Over the weekend, we shared information about a mod reader Darren Glen identified for the Korg Volca Beats. He noticed that there was an empty spot on the Volca Beats’ circuit board, and that modding the board by placing a capacitor in the empty spot resulted in a ‘crisper’ snare sound. Because of this, Glen speculated that the part may might have been left off by mistake during manufacturing.
We spoke with Korg about the board design and they confirmed that the Volca Beats is shipping as designed. “This was a purposeful design decision which gave us flexibility during voicing, and while that position does indeed exist on the board, it was not intended to be filled in the final production version.”
They added that “Tens of thousands of current Volca Beats owners have been pretty happy with what they bought.”
This highlights something very interesting about Korg’s recent analog instruments.
Korg wants their instruments to have their own sound. So, whether you like the snare sound on the Volca Beats or not, the drum machine ships sounding the way Korg intends it to.
But, unlike most instruments these days, if you don’t like the snare sound, or if you want to tweak the kick sound, or if you want to add individual audio outputs for each sound – Korg’s design makes these easy to mod.
Korg’s Take On Mods
While Korg doesn’t officially endorse modding their gear, many of their recent electronic instruments are designed in a way that is very ‘mod-friendly’. They’ve shared schematics and even labeled useful ‘hack points’ on the Volca PCBs.
Synthtopia has shared several mods for Volcas and other recent Korg analog synths. We wondered what Korg’s official position was on the Volca Beats snare mod and other popular mods. Here’s what they had to say:
“Unfortunately, we [Korg] are not in a position to check and comment on every modification that’s proposed to us by fans and those intending to commercialize their ideas (there are always ideas being proposed from around the world for all our products).
We do think this Synthtopia reader’s mod is interesting and worth exploring. However, we should also remind everyone that any modification to the board will invalidate their warranty.”
From what we can gather, Korg doesn’t want to explicitly encourage you to mod, and potentially damage, their gear. They want you to understand that, if you hack your instrument and break it, it’s your responsibility.
But they are doing what they can to be ‘hacker friendly’ and even showcase user mods. For instance, Korg has previously highlighted examples of users showing off their modified Monotrons:
What do you think of the approach that Korg is taking with devices like their recent analog devices? Is it important to you that gear is ‘mod-friendly’? And do you think other companies should follow suit?