A stylish update to an iconic digital synthesizer

The MicroKorg 2 there are some big britches to fill. The the original MicroKorg one of the best-selling synthesizers of all time. It is also probably the longest continuously produced synthesizer since 2002. Of course, technology has come a long way in the past 22 years, and it’s time to update what was the first classic synthesizer of the 21st century.

New version announced by Korg NAMM 2024 remains largely true to the original design. Small but solidly built. The mini buttons may bother those with sausage fingers, but my slightly smaller-than-average hands didn’t have much of a problem. I did miss my mark a bit every now and then, but that has as much to do with my terrible keyboard skills as it does with the compact keyboard. The keyboard itself is good. Nothing to write home about, that’s for sure. But it’s not worth getting up in arms about it. I played very badly.

The buttons and knobs felt solid, even on this prototype. The large rotary knob that gives the MicroKorg a visual identity has a very satisfying hold when you change the genre of your patch selection. Although the Korg booth had big signs announcing it MicroKorg 2 still a prototype, the hardware already looks quite elegant.

Even the interface looks like it’s at least almost complete. The screen itself is bright and colorful with decent viewing angles. It washed out a bit at extreme angles under the glare of the Anaheim Convention Center lights, but it’s unlikely to be a problem in regular use.

Display and UI of the Korg MicroKorg 2 at NAMM 2024.Display and UI of the Korg MicroKorg 2 at NAMM 2024.

Terrence O’Brien / Engadget

The UI already looks pretty cool with some cool animations when changing settings. Changing parameters is much easier than on the original MicroKorg, with two edit selection buttons and a table to look up what the five buttons above control. Everything is faster on the MicroKorg 2. For example, pressing the button below the second button toggles between oscillator one, two, three, and noise source settings. The screen tells you what settings are assigned to those buttons depending on the page you selected.

It’s hardly a button for every function, but it could be worse.

Genre button on the Korg MicroKorg 2 at NAMM 2024.Genre button on the Korg MicroKorg 2 at NAMM 2024.

Terrence O’Brien / Engadget

One area where it was obvious that the MicroKorg 2 was still in the prototype stage was the presets. The unit I tested had a total of eight pre-programmed. And the NAMM show floor wasn’t exactly the ideal environment for doing deep sound design.

I kicked his tires a bit and was able to put together some decent sound patches pretty quickly. And the few presets Korg had ready to go were bright and full of character. They were definitely digital but didn’t feel clinical. Unfortunately, the convention hall was less conducive to testing the vocoder and harmonizer features. With all the cacophony going on around me, getting a clean enough signal was simply impossible.

Logo on the black Korg MicroKorg 2 at NAMM 2024.Logo on the black Korg MicroKorg 2 at NAMM 2024.

Terrence O’Brien / Engadget

Overall, the eight-voice (or four-voice in two timbre mode), three-oscillator synth engine seems like a big improvement over the original. It has not only your standard virtual analog waveforms, but a selection of single-loop waveforms and even samples that can be combined to create relatively complex sounding patches.

The only thing the successor to the original has is the price. Where you can still pick up a MicroKorg for $430 at most music retailers, the MicroKorg 2 will set you back $699 when it goes on sale later this year.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *