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Korg Karma

Posted: Thu Jul 03, 2008 2:16 pm
by Rusty O'Hara
Seen a Korg Karma locally for what seems a reasonable price (I guess)... so got a bit of GAS and curiosity.

I've got vague recollections about playing one years ago in a second hand store for about 15 minutes or so...

Obviously they've been discontinued, but I understand the technology is available in the Oasys and M3 ? as I may be able to demo them to get an idea.

I'm aware of Karma Lab, but obviously a lot of information to trawl through, and I had a couple of quick questions that I thought I might post here:

a) Can the Karma control other synths?

I've got a range of gear, and if I'm looking to get a Karma, a large part of that would be to utilise the Karma technology to drive other synths (eg Virus, Andromeda, XT)

Does the Karma do this? Or is it limited to the internal engine only?

I'm sure I would use the internal sound set, but maybe not that much to make it a priority buy.

b) Whats a reasonable price?

c) Any thoughts, comments etc?

Thanks in advance.

Posted: Thu Jul 03, 2008 4:31 pm
by Phollop Willing PA
First of all, what is the 'reasonable' price you're talking about?

Does the Karma you're looking at have extra sound boards like MOSS and VINTAGE?

To answer your questions:

a) yes - I also use my Roland MC 505 Groovebox as a midi mixer to control the Karma's relative volumes.

b) If it doesn't have the extra sound boards I would ball park a 'reasonable' cost as $800 to $1000. If it had the MOSS board, add $250 - $350. If it had VINTAGE add $100 - $150. I tried to sell mine locally (not enthusiastically mind you) with the two above boards for $1500 and recieved no offers.

c) Out of all the synths I own, I would sell the Karma first for two main reasons: 1. It's terribly easy to play and sound profound, but in reality it's someone else's program that I am modifying, and sounds unoriginal when comparing the performance to the abundance of electronica out there. I recently deleted 85% of all the original programs/karmas and made it more of a simple MOSS keyboard for that very reason as outlined above.

I am too much of an old school synthesist to spend time programming new Karmas*

*referring to the parameters that make the sound go like automatic backings.

Want to buy mine? :lol:

Posted: Thu Jul 03, 2008 5:29 pm
by Dane_Xoth
My understanding (i've never done more than demo and read reviews) is that the KARMA engine is poorly implemented on the synth, with many of the features inaccessable from the front panel, and the result is that most of the patches may not be musically usable. In short, it's the mother of all pigs to program. It doesn't work as well as it looks on paper.

Honestly Rusty....you already have an impressive collection of gear. The KARMA doesn't do anythng that you can't do already.

TI= Complex Modulations (i have the C)
RS7000= Controlling other synths (had the Rm1x/used a friends)
106 = Nice warm tone ( i had one)
µWave XT= Great sounding/coplex modulaton (i have one)
Sampling = not done on the Karma, but you have the ES-1/RS7000/SPS1
Analog = covered...
Polyphony = covered ... Q, TI, XT, Supernova (+samplers)
Timbres = the Triton sound set is rather bland compared to what you've got (IMHO)

Posted: Thu Jul 03, 2008 5:42 pm
by Phollop Willing PA
Dane_Xoth wrote:My understanding (i've never done more than demo and read reviews) is that the KARMA engine is poorly implemented on the synth, with many of the features inaccessable from the front panel, and the result is that most of the patches may not be musically usable. ....
Actually, with a computer and software, It's pretty easy, but I don't use a computer except to make CDs and internet stuff.

Also, it has a floppy disc to save and load - so that's easy.

If you go to the main screen and press (I think) ktc or the karma function, it will display what the knobs do for that program/combi.

Plus to a certain extent, the patches are determined by the sound cards installed.

But generally speaking, Dane_Xoth's words are wise and I agree 85% + !

Posted: Thu Jul 03, 2008 8:58 pm
by Spadz
I've had my Karma with Moss for about 4 or 5 months and it's a really fun synth to fool around with. I used the Karma engine to drive almost all my synths and it works to a certain extent.

The engine sends MIDI Note on/off and a bunch of CC's. So sometimes, it just makes a mess, and sometimes the result is cool.
It's so different from a "standard" arpeggiator.

I think the sound is fine. I mean, it's not analog, but I find the sounds rather warm (compared to the Motif I had before). The MOSS is really neat.

I agree it's abit of a b***h to be able to access only 16 Karma parameters during play. But honestly, there over 1300 GE's in the OS 2 (which is free from Korg BTW. Mine was 1.02 when I got it), and I don't really have time for waste on that. I play a bit with the parameters and I record.

In the end, I use the Karma feature as a jamming, improvising, idea giving tool. I record, not very often with arpeggios in general.

The best is to actually try it yourself. It's definitaly worth the trip.

Posted: Fri Jul 04, 2008 3:12 am
by shaft9000
i had one for about a year.
as stated before the KARMA system is implemented in a way that is kind of hit-or-miss OTB, and very complicated to edit while ITB.
of course you need the editor to really customize anything - KARMA system is very technical and chock full of 'proprietary jargon'. But it can be LOTS of fun, especially when jamming w/ friends.

As for the sound, it is very nice in some respects; particularly the brass and strings can be er....'glorious'... but the pianos and synth stuff is very artificial. YMMV.
I would call it's soundset a good 'complimentary ROMpler', but not what I'd recommend for a main ROMpler - rather a Kurzweil or a JV would do much better imho.
Definitely snag the MOSS board if you can find one. Blows the timbral range wide open.

If you can find it affordably then buy it and play around with it for a while like I did. You can always sell it for a minimal loss.
Shoot, i actually got $100 more than i paid for it when i sold mine.
in effect I was 'paid' a pittance to be the keeper of a Karma. :)

Posted: Fri Jul 04, 2008 3:56 am
by WDW
You can find the manual, FAQs and other support documents here: http://korg.com/service/support.asp

That'd be a good place to start your search for answers to your technical questions.

WD

Posted: Sat Jul 05, 2008 12:31 pm
by Bitexion
What IS that Karma engine really? What's special about it?

Posted: Sat Jul 05, 2008 2:24 pm
by Spadz
Bitexion wrote:What IS that Karma engine really? What's special about it?
It's a sort of really smart arpeggiator which is based on algorithms instead of patterns. It can send CC's and other MIDI events.

There is a software from Karma Lab which enables you to program new algorithms. Check out a bunch of demos for the Karma and the M3.
It's really fun to play with. I'm still not convinced how "useful" it is, but it can be really fun when you fool around with it.

In a combination, you can have up to 4 Karma GE (Generated effects IE the algos in question), and it can get pretty nasty. There is combination that's sort of earie classic guitar and the fricken things strums. Playing with the params and stuff it changes rhythm, randomizing and other.

It's really worth trying at least once.

Posted: Sat Jul 05, 2008 4:43 pm
by shaft9000
just to add a little to what Spadz said:

the GE's can be applied to MANY different perameters and while arpeggiation is a way of looking at it, it is also much much more.
In a way it is like an evolved, complex 'accompaniment' feature, except you can go far beyond with note density, rhythymic variables, key & modal shifts, fx variables, many program parameters, and on and on. It's very complicated.

Posted: Sat Jul 05, 2008 5:38 pm
by Phollop Willing PA
shaft9000 wrote:It's very complicated.
Yep.

It's still usefull as a general synth without the KARMA function.

I wish it had a ribbon though.

Posted: Sat Jul 05, 2008 11:09 pm
by Spadz
I agree a Ribbon controller would have been nice. Specially since they support it as a modulator...

By going at http://www.karma-lab.com/mw/karma-mw.html
You get a better picture of what it is.

Still, I think it's like sex : we can explain in many ways, but you won't really know 'till you try it for real! :wink:

There are a lot of downloads at Korg.com. The OS upgrades, a bunch of different patches and combinations. Including MOSS programs.
I definitly recommend getting it with the MOSS card. It's the engine of the Z1, and it's very very flexible in terms of flexibility. And it sounds great.

The whole synth sounds great (subjectively of course). It's the Triton engine. I admit that the Pianos are not "the" best I've heard. But general synth, strings pads and leads can sound really good.

I've been thinking of buying the MVW Karma programing software from Karma Lab. But if I do that, when will I have time for making music...

Posted: Tue Jul 08, 2008 11:42 am
by crystalmsc
Spadz wrote:I've been thinking of buying the MVW Karma programing software from Karma Lab. But if I do that, when will I have time for making music...
good point :D may be when we got a more predictable Karma such as the Karma 2 synths like the M3.

Posted: Tue Jul 08, 2008 3:41 pm
by Spadz
crystalmsc wrote:
Spadz wrote:I've been thinking of buying the MVW Karma programing software from Karma Lab. But if I do that, when will I have time for making music...
good point :D may be when we got a more predictable Karma such as the Karma 2 synths like the M3.
The current Karma version is 2.something. I think there might be a small difference with the M3, but i'm not even sure. I've been wanting to try the M3 for a while, just can't find the time to do so.

The Karma OS 2 is downloadable from Korg. And you need several floppy disks cause there is the OS itself, plus GE's, patches and other stuff. It took me about more or less 30 min to do the upgrade.

I feel I have enough with the tons of GE's in it, and the few paramters. I could get the software and understand it well, I'm programmer for living. But when I get some time to do some music, I want to get to the basics and use my creativity.

And lately, I'm thinking more and more that less is more (I know. It sounds like a toilet paper commercial, but it's no bs!). I kinda feel flooded with equipement and yet, I have trouble having good ideas. h**l,I might start a thread on the subject.

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 9:15 am
by crystalmsc
Spadz wrote:The current Karma version is 2.something. I think there might be a small difference with the M3, but i'm not even sure.
What I mean is the Karma 2 as in the M3 and Oasys.
Spadz wrote:I think there might be a small difference with the M3, but i'm not even sure.
Here's the differences:
http://www.karma-lab.com/forum/showthre ... eadid=5483