KingKorg Synthesizer Review – A Digital Synthesizer For Vintage Synth Fans

Specifications

System

    XMT (eXpanded Modeling Technology)

Program

Number of programs:

    300 (Preset: 200)

Number of categories:

    8 categories

Number of timbres:

    Up to 2 Timbres (Layered or Split)

Maximum voice polyphony:

    Up 24 voices

Oscillator

Structure:

    3 Oscillators (Analog, Noise, DWGS, PCM, MIC IN)

Number of Types:

    127 types (Analog & Noise: 32 + DWGS: 64 + PCM: 30 + MIC IN)

Filter

Structure:

    1 filter per timbre (LPF, HPF, BPF)

Number of Filter Types:

    18 types (LPF: 7 + HPF: 5 + BPF: 6), including modeling filters

Modulation:

    EG: 2 units, LPF: 2 units, AMP

Virtual Patch:

    6 Virtual Patches per timbre

Effect

Sections:

    Program effects x 3 (PRE FX, MOD FX, REV/DELAY) + EQ (2 Band) + TUBE (Stereo)

Types:

      PRE FX: 6 types (DISTORTION, DECIMATOR, RING MOD, GT AMP, EP AMP, TONE)
      MOD FX: 6 types (FLANGER, CHORUS, U-VIBE, TREMOLO, PHASER, ROTARY)
      REV/DELAY: 6 types (HALL, ROOM, PLATE, TAPE ECHO, MOD DELAY, BPM DELAY)

Vocoder

    16-Band Vocoder with Formant Shift and Formant Hold

Arpeggiator

      Up to 8 steps (The number of steps can be changed)
      6 types (UP, DOWN, ALT1, ALT2, RANDOM, TRIGGER)

Audio

Input:

      Mic In
        Connection: XLR-3-31 Type (Balanced)
        Input Impedance: 6.8 kO
        Maximum level: -12 dBu

Output:

      Audio Output
        Connections: 6.3 mm, TS phone jack (Unbalanced) “L/MONO, R”
        Load Impedance: More than 10 kO
        Maximum level: -12 dBu
      Headphone
        Connection: 3.5 mm, Stereo min phone jack
        Maximum level: 60 mW + 60 mW @33O

Display

Main Display:

    16 characters x 2 lines / OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode)

Sub Displays for Oscillator and Filter Sections:

    128 x 64 dots / OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode)

Keyboard

      61 notes (Semi-Weighted Keyboard)
      *Velocity-sensitive
      *Adjustable Key Response (NORMAL, SHALLOW, DEEP)

Control

Controller:

    Joystick, Octave Up/Down button, Category/Favorite button

Control input:

      DAMPER pedal (Supports Half Dampering)
      SWITCH/PEDAL

Control Output:

    CV/GATE Out

Terminals

    MIDI In, MIDI Out, USB Type B

Power

    AC Adapter

Dimensions (W x D x H)

    40.43 x 12.32 x 3.78 inches / 1,027 × 313 × 96 mm

Weight

    15.43 lbs. / 7.0 kg

Power Consumption

    10 W

Temperature Requirements

    0 – 40°C (avoid condensation)

Included Accessories

      AC Adapter
      Owner’s Manual
      Cable for CV/GATE (For KORG monotribe only)

Optional Accessories

      XVP-10 Expression/Volume pedal
      EXP-2 Foot Controller
      DS-1H Damper Pedal
      PS-1 or PS-3 Pedal Switch

30 thoughts on “KingKorg Synthesizer Review – A Digital Synthesizer For Vintage Synth Fans

  1. I had the chance to check this out at NAMM and was impressed. I thought it was a full on analog synth at first, until I got into the mellotron presets.

    Between this, the MS-20 Mini and the Volcas, Korg’s putting out some great stuff!

  2. I’ve got the KingKorg and it can sound immense if you program it right. You can detune the oscillators, you can add analog instability to the oscillators and you can add randomness to the tuning, for example. The presets play it pretty safe, but don’t be fooled!

  3. If this had a CS80 filter and a keyboard with aftertouch, it would have been a no-brainer for me. Does it support aftertouch via MIDI?

  4. I wonder whats so expensive in it, that they had to reduce knobs, take their signature sequencer away and cut back the synth engine…

    Sound is most important of course, but just wondering. Even as a kind of downgrade, its still so expensive that you can buy an actual poly analog with that price…which is a kind of no brainer for me compared to this.

    1. I suspect this was a marketing decision. If they remove some complexity (and yes, even features) folks will perceive it as more simple to learn. Perhaps also, with fewer features, it will seem more like an analog synth. In reality, we know that this same synth could have had a sequencer and more knobs– even a ton of sampled oscillators- without adding much to the cost. If Korg is doing their market research, they are probably finding that the kids are profoundly influenced by first impressions of accessibility.

    2. “you can buy an actual poly analog with that price”

      What poly analogs are you thinking of?

      There really aren’t a lot of analog polysynths in the $1300 price range. The ones that are, like the Mopho x4, are great synths, but are way less powerful than the KingKorg.

      The KingKorg has 6 times the polyphony of the x4, more oscillators per voice, 50 times as many oscillator options, a dozen more filter types, an extra two octaves on the keyboard and more knobs and controls on the front panel.

      A better comparison would be against the Prophet 12, but it costs $3,000.

      The KingKorg also covers a lot more territory – it’s a powerful synth, but it also gives you Mellotron, piano, Fender Rhodes, etc.

      1. I don’t think that King Korg is even nearly as powerful as a synthesizer as Prophet. Prophets have so vast modulation possibilities, that you can make, and keep making for years, tons of sounds that KK could only envy. And Prophet 08 desktop is only a couple hundreds more, but also has the pots and a sequencer, which is rather nifty modulation source. And you don’t waste any money or space in crap feeling cheapo keyboard in a desk top model.

        Alesis made a fantastic sounding VA a bloody decade ago, a long time in digital evolution, but the difference is that it was half the price, over twice as interesting synth engine and good amount of pots and graphical interface.

        I think this “King” is a mere knight.

        Theres actually comparison videos, where “King” Korg takes beating from a meager, age old, half the price, Alesis Ion

        1. It’s a pity that the KK has been promoted as a VA synth as it has one of the most powerful digital synth engines every created. I have yet to see this mentioned in any review. Under the hood is MMT2 synthesis, which features VA, PCM and DWGS synths. The VA section employs cross modulation (true FM), oscillator sync, PWM, Phase Modulation (Yamaha’s FM) and various modelled filters including Moog. The DWGS waves can be routed the Phase Modulation section. This kind of FM synthesis is reserved for a select few synths such as Yamaha’s SY77/99 and Korg’s Kronos. With the addition of matrix modulation being able to modulate any of the controllers (i.e. the PM depth), this is a pseudo modular synth and one of, if not the, most comprehensive synth engines on the market.

        2. I’ve tested the KK side by side with the Ion, there’s no comparison. One sounds like it was made in the early 2002’s and one sounds like how modern VA’s have begun to sound. Your point is a bit strange, because there’s a s**t ton of sounds the KingKorg can do that the Prophet could only dream of too.

  5. Dumb name but I got over it. Dumb Buick color but I got over it. No 76 key version but I got over it. Sqeaky plastic construction with cheap switchgear that has a dot of glue inside just in case it falls off in the showroom but I got over it. Expensive for the feature set but I got over it. No decent presets but I got over it. I bought one and am enjoying the sounds I created myself and trying not to look at this cheap ugly board.

    1. I tried one at a local music store and my first impression was that the overall contruction is decent (maybe a little on the cheap side considering the price tag of the instrument) but the keyboard really, really sucked. It’s by far the most unpleasant keyboard I’ve played on in years. Even a cheap Casio keyboard from the 80s or 90s has a better keyboard than this synth. And that’s a shame because the filters and some of the oscillator waveforms (I really like the fact that you can get digital, wavetably sounds in addition to the rather mundane square, saw, triangle and so on) sound quite good. It’s a little tedious to program with only a few buttons and different functions per knob depending on which waveform you’ve selected for instance. I was not so impressed by the FX section. The distortion/overdrive stuff sounded uniformly horrible compared with a simple guitar pedal. The tube circuit is a bad joke in my opinion. You can do nice things with tubes, but Korg didn’t with this one it seems. Or maybe there was something wrong with the model I played (perhaps the factory neglected to set the right bias point for the tube’s grid voltage or something like that during calibration).

  6. The thing that I noticed is that one of the big three keyboard companies finally introduced a synth that doesn’t suck.

    Roland and Yamaha are officially put on notice.

    1. Ummm… could you please define “suck” for the audience? 😛 No, I’m not trying to troll. Sometimes its just a hair-pulling matter of deciding what percentage of suckage a new item involves and whether or not that neutralizes its appeal. One person’s ‘suck’ is another’s captivatin’ passion.

  7. I wish they would make something with the same untuitive knob per function layout, but cut back the cost by making in 3 octaves. I think this is too much money for a digital synth these days – especially one that looks so ugly!

  8. I think that as much as not, manufacturers either make cheap mechanisms for profit or they don’t even have a decent idea of how vital a solid touch is to making music. That feels peculiar to consider. The touch-to-sound factor matters a lot to me, but I often wonder if many others notice it, because we keep seeing the same poor builds, season after season. If Korg offered the superior M3 keyboard as a separate controller, I could understand wanting to push your premium tool, but they don’t. Its a disappointing puzzler.

    The KK has a great sound. Complaints about its simplicity are not all that well supported. If you’ve played anything like a ‘real’ synth with knobs n’ sliders, you already know how important “grabability” can be. Like the VR-09, this one offers a lot of it. Its aimed at immediate playability, not in-depth programming. You buy an instrument like this to compliment your basic workstation, Nord piano, mini-modular and softsynths. The engine and GUI seem perfectly good to me. After all, it held its own against a real Prophet.

    1. They have to make what people will buy. Unfortunately, things like the MicroKorgs are the big sellers, not more serious keyboards.

      The KK is close to being an awesome board, but for $1300 you want the keys to feel better.

  9. I agree they should make a three octave version!! That would totally make sense. Although isnt that just a korg r3 then?

    1. Almost, but the R3 has a fair bit of menu diving. The King has a much simpler interface – as well as 3 oscillators, more filter options etc.

      1. R3 on other hand has two freely routable multimode filters and one of them is also continuously variable multi mode and it also has a modulation sequencer.

        Jesus. If only King Korg would have had a step sequencer and two filters, I would have bought it, if it was more expensive and considered it a good deal, even if it was shorter. Now it only looks expensive piece plastic with crap keys. I was so keenly waiting for a successor of the MS2000->Radias line. I hate, I HATE KK for eating my chances of getting one.

        Revolution½!!! Kill the King!!!

  10. Not sure why they didn’t offer a rack version of this… seems interesting to me but who’s got the room?

  11. After watching the video where the guy compares the filters to the originals, I picked one up and I’m thrilled. Well built as far as I’m concerned and lots of fun dialling in a slow attack/decay sweeping pad for example and switching between the different filter types. Different shades of resonance at the edge of self oscillation….it’s all there. All the nesessary FX are there plus an arp. Plenty of knobs for the immediate parameters. I can’t stress it enough….audition it with a decent pair of studio headphones.

  12. I have had a KingKorg for nearly a year, it is so underrated, I have reproduced Minimoog & Juno 106 sounds that sound identical, you would not be able to tell the difference.

    Well done Korg, you did it Again

  13. Arggg… it’s so hard to know which posts to believe. I had a nord lead 2x which I loved but ultimately it wasn’t versatile enough for me and it was pretty rare that the sounds made it to any of my recordings. I sold that and bought a nord electro 2 as I was looking for a mechanical keyboard emulator, but now I’m looking for a synth to compliment this for live gigs. Really looking for something with vintage sounds but I can’t stand cheap plastic builds and I’m worried about that. Think I really need to find somewhere that stocks these in Ireland and give it a whirl for myself.

  14. i cannot understand how anyone could play the King Korg in a store and get a proper impression. i bought one for 500 dollars and i can honestly say its the best 500 dollars ive paid for a synth. this synth can sound smooth and juicy or CUTTING and aggressive. i have a waldorf Pulse 2, a Moog SubPhatty and have owned so many i cant list them. I reach for the King most of the time. i blew it off at first. but now i feel properly smart for buying one. the Subphatty is GREAT no doubt but its monophonic. the KIng is Polyphonic and sounds just about as close as you can get to Real Analog. I use it just as much as i use the Waldorf. DONT LISTEN TO THE DETRACTORS WHO JUDGE IT FOR ITS COLOR AND PLASTIC CASE. isnt music about SOUND? the LFO can spin right up to Audio rates, the Effects section is INSTANTANIOUS AND VERY EFFECTIVE. the Filters are Really SMOOTH and NO STEPPING AT ALL. put the King in a mix and just dare anyone to tell you its not Real Analog. and to be honest What Does that mean anyway? REAL ANALOG SYNTHS are the old ones that use TUBES. now the Moogs and the Waldorfs are all SOLID STATE. i wonder how the TUBE ANALOG NUTS came down on SOLID STATE? its a tired arguement.

    1. by far my favorite post. good to know. lol and to the end of your post, the only leg analog nuts have to stand on is the filters in my opinion. good Analog filters are still super nice but everything else is basically splitting hairs.

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