Korg TRTK49 USB MIDI Controller with TRITON Engine
- Powerful USB/MIDI controller with our legendary TRITON engine onboard!
- Built-in KAOSS pad offers control change or phrase generation; doubles as a track pad with click
- Offers a generous assortment of assignable controllers plus full transport control
- Various assignable controllers (8 sliders, 8 knobs, 8 switches), dedicated DAW transport switches
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The TRITON taktile is a USB/MIDI controller that includes 512 program sounds from the legendary Korg TRITON workstation. Equipped with a semi-weighted keyboard, taktile is loaded with functions that make it fun to use, like a touch pad, trigger pads and an arpeggiator that includes rhythm patterns.
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Korg has cut a lot of corners with the hardware. The monochromatic screen is tiny, but useful. The keyboard makes audible noises and has no aftertouch. The action is much lighter than on the Akai MPK, and slightly heavier than on the Arturia. The keys have little sideways play, but in my device, there is a slight gap and misalignment between the two keys in the middle (which does not pose any problem to me). On the MPKs, Novations and Arturias, the keybed is quite solid, whereas it flexes on the Korg. I.e., when I press a key, the other keys will bend a little bit downward. Despite all of this, I find the keys very playable.
The drum pads are nice and responsive. Their lighting is much less funky than on the Akai, but I want to make sound, not light.
The faders are flimsy and do not inspire any amount of trust. Their caps come off easily.
The potentiometers do not turn continuously, which means that in your DAW, they do not change the parameters with respect to the current values, but when engaged, force the parameter abruptly to an absolute setting.
The Korg has a touchpad, which you can also use to control your computer. Clicking by tapping does not work, though: you have to tap on the touch strip below the pad. Compared to the touchpad in your macbook, it might feel very disappointing. Compared to no touchpad at all, it is quite nice.
I dislike using the touchpad corners for selecting patches and numerous parameters; buttons would have been nicer.
It makes sense to run an update on the firmware; it will allow you to manipulate and store stuff on the keyboard with the help of your computer.
Some of the Triton sounds are really nice and fun to play with. The keyboard will not output sounds via USB; you only get a small headphone jack. But you can connect pedals.
Unlike many other MIDI controllers, this one includes a plugin for GarageBand. GarageBand uses non-standard signals, so most mapping software would not give you access to transport controls. Taking care of this is a nice touch.
I really appreciate the light weight and the portability of this keyboard. It is heavy enough to sit solidly on your stand or table, and yet light enough to carry around (just make sure you don't lose any fader caps). Eventually, this made me decide for the Korg, and against the Nektar P4, Akai MPK249, Arturia Keylab49 and the Novations. However, if portability is not your primary concern, and you do not need a sound engine as much as I like to have it, the Arturia is more beautiful at a lower price point, the Nektar is all around better, and the Akai is much more solidly built.
If you are a pro level musician, or if you want a serious stage instrument, this is probably too flimsy for you. But if you want to learn to play keyboard, take it along to jam with friends and use it without a computer, then this is a lot of fun.
If I had done more homework on the sound module component, I probably would have decided to save the money. It isn't a multi-timbral unit, so what you end up with is basically a toy department keyboard that has unusually good sounds. What do you do if you want to use these drums and this bass and this guitar in a composition? Nothing convenient or practical. This keyboard evokes the vintage sound module feel without offering any of the practical utility, and it is barely more than a glorified toy.
There are plenty of alternatives for getting sounds in this day and age. These sounds are tasty, but packaged so poorly you're probably better off sparing yourself the extra cash, and just buying the straight up controller version of this keyboard to use with your collection of soft synths and vintage hardware.
On the bright side, the USB MIDI interface built into the keyboard works flawlessly with Linux.
1) Semi Weighted keyboard : The keys are definitely not synth action completely if that is what some are insinuating. The synth action on other MIDI controllers from M audio, Samson, Alesis etc "feel" like synth action. The difference is clear. Playing them side by side, the synth action noticeably has a lack of body, is lighter to press and the lift off after the keypress is also typical springy feeling. Not with the Triton Tactile. The keys register and the lift off is with body. The presses feel that more controlled. Its definitely not fully weighted or truly amazing like the expensive Kawai Millennium action digital pianos-- but then most MIDI controllers do not even have that, and certainly not the level of the Kawai action which is truly a remarkable feel, you have to play it to feel it. So, in summary, the keys ARE semi weighted, have a body feel to it, and definitely not fully synth action. Now that should end the confusion. Key players primarily will feel comfortable enough to bang out tunes, the way they expect it to.
2) 512 on board sounds : The sounds are great, with the standard ADSR parameters with both knob and slider controls side by side (you can use either). There are also 2 FX sends that do the job of reverb and chorus admirably. The sounds are perfect to re-creation of 90's dance music and electronic pop music. The sounds are also well rounded to sound good in any digital mix today, so to speak. They really do sound quite evergreen, and they cover the bread and butter sounds you would expect for most composition, live performance, gospel in the church music and even for pre-productions and session jamming. The controls are very quick and intuitive, and the sounds are pre categorised in banks that are easily elected right below the sliders. The EP's are very good indeed. You can do set the default sounds for each sound type - like keys/orchestra/strings/drums etc. This is one thing that most MIDI controllers do not have, and especially at this price range. Its certainly a change for those used to AKAI midi controller or Maudio Oxygen series which are controllers only.
3) The KAOSS pad is awesome indeed as it does effect with easily differentiable fx manipulation in terms of filter cutoff and resonance. Used in tandem with different sounds and you get a healthy does of realtime control on the final sound. The great part is that it also doubles as a trackpad, though certainly not of the Mac Trackpad caliber, does the odd job every now and then, on the computer screen, when really required in a jiffy with a push of a button. Double-click, left and right click as well as scroll is enabled. I love it for the fx primarily. You can also use it to play scales and is good for some kinds of ambient or aleatoric music as well as for glissandos. Its really upto you how well you use it, though it certainly gives you the feeling that you are in control.
4) The controls on board are quite extensive - 16 drum pads which can be used to trigger any sound, they also have chord modes that can trigger diatonic chords with bass templates as well. The pads need to be pressed to a steady force to keep them at the right feel for drums, but for synth and piano a lighter touch is suffice. They also light up, as well every other button on the panel. The small OLED display is clear and bright. Very "tactile" indeed and they feel very good for drum phrases and accompaniments.
5) The arpeggiator is available with different modes as you would expect from a MIDI controller. Nuff said.
6) The pitch and modulation work exactly as you would expect.
7) There are 2 pedal jacks for sustain and expression towards the right. Some people complain that the cabling is on the right so some people might find that inconvenient. Guess what, most piano players are right handed people and hence the average takes precedence. I am right handed as well and I find that connecting the cables at the back a chore. Here the only cables I need is one USB cable and the earphone out cable at most. Since there are not power bricks etc to connect to this unit, its quite a standalone device. I love the config, and the connectivity panel is a small section making the usual layed out format at the back something which I certainly do not miss.
8) The earphone or audio out jack: This is again what quite a few are complaining about. I mean like really? If so why did you buy it in the first place? You see some established names are using the 1/8 jack - like devices from iRIG, infact they even have a cabling set for a battery of assorted cables including the 1/8 to 1/8 inch cable. Most headphones on the market come with a 1/4 adapter so this really is not issue at all, at least for me. I got all my cables, my sound cards and my adapters. And to justify -- most consumer or even prosumer gear have the ubiquitous 1/8 standard. While you can debate a lot about audio engineering theory about why unbalanced and balanced connections make the difference the bottom line is that for an onboard sound unit on a MIDI controller, you should not be too worried about it anyways. You could connect it to any of the modern set of monitors including - units like the Presonus Ceres BT35/45 val aux cable or the 1/8 to RCA cables provided and it sounds as good as it should. The primary purpose why Korg did not provide the audio out over usb is that the sounds could be packaged over too soon that way. Its primarily a composers and performers tool as well as for ideas generation and arrangements tryouts in the studio. This should not be your primary sound module by any measure.
The midi carries over the iRig HD Pro unit via the 1/8 midi cable to mini din adapter. The Korg Taktile has a MIDI out DIN socket which is certainly a good thing. I can use the sound out via a line signal to the iRig and record it direct to Garageband/Logic Pro X. I can optionally use any of the N number of sound cards that take a line out and record directly using a 1/8 to 1/8 cable connected via a 1/4 adaptor. There are so many solutions actually. The sounds onboard have aged well and many are evergreen so you can play with it as much as you want. The easy point is also for traveling you do not have to worry about carrying extra monitors, sound cards etc to hear the sounds --- just plug in ANY headphone or earphone on the market and you can go banging away already. I use the Senheisser 280 HD Pro when travelling and it sounds perfect.
9) Regarding selection of presets the horizontal band right below the KAOSS pad is kinda what some are complaint about. Yes, it can get a little inaccurate sometimes, but that is exactly why you have the + and - touch areas as well for the fine tuning. The swiping is also speed dependent, if you swipe very fast you will shift from category to category, if you were in keys you will find that the strings category is selected in tandem. If you swipe a little slowly you can clearly see the sound programs iterating in sequence. I feel its a good addition to quickly browse and then fine tune the exact patch. Its not too difficult btw, even if exact recall is something you would not want to try in the middle of a song, if timing is critical. That is not the feature here btw, though in retrospect if you really know the patch numbers and your current position, I never have a problem zeroing in on 1 or 2 patches up or down and then press the +/- once or twice.
10) Regarding power supply, the best feature about this unit given the size and specs -- its runs off my phone power bank (the phone itself is a power bank) over usb. It can also run over the Nomad Goal Zero solar charger unit, the iPad charger etc. The power requirements are minimal.
Bottom line, I am really happy with this unit. Light as a feather - 3.4 Kgs only, I can play it on my lap, carry it anywhere, use any ready made headphone, use the bevy of adapters when I really need it for sound output, very good key feel, solid number of controllers and pads, can be used for automation with software and comes with a solid selection of free software including Reason limited, plugins from Garageband and the editor software for every parameter that can be saved in "scenes" which are essentially program parameter settings snapshots.
The Korg Legacy Collection includes some really lush and timeless sounds that comes essentially free with the hardware given their awesomeness and utility. They are all heavy-duty plugins for real world production especially the Wavestation, M1 and Polysix all faithful replicas of the original. This software -hardware combo is alone worth the price and a smart decision by Korg to curb piracy while adding value to the consumer.
I am sure there are a large number of takers for this particular list of features set.
And finally, before you start making your own comparison, please check the price once again and think hard if you are buying something that is value for money, or if you really need to spend your money on something that might not suite your working style or expectations.
You can always spend your money on Kawai Millennium pianos for world class action, or buy the latest digilog synth for analog control and synthesis. Those are specialist features that this keyboard is not even trying to sell. Korg Triton Tactile is a MIDI controller for the rebel, expressive, nostalgic and non-control freak electronic music knob twiddlers who have a more streamlined way of working and have their base already set to pave way for this reliable and multi faceted piece of technology to grace your studio area.
Its my best buy of 2015, from Bangkok, while on vacation. I really should not be saying anything more, but playing right now :)
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