Many kinds of keyboard players will be delighted by Korg’s new offering of music workstations and synths. Whether you need a workhorse to handle your live shows, an FM synth to explore the boundaries of sound design, or a powerful controller to serve as the nerve center of all your Eurorack gear and drum machines, Korg has you covered.
For live players who rely on a Korg keyboard workstation during shows, Korg is releasing the Nautilus, which offers nine different sound engines, including new sounds categorized into three overall groups. You’ll find other goodies, too, such as an arpeggiator, a drum track, and a 16-track audio recorder for laying down parts to add complexity and sonic power to your live performances.
The unit comes equipped with an SGX-2 piano sound generator designed to give you all the subtleties of an acoustic piano in an amplified environment. It also comes stocked with a large number of piano libraries, all with sympathetic string resonance. Absolutely stunning electric pianos, tonewheel organs, and synthesizers are included—including the sounds behind Korg’s Polysix EX and MS-20EX synths for analog modeling.
With features such as the Dynamics knob, you’ll be able to customize the keyboard to give you a tactile response to suit every style and sound. That’s right, this keyboard offers performance-tuning functions to tweak its expressiveness to your particular playing style. Six real-time knobs let you modulate synths, change gate times, and even tweak the feel of the arpeggiator or accompanying drum track on the fly. These knobs lock in place whenever you want them to, so you don’t accidentally change them while playing.
Add to these features a Set List mode to organize your concert experiences, as well as a color TouchView display for in-depth parameter editing, and you’ll find the Nautilus more than lives up to the demanding nature of performing live. This synth is available in 61-key, 73-key, and 88-key models.
For those who love the sound of FM synthesis, Korg is offering a digital synthesizer structured like a classic FM unit. Called the Opsix, this is a six-operator FM synthesizer providing a panoply of waveforms, which don’t merely reproducethe sound of analog synths, but reimagine them for the digital age.
The idea behind the Opsix is simple: to tamp down the complexities inherent in FM synthesis so you can get busy sound designing, instead of scratching your head while programming. Indeed, getting around the synth is simple, thanks to intuitively understood controls and a prominent operator mixer. LEDs quickly show you the relationships present between operators, minimizing the possibilities of getting lost in the tech.
Forty preset algorithms on are hand to get you started, and of course you can fashion your own sounds using six operators (five of which expand on traditional FM synthesis), three EGs, three LFOs, a bevy of virtual patches for modulation, and exceedingly powerful filtering—including well-known Korg filters such as the MS-20 and Polysix. Add to this a 16-step polyphonic sequencer, a randomizer, a compact 37-key keyboard, and the ability to store your user patches for later use, and you have quite the FM synth on your hands.
Then there are those among us who are absolute control freaks when it comes to synths—and Korg has us covered, too, with the SQ-64, a powerful yet compact step sequencer and hardware controller for all your analog and digital gear. Indeed, the unit can lord control over vintage gear, Eurorack semi-modular, digital drum machines, or even your DAW’s plug-ins.
64 LED Step buttons show you exactly what’s going on in a given sequence, with gradated lighting shading darker and stronger as assigned modulation values grow higher. This gives you instantaneous visual feedback. Not only that, encoder knobs speed up your workflow, giving you the ability to edit parameters quickly.
The 64 pads can also be played like a keyboard, giving you a matrix to control your connected gear. The matrix can work in several modes. Keys is a traditional piano layout, while Isomorphic shows your notes displayed in symmetrical rows for quick transposition. Octaves gives you one selectable scale, overlayed in three different octaves on each row.
We’ve made a lot of noise about how this can connect to all your existing gear, but let us list those ways now: MIDI I/O, micro-USB Type B, Sync I/O, and more are at your fingertips, with Modulation, Pitch, and Gate outputs, as well as a Drum track with eight individual outs for controlling drum machines, Eurorack, and more. Really, there’s a lot we could say about this veritable powerhouse of a synth, so you ought to check it out for yourself.
What kind of keyboard player are you, and which of these workstations and synths are you considering? Tell us about it in the Comments section, below!