Korg Wavestation Revisited (inc 25 year old demo)

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Korg Wavestation Revisited (inc 25 year old demo)

Postby HideawayStudio » Sat Sep 02, 2017 9:30 am

It has felt like there has been a bit of a rekindled interest in vintage digital synths in recent years (heck, even DX7s are going up in value!) and a little while back I found myself dusting off my old Korg Wavestation A/D in the studio and retrofitting a gorgeous Cool Blue high contrast LCD to it. Being so much easier to read the display has certainly made the beast more enticing to experiment with and it was cool hearing her for the first time in many years but I have to say I was left remembering why I've never used it much as everything that comes out of it always seems to remind me of early 90s TV sci-fi! 8-)

The other day I rediscovered a recording I made relatively shortly after getting my first Wavestation on a 25 year old DAT tape and it brought back a lot of memories so I rescued it.

I recorded Nebula Andromeda as a live improvisation recorded in one take circa 1993 in front of a Korg Wavestation A/D whilst literally editing the patch program on the fly trying out various layered sounds.

Whether its to anyone's taste or not - its quite surprising it turned out as well as it did all things considered :D



Bit depressing to think I was in my early 20s back then and now here we are in 2017!!
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Re: Korg Wavestation Revisited (inc 25 year old demo)

Postby synthRodriguez » Sat Sep 02, 2017 11:42 am

Dang it Dan, just as I was just getting ready to sell mine, now you're making me wonder if I should keep it. :blink:
Last edited by synthRodriguez on Mon Sep 04, 2017 1:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Korg Wavestation Revisited (inc 25 year old demo)

Postby gcoudert » Sat Sep 02, 2017 11:59 am

I bought a brand new Wavestation SR around that time. I think I paid around £999 for it and sold it about 8 years later for £200. Great synth and a vast improvement on the M1. I do miss it sometimes and might buy another if one comes up at the right price. I must re-post those third-party patch banks I have; the guy in the shop gave me those sysex banks on an Atari floppy when I bought the synth.
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Re: Korg Wavestation Revisited (inc 25 year old demo)

Postby Mooger5 » Sat Sep 02, 2017 2:55 pm

Nice demo, although a bit "baroque", which reveals it as a "period piece" IMHO, from when the WS was big news :)

What would you people say the goal should be now? Make it sound less blatant and use the wavesequencing and vector synthesis in a subtler way so that no one says upon first listening "Ah, a Wavestation..."

Or do exactly the opposite? The sound may have become so well-known that musicians stopped using it, but that was like twenty years ago :!: Should we aim for a survival?
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Re: Korg Wavestation Revisited (inc 25 year old demo)

Postby desmond » Sat Sep 02, 2017 5:02 pm

Like many synths, there are the obvious sounds you can do (the DX7, D50, M1, etc all have them) but if you stay away from those things and explore other territories you can often be surprised what you can coax out of these things.

My favourite WS tricks include toning down on the reverb/delays, avoiding the cliches, using WS for very subtle things that almost sound like modulation more than wave sequencing, avoiding rhythmic plucky wave sequences, using layers to build in denser layers (but subtle, as soon as you start getting super thick it starts to go all '90s again), using FX and routing in non-obvious ways (one of the first WS patches I did had a moving pad going through a compressor, that was keyed from a different (non-sounding) patch allocated to one key on the keyboard, so you could play chords and hear nothing, but as you triggered the one key you got the gated effect letting through the chords - you could play the gate rhythmically, or use a wave sequence to gate the chords as a sequence.)

Some of my favourite waves are on the PCM cards (the Synth/Timeslice being awesome and my favourite) rather than the factory ones.

There's lots of things you can do with the WS (and the A/D lets you do this with audio from your DAW) so it can be very cool to experiment...
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Re: Korg Wavestation Revisited (inc 25 year old demo)

Postby Mooger5 » Sun Sep 03, 2017 12:42 am

I use the wave sequences to make systems music. I program a sequence loop of different waves at equal intervals and then play the sequence back polyphonicaly at different intervals and I quite like the results. The harmonic structure can get real dense.

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Re: Korg Wavestation Revisited (inc 25 year old demo)

Postby gcoudert » Sun Sep 03, 2017 8:50 am

I used to create wavesequences using a single waveform at slightly different volumes and cross-faded to add subtle 'movement' to pads, then I'd layer & pan two of them so the pad appeared to shift randomly across the stereo field.
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Re: Korg Wavestation Revisited (inc 25 year old demo)

Postby madtheory » Sun Sep 03, 2017 11:40 am

HideawayStudio wrote:I recorded Nebula Andromeda as a live improvisation recorded in one take circa 1993 in front of a Korg Wavestation A/D whilst literally editing the patch program on the fly trying out various layered sounds.

Nice. What's the name of the preset you started with? The movement of fifths reminds me of the pad in Halcyon+on+on by Orbital.
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Re: Korg Wavestation Revisited (inc 25 year old demo)

Postby meatballfulton » Sun Sep 03, 2017 1:26 pm

That reminds me of why I fell in love with the possibilities of digital synthesis. Hey, I love analog as much as the next guy but those WS sounds were fresh back then and still sound good today. I remember when Korg had to bring out the Wavestation EX because buyers were appalled it had no grand piano patches. :roll:

HideawayStudio wrote:Bit depressing to think I was in my early 20s back then and now here we are in 2017!!


You'd be even more depressed if you had been 39 back then like I was :lol:
I listened to Hatfield and the North at Rainbow. They were very wonderful and they made my heart a prisoner.
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Re: Korg Wavestation Revisited (inc 25 year old demo)

Postby HideawayStudio » Sun Sep 03, 2017 4:10 pm

madtheory wrote:
HideawayStudio wrote:I recorded Nebula Andromeda as a live improvisation recorded in one take circa 1993 in front of a Korg Wavestation A/D whilst literally editing the patch program on the fly trying out various layered sounds.

Nice. What's the name of the preset you started with? The movement of fifths reminds me of the pad in Halcyon+on+on by Orbital.

Yes there is a similarity but I'm afraid with it being over 20 years since I made that recording I've little memory of what sounds were used other than I seem to recall I chose one of the factory patches and then started tweaking it so that at least one of the wavesequences in the layer was being substituted for others in memory live on the fly.
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Re: Korg Wavestation Revisited (inc 25 year old demo)

Postby Mooger5 » Mon Sep 04, 2017 5:15 pm

I think it starts with Kingdom Come, followed by Station Platform, followed by Deep Atmosphere.
Halcyon pads sound like an edited version of Debussy On Wheels patch...
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Re: Korg Wavestation Revisited (inc 25 year old demo)

Postby madtheory » Mon Sep 04, 2017 6:23 pm

Cool thanks!
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Re: Korg Wavestation Revisited (inc 25 year old demo)

Postby HideawayStudio » Tue Sep 05, 2017 9:21 am

Mooger5 wrote:I think it starts with Kingdom Come, followed by Station Platform, followed by Deep Atmosphere.
Halcyon pads sound like an edited version of Debussy On Wheels patch...

Many thanks for that - you have jogged my memory. I did indeed use those factory patches among many others but what you have reminded me of is that the backbone of the piece is centred around the patch Deep Atmosphere and then other elements were layered with it on the fly.

Although some of the factory patches now sound really rather dated in the Wavestation, some still sound remarkable. That said, there has always been a sense that the instrument has such a strong sonic character that its actually quite tricky to make it sound like anything other than a Wavestation. To a certain degree the Prophet VS also suffers from this but in that case its perhaps a little easier to tone it down - especially with those lovely analog filters!

Speaking of which it is a crying shame the Wavestation didn't have resonant filters - if Korg should ever dare to reissue this beast in hardware - it really needs to have a decent set of analog sounding filters bolted to it!!

BTW.. your piece Cánone sounds wonderful - a very effective method of building up complex sonic landscapes.
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Re: Korg Wavestation Revisited (inc 25 year old demo)

Postby madtheory » Tue Sep 05, 2017 12:14 pm

I never used the hardware Wavestation, but spent a lot of time hating and then loving the M1 with its quirky set of samples. The plugin Wavestation is a very nice synth to have around for padding and occasional rhythmic textures. As you say, it is a synth with a very strong character, IMO very of its time. The plugin version is a well designed UI, quite intuitive. Or at least, it seems that way to me, having cut my teeth on the M1 back in the day. I think you'd need to be used to the Korg way of doing things, to find the Wavestation intuitive. If there was a modern hardware version, I imagine it would have a touch screen. But of course, that exists as the iPad version! And IMO the filters in the plugin are really nice :)
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Re: Korg Wavestation Revisited (inc 25 year old demo)

Postby Mooger5 » Tue Sep 05, 2017 8:12 pm

HideawayStudio wrote:
Mooger5 wrote:I think it starts with Kingdom Come, followed by Station Platform, followed by Deep Atmosphere.
Halcyon pads sound like an edited version of Debussy On Wheels patch...

Many thanks for that - you have jogged my memory. I did indeed use those factory patches among many others but what you have reminded me of is that the backbone of the piece is centred around the patch Deep Atmosphere and then other elements were layered with it on the fly.
Deep Atmosphere is my favourite performance! Any info out there on how the factory presets were created? How did the sound designer(s) come up with Ski Jam for instance, the wavesequence... it´s ingenius!

Although some of the factory patches now sound really rather dated in the Wavestation, some still sound remarkable but there has always been the sense that the instrument has such a strong character that its not to make it sound like a Wavestation. To a certain degree the Prophet VS also suffers from this but in that case its perhaps a little easier to tone it down - especially with those lovely analog filters!
I too find the Filter is the Wavestation´s weakness, it seems to cut at 6dB ot something... but we must remember subtractive synthesis was never its main poin. I think part of the concept was inspired by the PPG Wavecomputer. That was groundbreaking and didn´t have any filters. It had the resonant wave tables to emulate resonant analogs. Admittedly not convincing enough, but everything else was unique for the time.

Speaking of which it is a crying shame the Wavestation didn't have resonant filters - if Korg should ever dare to reissue this beast in hardware - it really needs to have a decent set of analog sounding filters bolted to it!!
Perhaps the OS could be hacked to integrate resonant muti-mode filters?

BTW.. your piece Cánone sounds wonderful - a very effective method of building up complex sonic landscapes.

Thank you! I appreciate that.
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