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Korg Volca Keys Analog Synthesizer
- Three note true analogue synthesis with one knob per function for easy hands-on tweaking
- 16-step sequencer with Flux mode for non-quantized free flowing loops
- Sync In and Out allows clock sync of multiple instruments from the volca Series
- MIDI In for note entry, plus external sync and control from your DAW
- Play anywhere with the built-in speaker and optional battery power
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From the manufacturer
Korg Volca Keys Analog Synthesizer
Combining the sonic power of true analogue synthesis with intuitive user controls, the volca Keys delivers immense versatility in sound creation and loop making. volca Keys is a lead synthesizer offering three note true analogue synthesis.
It's equipped with a 16-step sequencer as well as Ring Modulation and Delay effects for far out sonic possibilities. There's also a MIDI Input for note entry, plus external sync and control from your DAW. Battery operation and built-in speakers mean that you can conveniently play anywhere and anytime.
Sync In and Out allows clock sync of multiple instruments from the volca Series as well as Korg's Monotribe.
Convenient functions for greater ease of use
Voicing function lets anyone create sounds easily
The Voicing function makes it easy to specify how the three oscillators will be combined. Simply turn the knob to choose one of six combinations: Poly, Unison, Octave, Fifth, Unison Ring, or Poly Ring.
Use the Motion Sequence function to craft your loops
The Motion Sequence function lets you record knob movements, letting you apply time-varying changes to your sound that will enhance your loops and add originality to your live performances.
SYNC jack and MIDI IN connector
By using the sync jack you can enjoy synchronized playback with multiple volcas or with a monotribe. You can also use the 'SyncKontrol' iPhone app to wirelessly control tap tempo, swing settings, and synchronized playback with iOS music apps via WIST.
Simple three-voice polyphonic analog synthesizer
With its structure of 3VCO, 1VCF, 1VCA, 1LFO, and 1EG, the volca keys has a recognizable, versatile structure. The ability to generate diverse and powerful sounds with just a few carefully selected parameters is a distinctive characteristic of analog synthesizers.
Korg Volca Keys
Volca keys is a 27-key analog lead synth that generates unbelievably powerful sound from its 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.
Combining the sonic power of true analogue synthesis with intuitive user controls, the volca Keys delivers immense versatility in sound creation and loop making. volca Keys is a lead synthesizer offering three note true analogue synthesis. It's equipped with a 16-step sequencer as well as Ring Modulation and Delay effects for far out sonic possibilities. There's also a MIDI Input for note entry, plus external sync and control from your DAW. Battery operation and built-in speakers mean that you can conveniently play anywhere and anytime. Sync In and Out allows clock sync of multiple instruments from the volca Series as well as Korg's Monotribe.
Top Customer Reviews
That being said, I think this is a 5-star product...provided that you educate yourself in advance of what it does and doesn't do. It's an extremely small plastic box that runs on 6 AA batteries and features no slot for external media (USB, SD card, etc.). I don't know how you reasonably look at those specs and expect this to be a $150 mini-MPC. But if that were your expectation, yes, you'd be a little disappointed.
The Volca Sample is special from the other Volca machines in just how flexible it can be towards a variety of needs. You could load it up with acoustic or drum machine samples and have up 10 instruments loaded with 8-instrument/note polyphony. You could load up a series of tuned notes and generate a walking bass line using either motion sequencing/automation, or by setting the same sample to different pitches. Pitch control is handled very well on the Volca Sample, in my opinion. You can change pitch with a numerical up/down value, or by semitones (2 octaves down all the way to two octaves up). This is done by the speed knob, and while lower pitched notes are basically the same sample played back more slowly, you can edit sample length, decay, and other features to balance things out. In fact, the 4x4 matrix with mini knobs in the gray section are 16 step programmable sampling parameters for you to adjust. Not only can these be adjusted for each sample, but you can live record automation or program the changes to occur at different steps. Is it a professional caliber sampler? No. Is it accessible to all levels of users and deceptively powerful for a battery powered, affordable device? Absolutely.
SAMPLE EDITING & iOS INTEGRATION - Some of the biggest complaints about the Sample are that the device was marketed as requiring an iOS device to change and edit samples. However, I view that as one of the device's selling points, and an excellent 3rd-party app from the Caustic developer quickly emerged to allow even more power over sample creation and uploading (I believe this is also available for Android and PC). iOS integration is a strength of the Sample, in my opinion, because there is such an insane wealth of affordable music content in the iOS app store. The Caustic Volca Editor easily links up with an app called AudioShare to import samples stored on your device, or imported from a cloud service like DropBox. Aside from uploading obvious samples (like .wav files of 808/909 sounds available all over the web), you can create your own without leaving your iPhone or iPad and store them in AudioShare. For example, I recorded a simple C2 note in a great app called iFretless Bass, sent it to the Caustic Volca Editor via AudioShare, and had a pitch tuned electric bass sound available on my Sample, and the whole process took maybe a couple of minutes.
Some tips/caveats: Some people have complained about the 4MB storage limit on the Volca, which is admittedly quite small. The best way to deal with this is to use the Caustic or AudioPocket editor and identify some of the longer factory samples (1 second or longer) and target those to be replaced. There are 100 sample slots for storage, but whatever you upload needs to be in place of something else, so you can free up more storage that way. Generally speaking, the Volca Sample is better suited for "one-hit" brief samples like a drum, brass hit, or clap. Sampling can also involve longer clips like 5-second guitar riffs, but the Volca Sample really isn't suited to handle that.
The fact that patterns are limited to 16-step single bars is another oft-cited problem with the entire Volca series, but there are workarounds. You can set different patterns and chain them with Song mode, or trigger them with the ribbon keys. Part of the fun of the entire Volca series, however, is taking a very brief and straightforward musical idea and then mutating with filter sweeps, modulation, and effects. The Sample excels at that, and the sound quality is great (through headphones or monitors though, just skip the built-in mini speaker). I like the "Analogue Isolator", which is basically an fancied-up name for a 2-band EQ, but which allows for some additional tone shaping and automation possibilities.
MIDI ISSUES - Unfortunately, the Sample isn't controlled via MIDI the way you might expect it to be. My understanding is that the 10 different samples respond to different MIDI Channels (1-10), as opposed being triggered by separate pads/keys on a single MIDI channel. That's a bit of bummer, but less than the other Volcas, since Live Play actually responds quite well with the touch keys (and quantizes to nearest 16th note), and you'll spend most of your time programming grooves with the step sequencer anyway. It does not respond to velocity control, though you can set the "Level" for each sample.
One final note - I think some of the negativity for the Volca Sample comes from the fact that what it offers isn't as "rare" as the Keys, Bass, and Beats. There are desktop and even mobile sampling apps that do much of what the Volca Sample does, and perhaps even more cheaply. In that sense, it isn't the same "freak of nature" that my little Volca Bass is, belting out warm, analog tones from an inexpensive, battery-powered box. But that doesn't make the usefulness of the Sample any less impressive - this little box really can do a ton. While the other Volca devices surprise you with quality of their sounds, the possibilities with the Sample are limited by only your imagination and willingness to experiment.
UPDATE (06/28/2016): Just a quick update on my review to attach a picture showing how much of a giant nerd I am, as well as the versatility of the Sample. I created a micro-sized table showing all the instruments uploaded to the device, as well as a table showing how many semitones away different notes are (since I am pretty bad at music theory). All of my pitched samples are tuned to a "C" note, so it becomes pretty easy to generate basslines and simple melodies using these charts for quick reference. The Sample allows you to load the same sample in multiple instruments slots, and since you have 8-note polyphony, you could program chords or even set up a custom keyboard where each note is within the scale/mode of your song. Again, this more of a hobby/amusement for me than serious music production, but I love exploring what this little device can do and even pushing it do things musically that it wasn't necessarily "intended" to do.
The plain fact is that you want this machine.
Now, there are a few things you should know. The size of the control face means that live tweaking, though imminently doable, requires some dexterity. The headphone jack is a 1/8" mono jack, so you have to account for this in your setup. The signal path is a little noisy. The VCF cutoff pot noticeably steps when the resonance is up. The (great) sequencer is limited when using the 1/2 and 1/4 tempo features. The oscillators only output sawtooth waveforms. The LFO can only interact with pitch and cutoff frequency. The 3-note polyphony shares a single envelope generator, so the velocity of subsequent notes lowers the volume of earlier, held notes. The keypad is unsuitable for quick chord playing.
Do you get more than you pay for with this beauty? Absolutely. Yes! You want this machine. Will it replace all your other synthesizers? No, of course not! It's a $160 plastic box. If you had $500 or $1000 to spend on an analog synth, you wouldn't be looking at this anyway. You'd be getting the Minibrute, the Minilogue, or the Sub 37.
If you have $500, get the Minilogue and tell me how it is.
Korg VOLCAKEYS - Analog Synth Machine
Korg VOLCABASS - Analog Bass Machine
Korg VOLCABEATS - Analog Rhythm Machine
M-Audio Studiophile AV 40 Active Studio Monitor Speakers - to add a bigger sound
Belkin Rockstar Multi Headphone Splitter (Black and White) - a very simple way to connect the output of the various units together on their way to an outboard speaker. Use it in reverse of normal splitter function to bring the sound of the various units together.
Belkin Mini Stereo Dubbing 3.5mm Plug Cable for Kindle Fire, iPod, iPhone, iPad, Android, Smartphone and MP3 Players -6feet - connects Volca to the Belkin reverse-splitter. One is needed for each Volca.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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