Korg M1 Hardware vs Software Compared

The latest episode of Woody’s Piano Shack takes a look at the Korg M1, comparing the sound of an original Korg M1 keyboard against the sound of the Korg M1 VST.

Video Summary:

“We put the Korg M1 VST Legacy Edition up against the original Korg M1 synthesizer from 1988 to demonstrate how closely or not the VST plugin emulates the sounds of the original synthesizer.

The Korg M1 VST is part of Korg Legacy Collection, where they have released software emulations of many of their classic synths.”

13 thoughts on “Korg M1 Hardware vs Software Compared

    1. No one was a crybaby last week in regard to the MM vs. 5 VST clone shootout. Arturia Mini V and Minimonsta were in the shootout, both are pushing over a decade.

  1. Even on a Digital Synth, D/A conversion plays a role in the sound for good or for bad. In the case of the M1 I find the VST to be in some ways better than the actual hardware because of the pristine samples without analogue conversion. The M1 samples, as primitive as they are today, still impress with their fidelity. The VST sounds like a HiFi version of the hardware. On the other hand, the effects (Reverb, Chorus, etc.) are a large part of the sound of an M1, they have a particular character. Anyone who has spent a lot of time with the hardware will really notice this as the biggest difference in the VST. Not saying the emulated effects are terrible, but Woody’s test clearly demonstrates this is a weakness with the VST. Obviously, when it comes to editing and DAW usability the VST wins hands down. The fact that you can have every M1 sound made on an iPad is still pretty damn amazing. Especially for someone like myself who bought the hardware back in the late 1980’s.

    As a side-note, while the M1 sound is iconic, it was the 8 part multi-timbral sequencer and drum samples that made it so useful for the bedroom studio. You could make complete tracks or create backing tracks for your demos back in the days when 4 track cassette was all that most amateur musician’s could afford. It was a revolution to have all of this power in one keyboard.

  2. We had a few M1s and M1Rs in the late 80s, and while I’ve had the plugin since 2013 (haven’t used it enough), it was still very cool to hear this direct comparison. Most sounds are exactly how I remember. As he says at the end, the reverb is more pronounced on the plugin. I hear wider/cleaner stereo imaging and some velocity curves (or layer mixing?) seem a little different, too, but nothing that couldn’t be adjusted. The only real clunker is the drums, where the plugin sounds harsh. I’m thinking Korg may have been doing some custom filter envelopes on the hardware, or something else that didn’t make it over. For $35, however, I’ll survive.

  3. Having owned an M1 (later EX) and still owning a T3 EX, the minimal sound discrepancies cannot be spotted in a mix, but the plugin is giving so much more in terms of usability, included sounds etc. that to me, the plugin is a must 🙂

  4. The hardware sounds … darker.

    Darker is often more desirable these days.

    Back in the M1 era, ROMplers like the M1 could only dream of sounding as crisp as the VST.

    Today, the extra air is equated with sterility and a “digital” character which is generally less popular.

    It’s ironic that when mainstream technology catches up to the original instrument’s vision, the original becomes more desirable. Maybe it’s just that we want what we don’t have.

  5. I really didn’t like my M1 back in the day, I liked the concept, but the sound was so murky, no lows, no highs, all mid. The VST fixed that, it has so much more clarity, it’s now the keyboard I wanted but couldn’t have back then, so now I can re-visit the M1, the way it should have been. Thank goodness they didn’t replicate the murkiness, you can’t EQ or Exciter your way out of that. But you can EQ your way back to the murky hardware if you really want.

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