Korg DS-10 Serious Music Creation?

You decide      02/06/09
I think I'm right in saying that the Nintendo Korg DS-10 was in the frame a little before we started seeing iPhone apps such as Bebot and iSyn for creating music in the hand. I thought I'd take a look around and see what people were creating with the DS-10. This came about after a conversation with Analog Suicide's Tara Busch – on whether this kind of application DS10 or otherwise, could be used as a serious creative tool and whether it might have some advantages. At the time I was firmly in the camp for a No vote, but on reflection I think that in a strange kind of way, even though technology has moved on light years since the humble four-track and Casio VL-Tone, or limited samplers and the like, these new micro music devices are kind of a throwback to that era. I mean in the way that you have intrinsic limitations from the device itself, that when using a 'proper' computer or DAW where the options are so many, it's hard to know what to choose. With the DS-10 and iPhone applications, limitations are back and should ensure we begin to exercise the brain for our creativity rather than rely on endless presets or fancy effects and pre-made loops to enhance our creativity. Nick Batt


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6 Comments...  Post a comment    original story
Ted    Said...

I rushed out to get the DS-10 as soon as it was available in the states. I spent happy several hours with it but eventually reverted back to New Super Mario Bros.

I was amazed with the classic workflow of the 16-step looping sequencer (and chaining those sequences) and I dug the limited MS-10 style synth. Hell, more has been done with less, and it's a challenge. And some of the features were a genuine shock. (Detuning!)

But what eventually lost my interest was the audio quality. All that aliasing wears my ears out fast, especially on headphones - every sound puffs out that grainy noise which is perceptually as loud as the patch.

I know the digital lo-fi sound is in vogue, but if I wanted to integrate a DS-10 into my music it would always be a struggle. I would have to be looking for a fizzy digital sound, not the analog tones it purports to offer. I spent years (and many dollars) trying to escape stairsteps and low-bitrates.

I imagine that is just how those 80s guitar guys (and their powerful stacked amps) feel about the market in cheap vintage amplifiers with small speakers and sloppy spring reverb. We came so far! To turn back now?

It's great that there's a inexpensive digital instrument on a massively popular platform. I like the return-to-basics approach. People ARE doing things with DS-10 and iPhone apps that are impressive, but ONLY if you know the sound is coming from a jumped-up cellphone or a retro-spec'd handheld game machine.

If a future Nintendo DS could run Korg DS in 16/44, I might use it for some serious bass programming. Until then, I have a princess to rescue.

02-Jun-09 10:49 AM

Nick B    Said...

Does the new DS have improved sound quality? I'm sure I read that it does somewhere

02-Jun-09 11:12 AM

Ted    Said...

Nick, you're right - blogs confirm the new Nintendo DSi makes Korg DS-10 sound much better thatn the DS Lite. Now I need one.


Quote: "To anyone who has the Korg DS-10 software, the new DSi has massively improved audio output. I just upgraded and I'm thrilled with the improvement in bass response, dynamic range, and reduced noise. The DSi is an essential upgrade for DS-10 users who want to hear what this software can really do with great audio output. It rocks the bass and subs now, with a lot of punch that is much better than the DS lite. Highly recommended!"

02-Jun-09 11:54 AM

Espaceman    Said...

I'm the author of "Atomic Clock Assembly Line" linked above, and I discovered this awesome site through Youtube's "Insight" feature. Anyway, I played music a lot back in the day (mostly guitar), but I'm a total synth newb whose sole experience has been on the DS-10. I love it! Of course, I've always been a fan of electronic music though.

I recorded that track into the free Audacity software using an old DS Lite, and I wish you hadn't confirmed that the new DSi has much-improved sound quality, because now I want one!

Also, here is my latest DS-10 creation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOqF3BHLyOY

03-Jun-09 11:20 AM

fac    Said...

I've been using the DS-10 with a DS Lite in my most recent productions. Not extensively, but I'd say a 10-15% of the sounds I've used come from the DS-10. One can't tell from the little DS Lite speakers, but this thing is able to produce some pretty decent bass and kicks. My only real gripe is that you cannot tweak or play anything while in Song mode, so I use it in Pattern mode all the time.

07-Jun-09 02:36 PM

Dave    Said...

If you have an iPhone/iTouch you might also like:


30-Aug-09 07:00 PM

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