Korg & Noritake Introduce Futuristic Nutube Vacuum Tubes

korg-nutube

At the 2015 NAMM Show, Korg and Noritake introduced the Nutube, a new miniaturized and high performance vacuum tube.

In cooperation with Noritake Itron Corporation, Korg has developed the Nutube to offer improved reliability and efficiency, while still generating the same rich harmonics which vacuum tubes are known for.

korg-vacuum-tube-chip

As with previous vacuum tubes, the Nutube is structured with an anode, grid, and filament, and operates as a complete triode tube, generating the same rich harmonics that are distinctive of conventional vacuum tubes.

By applying technology from Noritake Co., Limited’s vacuum fluorescent displays, though, the structure of the vacuum tube has been modified, dramatically reducing its size and allowing it to consume less power.

Korg outlines these benefits to the new ‘tube on a chip’ technology:

  • Power Consumption. Miniaturization dramatically reduces power consumption, allowing the Nutube to operate using less than 2% of power required by conventional vacuum tubes and making it easy to power the unit on batteries.
  • Compact. The Nutube occupies less than 30% of the volume of a conventional vacuum tube. Its small size and low thermal output allows it to be easily mounted directly on a high-density circuit board without using a socket
  • High reliability and long life. The unique design and state of the art Japanese production facility ensures the Nutubes are built to the highest standard and offer up to 30,000 hours of continuous operating life. The high reliability means that it can be attached directly to the circuit board with confidence knowing that it will not need to be replaced regularly like a 12AX7.

“As an electronic component, a vacuum tube has the disadvantages of being larger than a transistor, having a shorter lifespan, and a higher power consumption, and although many people like the sound of a vacuum tube, historically they have been more difficult to deal with,” states Korg’s Fumio Mieda, who has helped develop Korg synth going back all the way to the MS-20. “The Nutube sets us free from these many limitations, making it possible for us to think about using it in new products,” added Mieda.

The Nutube 6P1 is designed specifically to generate rich harmonics when used with a musical instrument. Products using the Nutube are currently under development, with announcements expected during 2015.

43 thoughts on “Korg & Noritake Introduce Futuristic Nutube Vacuum Tubes

  1. Wow, this is potentially the biggest news to come out of this years NAMM!
    Something that has the desirable features of a tube with the ease of use of an IC is pretty cool.

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  2. Def the biggest potential game changer at NAMM this year.

    Affordable, reliable, tiny tubes with less waste at correct operational levels?

    Korg needs to make me a Volca Fairchild

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    1. Check out Knifonium, a 25-tube (all-tube) mono synth with ladder filter, for a sense of the possibilities. There’s at least one YouTube demo of it.

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      1. you can’t do much more than (pre)amplifiers and oscillators with triodes, for VCF or VCA you need a grid to apply CV so you need tetrode or pentode, at least for historic or existing schematics, but used in a new hybrid way with OTA and OpAmp, transistors, even micro controllers, this can be great.

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  3. I just shared this big news with my spouse. Didn’t get much of a reaction.

    But WE know what a big deal this is. I expect some pretty amazing effect products at the next NAMM.

    Is it possible that Korg would keep this as their own proprietary tech and make it prohibitive to other companies to use?

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      1. LOL…told my cat, who promptly got up, went out his hatch and hasn’t come back since.
        Bit of a cheek really, considering that he lounges on my gear all day!
        But seriously, let’s hope they do some interesting stuff with these.

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  4. this is SERIOUSLY big new !!
    korg cold keep it to their own products …
    but companies like yamaha licence their chips …
    …so i hope this type of technology becomes the standard

    if this came out a few years ago we might have seen it in the monotron or monotribe

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  5. wow, the applications of this are endless! This could be great news for the future…. obviously we willl have to see how they implement it, and what kind of patent they have on it, and whether other devs will start approaching things this way, but could be used to make great analog synths, on the output stage of digital synths, fx, processors etc… definitely not “sexy” to the missus 🙂 (as mentioned above, but I think a lot of us know what this can lead to, and it is only good! Kudo’s Korg! You really seem to be on a roll the last few years!

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  6. This is some serious out of left field stuff, but I am very interested to see where this leads.

    It seems that should lead to much more compact tube-based designs and the possibility of tubes be incorporated into much lower cost designs, also.

    I’m anxious to see what they do with these things, and hearing how they sound!

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  7. Wow, I assume these will be preamp stage tubes. But I suppose they’ll adapt it to power tubes at some point? This is nuts!

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  8. I loves me some paradigm shift. Now you’re going to see 6″ tabletop speakers with built in tube amps. Hell, the Harmon/Kardons in your laptop can have a tube amp. Knowing Korg, they’ll probably come up with a LIttleBits tube amp just to show off. And they’ll put more tubes in the KingKorg. And the new Electribes can have tubes like the old ones. Then there’s applications in analog computing. This could potentially be as big as the invention of the transistor. The only question is per unit cost.

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  9. Agree that this is really cool and promising. But let’s hear it first before we agree it sounds the same as traditional tubes? I’ve heard the “it distorts the same way as tubes” before in many products and it’s not quite the same. Granted this is not emulation or solid state distortion but even tubes of the same spec sound different from each other for various esoteric reasons.
    Hope I’m wrong.

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  10. Truly excellent news. I hope that they sound great and I look forward to it being used for lots of products. Id like to have a miniature multigain stage Tube amp ala mesa boogie built cheap with these.

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  11. A very interesting development. On the face of it a miniature low-powered triode vacuum tube in a monolithic package. Would love to see the specifications for this device.
    Will it be licensed at some point ? Is it up-scaleable for higher power applications ?
    How reliable is it ? How durable? What economies of scale could see it produced cheaply ? What will it sound like in a fair comparison with a conventional valve or indeed a solid state device ?
    I remember the miniature Nuvistors in car radios and such, introduced when valves (tubes) had to begin to compete with the ‘all the rage’ transistor.
    I hope this delivers its promise.

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  12. Picturing liquid overdrive/sustain with at least 10 of those. Or a wild stereo preamp with massive true tube amps of all styles and classes in one box!

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  13. Kindly let me know when the samples and app notes are available. I HAVE to prototype it asap for real Sound of Music.

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