Tuesday, 1 November 2016

7 things I learned about Korg from their AMA

Following a recent Reddit AMA on the r/synthesizers subreddit shortly after the announcement of the newly minted Monologue, Nick Kwas from Korg was on hand and able to answer questions from the synthesiser community and it was gratifying to see how many questions Nick was able to go through.

Having read the rather large post, I have collected some of the insights I found of interest from the AMA based on Nick’s responses in a short form version here.

Module versions unlikely
While the recent announcement of a desktop module version of the Arp Odyssey suggested more desktop versions to come, the line from Nick highlighted the use of minikeys to reduce overall space but give people the option to play directly if they wish. On the one hand, I wish that module versions were an option as these definitely save more space but mean that you have two sets of every product to support. On the other I understand the thought processes behind the decision to use minikeys and at the very least synthesisers are generally smaller than they used to.

Staying out of Eurorack 
According to Nick, Korg seems happy to leave this market to the smaller makers in terms of module development, though their products will continue to feature the capability to sync with Eurorack gear (SQ1 and Volca sync). Nick also felt that Roland’s start to Eurorack was abortive as their modules used too much current and their analogue modules didn't sound enough like the originals, though I infer this is more his own opinion than that of Korg. I am sure that Korg are careful not too make a false move and I am sure they have noticed how saturated the market is already with the number of Korg filter and oscillator clones already available.

Those SonicState Volca mockups were not official
Though impressive, unfortunately the two renders (courtesy of MatrixSynth) of potential new Volcas seen during the weekend before Halloween were simply just that - some conceptual ideas from a fan for future products. Though coy, Nick didn't rule out anything similar in the future, but we are back to the guessing game in terms of predicting Tats’ next move.

Incoming Minilogue Firmware Updates
Nick has confirmed that new firmware is in the works to address suggestions about the sequencer functionality and other bugs. However, it seems that there won't be an update to add all the new functionality seen on the new Monologue, citing potential issues with the hardware of the Minilogue. I expect they will want to keep some of the new features back to ensure that there are some specific and unique differences between the two so people will pick up both.

Korg Polysix remake unlikely
Most responses to questions about a new polysix reissue in the vein of the MS20 Mini were directed to the iOS version instead. Whether there is not enough of a demand for Korg to look at a reissue of this keyboard or that it simply isn't a high priority, who can say? 

ARP 2600 remake equally unlikely
Likewise, Nick indicates that Korg don't seem to be looking at the 2600 as a likely candidate for a remake following the Oddyssey, mentioning that they don't know if it would be commercial enough to do so and that impressive remakes already exist. I imagine there might be a bit too much of a niche market for someone like Korg to put in the time and effort to go after it.

Korg has two synthesiser teams
According to Nick, one team is lead by Tatsuya Takahashi and focuses on new developments and products like the Volcas and Minilogue, while the other concentrates on reissues of their past synthesisers. While it's a stretch to think that products will leapfrog each other, it does show that Korg are dedicated to continued synthesiser development both from their back catalogue as well as new designs, meaning more things from them in the not too distant future.

Thanks again to Nick, Korg USA and the subreddit moderators for organising this and I look forward to the next one.


The original Reddit AMA