Korg Volca Keys Analogue Loop Synth Bundle with Power Supply and Austin Bazaar Polishing Cloth
- Three note true analogue synthesis
- Voicing function lets anyone create sounds easily
- Self-tuning function for constant, stable pitch
- Loop sequencer lets you record phases just as you play them
- Compact size, battery-powered operation, and built-in speaker for enjoyment anywhere
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Adding value to your purchase, Austin Bazaar bundles your instrument with necessary accessories. Everything you need to start playing immediately comes in one box. Save yourself the hassle and save some money while you're at it. A power supply is included so you can plug in and play right away. An Austin Bazaar polishing cloth is included so you can keep your new instrument in mint condition.
Volca Keys is a long-awaited synthesizer that adds a new chapter to the long and storied history of Korg's analog synthesizers. This 27-key analog lead synth delivers unbelievably powerful sound in a compact body. Starting with a filter section that uses the circuitry of the legendary miniKORG700S (1974), it delivers astonishing sound that takes full advantage of Korg's half-century of know-how in circuit design. With a simple structure that includes delay effect and a sequencer, it's also an ideal choice for a first analog synth. It offers the richly expressive sounds that are distinctive of analog, providing the enjoyment of simple yet deep sound-creation. The possibilities are endless; you can use the three oscillators to play chords, use them in unison with detune to produce solid lead lines, or apply ring modulation to create far-out metallic sounds. Following in the footsteps of the monotron, monotribe, and MS-20 Mini analog synthesizers, Korg announces the Volca series. volca is a new lineup of EDM production tools comprised of three distinct models: the Volca Keys lead synthesizer, the volca Bass synthesizer, and the Volca Beats rhythm machine. These powerful and fun-to-use true-analog devices deliver a diverse array of fat sounds that can be obtained only from an analog synthesizer. Each is also equipped with sequencing/recording capabilities for intuitively generating performances. Multiple volcas can be used in tandem via the vintage-style sync in/out, and with your favorite DAW software or MIDI keyboard via MIDI In. Battery operation and built-in s
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What's to love:
-The sound. Irregardless of the feature set, this is the most important aspect, and this little guy is capable of producing a ton of different and interesting sounds, both drum-like and not drum-like. This is achieved by the flexibility of both the sound design controls and the Wave Guide effect.
-The sequencer. The Volca offers step and real-time recording, pattern linking, per step accents, and part muting just like the big guys. Trick-wise, it also features choking, randomization, motion sequencing "slice" and "step jump" options to make each pattern run-through unique, if that's what you're after.
-The convenience. Being a Volca, this is one of the smallest, if not THE smallest drum machines around, so you can create beats just about anywhere. Though I personally use the power adapter, it can run off batteries, and while the built-in speaker isn't the greatest, it's still fine for designing a beat without the need of an external sound system or headphones.
What's not to love:
- Knobs. One of my main peeves with the whole Volca line was Korg's decision to use these little stalk knobs instead of proper knobs. They feel (and look) like the stem of a potentiometer that someone pulled the knob off of. This makes operating most Volcas rather awkward, especially if you have medium to large sized hands (just check out some of the YouTube videos) and the look is just "cheap". Some Volcas (like the Volca Bass) have real knobs for some controls - even though they have a small form factor, there's enough room.
-Midi. While the Volcas have the convenience of 1/8" sync In and Outs, they just have a Midi In. A Midi Out/Thru would have been nice.
-Documentation. Finally, like Roland, Korg continues to use these goofy one-sheet "manuals" that indicate the features of a device, but provide very little helpful information - both of these companies need to take a page out of Arturia's book - Arturia knows how to make a useful product manual (and they know how to make knobs, too)!
Thankfully, to really learn the features of this amazing instrument, there are some very helpful videos available on YouTube. :)
If they bug you enough, I learned that there is a mod you can do on the "stalk" knobs, though it does involve a bit of work, and there are some trade-offs.
There's a guy on YouTube that shows how you can make a small knob (should be a knob with a set screw) fit pretty well on the Volca stalks with the help of a plastic drinking straw as an inner sleeve (on Google or YouTube, search Volca Knobs).
I searched on Amazon, and the Kaish brand offers a 10 piece small scalloped knob set that appear to do the trick (still need to fine tune with an inner sleeve).
They are pretty nicely made, have a position marker, a set screw, and they even include a decent screwdriver.
Granted, with this mod you will conceal any lighted knobs if you use an opaque knob (they come in several colors), but Kaish also offers these knobs in clear (direct from Kaish via Amazon).
Also note that these particular knobs may or may not cover up part of the text describing the knob functions. My early tests show that in most cases, the Kaish knobs 'just' clear the text. Again, it's a trade-off.
Unfortunately, I can't include the link to these knobs because apparently Amazon doesn't allow Amazon product links anymore... :)
Let's start with the pros:
1) Great sounds. This little piece can absolutely make noises which you will be able to make into pieces for your song
2) Has every vanilla-style filter you'd expect and more: frequency, resonance, attack, decay, etc
3) Is compact and easy to transport
4) is programmable and works very well when playing by itself or with other volcas (as is its primary function per design)
The cons are mostly issues I had with the Beatstep pro right before I spilled beer on it (the BSP) an broke it:
1) Using the midi clock functions with this device is virtually impossible. If you want to use the clock, the only way to get it to function is by allowing the volca to be the main clock; which is problematic because the volca clock operates TWICE AS FAST as most midi clocks normally do. This means that to get your BSP functioning with the device, you need to either compensate by having your instuments play 8th notes only or by having your volca playing loops that are about one 1/2note long.
If you attempt to use the MIDI clock in function on the Volca, it will go off randomly and make you lose your mind
2) No keys. For me, this is no problem. I have a MIDI keyboard which I can just plug into the box and then play them both as one device. This is just something to note, as the keyboard on the device is not functional at all. (If you use the midi keyboard AND put the in-synth keyboard into the bass register, you can do some cool stuff with both chords and bass.
3) There needs to be at least one more note polyphony (than 3). I flat out refuse to accept the premise that piano players give this device 5 star ratings over the 4.5 star ratings that "synth lovers" give this on Amazon. Piano players need 6-7 note polyphony at the most basic levels. Two simple triad chords on top of each other would need six chords polyphony. You can't play 7th or 9th chords with this, which is basically half of the selling point to using a piano (not counting the rhythm potential)
Final summary: Much like the timbrewolf being a great LFO synth with terrible effects, this device has great effects, but not the best control. My main issue with this machine above all else is its inability to play nice with other devices, but for less than $200, this device is more than worth the money.
PS to avoid literally any of the problems I discussed, just have your device connected to something that outputs midi. ($70-$300 fix)
So, here's are my cons. The keys are difficult to get used to. If you have a midi controller, use it. Also, the sequencer is a bit limited. If you have access to a DAW or step sequencer, you should experiment with those things and figure out what you like. Last, this is a limited experience. For example, you have only two ways to use the LFO to modulate the sound waves from VCOs. But I can overlook these things and still recommend this product based on the price.
So, I would consider buying something upgraded from this if I were making the purchase today, but that is only after playing with this for a month or so. With that said, I would not have known that if I hadn't purchased this and played around with it for a month.
I could imagine wanting to see if I like analog synth, purchasing this and not finding it to my liking. If that happened, at least I didn't pay a fortune. On the other hand if I had purchased a more expensive analog synth and discovered that I didn't like it, I would be out more money. And -- really -- that's it for me. It turned out to be a good value that got me excited to learn more.
My only issue is the samples you load onto it are run through an app on the phone, so these are a little unreliable in terms of size and sound quality. But I'm sure there's a way to make them more compact, I'm just too lazy to mess with it. The pre-loaded sounds are killer enough for right now.