Korg MicroKorg Analog-Modeling Synth/Vocoder

Huge analog-style synth sounds pour forth from the tiny, 5-pound MicroKORG, with an on-board vocoder and 8-step arpeggiator to get you rocking retro-style.
What do Dr. Dre, Beck, LCD Soundsystem, The Killers, Death Cab for Cutie, and Kings of Leon have in common? Answer: They all use a microKORG. Everything about this fat-sounding analog-modeling synth screams "future classic," from its on-board vocoder, to its tiny footprint and retro-style wood case. Chances are, you'll be seeing (and hearing) more and more of this unassuming little monster, so let's take a look at what the Korg microKORG has to offer to indie bands, hip-hop producers, and electronica artists.

This video showcases just some of the MicroKorg's powerful features:


Tiny Synth, Big Sounds

First things first: if you're primarily a piano player, the microKORG's 37 mini-keys may take some getting used to. It's designed to be played one-handed, which means your other hand is free to manipulate the Pitch Bend wheel, Modulation wheel, and five fat knobs. To get started, choose one of 112 preset programs in seven categories: Trance, Techno/House, Electronica, Drum'n'Bass/Breaks, Hip-Hop/Vintage, Retro, and Sound Effects/Hits. You'll find that just about every synth sound you can dream up is represented here. Play the keyboard as you twist the knobs that control filter cutoff, resonance, envelope attack and release times, and arpeggiator tempo. Ready to start making your own synth sounds? Start with an oscillator algorithm (such as sawtooth or square wave) and turn the knobs to edit your sound, then save your work in one of the banks. You can assign the five knobs to control any read more parameter in real time -- just read their many functions written on the front panel. It's an excellent intro to the world of synthesis, and with no LCD screen to squint at, you'll forget you're dealing with a powerful DSP computer and start having some analog-style fun. The included manual's Quick Start guide will have you squeezing big sounds out of this little board in no time.

Fun with Vocoding

No doubt you've noticed the nifty condenser microphone that Korg has thoughtfully included, connected to the microKORG. And you couldn't really miss the big green "VOCODER" setting on the Program Select dial, either. That's right, the microKORG has a vocoder with a built-in mic, so you can process the signal produced by the microKORG in real time through one of the most dynamic filters on the planet: the human voice. Shift, stretch and distort your voice with this powerful processor. Could your latest composition use a little bit more robot from outer space? How about a fat chipmunk in an echo chamber? Try all 16 of the included vocoder programs, or write your own vocoder program to the microKORG's memory and play it by pressing the keys, even when you're not vocalizing. Best of all, you can plug in any mic you like on a cord of any length, so you're not limited to standing in front of the microKORG when you vocalize into its vocoder on stage.

Powerful Arpeggiator

The microKORG's dual arpeggiator spreads out and repeats the notes of any chord you play in a looping pattern at any tempo you specify -- a useful tool for making beats, or turning a simple one-handed bass-line into something much richer. Choose from six built-in arpeggiator programs or build your own pattern, then adjust the knobs to control the length, spacing, and swing of the notes. You can set the arpeggiator to turn off automatically when you take your hand off the keyboard, or continue playing without you, and you can set it to play either of two timbres in your current synth program. Overall, it's a powerful and flexible tool that doesn't just sound cool, it provides a solid foundation to build entire songs. You don't have to have mad keyboard skills to make great sounds -- just turn on the arpeggiator and get inspired!

MIDI Implementation

"Analog" as it may seem, the microKORG is a digital instrument, and it's fully MIDI-compatible. Have a full-size keyboard that you want to use to play the microKORG's sounds? Connect the MIDI OUT of your external keyboard to the microKORG's MIDI IN, and you're off to the races. Or use the microKORG to play MIDI data into your DAW's sequencer. Every control on the microKORG can transmit MIDI information if you so desire.

Features:

- 4-voice, 2-oscillator analog modeling synth engine
- Stylish retro case with solid wood endblocks
- 37 velocity-sensitive mini-keys
- 128 fully-editable program presets for synths and vocoder
- Pitch Bend and Modulation wheels
- 5 assignable knobs for real-time tweaking
- Eight-band formant-shifting vocoder with on-board condenser microphone
- Powerful 8-step arpeggiator with 6 built-in programs
- On-board chorus/flanger, phaser, and ensemble effects processors
- Three delay modes
- Big, bright illuminated buttons and high-visibility LED display
- MIDI IN, OUT, and THRU
- Runs on 6 AA batteries or included AC adapter
- Under 5 pounds and just over 20 inches wide

At just five pounds, the microKORG can squeeze into the tightest of studio setups, yet its big analog-synth sounds are likely to fatten up just about any kind of music. You'll find the microKORG fun and easy to use, no matter your level of keyboard skill. Just be careful not to call it "cute!"
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- Sound Generation Method: Analog Modeling Synthesis System
- Synthesizer Program: Multi Timbral=2 (max, Normal/Dual Mode)
- Voices: 4 voices
- Sound Source: 2 Oscillator + Noise Generator, Multi Mode Filter (-24dB/oct LPF, -12dB/oct LPF/BPF/HPF), EG x2, LFO x2, Virtual Patch x4
- Vocoder Program: Voices = 4 voices
- Sound Source: 1 Oscillator + Noise Generator, EGx 2, LFO x2, 8 Channels vocoder, Level and pan of each channel can be edited, Formant Shift function
- Programs: 128 programs
- Effects: Modulation effects (3 types), Delay (3 types), Equalizer
- Arpeggiator: 6 types
- Keyboard: 37 Keys (mini-keyboard, velocity sensitive)
- Inputs: AUDIO IN 1, and 2
- Level switch: LINE/MIC, [AUDIO IN 1, 2 (LINE)], [AUDIO IN 2 (MIC)]
- Outputs: L/MONO, R, and Headphones
- MIDI: IN, OUT, and THRU
- Display: 3 characters x1 line with 8-segment LED
- Power Supply: DC 9 V (AC adapter), or 6 AA alkaline batteries (sold separately)
- Power Consumption: 6.4 watts maximum
- Dimensions (W x D x H): 20.63" x 9.13" x 2.76" (524 x 232 x 70 mm)
- Weight: 4.85 lbs. (2.2 kg)
- Accessories: AC adapter (DC 9 V, 600 mA), Condenser Microphone

Note: Specifications subject to change without notice.

Power Supply: DC 9V AC Adapter (Included) or 6 AA Alkaline Batteries (Not Included)
Dimensions and Weight in Packaging
Base Item
Shipping Weight: 8 lbs
Shipping Dimensions: 26 x 12 x 5 in
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): KOR MICROKORG
For support or warranty questions, please contact the manufacturer:
Phone: 631-390-6800

Korg MicroKorg Synth/Vocoder

State-of-the-art analog modeling and multi-band vocoding are finally available in a compact, portable instrument. With 37 keys and 128 user-rewritable programs, the MicroKORG Synthesizer/Vocoder is perfect for the performer, producer, computer musician, or beginner looking for an affordable synthesizer. The MicroKORG delivers the quality sounds and features you expect from Korg at a price that will astound you.

Powerful Synthesis

The microKORG boasts the same dual-oscillator DSP synthesis engine found in Korg's critically acclaimed MS2000 and offers a wider selection of waveforms than any other modeled synth. Oscillator 1 features a total of 71 waveforms. These include traditional analog waves like saw, pulse, sine, and noise, plus more unique choices like Vox wave and cross wave. Together they provide a cool selection that can be modulated to produce an extensive range of timbres. In addition, 64 exclusive DWGS waveforms from Korg's classic DW-8000 enable the microKORG to reproduce a broad collection of imitative sounds. Sounds like bells, electric pianos, guitars, basses, and more that would be difficult reproduce on an analog synthesizer. You can also apply Ring and Sync modulation from Oscillator 2 to create the kind of complex timbres that are the true sign of an advanced synthesizer.

Four filter modes are available, offering -12 dB (2-pole) low pass, high pass, and band pass configurations plus an extra steep -24 dB (4-pole) low pass setting. All include resonance. Two classic ADSR envelope generators and 2 MIDI-syncable LFOs provide the power to shape your sounds. Add a Virtual Patch matrix that lets you create advanced modulation settings - routing the Mod Wheel to control filter cutoff or pulse width, using an LFO to control panning or amp level, etc. - and you have performance that is unheard of from a synthesizer in this price range!

Classic Vocoding

The microKORG includes an 8-band vocoder with many advanced features. You can capture and "freeze" the formants of your voice, and then play it across the keyboard, or shift the formant frequency to make your voice sound male, female, like a child, or just plain wacky! Best of all, the microKORG comes with its own microphone so you can start having fun right away.

A Full Range of Effects

Three types of modulation effects (chorus/flanger, phaser, ensemble), 3 types of delay effects (stereo, cross, L/R), and a 2-band equalizer add the finishing touch to the microKORG. The delays can be synchronized with the arpeggiator or to an external MIDI clock - a great feature for live performances or for laying down tracks. All effects can be edited to create your own, unique sounds.

Great Sounds and Expression

Korg has used all of the microKorg's synthesis power in the creation of 128 great-sounding presets. They cover a wide range of musical styles plus many vintage favorites. Sixteen vocoder Programs are also included. The Pitch Bend wheel, Modulation wheel, and 5 other knobs provide flexible realtime control over filter cutoff, attack, release, and other important parameters. The Edit Mode allows you to fully edit the existing sounds, or to create your own ones.

Flexible Arpeggiator

Six types of arpeggio patterns (UP, DOWN, ALT1/2, Random, Trigger) are built in, with control over tempo, gate time, swing, and up to a 4-octave range. You can turn individual steps on or off within a pattern, providing the feel and functionality of a step sequencer.

Audio In

Two external audio input jacks are provided, so you can run other instruments, CDs, and more through the microKORG's filter and effects, allowing you to process sounds in truly creative ways.

A Compact MIDI Controller

The microKORG's compact size is perfect for the musician or DJ looking to add a synth to his or her setup when space is tight. It's also a great choice for use in a computer-based music setup. The 5 real-time knobs on the front panel can transmit MIDI messages (control changes), so they can be used as controllers for software synthesizers. Use the 37-note velocity-sensitive mini-keyboard for controlling other gear or for recording and editing with your sequencer. And thanks to battery-power, the microKORG is the ultimate portable controller when used with a laptop computer!

Clear Control and Classic Looks

There's no complex menu structure - all parameters are located on the panel for easy access to any function. A large dial and LED illuminated buttons provide easy program selection even on a dark stage. With its beige-gold body, wooden side panels and retro-influenced design, the microKORG has a look that's both vintage and funky.

Note: Specifications subject to change without notice.
(387 ratings)
Submitted May 26, 2008 by a customer from gmail.com
"Great Keyboard, Great Size"
Verified Customer zZounds has verified that this reviewer made a purchase from us.
If I lost this keyboard or somebody stole it I would cry! I would DEFINITELY purchase a new one. This keyboard makes the most amazing synth sounds and is SO FREAKING PORTABLE. You couldn't find a better keyboard that is easier to carry around, it weighs practically nothing and takes up no room, but it sounds fantastic.

Sound
This keyboard can make just about any synth sound you'd want it to make. Obviously it doesn't have anything like piano but that isn't what this keyboard is designed to do. It does, however have a pretty good electric piano imitation. Some of the bass sounds that come out of it are absolutely ENORMOUS and are ridiculous coming out of such a small package. All in all, it sounds GREAT.

Features
The vocoder with included mic is an awesome feature! The vocoder sounds so cool and is a great addition to the right tracks. Also, the keyboard has a lot of settings that can be changed, but it also has a light that lights up to let you know when you've set the setting you're changing back to its original value. Very helpful.

Ease of Use
At first, all the knobs and the huge list of parameters can seem very overwhelming but it doesn't take long at all to figure how they work and how you can begin customizing your own sounds from the presets. The small keyboard doesn't impede the playability at all, in fact it makes it easier sometimes, and if you want more keys you can read more always use a MIDI controller which is very easy to attach.

Quality
While it is made of mostly plastic, it seems to be very tough for being plastic. If you put it in a nice case or bag, it seems very secure and I would not worry at all about it breaking. It seems like it would last for a very long time.

Value
For the price this is an amazing little synthesizer -- it looks and sounds a lot more expensive than it is.

The Wow Factor
Every time someone sees my Korg, they ooh and ahh about how "cute" it is, and then when they hear it they're like "WOAH I WANT ONE." Also, the wood paneling and olive color give it a very cool retro feel. The size of the keyboard is awesome, too, it makes it extremely easy and convenient to transport.

Musical Background:
Musician

Musical Style:
Rock/Electropunk
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