Among the traditional big manufacturers of electronic instruments, Korg has stood out has having some of the strongest and most interesting offerings. This year, they introduced the minilogue which was perhaps the most discussed and hyped synthesizer in the lead-up to this show. It seems everyone is talking about the minilogue. So here it is.
It’s a four-voice polyphonic analog synthesizer with an estimated street price of $499. That alone would get a huge amount of attention! It is also a completely new instrument rather than a remake or model of an existing one, like Korg did with the MS-20 mini and ARP Odyssey. It’s filters and oscillators have their own sound, though it did remind me a bit of the Arturia Minibrute. It is quite approachable and playable, sleek and light. The little waveform display is a really nice touch as well. A few of the controls were a little tricky to get at first, including the preset selector and some of the controller options. Like many other friends, colleagues, and fellow synth nerds, I may find myself getting one considering the price. Though that $499 could go part way to a Prophet 6 instead.
Another new release, the Volca FM was more a surprise.
It combines the Volca keyboard and sequencer with a 6-operator FM synth, much like the Yamaha DX7 and others. Indeed it supports existing DX7 sounds (presumably that includes TX802 and other instruments from the DX7 series). In addition to being more portable and playable than my 1980s Yamaha FM modules, it has some new real-time features that like, including the ability to change the algorithm while playing via a knob or automation. If one wants to experiment with FM synthesis again in the context of modular synths, as I do, this seems like good choice.