Korg microKorg Turns 15

Korg UK announced that this week is the 15th anniversary of the introduction of the Korg microKorg virtual analog synthesizer.

It was launched at Summer NAMM Nashville & BMF London in 2002. The Macbook pictured with it was cutting edge for the time.

In the last 15 years, the microKorg has been such a success that it’s led to an explosion of affordable minikey synths, ranging from the Novation MiniNova to the Roland JD-Xi. And, while Korg has released color variants and tweaked the hardware a bit, the microKorg you get today is essentially the same synth that launched in 2002.

Here’s an official Korg intro to the microKorg:

Korg has always marketed the microKorg as an inexpensive ‘meat and potatoes’ synth, and a big part of its success has definitely been that it can do a good job at covering basic synth functions.

But the thing that’s probably been more important to the microKorg’s staying power is that it offers enough depth that you can dig in and make it your own.

Here’s an example of the microKorg being used for some Roger Troutman-style talkbox action:

Heres a great video that looks at how Dorian Concept uses the microKorg:

Got your own take on why the microKorg keeps going and going? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!

via RBMA, humansymphony

30 thoughts on “Korg microKorg Turns 15

    1. Well, yeah, microKorg doesn’t have 4 track recording/sequencing (afaik). Although, the mono synth is kind of pitiful. It’s more like a 3 track recorder with extra “sounds.”

    2. “jd-xi is ten times better imho.”

      The JD-Xi definitely offers a lot more firepower in terms of polyphony and multiimbrality. But you could also argue that the microKorg’s voice architecture is more flexible , or that its menu system is a lot less cumbersome to wade through than the JD-Xi’s.

      Korg definitely got some things right, when a 15 year-old synth still sells better than brand-new alternatives.

    3. You’re comparing a 15 year old synth with a new synth. In which case, Jd-xI should be ALOT better than it is. I’d take a micro-korg any day over the roland, that JD range is just a very confused set of compromises, saving patches being an excellent example of its hodgepodge of an OS.

      The mininova was one of the most direct competitors, but it never sounded as warm to me. Companies have been looking to make the microkorg killer for a long time, and from watching a sales rep this weekend the minilogue is the closest runner at the moment, he wouldn’t even dream of trying to sell this guy a virtual analogue.

  1. No matter what your feelings are about this synth the fact that it’s still being sold 15 yrs later speaks for itself. And that’s 15 yrs continuous production

    1. Yes..the MS2000 and microKORG share the same engine. There is a data set for the MS2000 in the editor that can be loaded into microKORG

    2. I believe it did, but it doesn’t now. Every time a new presets pack is released I comment “……but will it work on my ms2000?” and I usually get responses “No because this is microKorg XL and not microKorg” or something to that effect.

      1. The original microKorg does still contain the MS2000 engine, so far as I know. The XL uses the same engine as the Radias and the R3.

      2. The microKorg and microKorg XL use completely different engines.

        The microKorg is based on the MS2000. The microKorg XL is based on the R3/Radias.

        It’s unfortunate that Korg named the XL as the did, because it created confusion for a lot of people.

  2. And Akai couldn’t even be arsed 12 months with the Miniak (unarguably the better machine).
    Well done Korg!
    For shame Akai.

    1. The miniak was the exact same synth as the Alesis Micron, which sold much longer than one year. It changed names when Akai purchased purchased Alesis…the micron was a great machine.

  3. Never picked one of these up because had an MS2000 and still have a radius..but they are cheap sound good for a VA and are portable all good things! Not surprised it’s still a hot seller. Congrats Korg!

  4. It’s a shame they never upped the polyphony. I shared a studio with a guy who had one and I found it to be a really fun synth to play with and I love the sound. That if I were to buy a new synth for that price it would probably be the minilogue rather than the micro.

    1. I think of it more as the skateboard of synths. Scrappy, punk rock, super fun and portable, it takes a while to master but once you do you can really make it your own. and cheap!

  5. I found it very hard to learn anything about synthesis on the microkorg. Probably if I came back to it now I’d be all over it, but I wonder if the MS2000 would suit me better.

    All everyone wanted was the cutoff and resonance knobs, but programming anything meaningful was another skill level must users couldn’t achieve. The Volcas are a different story, knob-per-function? Yes please!

    1. Hit craigslist. I bought mine on craigslist for $200. A guy sold it to me at a subway station. He sold it to me in a garbage bag. It had marker writing all over it. I scrubbed it down. Today it works like new and looks like new! I love my microkorg. Possibly my favorite tool of all. I’ve learned so much about midi and synthesizers from it. It’s amazing. It’s even more fun when plugged into a Kaossilator pro for looping!

  6. sold mine to a friend who sold it and regretted it…i have too in retrospect. the platinum edition looks as it may be a contender for the money i barely have.

    1. I also sold mine 3 years ago. It was the first synth I bought in 2008. I also regretted it but I was just able to get another one for 150$ in great condition happy to have it back.

  7. I find the hardware matrix just ok, Korgs free computer editor for the MicroKorg is excellent for editing/designing patches, it seems like many users do not investigate it. If you are a preset user the librarian gives you access to many more available patches to load in.

  8. “The Macbook pictured with it was cutting edge for the time.”
    It’s an iBook, the macbooks (and intel processor on apple’s computer) come in 2006! ?

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