Korg Kronos

Posted: January 25, 2011 in Audio
Tags: ,

Korg presented Kronos, an Oasys derived (however more affordable) workstation, that onboards 9 synthesis types :

  • SGX-1 Premium Piano (Acoustic Piano – 100 voices polyphony)
  • EP-1 MDS Electric Piano (Electric Piano – 104 voices)
  • HD-1 High Definition Synthesizer (PCM Virtual Memory Technology – 140 voices)
  • AL-1 Analog Synthesizer (Analog Modeling – 80 voices)
  • CX-3 Tonewheel Organ (Tonewheel Organ Modeling – 200 voices)
  • STR-1 Plucked String (Physical Modeling – 40 voices)
  • MOD-7 Waveshaping VPM Synthesizer (VPM Synthesis – 52 voices)
  • MS-20EX (CMT Analog Modeling – 40 voices)
  • PolysixEX (CMT Analog Modeling – 180 voices)

The VMT technology allows instant access/load of samples from an internal SSD, that contains the following presinstalled extensions (base ROM still includes 314 Mb – 1,505 multisamples and 1388 drum samples) :

  • EXs1 – ROM Expansion
  • EXs2 – Concert Grand Piano
  • EXs3 – Brass & Woodwinds
  • EXs4 – Vintage Keyboards
  • EXs5 – ROM Expansion 2
  • EXs6 – SGX-1 German D Piano
  • EXs7 – SGX-1 Japanese C Piano
  • EXs8 – Rock Ambience Drums
  • EXs9 – Jazz Ambience Drums

Available ram is 1 Gb, and 273 Mb are left when all extensions are loaded.

The SGX-1 module uses EXs6 (German D Piano) and EXs7 (Japanese C Piano) extensions.

The HD1 module is based on 2 oscillators with 8 velocity layers each (each layer uses a multisample – that is a different sample per note – or Wave Sequences). We also find 2 Ambient Drums kits that provide 3 mics positions.

The AL1 module is based on 2 oscillators, a Sub-oscillator and a noise generator, ring modulation and FM !

The MOD-7 module combines 6 oscillators (that can be VPM – Variable Phase Modulation -, waveshaping or ring modulation) and one mono PCM oscillator (4 velocity layers). The PCM multisamples can be used as FM modulators.

Finally the STR-1 module brings strings modeling synthesis : damping, decay, dispersion, nonlinearity, harmonics, dual pickups, etc. The strings exciting model can use 3 simultaneous sources : Pluck, Noise, and PCM.
We can listen to demos here (also a video), and watch a demonstration from Jordan Rudess.

The featured pianos in the demos do not seem as good as recent Roland or Yamaha ones (and closer to M3/M50 one), and many Oasys users think that Korg forgot them (high priced Oasys had been presented as evolutive), and that Kronos extensions could have been provided to Oasys. Moreover most of Kronos sounds are reported as very close to Oasys ones (few new samples material).

It would then be more of a “recycled” / mass market version of the Oasys, that merges in a somewhat complex way all that Korg can provide (like Yamaha’s EX5 and EX7 were, and recent Kurzweil synths), than a revolution (prices also aren’t that cheap, at 2999$, 3499$ and 3799$ respectively for 61, 73 and 88 notes models).

Use of SSD is however new in an hardware synth, the only way for workstations to compete with large computer based samples libraries in terms of size (that in fact isn’t the answer – see Roland’s SuperNatural technology, that merges samples and modeling, or uses modeling only in the V-piano, and that provides better resluts).

Finally, only deep programming of Kronos’s various synthesis (that allow use of PCM samples as modulators and excitors, that reminds Yamaha SY99’s AFM) will unveil (or not) potential for somes kind of new sounds. And as usual, the more an instruments provides editing parameters and/or synthesis, the least we go deep into it.

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