Korg Unveils OASYS Open Architecture Synthesis Studio

Korg OasysAt the 2005 NAMM Show, Korg introduced a new platform for musical production, the OASYS Open Architecture Synthesis Studio. Designed to provide a unified musical production environment, OASYS seamlessly unites state-of-the-art synthesis, audio hard disk recording, MIDI sequencing, second generation KARMA functionality, a control surface, a CD burner and more under an intuitive interface, highlighted by a large 10.4″ color TouchView display.

OASYS is not only an entirely new instrument, but a completely new platform to support Korg innovation for years to come. Powered by an ultra fast computer processor, and running newly-developed proprietary software atop Linux underpinnings, OASYS offers all the benefits of a variable software system, backed by a dedicated operating system and the hardware integrity that can only come from a fully-integrated instrument design.

Three Synths in One

OASYS is actually three synthesizers in one: Korg’s all-new HD-1 High Definition PCM Synthesizer plus two additional EXi Expansion Instruments, the powerful AL-1 Virtual Analog synth, and an enhanced CX-3 Tonewheel Organ. This powerful trio of synth engines can be used together in a variety of ways to create new, imaginative timbres.

Powerful PCM Synthesis

The sound of the 172-voice HD-1 is crystal clear across the entire audio spectrum. The abundant 616 MB PCM library captures the natural detail and ornamentation of real acoustic instruments. Also included are many stereo waveforms to preserve the natural imaging of acoustic sounds as well as up to 4-way velocity switching to recreate an instrument’s complete dynamic range. Extended-length samples preserve each instrument’s natural decay, especially evident in the drums and cymbals.

Advances in the HD-1’s detailed voice architecture allow a single oscillator to play back stereo waveforms and support 4-way layering, switching and crossfading. Each oscillator can employ two newly-designed multi-mode filters, two Low Frequency Oscillators, two Envelope Generators and dual amp stages simultaneously. A new Drive parameter adds a range of harmonic overdrive. Korg’s AMS (Alternate Modulation Source) furnishes OASYS with 52 modulation sources. Newly added AMS Mixers allow blending and mixing of various modulation sources for even more flexible control.

Making a return are Korg’s classic Advanced Vector Synthesis and Wave Sequencing technologies. Advanced Vector Synthesis allows for smooth blending between the two oscillators and user-definable modulation of many parameters. In Combination Mode, Advanced Vector Synthesis can blend between four different mixtures of sounds to create evocative, motion-based timbres. Wave Sequences play back a series of selected waveforms over time, creating either distinctive rhythmic timbres or continually evolving sounds. New additions to this classic technology include enhanced tempo synchronization, swing and real-time duration modulation. Additionally, dual integrated step-sequencer modulation outputs allow Wave Sequences to control virtually any Program parameter such as filter cutoff, pan and more.

Analog Modeling

The AL-1 is a state-of-the-art virtual analog synth engine delivering an unparalleled 84 notes of polyphony. Two ultra-low aliasing oscillators per voice offer eight waveforms for a wide palette of modulatable shapes. An adjustable “Edge” parameter provides vintage oscillator modeling options, while sync, FM and several varieties of ring modulation offer ample tone-shaping possibilities. A sub oscillator, colored noise generator and live audio input round out the signal sources. Each voice can use up to two of Korg’s new multimode resonant filters to generate 12 dB or 24 dB per octave slopes. The new MultiFilter allows crossfading in real time between any two of 21 different filter types — including custom mixes. The AL-1 offers a wealth of modulation riches: five punchy, re-triggerable envelopes; four super-fast, tempo-synched LFOs; dual AMS Mod Mixers; and a per-voice, 32-step Step Sequencer.

Tonewheel Modeling

The CX-3 Tonewheel Organ engine provides an enhanced version of the tonewheel modeling used in Korg’s stand-alone combo organs (CX-3, BX-3). In addition to the dual drawbar sets, the CX-3 features control over every nuance of the sound including leakage, key click, adjustable percussion, chorus/vibrato and a complete rotary speaker simulation. Korg’s unique EX Mode adds additional harmonics and percussion tunings for creating new “organic” timbres. The control surface of the OASYS provides direct access to the nine drawbars via the sliders; switches to access the vibrato/chorus, percussion and all traditional tonewheel organ controls are laid out in a logical and familiar manner.

Combis and More

Korg’s signature Combination structure has been expanded, now allowing up to 16 Programs to be split and layered across the keyboard. Combinations can freely use sounds from the

HD-1, AL-1 and CX-3, with dynamic voice allocation between the different synth engines for complete performance flexibility.

Korg’s international team of sound designers have provided 1,152 Programs and 384 Combinations, ranging from realistic acoustic instruments to fat, imaginative Korg synth sounds; from CX-3 organ sounds designed by top players to cutting-edge synth sounds. All sound locations (1,664 Programs / 1,792 Combis) are fully editable. Forty of the 152 drumkits come preloaded as well. These drumkits support stereo samples, 4-way velocity-switching and a 3-band EQ per drum index.

Multiple Effects

OASYS extends the quantity and quality of onboard effects with six times the processing power of the TRITON series. Included are 12 Insert, two Master and two Total effects, and 185 algorithms. Many new effects are offered, plus classic Korg favorites — ToneWorks (REMS) mic, amp and speaker models; the pro-quality O-Verb from the OASYS-PCI card; the Chorus/Vibrato circuit from the CX-3; the Polysix/Legacy Collection ensemble and more. OASYS can also be used as a six input/10 output real-time effects processor.

Advanced KARMA

OASYS also introduces second generation KARMA technology.* This revolutionary algorithmic performance technology generates amazing phrases, grooves and other musical effects that can be altered and randomized in real time. Many new features keep this KARMA technology on the cutting edge, including KARMA-driven Wave Sequencing and more flexible control over the real-time controls in Combi and Sequencer modes. All of the onboard 2000+ KARMA Generated Effects (GEs) have been standardized to one of 13 different “Real-Time Control” Models (RTC Models). An RTC Model specifies which KARMA parameters are available for real-time control, and how they are assigned to the Control Surface. With multiple GEs sharing the same exact setup, controlling one GE is now consistent and applicable to other GEs, for quick user familiarity with varying the KARMA effects.

*For more information about the foundation of the original KARMA technology, see the KARMA OVERVIEW section at the end of this document.

MIDI Sequencing

The 16-track MIDI sequencer records up to 200 Songs (400,000 MIDI notes), and includes Korg’s familiar user-friendly features. One-touch setup takes the user from playing a Program or Combination instantly to “ready-to-record” status. Song Templates contain pre-assigned effect routings and program assignments. Built-in rhythm patterns can be used to instantly create a rhythm track. Real-time Pattern Play and Record (RPPR) assigns sequenced Patterns to individual keys on the keyboard for interactive performing, or for quickly building up tracks. Individual track looping allows the user to create smaller looped parts (such as drum grooves) within a Song and much more.

Audio Recording

A first for any keyboard-based product, OASYS also offers an unprecedented 16-track audio recording studio, fully integrated with the sequencer’s MIDI tracks. Up to four tracks of 16-bit, 48 kHz audio can be recorded to the internal 40 GB hard drive simultaneously, with individual phantom power for two of the four inputs. All onboard effects are available to the recorder, including studio quality mic and amp models, dynamic treatments and spatial effects. The audio recorder sports a full mixing control surface with per-track 3-band EQ, event automation, as well as track and song editing capabilities. The OASYS records in industry-standard WAV file format for maximum compatibility.

Open Sampling

The same Open Sampling System first introduced in the TRITON Studio provides sampling and resampling from any mode, sampling through effects and much more. Time Slice, Time Stretch, Crossfade Looping and other cutting-edge editing tools are provided. Samples in Korg native format, AIFF, WAV and AKAI (S-1000/3000 with advanced Program parameter conversion) formats can be used.

Flexible control surface

The 10.4″ adjustable-angle, color TouchView display features a clear layout and rich graphics. Real-time controllers include the traditional Korg joystick, dual switches and ribbon, an assignable Vector Joystick, eight real-time knobs, 16 switches, nine sliders, plus three pedal inputs. The eight knobs and nine sliders are augmented by LED status indicators showing their current values. OASYS also features eight responsive, soft-touch and velocity-sensitive drum pads that can be used to trigger notes, controllers, or KARMA chord voicings.

Korg Oasys Screen

The control surface has multiple modes of operation — for mixing the 16 MIDI tracks and 16 audio tracks, for real-time control of sounds and KARMA parameters, or as a Tone Adjust surface for quick in-context tweaking of a given sound, Combination timbre or sequence track without affecting the original Program. Finally, in External Mode, the hardware can be mapped to various MIDI Controller messages to control external software and devices.

Future Expansion is Already Here

OASYS comes with two EXs Expansion Sample Libraries. The pre-loaded EXs-1 ROM Expansion set enhances the onboard sound set with many stereo drums, and additional large acoustic and synthesizer multisamples. The EXs-2 Concert Grand Piano resides on the hard drive, and can be loaded in place of the EXs-1 to serve up Korg’s finest piano experience to date. Based on individually sampled keys, true stereo imaging, four-way velocity switching and an additional damper layer, this 511 MB piano evokes unparalleled realism. Future expansion options will include new synthesis engines, new effects, more sample libraries and various operating system enhancements.

Two flavors

To suit a variety of players, OASYS is available in a 76-key synth action, and an 88-key model offering Korg’s top-of-the-line, RH2 weighted hammer graded action.

Karma Technology

KARMA stands for Kay Algorithmic Real-time Music Architecture, named after its inventor, Stephen Kay.

The KARMA function generates MIDI data, using many different complex algorithms seamlessly integrated to provide a powerful “music generation engine.” Based on the notes and chords you play, KARMA generates phrases and patterns in real time, generating not just notes, but MIDI control data as well. The KARMA architecture allows the various algorithms to be re-configured and varied in real time, as you play them.

For example, you can create spectacular cascades of complex interweaving notes, techno arpeggios and effects, dense rhythmic and melodic textures, natural sounding glissandos for acoustic instrument programs, guitar strumming and finger-picking simulations, random effects, auto-accompaniment effects, gliding and swooping portamento and pitch bend effects, and new sound design possibilities. KARMA lets you create phrases and patterns far beyond the current range provided by conventional arpeggiators or pattern playback functions.

Theory of operation:

A performance of a musical phrase can be thought of as having many different “attributes” which determine the overall effect of the resulting music. For example, a musical phrase has a “rhythm” attribute, which is the rhythm with which the notes are being played. The number of notes (“chords”) being played at the same time in various places of the musical phrase could be called a “cluster” attribute. The velocity (accent) with which the notes are played is a “velocity” attribute. The spatial location in a stereo field where the notes are played is a “pan” attribute, etc.

Typically, music that has been recorded or sequenced has all of these attributes pre-determined and fixed in relation to each other. A specific note is to be played with a specific rhythmic value for a specific period of time, at a specific volume level, at a specific location in a stereo field, with the sound of a specific musical instrument. These relationships remain fixed no matter how many times you play back the performance. For example, in most if not all auto-accompaniment instruments, to achieve a variation in the accompaniment pattern the instrument essentially switches to a different pre-recorded sequence of musical events (again with specific relationships that are fixed in the data).

In KARMA, every aspect of a musical phrase has been separated into independently controllable attributes. Each of these attributes is controlled by a separate group of parameters, which can be individually varied or changed in groups by the user in real time as the music is being generated; or changed all at once with the selection of a program or combination.

KARMA can also be used to generate infinitely variable randomized grooves and accompaniment backings. Up until now there have been two basic types of algorithmic backing track generation. The traditional method used in all auto-accompaniment keyboards is a system that analyzes notes played on a keyboard (chord recognition) and then plays back patterns stored in memory through transposition tables. The second method is the one used by some algorithmic software products that create new patterns each time the algorithm is called. In general, the first method is static and repetitive, while the second method cannot be modified in real time.

KARMA combines the algorithmic diversity of the second method with the real-time control and immediate access of the first method to create a new form of interactive groove generation, where the user is in more direct control, since what is produced is directly related to which notes are pressed. Furthermore, extensive aspects of the rhythm, velocity, chord size and other parameters can be randomly varied in real time to allow the user to control the complexity and density of the resulting performance.

For more information, check the Korg site.

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