Friday, 12 April 2013

Korg's Volca Grooveboxes

Whilst Clavia and Novation made the world aware of what they were going to exhibit at Musikmesse this year a few days ahead of the show, Korg kept their mouths shut right up until the morning of the 10th April whereupon they unleased their Volcas on the world.

Funnily enough, Matrixsynth and other sites got a chance to publicise the above image a few days ahead of Musikmesse as a kind of teaser of things to come from Korg. In the case of Matrixsynth, they interpreted this photo as a high quality render and treated the whole idea with a great deal of scepticism - even linking to Korg press releases to say that it was an unofficial render or possible hoax. In hindsight we know that they were mislead, but disbelief is a good way to go with these things in case they end up being just a photo and not a proper product for release.

Volca Bass, Keys and Beats
And speaking of products, a quick word about these three new little boxes. The Volca series are three different, all-analogue synthesisers comprising of bassline, keyboard and drum parts to create some searing basses, leads, key chords, detuned sequences and more. Full details of their capabilities are available on the Korg website, as I don't feel like having to repeat them here, but I have been impressed what I have heard so far, in particular the official Korg demo.

All three also come with Electribe-style sequencers for making, changing and adapting loops and switching between banks and can be synced together with Volcas, Monotribes and even other modular gear (see Muffwiggler for more information) using the supplied daisy chain sync cables to make music together with. Korg has clearly been listening to its customers as well, particularly who have been modding their Monotribes with MIDI ports, and has stuck MIDI in ports to all three as standard so that they can interface more easily with other gear as standalone synth units. This is a great step forward and increases the number of people who will view these as not just another toy and instead something quite useable.

I love the retro black and gold styling of all three of these and the design and knobs in particular differentiate these units from others and scream Korg. Furthermore, at a price of £120 / $150 a piece I can see people picking these up like hot cakes. Whereas the Monotribe seemed to try doing several things all at once and possibly not one of them perfectly, having dedicated boxes to chain together makes a lot of sense. I also hope that software updates for these units via the sync cable (as with the Monotribe) will be a possibility to extend their practical applications. 

I have to say that Korg has developed a really bad habit of developing kit that people are really going to enjoy using that actually satisfies the demands and wishes of its customers. Many comments I have seen on the 'net bemoan the lack of interest that Roland are taking with the low and middle end of the synth market; if indeed they are even bothered at all!

Thanks Veqtor!
As for me, I'm going to wait until July when they come out and will probably end up buying the drum and bass Volcas, if only do some really nice 80s/90s acid basslines with. Now, where did I put those MIDI cables....

More details on all three at Korg's new website, also the source of these photos: