Korg Intros Affordable Volca Analog Synth Line


Korg today officially announced the volca line of analog synthesizers at Musikmesse 2013.

The volca series consists of three units:

Here’s a video demo of the volca analog synthesizers in action:

Shared Features:

  • SYNC jack and MIDI IN connector allow synchronized performance with multiple units or with your DAW. By using the sync jack you can enjoy synchronized playback with multiple volcas or with a monotribe. You can also use the “SyncKontrol” iPhone app to wirelessly control tap tempo, swing settings, and synchronized playback with iOS music apps via WIST.
  • The MIDI IN connector lets you synchronize with other devices, as well as play the volca from any MIDI keyboard. You can also send note messages from your DAW and use the volca as an analog sound module.
  • Self-tuning function (volca Bass and Keys only) – Volca includes a self-tuning function that constantly tunes the oscillators. You’ll never need to tune during a performance, or wait for the pitch to stabilize after turning the power on.
  • Compact size, battery-powered operation, and built-in speaker for enjoyment anywhere. With its compact size, battery operation, and built-in speaker, it’s easy to take the volca anywhere and perform any time.

Each of the volca synths are priced at US $150 and is expected to be available in July.

via Edward

86 thoughts on “Korg Intros Affordable Volca Analog Synth Line

  1. wow. just watched the youtube demo. how is korg getting it so right (awesome, affordable new analogue gear, cool creative stuff like the kaoss line, fantastic ios apps) and roland getting it so, so wrong?

  2. Now, since the anouncement of the true analog novation bassstation 2 and the Korg MS20 mini, the ball is in roland’s park, let us see will they suprise us with an analog poly or mono!???!?!?!?

  3. I love Roland as much as Korg, but Roland needs to get in the analog bus now, they have everything to make history again. Regarding the Volca line, I could not be happier! Korg nails it again and again.

  4. These sound like the business. I don’t care for the tune especially, but every machine is doing interesting things.

    Notice the drum box is only playing a 1/4 bar loop with a little help from the Stutter function, in fact the drums get the least amount of tweaking in this video. Sounds much tighter and fatter than I dared hope. The bass unit sounds very versatile – and I like that it’s quite different from a 303 and indeed a bit different from the MS-20 filter – if you don’t have an MS-20 then it’ll still be worth picking up a Monotron for filtering duties. I can’t judge the Keys module very well because I really don’t like the tune he’s playing, but the sounds seem pretty cool – can’t wait to hear what it can do in the bass register or with some filter tweaking.

    Notice how all of the white knobs can be motion sequenced a la the Electribe. That’s huge! 6 parameters on the beats module, 7 on the bass, and 15 (!!) on the keys. The Bass unit is the star of the show in this video in terms of showing off how tweakable it is, but it seems like all 3 will be capable of wild performances. And that touch panel actually seems very musical and sensitive….so much for that $500 stylophone!

    I’m just in awe of Korg (and no I am not affiliated with them). They all sound like capable little studio instruments and I can’t wait to plug them into my other gear and start tweaking them…but even more than that, I can’t wait to just put one or two in my pockets and just make music wherever. Amazing, amazing.

    1. I agree it looks awesome 🙂 not sure you’re correct on the motion sequencing, where’d you get that info from? there’s a sonic state video up and the guy seems to say only the stutter controls are recordable on the beats – 2 params not 6. so I’m dubious about the others too

    2. Unless i’m mistaken, you can’t motion sequence any of the white knobs at all. Only the two black knobs in the stutter section as i understand it…….I think.

      1. Maybe so, but as far as I can see Motion sequencing is what makes the knobs light up, or not. They’re not on all the time. I don’t mind if I’m wrong, at this price I would be happy with all-manual performance, but there’s no getting away from the fact that the translucent knobs light up ‘selectively’ somehow.

    1. No, that’s a ridiculous thing to say. VA has its uses. Who cares if it isn’t “real analog”, when a good VA engine can make great sounds, often with multi-timbrality and polyphony at not much extra cost.

      I’d still be interested to see some sort of VA (or FM: Yamaha are you taking notes!?) groovebox with a good step sequencer. Because it’ll probably add different and entirely useable sounds.

      1. I didn’t really mean to bash VA stuff at all, I love a lot of it. It’s just that with the low prices of some of the recent analog gear we could see a price drop from some companies to keep up with the competition.

        1. I was’t entirely serious with my comment, but loving the response! This must be what trolling feels like 🙂
          I use VA a lot myself, can’t bring my Juno 106 on the road due to lack of trunk space/muscle power, so I use microkorgs for poly synth duty (MiniBrute for bass/leads). But wouldn’t it be wonderful if the next generation Microkorgs were fully analog?? Nowadays, with all these reasonably priced great analog synths coming out it feels like it not impossible!

    1. It’s a great demo. Tasty melodic techno with a modern, sharp analog edge. But most “producers” don’t care about melodies, so they’ll probably consider this a cheesy demo. Bah.

      This beats the hell out of the demos Roland are putting out for their newest gear…

  5. a user on this site once said that korg is the nintendo of music instruments… he was downvoted by many, but he was so right. this proves it: korg lately focus on creating low-cost, fun and accessible experiences, much like nintendo does for gamers. toys to be sure, but fun toys that many will happily play with and some will inspire with

    1. That was my first thought. I think that is not possible but I can see that being a feature that could easily be added while the very first software update.

      Back in the day I used to have a Tb-303 and a Tr-606 that I would program at cafes and then take to the college music studio and hook it up to the Modular synths there, an Arp 2500 and some Buchla stuff. I would love to simulate that setup again with a couple Mini Ms-20’s being controlled by these three Volca sequencers.

      Also I would like to see way to switch the Input to Midi out so you can use one of these to control modular software on the fly.

  6. Holy cow..! Korg is starting a revolution. This is a big f*ck you to Roland. They did what Roland should have done. I mean, look at the colors, orange / black (808), silver (303).

    1. I dig that! How can a company be so blind over years? It’s like ROLAND never read a single forum post or anything in the last decade. And don’t get me started on those product demos from ROLAND and BOSS…

      1. Everyone should just stop bitching about Roland. Let them rot in hell for all I’m concerned. Let the market forces decide, but then again they will stay in business because they sell mediocre keyboards to smooth jazz and R&B musicians, the ones that play summer festivals and want that Rhodes sound. What is the last synth or drum machine that Roland released that made waves? The 909? 30 years ago? There are plenty of great choices now from a bunch of companies that get it, so why waste energy on venting about a company that is totally irrelevant? Maybe the 80’s belonged to Roland, but Korg is king now.

        1. Hear, hear! Whenever I see the Roland comments, I’m like “what have they done for you lately?” I don’t know why anyone would expect them to be any kind of innovator these days based on the last 25 years. Who cares what they do, IMHO. They have long since been a company for wedding bands.

        2. honestly i’m also getting tired of the roland bashing which has become so en vogue on sites like synthtopia, but not because roland is irrelevant; they still make some of the best music instruments around, that are versatile, expressive, playable, and serve the needs of many musicians who presumably don’t care about analog. i will agree though that it is a bit puzzling that they haven’t tried to tap into the analog revival market in a more serious way. I’m guessing that it is a rather small, low-end market, seeing also how korg and others aim for budget analog synths. Nothing wrong with that, but it may be what’s keeping some of the big names from entering this market.

  7. Nice move Korg. And they managed to keep the iPad involved so we have the best of both worlds.
    I can see these at school music class as an introduction to synthesizers..
    Okay kids get your Volca’s out.

  8. Just when I thought I was done saving up for my MS-20… they come out with these! $150 puts them in the “collect them all” category. What great time to be in to synths!

  9. The only bad thing I can say about these isn’t actually a bad thing: The size. I want them, particularly the knobs, to be bigger. I understand why they are small and I don’t mind it. Size is the only “nearly a small issue” that comes to mind.

    1. Since they seem to use the same sort of knobs and jacks as the Monotron series, it will be pretty easy to de-solder them from the circuit board and wire them to more solid pots and connectors inside a stompbox casing or suchlike. I have been considering building a stompbox for myself and I think you could make any of these ‘bulletproof’ for about $50 in materials. The only challenging part would be that you’d need to keep the original touch strip which is probably a bit delicate. But it appears that that is mounted on a separate circuit board above the battery compartment which is then connected to the main board (again, like the Monotrons).

      I feel absolutely sure you will see many ‘conversions’ and custom jobs. not only are these boxes ideal affordable starter pieces of electronic musicians, the same is true for anyone wanting to learn electronics.

  10. Oh my god – must have all three! I wasn’t going to buy any new gear for a whole but I absolutely need these.

    It’s funny, my wife just asked me “why so so many of your boxes say KORG on them?”

  11. Now I will be known as korgs bitch ! …. And I’m ok with that !

    Very cool and portable – blown away at the cool and affordable tech 🙂

  12. Now I will be known as korgs b i t c h ! …. And I’m ok with that !

    Very cool and portable – blown away at the cool and affordable tech 🙂

  13. Korg… another homerun!!! the only thing Roland can do to impress me at musikmesse now is to announce firing their R&D team and hire people who are in tune with the analogue revolution.

  14. I have an idea for korg.
    150 euro for 1 unit.
    So for three units it’s 450 euro.
    Try to make a one package edition of the three together and sell it for 400 euro!

    1. $150 is equivalent to €114,42 as we speak…so a bundle @ €300 would be great…even if the prices already is a steal

  15. I spoke to an industry insider who has a close relationship with Roland and they told me that Roland will NOT produce anything analog or try to follow in Korgs wake because they’re content to keep making the digital things they’re making now. I think this guy has to be wrong though because anyone with a nickels worth of sense would understand that Korg is killing it with these analog peices and Roland has the potential to make more money. My opinion though, Roland won’t do it. They’re so locked in to these digital BK backing things they’re foolishly ignoring a massive customer base. These new Korg machines are BRILLIANT however. Korg is number one right now and I’m psyched for them.

    1. I’ve heard the same, direct from someone at Roland. I emailed them ages ago asking why they werent making vi versions of their classic hardware and theyre not interested, They make a ton of money from their current output, as well as the edirol stuff for schools and embedded gm stuff like cellphones. They also get license fees from people who do make copies (arturia, propeller heads, etc)

      Sad, but they’re not coming back into this world.

  16. Well done Korg, once again amazing innovation at affordable prices. Perfect addition to the list of gadgets I want this year :). Roland – Korgs BACK!!!, not you :D.

  17. Maybe Roland can start making wheelbarrows and buckets to sell to Korg. They will need them to carry all their new cash to the bank.

  18. Korg droppin’ the science kapoooya! Insta-trilogy, for half the cost of one Elektron box. Not dissin’ EK at all, I luv my trilogy (MD + A4 + OT) but dayum… $450 for three boxes of pure unadulterated analog bliss… heaven!

  19. Whoa whoa whoa. MIDI on the Volca Keys means this is a $150 three voice analog poly synth you can control from something else……

    1. It’s got three oscillators to work with, but only 1 filter – so it seems like it’s really a paraphonic synth.

  20. These look awesome! The pattern memory seems a bit stingy, and I would have also loved to see more parameter automation, but I’m still picking them up. This is what Roland should have done years ago.

  21. Wow, I agree with most when I say these are totally awesome especially for the price. What I dont get is how these units are 100$ less than Korgs monotribe. I think these sound significantly better and seem to have more functionality and a ‘keyboard’ that is actually fit for human hands. I say drop the price of the monotribe and offer various bundles of all their new analogue gear.

  22. Very cool. Roland missed the synth bus a long time ago. They should just stick to making pedals and improving their line.

  23. First, I was saving for an arturia minibrute.Then Korg introduced the MS20 so i changeed my mind started saving for IT.Today i saw a video of the new novation bassstation 2 and I must say it looks and sound REALLY cool.Like…COOL!And now these 3?I really dont know anymore what to buy with my small amount of cash!? Still, I think ill go with the MS20.Its the best choice in my oppinion.

    1. It really depends on what you’re trying to do with what you’re buying, but for versatility and ease of use, I’d say these 3 can’t be beat. If you already have other hardware that can fill some of these roles then it’s a different ballgame.

      I’d say if you’re buying your first hardware, or you don’t have a ton of patience for deep synthesis go with these 3. If you’re looking to REALLY tweak out sounds and you want to be able to create some of those modular-like early electronic type sound effects (not to mention killer leads and gritty bass) then go for an MS-20. I don’t have any personal experience with the arturia or novation, although they look awesome, but again, with the volcas you’ve got a full range of talents, though none too deep.

      The biggest difference between these 3 and the others you mentioned is sequencing– basically what separates a “groovebox” from a synthesizer-as-instrument within a larger production setup

  24. Nice demo. Korg seems as tuned in to its market as the modular builders like Wiard & MOTM. I think I admire their marketing savvy in this case even more than the actual devices. I can make any of these sounds in my sleep, with pretty much any synth. That brings these back to looking like toys you’d haul to the beach as much as serious instruments. That doesn’t mean they can’t be, in fairness, but it feels like instant potatoes in a bag to me. I’m spoiled and one saw/square/sine-type oscillator or a mere 8-12 drum sounds aren’t enough these days. Awwww, poor little me, right? Heh. I sure can’t dis the sound quality, though. It seems good and beefy, but then, Korg gear stopped sounding thin waaay back when.

    Likewise, I had great fun sampling bits of the Monotron I bought for a friend, so its easy to see why many will get wood from the idea of linking all three Voicas. Someone is bound to end up triggering one from a King Korg, too. Its *supposed* to be fun and not everyone is ready for a Kronos. Just keep in mind that you can ask more of your gear than the obvious. These are clearly going to be popular, but there’s always an added mystery layer under the first bank of presets or the main knobs. I hope a few users will bring that out.

    1. Blegh. No need for the synth snobbery. Pretty much every groovebox ever created was declared a “toy” by the people with the big synths. I worked in a music store in the 80s and took in a lot of 303s in trade because they were toys. But just look at who is actually making music and with what. Devices like this help get people out from under their computer and back into the fun of just, well, grooving. Plus, a three voice analog for $150? That’s just nuts. I want to crack that thing open and see what’s on the PCB. Small enough to be fun, cheap enough to hack.

      1. Its less snobbery and more like restlessness. Have you ever heard any early solo work by Bill Nelson? He used a LOT of treated Casios, but it was unlike what anyone else was doing and it was outstanding, with no cheese factor to be heard. If your ideas are happening, the gear used becomes mostly meaningless.

        Again, I love Korg gear and they’re really on a roll lately. The Volcas deserve to sell well. I’d just like to see a button you can push that forces you to try three variations on whatever you write. If there was a more direct way to nudge people away from the easier uses part of the time, we’d probably hear a little more Bill Nelson in new music. I don’t mind if you want to sound like Daft Punk; just don’t sound like ONLY Daft Punk. You can do that and then some.

  25. When exactly was it that Korg became the best company ever? They really are the only (big name) manufacturer around that knows what they’re doing– and do they ever.

  26. I have to back up on one of my comments. The Volca Keys has THREE oscillators, not just one. An added gold star to Korg for upping the ante there.

  27. Korg really seem to be relentless. These little boxes are affordable and will allow a lot of young people to experience a real synth for the first time. You can add them to other gear as your needs or budget allow and they look like simple fun to use.

    The little MS-20 is far from a toy and has a lot more synthesis ability than the Bass Station or MiniBrute.

    The King Korg sounds excellent and I think Mrs. shadow may get one for her birthday soon.

    Now they have a little workstation with more PCM memory than the M50 for $700?

    Bravo Korg!

  28. Well there you go, Korg beats Roland to the 303 reissue. Yeah I know, not quite, Korg and Roland have very different sounds, I’m more referring to product focus and design. $150 for a compact battery powered analog bass synth with sync/midi capabilities? Yup, that’s how it should be done. Roland in 2013? A backing keyboard for lounge musicians, a couple of *yawn* digital pianos, and… not one but two digital accordions? Roland is back, apparently.

    1. I think Roland has gone rather “white-bread” due to US. How so? Because people buy digipianos and more basic instruments at several times the rate of synthesizers. The anti-Roland jabber bothers me, because I see their gear everywhere. There’s a REASON for that! However, when someone moans about the lack of innovation, I always think of the V-Synth, especially the GT model. It has a couple of minor drawbacks like stingy onboard memory, but if you really want to synthesize some fluid, ear-grabbing sounds for real-time playing, its huge and unlike anything else in one box.

      The thing is…. super-innovative tech is not cheap to design or manufacture. For every person who can afford about $3500 for a GT *and* really knows how to wring it out, 50 more will probably aim for a piano, a simpler synth or even a computer-based rig. $3500 will buy a lot power.

      If you want to encourage more super-synths, the fix is easy: you and 10 of your pals should buy more $3-4k synths and use them for more than just dance. An audience can’t rise to a more sophisticated level of listening if you never show them where the guideposts are. Besides, we’re monkeys who like familiarity, so I admire the risk-takers even more. Don’t dis Roland for not releasing a new D-50 every 6 months. Think about WHY they don’t. Its not a simple issue.

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