Korg Minilogue XD Review

In his latest Sonic State Sonic Lab video, host Nick Batt takes a look the new Korg Minilogue XD synthesizer.

The Minilogue XD builds on the design of the original Minilogue, keeping the same basic form factor and mini-keys, but adding a digital multi-engine, a multi-effects processor, enhanced input and output, a souped-up sequencer, and microtuning support.

“There’s an immediacy to the XD which really appeals to me,” notes Batt. “It’s intuitive to use and quick to get you synthesizing and capable of a great breadth of sounds.”

If you’ve used the Minilogue XD, share your thoughts on it in the comments!

48 thoughts on “Korg Minilogue XD Review

  1. The minikeys are a show stopper.

    Korg needs to get over trying to recreate the success of the microKorg. The microKorg was a hit in spite of the minikeys, not because of them. The microKorg was $500 when everything else was over $1000. Those days are long gone!

    They need to do a Prologue keyboard of similar size, but will full size keys, and get the price as close to $500 as then can. THEN they might have a hit on the scale of the microKorg.

    1. I hate 6.5″ piano keys. They are too far apart. They were only stretched to that size because the obese piano mechanism forced it, not because of ergonomic reasons. Previous keyboards had smaller octave widths, from 4.5″ to 6.25″. 5.75″-6.25″ is the sweet spot. 6.5″ is simply too large. Those that advocate for it have limited experience with keyboards, excepting persons with exceptionally fat fingers.

      Now the tiny mini keys at 5.375″ that are common are too narrow but more importantly too short. The slim keys on the Korg Minilogue at 5.5″ is pretty tight on the width, but the longer length makes a huge difference and the keyboard is actually playable. Loosening it up to 5.75″ would be a big improvement. Going below 5.5″ is getting too small.

      As it is the keyboard is playable and the size compact.

      Of course they do sell a full (ie too fat) size version, the Prologue, so for those cursed with enormous fat fingers, that keyboard is available and those people should stop complaining and buy that instead.

        1. The DX7 had 6.25″ octaves and it made it really playable, also they have a light touch that allows really fine control of velocity, without being flimsy. In the 80s and 90s a lot of synth actions were that width and it was great. At some point there came this, dare I call it fetishism, about 6.5″ and weighted mechanisms. I do understand that piano players feel they want something that is as close to what they are used to as possible for digital pianos. But for synthesis in general a heavy weighted wide mechanism was never a design advantage of the piano, it was a side effect of the complex mechanism, one that had to be learned to dealt with by players. It also contributes to issues such as carpal tunnel. Piano technique, with large motions, is very different from clavichord, harpsichord, and synthesizer technique. A good part of this is due to the differences in key weight, but obviously there are other elements, such as that the clavichord has polyphonic aftertouch.

          1. You’ve made some amazing insights Rabid Bat. I also hadn’t thought of key width and technique this way before. Today, minikeys seems to be in a class by itself. While the ‘weighted’, and ‘synth/organ’ style keyboards which have far less variation across their respective classes, ‘minikeys’ seem to have huge variations across octave width, key length, mechanical spring tension, key throw, key weight, and general flabbiness. I found the MS-20 very hard to play, but the Yamaha reface is exceptional. I have long finger, and the sort key lengths make it hard to play.

            If I had a harpsichord style keyboard without the harpsichord ‘pluck’ response I would be happy 🙂

      1. Rabid Bat

        I’m sorry that standard keyboards are too large for your hands. And I can understand how someone in your situation might think normal keyboards are too large, or simply prefer smaller keyboards.

        It’s great that you have found some gear that meets your needs.

        I think you will agree, though, that companies like KORG are not creating these tiny keyboards in order to meet the needs of people with smaller hands, or to push back against standards for piano design – they’re just trying to move some cheap synths.

        If there was interest or merit in revisiting keyboard size standards, as you suggest, we would expect to see professional mini key controllers, with features like semi-weighted keys and aftertouch.

        1. > I think you will agree … they’re just trying to move some cheap synths.

          The XD is anything but a cheap synth. Both the digital oscillators and fx engine use a plugin architecture that is fully programmable by the user. This is cutting edge top of the line stuff. On the analog side the oscillators have an incredible pulse width feature that works on all the waveforms which was previously only seen on digital synths. Converting this animative feature to genuine analog was a great achievement. The case is metal and wood with premium quality knobs and switches. The live waveform display is incredibly useful. The microtonal implementation is second to none. And the keyboard is very good. It’s not cheap at all either. Cutting edge innovation, premium quality, excellent ergonomics, solid build, and incredible value? All here. Cheap? Nothing here is cheap. If you want cheap, look at all the crap that doesn’t have a full keyboard real time changeable microtonal implementation that allows one to leave the inane and simplistic ghetto of 12 equal and play real music. Instruments that do not have full keyboard real time microtonality are toys for simple minded children and can not possibly be considered either professional or serious. Those companies’ motivation? To move cheap synths to unskilled suckers? Possibly!

          1. Agreed. A cheap mini key is what you get with the Roland boutique K-25m keyboard – horrible, I have the VP-03, JP-08, and D-05 with those aweful mini-keys. Love the D-05. While the Yamaha reface keyboard is eminently playable – I love the DX, YC, and CP!

            I like long length mini-key with good action. The K-25m is sloppy and much too short for long fingers. I really can’t play it.

      2. Rabid Bat

        I don’t mean to be rude or ignorant, but I never really thought of ‘microhands’ as being an issue that pianists would have to deal with.

        So you have like ‘mini’ hands or ‘micro’ hands?

        1. As I have been clear, I have the gloriously long fingers typical of all master pianists.

          And it’s true what they say.

          Thank you for asking.

      3. Rabid Bat

        I’m not really sure why you bring up your need for a smaller sized keyboard – it’s not something that most people are going to notice or care about.

        By your logic, more generously handed individuals should be using XXL width keyboards!

    2. It’s called MINIlogue for a reason. If you want full size keys, there’s a pro version available: The Prologue.

    1. Spit it out crall, what are you trying to say? Do you believe that historical designers used millimeters? Tell us crall. Tell us your belief.

      1. If we’re talking about key sizes, I want to know what Bach used. Or even before that. Those were the people using golden spirals and sacred geometry to design instruments. They did not measure in inches.

  2. Minikeys don’t bother me too much honestly. I got the Prologue 8 for the same price as a XD new so I went with that (8 voices, ADSR Envelopes , etc). I don’t care about the sequencer minilogue too much. The one the thing that made me really reconsider though (beside its size), was that fact you can do microtonal stuff with the minilogue XD. I haven’t found any information about microtonal controls being added to the Prologue.

    I can think of only a few synths that can do microtonal polyphony (The PEAK, Mutable instruments Ambika, and the PreenFm 2).

    1. Most of DSI/Sequential’s instruments now have top notch polyphonic microtonal support.

      Novation’s rolled out good support on a couple instruments, and Moog’s added support to a couple instruments though it has to be loaded from a file via their editor on a computer and doesn’t support real time changes or full keyboard retuning. These ones are also monophonic.

      Microtonal support was much more common in the 1990s. It’s so strange this has been dropped given that we now live in a global world and musicians in other cultures are very keen to add synths to their repertoire, with lack of tuning support being the only thing that holds them back. This is leaving money on the table for the manufacturers. In the past the main argument against was the high cost of persistent data storage, which is of essentially zero cost now.

        1. The DSI implementations are quite good. Only trip-up people run into is that tuning location 0 is a ROM preset (12 equal). The tuning patch locations above that are all writable. Great thing though is tuning resolution is 0.006 cents, which is awesome.

  3. It would be nice if they made one with no keys at all. A desktop and/or rackmount MinilogueXD. Being an EWI player and bassist, and owning other MIDI controllers, I’m looking for synths with a smaller footprint.

  4. Awesome synth, but:
    Mini keys are a show stopper!
    Crap quality keys are even bigger show stopper.
    And this has them both.

    Prologue is not a solution, because at that price I demand after touch.
    And no, I don’t use expression pedal for after touch, I use expression pedal for other purposes.
    I don’t carry extra synth for gigis just for after touch. I jeed after touch.

    1. Which 3 octave instruments are you using with decent aftertouch? I have a Novation SL and its aftertouch is decent, though not as finely controllable as my vintage Yamahas. The best aftertouch support I’ve seen is my own private keyboards I’ve built myself which support x, y, and z, even pre-touch where it tracks before I make physical contact, which is handy.

      It would be nice if industry could get up to speed on this and come to the level of the private underground, but they are stubborn and OK with building crap and OK with not treating designers with their due respect, which causes them to leave. That said, the Korg keybed is quite good comparatively. Although it doesn’t hold a candle to custom designs it’s better than the garbage a lot of other manufacturers now spew out in particular most everything made in China, even from companies that used to make great keybeds like Yamaha.

      Do let me know the fantastic 37 key you’re using with responsive aftertouch, I definitely will try it out. Thanks.

      1. Who are you talking to!?!?

        I don’t use mini keys.
        Korg’s cheap keys are about as good as some cheap Casio keys; the bottom of barrel.

        Where did I say, that I use 3 octave keyboard with after touch?
        I might, if there was.

        I could consider synth as good as this even if it had mini keys IF the quality wasn’t this bad.
        I would ofcourse choose decent feeling full size 3 octave keys if they offered that option.

      2. Novation Ultranova. Budget, great (albeit digital) sound, Fatar keybed with after touch that out classes the rest of its plasticky build quality.

    1. You know what they say about those of us with long fingers, at least compared to those with stubby fat ones?

      We are born keyboardists.

  5. Still there are two issues that both the Prologues and the XDs suffer from: Zipper noise in the attack (I hear it well in deep bass sounds with short attack) and punchy clicks when attack is short ( less than 30 ) that sound awful through the reverb. One would have thought that Korg would have fixed this after the original Minilogue. If I were a pro musician, I would buy something else. But I’m not 🙂

  6. I just might be putting my Minilogue up for sale and getting one of these. I have no problems playing on the slim keys and switch between my full weighted 88 note keyboard and the Minilogue’s keybed. I like the stereo outs, 16 note sequencer, SUSTAIN PEDAL input, effects, etc. Pedal makes it usable as a controller for softsynths in a pinch. Lots of great, on-point, updates.

    Rabid Bat — agreed about different keyboard sizes, having played on baroque harpsichord previously. Minikeys suck, but I like the feel of the slim-keys on this keybed as well as the slim keys on the Arturia Minilab MkII.

  7. The XD should end the whole analog vs digital debate.

    Putting both in one keyboard, each doing what they do best, adds up to a killer combination. This will do a broader range of sounds than anything in its price range, And the price is pretty reasonable, too.

    I’m not sold on the mini keys, though, like many of other commenters. Maybe the answer is to go up to the Prologue. I like the smallish scale of the minilogues, just not the keys.

  8. I think Nik is drinking the Kool-Aid a little bit on this one , it’s a nice synth but it’s clearly mostly effects , he usually would point that out . Any synth will sound good drench in effects .

  9. As Nick points out the immediacy jumps out at me and I feel comfortable right away. It’s very enjoyable to work with the sounds..

    There is an elegance to what you can do with this synth
    The controls are right there and the simplicity and logic of the keyboard connects to alot of sound shaping power in my opinion. Its well thought out

    It sounds great to me for the type of music that I am interested in using it for. Of course it will take some time to see if I feel that way after the newness factor fades away.

    The sequencer is very accessible and usable as well. As with all sequencers I wish there were more steps.

    The keys are simply not a show stopper for me, and I like the way they respond. They are a bit small and some practice is gonna be required but I am looking for pads, bass, ambient and sequences. The keys just aren’t a problem for me.

    It’s kind of waste of time to try to tell somebody that doesnt like the keys that they should like them but I’ve enjoyed the observations in this thread and I can understand that for some styles of playing it’s not a great solution

    I only recently got this so these are early impressions. I plan to work it out, but my impression is this is excellent value for money, and its a logical extension of the “baby” Korgs..Im pretty confident I’ll get alot of use and alot of fun out it..

    btw… the modular volca and digital drum volca’s are terrific and this week I’m setting them up together to see if they are good matches sound wise.

  10. If you can’t make music on this instrument because the keys are too small, then why even watch the review? I mean, the second sentence says it all: “mini-keys”. If I were shopping for a bus, would it make any sense for me to visit a bicycle shop and moan about bikes being too small? Is griping about things that aren’t relevant to you more fulfilling than creating music?

  11. Manufacturers have been using mini-keys for years now, and people have been bitching about them for years now… nothing is gonna change, folks. Is there any point in complaining anymore?

    1. Yamaha reface keyboards actually have a great minikey implementation.

      If the industry settled on Yamaha’s minikeys, I would be very happy. I am not a fan of Korg’s minikey (I have several synth’s and controllers that use them). However, Roland’s boutique keyboard (K-25m) is by far one of the worst – unless your just poking notes for sequencers, etc…, then what does it matter what you have?

  12. You know what to do about mini-keys: trigger the sonofabeetch from a proper keyboard of your choice and treat it like a module. That’s most of what you’re getting with a MiniNova or ReFaces anyway. There are handy or cute ways to make mini-keys useful, but put the sound engine first. Unless you’re going all-in with a Kronos or Montage, just build a tidy wire rack for the minis and roll. Cabling is a fact of life. Besides, I used to possess a triple-hernia’s worth of floppy disks. Now everything I need can be crammed into a t-shirt pocket on flash drives. Progress!

  13. Here are some Ideas I left for Korg in a questionaire on what kind of synths I would like to see them make after that poll on which Arp Oddyssey design we would like to see a few years back now…Voted for all 3 of course!

    All analog!
    Built in Effects!
    Joystick modulation control!
    Double Delay!
    Big Knobs!
    Switches instead of buttons!
    “On the fly” changeable Sequencer!
    Briefcase style carrying case!

    I also suggested a “KING OF ALL SYNTHS” haha

    …never got an email back from them. haha

    -Not saying I designed the synths, but I am really glad that I
    sent those inspirational ideas in when they had no idea where to go next!

    All these ideas that I sent in just tell me that they used almost everything I mentioned to make these synths…
    i was especially glad to see the true joystick added to this XD version.
    I hope they make some custom hard cases soon like I imagined for the briefcase carrying case, which was inspired by the EMS Synthi AKS idea. =)

    Sorry, I just felt the need to put this out there because in a way I do feel ripped off and abused. LOL

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