of their screens, but I guess that's okay if you've got good eyesight. Quality: The Kronos I got had two keys that would not depress on it - which is apparently a common issue with this keyboard. My biggest complaint with the Kronos is the noise the internal fan makes. You absolutely cannot have this keyboard near any recording gear or you will hear it. The Kronos draws less than 40 watts of power so I don't understand why it needs such a large, noisy fan. I also had trouble with the midi out port signal being laggy (more latency than other keyboards I've used). Value: Compared to other keyboards, the Kronos compares favorably in some respects. Manufacturer Support: No dealings with support. The Wow Factor: It's a nice looking keyboard and the action is nice (at least for the keys that aren't stuck), but ultimately the sounds are too underwhelming, the internal fan makes too much noise, and the midi out lag makes it useless as a controller (although possibly using USB instead of the midi out port would work better as a controller - if that's even possible, I didn't try it). Overall: I've already sent the keyboard back because it was defective and have no plans on replacing it.
38 of 55 people (69.09%) found this review helpful. Did you?
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