MIN Visits Korg UK HQ To Asses Latest Developments And Product Launches – Andy Hughes

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MIN's Visit Korg UK HQ To Asses Latest Developments And Product Launches - Andy Hughes

A visit to the KORG UK base is always going to feel like being a child being given the run of the sweetshop – so much to see, not enough time to see it in.

A company like KORG is busy designing, manufacturing and then releasing new instruments and equipment on a daily basis, so a visit is only ever going to be a snapshot of what is happening at that moment. That said, it was fascinating to hear the details of the latest products from the experts, with a chance to ask some questions, and present the results here at MIN.

MIN’s Andy Hughes was the lucky man who had a behind-the-scenes presentation – here is an overview of what he saw –

KORG WAVESTATE –

WAVE SEQUENCING SYNTHESISER

Korg have updated their legendary Wavestation which introduced the world to the brand-new sound concept – turning raw sound samples into an endless array of brand-new sounds and effects.

The original design Wavestation opened doors in sound for a number of influential musicians since its release to the market in the early 1990’s, among them electronic pioneers like Jan Hammer and Depeche Mode.

The Wavestation sound has been immortalised as the start-up tone for Apple Mac computers from the Quadra 700.

Technical and design advances in sound technology at Korg have allowed the company to re-design their ground-breaking original concept with the completion and release of the Wavestate, which includes facilities for customers to adjust pitches and timings, as well as reconfiguring loops and sequences in real time – a massive step forward from the original pre-programmed systems of the original model.

Unlike the original Wavestation, which featured a wave sequence with a duration, sample, and pitch, which could only repeat itself, the new Wavestate carries Wave Sequencing 2.0 which splits the timing, sequence and melody, so that each can be manipulated independently. This adds an infinite variety of sound combinations which can be modified and adjusted as the composition develops.

The Wavestate has balanced stereo outputs to connect to any recording or monitoring system, with a built-in stereo headphone output for private playing or studio / stage monitoring and pre-setting. Din-style MIDI jacks allow simple connection to other MIDI-equipped instruments and audio equipment.

The Wavestate also carries class-compliant USB MIDI connections to Window and Mac computers.

A Wavestate Librarian programme is available as a free download from the Korg website.

Far from issuing a new model as a nostalgic re-boot, the Wavestate has been completely re-designed to meet the demands of modern musicians, composers and producers.

Highlights included in the new design are –

  • Extensive modulation with ‘hands on’ control
  • Gigabytes of samples
  • Modelled filters, including MS-20 and Polysix
  • 64 stereo voices
  • 4 Layers with Vector Control
  • 14 simultaneous effects
  • Set Lists and Smooth Sound Transitions
  • Randomisation

The Wavestate features 37 full-size keys and its compact design allows easy transport, and a simple fit into any stage, studio, or desk-top set up.

In common with all Korg releases, the vast array of modern technology built in to cutting edge instrumentation is not by any means reflected in the highly competitive pricing structure, allowing artists, composers and producers moving on from basic start-up kits to more advanced and developed studio and stage hardware at a highly reasonable cost, representing excellent value for money.

The Korg Wavestate is available from February 2020.

SSP is £699.00 including VAT.

NC-Q1 SMART NOISE CANCELLING DJ HEADPHONES

The ears of a musician or DJ are an essential part of creating or delivering music, and the protection of such valuable assets are at the heart of KORG’s latest innovation in the field of noise-cancelling headphones, the NC-Q1 Smart Noise Cancelling DJ Headphones

With their customary aim of providing a higher level of spec for a more competitive price, KORG have developed headphones with microphones on both the inside and the outside of the ear cup which suppress a wide range of frequencies, while auto-adjusting volumes according to the external sound environment.

The ear cushions are made from viscoelastic memory foam which fit to the wearer’s ears providing sound isolation and allowing the in-built microphones to assess and cancel sound sources as required.

Perfect for DJ’s, the NC-Q1’s has Smart Monitoring and Sound Enhancing functions which prevent the need to remove the headphones, or adopt the standard ‘one ear free’ approach to hear the room sound as well as the sound through the one headphone.

Tapping or tap-and holding the earphone will cut out the monitor input sound and allow the room sound to be heard.

The headphones also provide Bluetooth technology, and can be used to make and receive phone calls, and access computer technology including Google Assistant and Siri.

Removing the headphones will activate software to pause the audio stream coming into the headphones, which will automatically restart when the phones are put back in place.

Available colours are black and white, and the headphones come complete with a stereo converter plug, USB cable, and carrying bag.

KORG MW1608 AND MW2408 HYBRID / ANALOG MIXING CONSOLES

Korg has an established habit of going right to the top when looking for input for its instruments and sound equipment. For their new sixteen and twenty-four channel Soundlink mixing consoles, the company brought in Greg Mackie and Peter Watts to provide a combination of analog control for live mixing, with digital features in a brand-new combination.

Peter Watts is the design genius behind the mixing consuls at the legendary Trident studios, and Greg Mackie has been mixing on those consuls for over forty years, and their formidable blend of innovation and expertise has been brought to bear on the new KORG mixing consoles.

The advantage of the input from Mackie and Watts is the ability to include big expensive mixing technology and specs into smaller and competitively priced consoles like these – all the high-end requirements for a low-end retail price.

These mixers include Mute Groups – a facility to allow the engineer to call up different combinations of channels for different settings – different songs, a solo section, different parts of a choir and so on. This function is normally found on much bigger mixers with much bigger prices, but KORG include it on their new models.

Some musicians want to hear more of themselves through their in-ear monitors or stage wedges, which usually means remixing once again. The ‘Musician’s Phone’ feature gives a one-knob boost of the left / right mix into the musician’s individual track sound – a Soundlink exclusive.

These would not be KORG mixers without the unique KORG technology built in to them – in this case the KORG digital effects processer chip is included in each mixer console. All six reverb effects carry an alternate ‘warm’ version which KORG users have enjoyed and appreciated for a while. All effects can be edited, and recalled using an optional footswitch.

Also included is test tone generators for use with the built-in 24-band Spectrum Analyser, another exclusive not normally available on mixers in this price range.

These two new mixing consuls from KORG provide the standard KORG approach – technical specs normally included in more expensive models, provided on these two brand new design consoles, created with ease of use and accessible features for the amateur sound engineer right up to pro level studio mixers.

 

VOX TELSTAR 2020 DRUM KIT

Following the increasing interest in instruments with an iconic vintage design, Vox are releasing the VOX Telstar 2020 Drum Kit – a modern reimaging of the famous Vox kit from the 1960’s.

Not only visually arresting, the quirky oval bass drum provided an added facility of differing sounds depending where the front skin was struck.

The new version of the famous vintage Vox kit includes drum heads manufactured by brand leader Remo.

Everything barring the cymbals and drum throne are included in the kit, so it’s all ready to go.

The kit includes –

 

Oval Bass Drum 18” and 12” x 13” with coated heads top and bottom

Tom 3” x 7.5” with coated heads top and bottom

Snare 14” x 5” with coated head top and clear head bottom

Floor Tom 16” x 5.5” with coated heads top and bottom

Hi Hat Stand – Vintage flat-base stand and original pedal

Snare Stand – Vintage flat-base stand

Kick pedal – Vintage flat-base stand

The original 1960’s kits are valuable collectors’ items fetching op prices on internet sites, now players can experience the look, feel and sound of the iconic Vox kit, brand new for 2020.

KORG RK 100S2 KEYTAR

Once again KORG are delighted to announce another of their seminal instrument reissues, this time the only stage instrument for born extroverts, the RK 100S2 Keytar.

As has become standard for KORG development, the original instrument’s best and favourite features remain, and a number of design improvements provide additional bang for the customer’s buck.

The attractive woodgrain finish is enhanced by a clear finish.

The 37-note keyboard provides easy playability.

Two ribbon controllers broaden performance potential.

Battery power allows free stage movement with a long operation time – up to eight hours playing time on six AA batteries, but for those seriously extended solo opportunities, a separate AC adapter is available.

Buttons for favourite samples give access to the two hundred stage-ready pre-sets which incorporate the latest sounds in all genres.

There is an Arpeggiator included with a diverse range of patterns.

Technology enhancements include a monaural mini-input jack that accommodates a mic input so you can include a headset mic for vocoder playing.

There is also a connection point for a smartphone or additional music input source for playing along to favourite songs.

As well as its primary function as an on-stage instrument the RK 100S2 KEYTAR can also double as a primary keyboard – it has a MIDI output connector and a USB port so it can be operated as an external hardware sound module

Included are a soft carry-case, a strap for onstage use, and a logo sticker.

After a fascinating look at the new equipment including all the latest technology and high-end specs, I came away with one over-riding impression that runs through everything I saw and heard today – KORG consistently strive to include the very best in design and construction for all their products, while consistently pricing them at levels which render them markedly less expensive that competitors’ options for similar products.

Everyone wants value for money for their hard-earned budgets, and today’s insight left me in no doubt that KORG is the place to start, and finish your shopping trip – because this where price and value are to be found.

I’m already looking forward to my next visit, to see what else KORG can offer the music industry – I know for sure it will be worth the trip.

ANDY HUGHES