Korg Microkorg S

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Korg has spent a lot of time catching up with some old classics over the past few years, with some releases more surprising than others.

So when the Japanese manufacturer announced it was updating its diminutive vocoding synthesizer, the microKorg, it didn't quite have that same feeling of excitement that we got from the likes of, say, the ARP Odyssey or the MS-20 reissues. Still, we're not ones to let that sort of thing dampen the spirit and decided to explore this new S version a little closer.

First things first, that 'S' we're presuming stands for 'speakers', or is that 'special edition'? We can't quite decide. There is no mention of it anywhere in the documentation, or even on the website, so your guess is as good as ours. Aside from the obvious change in livery, it's the speakers and new presets that are key selling points in this new 'S' edition. Everything else remains the same.

The exterior has taken on a clean and clinical feel with the white finish, taupe detailing and lettering. Aside from the large bank of editing functions daubed across the front, the interface is sensible with sound selection and tweaks easy to achieve. The editing, however, feels rather clunky.

You can see where Korg is coming from with two edit dials to select functions and a bank of five smaller rotaries to adjust individual parameters, all to eliminate the need for a screen and menu-diving.

The five dials are numbered and in their default state act as filter, enveloping and tempo controls; with Cutoff as number one, Resonance number two, and so on. However, when moving over to the editing side, the Cutoff has now moved over to dial number two, rather confusingly, and when editing functions on the dials four and five, the ocularly challenged among you may need to deploy a ruler to get a bearing on the matrix of functions at your disposal, as the typeset is rather small.

Moving onto the sounds and Korg has added an extra bank of 64 new presets and a bank of empty user slots giving the microKorg extra longevity. The new presets are good and certainly do sound fresh. There are plenty of dance-orientated basses, leads and pads. It's not all brash floor-filling sounds though, as there are also a good deal of delicate and nuanced tones suitable to all walks of electronic music.

On the vocoding side of things, everything is pretty much the same as before. The detachable gooseneck condenser mic is still as unruly as it was before and a bit on the flimsy side, so you will find yourself wrestling it into place quite often. Going around the back of the unit you can see the vocoder utilises the Audio In 1 section.

Should you wish, you can swap out the gooseneck for your own microphone and a dynamic mic input is also available. Making use of the Line selection switch and volume control will allow you to input any audio source through the vocoder, expanding the sonic possibilities there.