Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Quick Look at the Korg Kronos

Disclaimer : This is NOT by any means a review, just quick impressions from playing the Korg Kronos at my usual music shop the other day.

I have conflicting feelings about workstations.
On the one hand, I do believe they tend to produce a very pro but tame sound. To put it simply, they all sound the same, in a clean, generic, cheesy, dull sort of way. And the integration of zillion of features sometimes make them overly complicated, with very few knobs and lots of screen menus. And of course it also makes them pricey.
On the other hand, they've often become very fun to play, with their in-box grooves and sophisticated arpeggiators and evolving patches. I certainly liked playing the Korg M50 once in a while when my ex-keyboard player was using it live.

That said, I was at the store the other day, asking about the Tempest, and spent some time on the new Korg Kronos. I have to admit, I was pretty impressed by how powerful, complex and musical that thing actually sounds.

The juxtaposition of high-end drum samples, assembled in swingy, groovy beats, with deep synthesis engines and the old Karma system to produce intricate, evolving motifs, well, this all makes the Kronos a blast to play. Just browsing the presets and fiddling around the parameters is a joy. There's an immediacy to the performance that reminds me of the Wavestation, in that you can conjure up a whole song with a single patch, just by improvising and tweaking the parameters in real time. And like the best instruments, it's pretty unpredictable too. Also, when you switch from one patch to another, the lingering notes on the first patch continue to ring, without being cut off by the change of patch. This is rare and very pleasing, because you can hop from one patch to the other in a smooth, musical way.

Not many knobs of course, but you get a big touch screen, with menus laid out logically. In a matter of seconds, I was able to find my way through the basic settings and start to alter the presets composing a patch. The screen interface itself is a bit ugly and cheap, as you can see on the following pic.

The keyboard itself didn't impress as much. It's decent, but in that price bracket, you would expect better response. The overall build quality is okay, although the design is pretty boring. I mean, hey, the 90's are gone, get over it.

All in all, a very exciting experience (which was enhanced by my subsequent playing on the new Roland Jupiter-80, which is bulky, awkward to play, ugly, and doesn't sound nearly as good).


Anonymous said...

" I mean, hey, the 90's are gone, get over it."

Nooooon, jamaaaaaaais !

khoral said...

Je sais bien que ces horreurs noires pseudo-futuristes sans potentiomètres me faisaient rêver au lycée, mais tout de même...