Korg Wavestation Hardware vs Software

In the latest episode of Woody Piano Shack, Woody compares the sound of a hardware Korg Wavestation to the Korg Wavestation VST plugin.

Heres what he has to say about the comparison:

Let’s put the Korg Wavestation Legacy Edition VST software plugin head-to-head against my original Korg Wavestation EX from 1991. We’ll play some of the trademark evolving pads and wave sequences on the hardware, capture the audio and midi, and then play the same midi data through the Korg Wavestation VST to hear how it stacks up against the original.

Check it out and let us know how you think they compare – and what you think of the pros and cons of each option!

21 thoughts on “Korg Wavestation Hardware vs Software

  1. Ugh, the VST sounds kind of broken. In the first example, it seems to be adding annoying clicks/transients between each note.

    This is a bug which is almost certainly fixable – it could be the fault of the MIDI implementation, for example, where legato notes are being retriggered inappropriately or at the wrong volume. Or maybe the attacks are just too clicky/fast on the VST or the envelope generator isn’t emulating the hardware correctly?

    Single notes sound fantastic on the VST however – in fact they seem to sound a bit clearer than the hardware with better high end and less distortion (of course, if you think clarity is “cold and soulless” and think distortion is “warm and musical” try some filtering and overdrive – probably Korg should add that into into the VST for people who want something that emulates the limitations of the original more closely. I think Korg could also do a slightly better version of volume-matching the VST to the hardware, as it seems to vary across patches.) I highly recommend the iPad app version also if you haven’t tried it – the WaveStation is such a great instrument!

  2. Wait, the Wavestation didn’t make it through last month’s keyboard cull right? If he made this this since then Woody must be the gassiest man of all time. *respect*

    Wish I could justify buying gear to the mrs like him but it’d sound like- ‘Just popping out to buy a synth because 6 people on the internet wants to know the difference between it and a copy on the laptop. Don’t worry about cooking dinner, all we can afford is rice. Good news is I’ll boil it, love you!’

  3. I’ve owned more hardware from Korg than any other maker and after having played the Legacy Wavestation for a year or so, my verdict: the difference is so subtle, its irrelevant. The Legacy seems to have a slightly cleaner convertor-aroma, but geez, its a $50 Wavestation ($2600 when new) with ALL of the library cards built-in ($100 per). How much synth power do ya NEED? The GUI is a squinty thing in use, but that’s a small issue with such a broad instrument. Some people swear by “vintage” and others decry it as too backward-looking. I think its *my* job to make the sound at hand musical. As with the new D-05 module, its not the obvious, legendary patches that matter; its what you can do with the multitude of potent sounds NEXT to those.
    Besides, good luck maintaining a decades-old hardware Wavestation. A display replacement, button replacements, new battery and possible keybed needs can cost you two mortgage payments. I once learned that the hard way! Nope, the Legacy version will do just fine. IMHO, It rocks.

  4. The Wavestation is still my favorite all time polysynth, so clear and expressive, ideal for the type of ambient I am so bad at playing. I am listening to Woody whilst I type and any difference between the hardware and VST is unnoticeable to me 🙂 My only concern is that my copy is 32Bit which is no longer supported natively by Ableton Live, and if it wasn’t for JBridge I wouldn’t be able to use it now. Its the same deal for me with a DX7 and DEXED, I wouldn’t want a hardware one now.

    1. In 2013 Korg announced that the Korg Legacy Collection series is available in 64-bit. Native 64-bit Audio Units and VST plug-ins are now supported.
      And it is a free update for registered users.

      And of course there is also the IOS version which is very, very good. Not exactly like my old WS EX but good nonetheless!

      1. Just noticed this, thanks 🙂 Unfortunately my VST came as part of a bundle with a MIDI keyboard many years ago and I didn’t keep the CD case with the serial number… bum 🙁

  5. At one time I had 3 WavestationSR mods in my rack, eventually I sold 2 and still have one. IIRC it came out mid-nineties? Anyways I bought one the year it came out, so I have had my original unit now 20+ years. I also have had the legacy collection since it was released and have the iOS version on my iPads.

    These comparisons are a little goofy IMHO. Seriously, having every WavestationSR card ever made on my iPads is reason enough alone to forgive ANY perceived or actual short comings. To my ears and experience I don’t hear much difference if any in the sonic dept.

    If you actually did any serious programming on the hardware unit without editing software you will eventually experience button failure or sticking, the display will eventually start to go(my TR-Rack display is starting to fade).

    I will never sell my WavestationSR, but I use the VST and the iOS app practically every day. The hardware unit is loaded with my own presets so I still use it by itself and layered with my TR-Rack and XV-5080 but the truth is we are all so fortunate to have so many affordable tools these days to make music. Cheers to Korg for all the awesome apps I use on my iPad and iPhone everyday.

  6. Wavestation on iOS is an amazing editor for making new patches. The patches can only be used in Wavestation VST on Mac from Gadget, not the Legacy version above. Still worth it. Plus the old VST and Gadget version both support importing Wavestation sysex.

  7. VST has one distinctive advantage over original Wavestation (not explored in this video for obvious reason) – self oscillating resonant filter.

  8. As an interesting side note, the Wavestation keyboard and A/D module sound different from the later Wavestatin SR module. The SR module sounds cleaner, and also the bug that causes occasional random voices to sound slightly duller is resolved.

    1. Exactly. Does this digital hardware synth with low quality sample playback sound like this digital model we’ve made of that synth using a computer that is infinitely more powerful and capable than the synth ever was? Yes. Yes it does.

  9. Sure wish iWavestation could be used to program a hardware wavestation. Or at least export sysex. It can import sysex but can’t export it. :/

  10. These are all good problems to have. I have the software on my computer and it is a bit different. The biggest difference is being able to copy/paste and move things around like on the original. Sonically, any perceived difference is offset by the additional functionality and the card collection. Same with the software M1. Bravo to Korg for doing these software remakes and at least giving us the choice to stay with our aging hardware, or not.

  11. Hello
    I agree with the comments.
    Both are good, but one big difference is with the Mini Sound. It’s much better with hardware. I don’t know why but this sound is the one on which I can see the difference.
    But yes, I will sell my hardware…

Leave a Reply