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My Korg M500

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 5:48 am
by immigrantboy
My Micro Korg came this weekend! I picked it up at the post office last night. I'm loving the damn thing! Everything on it works and its in pretty good condition cosmetically, its only missing a couple slider caps.

For a single osc synth, I must say its pretty fat. I can't really compare it too much because I haven't tried many analogs. I won't say its as deep as a Little Phatty, but it has a creamy analog buzz to it. I admire its simplicity and limited capabilities, I'll probably pick a few of the presets I like and stick with those. With other synths that have alot more presets or sound capabilities, I tend to toy around too much and fail to make anything good. I like the knobs, I can make subtle changes to the sound on the fly rather than obtuse botches.

There are six presets with five octaves each. The synth has AR EG (the release is labelled Sustain), modulation with repeat and random repeat, and vibrato, which can be routed to the oscillators or the Traveler. Modulation has depth and rate control. There is a switch for portamento and pot for the rate. And there's the Traveler, which is Korg's early equivalent of a low pass filter (and allegedly resonance, though it doesn't really sound like it has that ping to it). There's also a knob for pitch, which I'm sure is there for tuning, but I might use it as a subtle pitchbend-esque effect.

The Micro Preset has a really particular set of sounds. Unlike the other presets, Synthe 1 doesn't sustain and has a really fast envelope, so to sustain the sound, I use the repeat function with the modulation rate set all the way up to 10. It seems the level drops with repeat on Synthe 2. Synthe 2 has white noise and pink noise in place of the 4' and 16' octave settings. Brass isn't effected by the EG and it has a pretty steep decay, but unlike Synthe 1, it sustains. Strings, Wood and Voice aren't effected by the Traveler or by the EG.

You can mix two presets together, which seems to work well in almost any combination. The level drops out a bit when you mix Synthe 1 & 2. But other than that its pretty effective. I might use it alot with the String, Wood and Voice presets to add a little functionality to them.

I'd say this thing is great for bassy, buzzy and vox tones, and for an all around archetype synth sound. The noise presets are pretty sweet, great for swishy, stormy sounds. They suprisingly mix in very well with another preset, shame they're stuck with 4' and 16' settings. The overdrive on my amp really brings out the beef in the bacon. And I bet this thing would sound even more haunting through some reverb, chorus, flanger, or other effects of the like. This thing sounds great, its real creamy, and its minimal interface is great for just jumping right into some music.

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Sorry for the long, over enthusiastic review. Videos and better pics to come.

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 9:01 am
by Dirk
Those old Korgs are realy something special. They can hold their ground with the best of the best eazely, and cost much less. Unknown gems.

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 6:42 pm
by Analogue Crazy
Congrats on the M-500. Its a forgotten little gem.

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 7:14 pm
by JMP
:shock: :)

Get the OMD - Architecture & Morality CD or the collectors DVD with concert footage included, you'll see/hear this synth put to some decent use on it.

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 7:25 pm
by Solderman
Just noticed the random repeat switch, that's kinda unqiue. Five banks of six presets via knob and switches grid is also a novel approach. I love the old Korg diode filters, and can vouch for my 700s sounding pretty bright with Traveler up. ie. excellent fidelity. Does the portamento glitch? My minikorg doesn't always stop at the played note when gliding to it.

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 7:41 pm
by immigrantboy
The random repeat is pretty cool. Its not too random, but it is very distinct from the repeat function, certainly useful. With the rate on low, the randomness seems more present, sounds somewhat like morse code. The knob for the presets is pretty much an octave up/down knob, the only exception being the noise channels where 4' and 16' would be on Synthe 2. I don't think it glitches? I didn't notice any problems with it last night. If its only like one note off, I probably can't tell, I'm somewhat tonedef. With deep modulation and portamento on, I can get this cool sort of arppegio/glissando like effect.

This thing seems pretty useful once you figure out a few tricks. I guess Synthe 1 is a Pulse Width waveform (not with PWM though) and Synthe 2 is sawtooth, as is Brass, String and Voice. Wood is a square wave. When I think about it like that, it doesn't feel like a preset machine as much. Allegedly, Synthe 1 isn't effected by Attack. I guess I overlooked it, but no matter.

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 8:51 pm
by Blue Monster 65
Glad to hear it came, IB! Now check your PM box ...

Woof! - Scott

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 1:07 am
by kayvon
What type of oscillator does the Micro-Preset use?

I can remember this being the first synth I played when my mate got one & we were both trying to get d'n'b & dance sounds. Even though we hadn't played on any other synths then we were never satisfied with what we got out of it unless it had some flange & distortion on it.

I can remember it sounding like it had divide down oscillator type of sound, a bit like one of those organ style polysynths.

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 2:55 am
by drummy
The old Korgs are awesome. I love my Minikorg 700s. Or, according to the synth, the Univox Mini-Korg 2. Congrats on your Korg. Those knobs remind me of the MS-20.

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 8:10 am
by immigrantboy
I'm fairly sure its VCO. It does have a bit of an organ tinge to it at times. Its a monosynth though. It certainly can't do it all without external effects, but it does what it does pretty well if I may say so.

I think my PSS-480 will back it up quite well, with its FM bells and icy metal tones that the M500 can't really achieve.

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 7:36 pm
by OriginalJambo
godmcgarvey wrote:What can I say, best synth ever made. Far better than a Minimoog or a Prophet
:lol:

Wait...are you serious? :shock:

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 7:48 pm
by Solderman
There's no accouting for taste. :lol:
If it's simplicity and immediacy of a single osc monosynth you're after, what else could top that but maybe the ARP Pro-Soloist?

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 8:39 pm
by Blue Monster 65
Of course he's serious - he's omnipotent, right?

Or was that impotent?

Woof! - Scott

Posted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 1:00 am
by immigrantboy
Yeah. For less than 10% the price, at the expense of 2 less osc's and half the EG, whoopedy-friggin-doo, it does have its perks! Excuse me for being pleased with my synth...

Posted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 1:15 am
by JUGEL
Solderman wrote:There's no accouting for taste. :lol:
If it's simplicity and immediacy of a single osc monosynth you're after, what else could top that but maybe the ARP Pro-Soloist?
JEN SX1000!!!!
I like the Korg too .. but the Jen has more of a haunting tone.

A Stylophone 350s would be much like the M500.. get a MXR EQ pedal and some delay and you're set.