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 Forum index » Instruments and Equipment » General Discussion
The Mighty MicroKORG
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A E J O T Z



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PostPosted: Sun Jul 27, 2014 7:17 pm    Post subject: The Mighty MicroKORG
Subject description: The most underrated synthesizer?
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The Microkorg is the Rodney Dangerfield of synthesizers; it doesn't get any respect. Analog synth snobs deride it as a toy and it's even disliked among "virtual analog" enthusiasts. The latter will point you to the MKs' "respectable" big brother, the Korg MS2000, which has the same sound engine but more knobs and bigger keys. So it's OK to like the sound, but not the smaller instrument?

Twice, listeners have complimented the "great analog sounds" on my tunes. On both occasions, after I told them those particular tunes were 100% Microkorg, they declined to correspond with me further.

Some people dislike the MK because it's popular. Apparently this qualifies as a "good reason" for hipsters and adolescents trying to be rebellious.

Other people dislike it for not being what it isn't, whatever that might be.

I like it for what it is: a tiny portable synthesizer with amazing sound and flexibility. I like that it's toy-like and fun to play with. I like that it's an inexpensive "everyman" instrument. (I got my like-new used unit for $200 USD in 2011. You can find them even cheaper, now.)

And the more I use other synths and the more I learn about synthesis, the more I like my MK. Each time I play with a new synth and then return to the MK, I go deeper into its possibilities. After three years I'm still only scratching the surface.

So what's the point of this wordy treatise? Am I trying to say my synth is better than yours? Perish the thought! The best synth is the one that inspires you to play, the one that's the most fun for you, the one that makes you happiest. We're all different and we go different directions with our music and our instruments. And that's wonderful!

The only reason I'm writing this is because the Microkorg gets too much undeserved negative print. I often see the MK maligned in forums when a newbie asks if it's a good starter synth. I see the newbies directed anywhere and everywhere else, just so long as it's away from the affordable, powerful Microkorg.

The truth is that you can learn a lot about sound synthesis with an MK. For the price of a MIDI cable and a thrift store Casio you can have full-size keys. With a computer and a MIDI to USB cable you can use Korg's free MK sound editor and have all your parameters on screen. Once you learn what everything does it's a breeze to use the matrix and knobs on the unit. Then you can throw the Microkorg in your backpack and go jam in the park. Try that with your Voyager.

If I could only have one synthesizer, I'd choose the Microkorg.

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robsol
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2014 11:08 am    Post subject: Re: The Mighty MicroKORG
Subject description: The most underrated synthesizer?
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A E J O T Z wrote:
The Microkorg is the Rodney Dangerfield of synthesizers; it doesn't get any respect. Analog synth snobs deride it as a toy and it's even disliked among "virtual analog" enthusiasts. The latter will point you to the MKs' "respectable" big brother, the Korg MS2000, which has the same sound engine but more knobs and bigger keys. So it's OK to like the sound, but not the smaller instrument?


I think this is an attitude that you'll find more of on a forum like Gearslutz, not so much here. Nice review though. Smile

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A E J O T Z



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PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2014 1:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I have never seen anyone's music or equipment disparaged on this forum.
In my experience, this is the most uniformly supportive forum of its kind.
electro-music.com is a true online community.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29, 2014 8:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Indeed - supportive is the word! Very Happy



BTW, this thread has got 34000+ views since yesterday... wtf

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A E J O T Z



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29, 2014 8:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Muied Lumens wrote:
BTW, this thread has got 34000+ views since yesterday... wtf


This is characteristic of the "underground" status of the Microkorg. There's a great deal of interest but little admission of that interest. You'll notice that none of those 34,000 left a reply.

It's like a Moped. It's fun to ride but you don't want bikers to know you have one.

Very Happy

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PHOBoS



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29, 2014 9:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

hmm I think I'm gonna put the word microkorg in my next thread as a test Laughing

Personally I've never really been interested in buying a synth (don't have money for it anyway) except for the microkorg Cool
I've looked at it (online) a bunch of times, and almost had one for a cheap price but I guess someone beat me too it.

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GovernorSilver



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29, 2014 12:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Just saw Warren Ellis play one for one song with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29, 2014 1:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

The first time I saw a Microkorg was onstage with Röyksopp. That must have been back in the beginning of the 00's. It has been in production for a very long time, which speaks volumes for its (real) popularity. Smile
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29, 2014 4:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I think my biggest gripe with the original microkorg is the springy mini-keyboard. I've been on the brink of getting the xl though, because I love the kind of mini-keyboard that Korg makes that is not springy. And playing with both in stores have been satisfying.

But the keyboard is important. As I write this, I realize how silly I've been in exploring Korg mini-keyboards - I got a microKontrol way back (springy, yeuch), then more recently I got a microsampler (lovely wide non-springy keyboard, otherwise useless piece of gear), and not so long ago I got a three octave microKey which is my standard way of playing softsynths and midi these days - love it!

Might still get an xl some day...

Anyway, happy that you've found a synth that works well for you, and what others say is not relevant if it's something you do to make something else that really is relevant. Erm, if that makes sense... Smile

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A E J O T Z



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29, 2014 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Antimon wrote:
I think my biggest gripe with the original microkorg is the springy mini-keyboard. I've been on the brink of getting the xl though, because I love the kind of mini-keyboard that Korg makes that is not springy.


That's funny. I hate the keys on my Microsampler and love the keys on the Microkorg. And that's a big reason I don't want an XL. Talk about different strokes!

The keys on the Microbrute are just like the MK keys and are a big reason I prefer it to the Minibrute.

BTW, I consider my Microsampler useful only as a keyboard-entry quantizing sequencer, but for that it's great. Whenever I write a line that's too tricky for me to hand-play well, I just play it into the Microsampler's sequencer then MIDI it back to whatever instrument I want it played on. It's a very quick and easy way to rhythmically tighten tracks. And the clock counter on the MS syncs perfectly with my BR-600 recorder! It's also the easiest tool I have for making rhythm tracks.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2014 3:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hehe funny how one can have strong feelings about something and then another comes along with strong feelings in the opposite direction. Smile

I've met others who go "meh" at the xl and microkey, and none who agree with me so far, so I'm definitely not claiming to be right here.

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Keysandslots



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2014 7:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

The keyboard on the MicroStation is quite playable, considering its size. I've even managed to play some classical and some jazz on it. Like the MicroKorg, the MicroStation doesn't get much forum time but I find it to be a great synth to have around. Add the USB connectivity and computer patching and it's a great little gigging keyboard.

I do wish Korg would stop using "micro" in their instrument names 'though.

I have a MicroKorg as well but I haven't compared the keyboards yet. Kinda dumb actually, just never occurred to me.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2014 9:00 am    Post subject: Re: The Mighty MicroKORG
Subject description: The most underrated synthesizer?
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A E J O T Z wrote:
Some people dislike the MK because it's popular. Apparently this qualifies as a "good reason" for hipsters and adolescents trying to be rebellious.


Hmm, one of the more popular "indie" (hipster?) band keyboard setups I've seen is a Moog Little Phatty and a Korg Microkorg. :p

Why some people complain? Well, my personal big problem with these tiny VA keyboards (mini-keys aside) is just how slow they are to edit. I had an Alesis Micron at one point, which also sounded pretty darn good to me, but any editing beyond performance parameter changes was a bit painful. I've only tried a MicroKorg in a store (for some reason I'm not as much of a fan of the Korg VA engine as some are) but it seemed the same. I'm too used to either knobby synths or VST virtual analogs, both of which are much easier to do deep editing.

(Obviously the MK computer editor can bridge the gap, but at that point I'd go for the VST route, personally. Smile )

The Microkorg was introduced in 2002 I believe, so another reason I wouldn't recommend it *today* (new) is that the original model is limited (4 voice polyphony, sometimes cryptic segmented LED, etc.). It's kind of strange that you can still buy a $400 original Microkorg new... the same price as the seemingly more capable Novation Mininova... and only $100 less than the Microkorg XL+.

However, if you can get a used Microkorg for under $200, though, that's a pretty good deal. Smile I do think it sounds pretty good, and at that price it would be a spectacular bargain for a nice battery powered synth to play around on. These mini-synths all have "limitations" but the limitations tend to be more interface than sound, if one can overcome that, more power to them!
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A E J O T Z



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2014 12:15 pm    Post subject: Re: The Mighty MicroKORG
Subject description: The most underrated synthesizer?
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soundwave106 wrote:
Hmm, one of the more popular "indie" (hipster?) band keyboard setups I've seen is a Moog Little Phatty and a Korg Microkorg.


Of course, but they're just being ironic! Razz

I was poking fun at the "if it's popular it sucks" attitude. I'm an expert on it because that was my attitude when I listened to "undergound" music in the late 60s - early 70s. Embarassed

I draw the line at VSTs and my reasons are as silly as anyone else's reasons for the lines they draw. I kid myself that my MK is a "real instrument" and not a computer simulation.

I had a Micron for more than a year but could never warm up to that brick with keys. Editing was an ordeal that took all the fun out of playing. I didn't think it sounded as good as the MK, which is all down to personal taste.

And my taste is weird. For example, I think Moogs sound creepy. My three current synths all sound fantastic to me: Microkorg, Microbrute and CZ-101. My beloved first "synth" was a now-classic Casio MT-65 from 1983, arguably the best-sounding "toy" keyboard ever.

Now that I think about it, maybe nobody should take advice on synths from me.

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