Value From £665
Korg’s Krome synthesizer was launched again in 2012 because the mid-priced choice in Korg’s workstation vary. For these unfamiliar with the ‘workstation’ idea, these machines will do just about something required in tune manufacturing bar the vocals (though some even try that). You get drums, keys, actual devices, feature-packed synthesizers, results, multitrack sequencing and the kitchen sink. Korg just about invented the fashionable workstation with its gazillion-selling M1 again within the late 80s.
The Kronos is Korg’s present workstation star, which it describes as ‘probably the most highly effective synthesizer on the earth’. Once we reviewed it this time final yr we discovered that declare to be not that removed from the reality. At the perfect a part of three grand although, it’s in all probability a stretch for a lot of, so the Krome vary, which now begins at round £665 road, may very well be a unbelievable choice. What I’ve on take a look at right here is the all-new Krome EX, updated for a NAMM announcement last year, and a workstation that borrows among the best possible bits from Kronos.
Shiny new Krome
New options added for Krome EX – except for the brand new metallic gray end – embrace two new program banks with a big assortment of EDM-style sounds, extra none-Western devices, just like the kalimba and kokyu, plus cinematic presets, all-new grand upright and electrical piano sounds plus emulated classic amps and cab results. Earlier than I discover these, although, I ought to delve slightly deeper into what else Krome affords, and there’s numerous it.
We’ll begin with the general stats, which embrace 16-part multitimbrality – so you’ll be able to report 16 totally different sounds in your tune – and an enormous sequencer to place that tune collectively.
It options 16 tracks, the choices so as to add preset (710) or consumer (100) Patterns; a Drum Observe with one other 710 Patterns (plus 1,000 consumer); as much as 210,000 MIDI occasions (loads); and 193 sorts of impact to throw at them (break up as 5 inserts, two masters and one ‘Complete’). Polyphony is equally giant with 120 voices in Single Mode and 60 in Double; extra on these later. Throw in a polyphonic arpeggiator, 4GB of sounds with an enormous variety of drum kits and pattern choices and you’ve got an unquestionably well-spec’d workstation. As with all of a majority of these machine although, it’s the consumer expertise that shapes how good it’s and the way that energy is dealt with.
I’m testing Krome EX-88, which is top quality after the 61 and 73-note variations. These function semi-weighted keys whereas the 88 has what is known as an NH (Pure Weighted Hammer Motion) keyboard which is velocity delicate (however not aftertouch). This provides it weight (round 15kg) which, whereas heavy, is first rate for a keyboard like this. (My native UPS driver remains to be cursing my identify after gathering a 30kg Akai keyboard from me the opposite week, for instance.)
Aside from that, Krome EX is fairly sparse in controls, particularly in comparison with another workstations, however truly, as we’ll see, this lends itself properly to its operation. Controls embrace a pitch-bend/modulation joystick – which is properly lit, plus assignable buttons above it. There are helpful real-time encoders which might be assigned to synth, Arp or consumer parameters inside a parameter matrix the place you’ll be able to simply step by what the encoders management.
There’s a beautiful contact display screen with which you would possibly wish to use a pen for the smaller controls and correct adjustments, however the principle choices are completely finger sized. To the proper of this can be a knowledge encoder and a panel of quantity keys, so it’s typically a case that you simply’ll make a display screen choice together with your finger and enter knowledge values with both the keys or dial. You possibly can choose sounds this fashion and there are financial institution buttons that make homing in on them and inputting extra precise knowledge simpler.
Krome EX does lack a good variety of outputs. In my preferrred world, I’d need to have the ability to channel these 16 components by an output every, however that’s an costly world and an unrealistic one. With simply two right here although, I do really feel slightly short-changed.
There’s a Mac and PC Krome editor that runs as a standalone or VST/RTAS/AU plug-in with EX; merely join your laptop up through the USB slot. It appears fairly old-school however does will let you tab between numerous choices and see much more on display screen. It’s good to see, for instance, the core synthesis choices and waveforms abruptly and be capable to tweak them. That’s to not say you’ll be able to’t do this on the keyboard, but it surely does provide one other option to entry Krome EX’s many alternative layers.
Most of the sounds on Krome EX derive from Kronos, however you don’t get the audio capabilities of that machine by way of its sampling features and large variety of synth engines. What you do get is a single huge synth engine primarily based round two oscillators with two filters per oscillator of 4 sorts every. There’s an exceptional variety of choices (4 totally different filter routes, for instance) which might be only a web page tab or two away from the highest layer and it’s surprisingly simple to get to the heart of EX rapidly. You additionally typically get a visible graphic change if you make edits, which makes the expertise extra user-friendly.
So to the outcomes of that engine and the true sounds are right here in abundance – after all they’re. Pianos are extremely properly represented, and I’ll cowl among the newer ones that arrived with EX later, and there are many acoustics and electrics – greater than sufficient, in actual fact.
Every sound is assigned a number of totally different real-time results on the parameter matrix on the left on the keyboard, which makes altering them very hands-on and intuitive. These change into very evident in classes like Organs, for instance. These too are very properly featured, and infrequently very distinctive due to these real-time results including a swirly Leslie kind impact.
Persevering with the ‘actual’ theme, strings and different orchestral presets are additionally many and diversified. Just like the pianos, the strings show Korg’s glorious sampling, sounding extremely actual from time to time, and as soon as once more the real-time encoders – which I’m falling in love with at this level – can add a startling stage of depth and ambiance, simply with a single twist.
It could take an age to undergo the remainder of the true sounds, however highlights embrace some glorious guitars, extra nice orchestral choices, plus some very usable vocals and results within the Vocal/Air part.
With such a fully-featured synth engine, you gained’t be shocked to listen to that the digital aspect of Krome is simply as well-formed. There are some actually beautiful sweeping pads, dozens of synth basses and atmospheric pads and – but once more – these real-time controls will change parameters like filter frequency and resonance with ease to completely remodel and finely sculpt these extra digital sounds.
Combi mode is subsequent and sweeps up 16 sounds into both a single big sound or lesser teams of sounds. You need to use these as keyboard splits – the place you’ll play totally different layers or particular person sounds on totally different components of the keyboard – or as multi setups for exterior sequencing.
Combi Mode additionally permits you to pair sounds with melodies, arpeggiations and drum patterns through a Drum Observe. The drum patterns are derived from Krome’s many and diversified digital and acoustic drum kits. The extent of element within the kits right here is kind of extraordinary and you’ll simply go in and alter equipment sounds (from actually hundreds on provide), pattern lengths, add results and blend them with ease.
What the patterns from Drum Observe do effortlessly properly, particularly if you deliver within the melodic patterns and the arpeggiations, is encourage you in case you are bereft of concepts. There was a time when these prompt patterns and beats would grate with me on workstations, however Korg (and others) have up to date the idea properly. When these beats and melodies begin biking round your personal riffs, you’re feeling full concepts taking form very quickly, and lots of the equipped combos will let you create total songs and tune components in an nearly illegally quick approach. Having accompaniments like these gained’t be everybody’s concept of composition and creation, however I can just about assure you may be impressed by a range from the numerous lots of on provide. The one slight detrimental in Combi mode is that you simply’ll should share the insert and different impact sorts throughout no matter group of sounds you might be combining, so you can run out quick.
An increasing number of options
And whereas I’m on them, let’s have a fast run by these results, as they’re plentiful and actually can remodel the preset sounds on Krome EX. You possibly can select from 5 insert impact combos (in sequence on parallel), a Three-band EQ per monitor with sweepable mid, two Grasp results (normally reverbs and delays) plus what Korg calls a Complete impact, an general impact – a limiter for mastering, for instance. That’s numerous results and suppleness – considered one of Krome’s key strengths.
The sequencer is subsequent on Krome’s in depth function listing that I ought to cowl, and you should use this on many ranges. Merely hitting File and enjoying will begin it, so recording moments of inspiration is simple. However you can too go into it on deeper ranges, taking a look at every monitor half (from 16) and even right down to piano roll stage, at particular person notes which you’ll then drag, drop, lengthen or delete together with your fingers. You possibly can even zoom out and in on the occasions in a better approach than you’ll discover on many full-blown DAWs. Okay, general It’s not fairly as high-spec as Cubase or Logic, however neither is it one million miles away, and it actually beats my early experiences with workstations the place you have been principally simply watching bar and beat numbers biking round per monitor!
What else is new?
And so to the newer EX choices, and if it’s a terrific vary of pianos that you really want then Krome now delivers. There’s a brand new grand piano, which sounds lush and expansive; a brand new upright with a really genuine really feel; and new electrics that hark again to 80s funk or present beautiful, light pulsing. It’s all there in case you are after a reside piano really feel in a extra cell and durable keyboard, and naturally, these sounds mix extremely properly with the weighted keyboard of the EX on take a look at to provide a wealthy and extremely reasonable ‘correct’ enjoying expertise.
There may be additionally a brand new collection of world sounds in EX. These embrace some unbelievable Center Jap sounds – which once more have rhythmic tracks as strategies.
A much bigger, newer addition is that Korg has bolstered the extra modern aspect of Krome with a collection of EDM sounds. That might imply something in such a wide-ranging style, after all, and I do nonetheless really feel slightly cautious when huge keyboard producers attempt to embrace ‘cool’ sounds – I bear in mind the early days of this style of keyboard, and among the inclusions have been toe-curlingly embarrassing. Fortunately, that’s not the case right here, thanks typically to the Drum Observe which provides some fairly sharp and fashionable beats, and even the odd pumping sidechain impact to every preset choice must you require it.
The brand new kits assist right here too, including some correct angle and chunk. Throughout the new dance sounds, the vocals are modern however gained’t be for everybody, however the stabs, leads, risers and different transitions are very usable particularly with a little bit of customized tweaking, which is definitely completed.
One different new addition is what Korg name the Trailer Results equipment, a nod to the kind of Hollywood movie trailers designed to seize your consideration, so that you get all types of affect, drops, and attention-grabbing samples – a pleasant contact for soundtrackers. Lastly, Krome EX provides 128 new combos – so much more on the spot song-writing and sequencing will be had.
Over the past couple of years we’ve reviewed some nice workstations which show that this sector of the music expertise market is not only alive and properly, however thriving like by no means earlier than. That is largely right down to what you get to your cash. The large three music expertise firms of Roland, Yamaha and Korg have needed to up their video games to compete with one another but additionally with software program. You may get some nice ROMpler kind software program choices that provide a great deal of diversified sounds (suppose SampleTank) however these older – and let’s say extra conventional – firms have all actually risen to the problem. And naturally their keyboard choices are nice for gigging musicians as properly.
Krome EX is an excellent instance, packing in options that I might have solely dreamt of some years in the past – the contact display screen, the storage, the consequences and large polyphony are only a few examples – and actually does allow you to produce full tunes from one field. What Krome doesn’t do, which another fashions do, is provide extra management over your sounds. A few of these workstations have a plethora of knobs and sliders to get to the guts of a sound or set-up. Krome EX’s view is extra of a less complicated fascia, which will get to what you might be doing with extra simplicity. Which may not be what you need, however the general consumer expertise – and bear in mind I stated this was essential proper at the beginning of this assessment – is less complicated and workflow is bigger. It’s summed up by the 4 management buttons on the left (but once more). They management some foremost choices for you; do this, transfer on, after which do one thing else.
The over-riding really feel, then, is that you’re working extra effectively and quite extra slickly. If you’d like extra hands-on tweakage, then there are different choices – akin to Roland’s new control-packed Fantom – however you’re paying much more cash for these choices (in that case properly over twice the worth).
With Krome EX, it comes proper again to that money for choices level. With the EX 88 for instance, you’re speaking about every little thing you have to rise up and working making music in an enormous number of genres, all inside a chic and simple to make use of bundle, and with a top quality weighted keyboard thrown in – for not that a lot over a grand. That’s fairly distinctive whichever approach you have a look at it.
USB and SD slots
SD and SDHC reminiscence playing cards can be utilized to switch knowledge (as much as 32GB). The USB slot permits MIDI management and Krome to be edited through exterior software program.
MIDI and foot controls
You get three pedal connections – Damper, plus assignable Swap and Pedal – plus MIDI In and Out connectors. Fairly normal stuff.
Being a mid-priced workstation, you’re not likely anticipating too many outputs and Krome solely affords a pair, plus headphones.
Do I really want this?
With delicate synths, modular and the re(re)beginning of analogue, some folks predicted the demise of the workstation. However the reality is, in case you are a reside participant or composer who wants an enormous and diversified palette of sounds at your fingertips – plus a terrific sketch-pad approach of assembling them – then they’re a terrific choice. Krome EX may be very properly priced and spec’d and a unbelievable alternative.
- EDS-X synth workstation (Enhanced Definition Synthesis)
- Out there as EX-61 (61-note, semi-weighted), EX-73 or EX-88 on take a look at right here with 88 Pure weighted keys
- Polyphony: 120 voices Single Mode, 60 in Double Mode
- Reminiscence: 4GB, 728 multi and a pair of,502 drum samples
- Engine: OSC1 (Single); OSC1 + 2 (Double); two filters/osc with 4 sorts and routes
- 16 half multitimbral
- Massive modulation choices
- Results: 5 insert, 1 Complete, 2 grasp, 193 sorts
- Polyphonic Arpeggiator
- Large 16-track sequencer
- Drum Observe: 1,700 patterns
We reviewed this magnificence simply over a yr in the past, and the eight affords an 88-note expertise and is a barely cut-down model of Yamaha’s Montage mothership. Contact display screen, a great deal of sounds, results and controls together with the quite nice Tremendous Knob.
Workstations like Krome are aimed toward gamers, however when you simply need a huge vary of sounds, they don’t get a lot vaster than this. Over 100 delicate devices, 45,000 presets, 600GB of content material.