Synth Site: Korg: DW8000 Synthesizer: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.3 out of 5
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Not to take anything away from you DW-8000 review, but there are a few points to address.

First, the waveforms aren't made via additive synthesis, they are lo-fi 8-bit single cycle PCM waves just like the ones found in similar synths like the Kawai K3 and Ensoniq ESQ-M. Apparently the waveforms were created on a Synclavier using additive synthesis and then put into the ROM chips, so that's probably where you got the idea. Also, in addition to having the digital oscillators and delay, the envelopes, LFO, etc. are digital as well. This does have an effect on the sound- it's not as smooth as analog envelopes due to the stepping and low update rate of early digital systems. Fortunately though the DW-8000 has decent envelopes without a lot of audible stepping.

Also I'd say that it's still not quite in the same league as more expensive analog synthesizers because of the features- there's no sync, cross mod, ring mod, PWM, etc. There's only one LFO and it can't modulate the oscillators independently. This does limit the range of the sounds somewhat.

It does sound very nice- spacey and lush with great bass, but more sophisticated synthesizers have a wider range of sounds.

And to cover another point you missed, I think the secrets of this nice sound in the filters and delay. The filters having really nice resonance like no other synth I've heard (though resonance does take all the bass away). They're custom chips also used in the Poly 800 and DSS-1. And the delay is 12-bits, companded to reduce noise. This shouldn't sound good but it does- the reason why is because unlike modern effect processors which are all DSP, the feedback path is analog and passes through the anti-aliasing filter with the input signal. The effect is subtle, but it gives the feedback a warmer tone.

Anyway in summary, I'd say that the DW-8000 does sound very nice, and it's a wonderfully good deal at current prices, but it's too limited to be considered the best synth ever.

posted Friday-Aug-29-2003 at 17:33
Glen Stegner a professional user from USA writes:
The DW8000 is one of the most misunderstood synths of all time. Most enthusiasts today write it off as a typical S & S (synth & sample) of the mid to late 80s, but this is complete bullshit. The DW8000 is very much an ANALOG synth and not a rompler in any way. When I first got mine brand new in April 1986 (for $1000 because I couldn't afford the then-more-desirable Yamaha DX7 or Ensoniq Mirage - boy am I glad I got this one instead!), "digital" was the buzzword of the day, and every musician I knew put the DW8000 down as a completely analog synth, singing the praises of the DX7. Nowadays, everybody puts it down as a completely digital synth. Which is it? Turns out, DW8000 has outlived all the fashions to reveal itself as a very powerful, essentially, ANALOG synth (it's an analog/digital hybrid, but more on that below), just as good or even better than many overpriced analog polysynths of the late 70s/early 80s, including the Juno, Jupiter, Memorymoog, and - yes, I'm sticking my neck out here - even the sacred cow Prophet 5 - you heard me right (more on that later).

Now for clearing up some false impressions about the DW8000: The DCOs (16 digital waveforms) are NOT SAMPLES, they are just what it says: DIGITAL WAVEFORMS: the same kind of additive harmonic synthesis you find on a DX7, only unprogrammable at its core - the algorithms (instead they are fixed and stored on 4 ROM chips). These digital waveforms are raw material which are then processed and mangled by the analog synth engine, so what you essentially have here is a completely ANALOG synth with more waveforms than the typical square, sawtooth, and sine that you get from typical analogs. Don't let the description on the control panel fool you ("Programmable Digital Waveform Synthesizer") - this is definitely an ANALOG beast. You have to remember that "digital" was the buzzword of the day, and in order to boost sales, many synth companies downplayed their products' analog features in favor of anything that was digital about the instrument. In fact, the ONLY things that are digital about the DW8000, aside from housekeeping chores such as patch memory and parameter quantization (which the Prophet 5 and Memorymoog surely have as well), are the digital waveforms piped in at one end and the digital delay clamped onto the other. Everything else - most importantly the filter - are most assuredly of the analog persuasion (read: voltage controlled).

The DW8000, if you truly dig into the programming and not just use the factory presets, has some great surprises waiting for you. You want lush, warm Jupiter and Juno-like string sounds? Screaming, growling Minimoog or Odyssey type leads? Fat, crunchy Prophet 5 brass patches? How about a thick, realistic Hammond B3 sound with a killer leslie effect - You got 'em, and a lot, lot more. How about trippy, pulsating techno/acid effects? Punchy, thick, rumbling bass lines? They're all here (who needs an overpriced monophonic Roland SH-101?) How about early 70's prog? Two oscillators and 8-note polyphony (3 more than the Prophet 5) when stacked in Unison mode, give you 16 oscillators of bone-crunching Keith Emerson or Rick Wakeman minimoog lead sounds! Combine the sawtooth and brass oscillators, detune the sawtooth slightly, throw in some chorusing and flanging effects from the built-in delay, stack them in unison, and run it through a decent effects processor (like a Nanoverb), and you will know that you'll never need another vintage analog, ever. You won't even need an analog modelling type like the Clavia Nord Lead - there's nothing that synth can do that you can't do here. Yes, if you are a collector and want a nice museum piece sitting in your living room (Prophet 5 - nice wood paneling, etc.), then get go ahead and pay $1,200 or more for a Prophet 5. But if you are a gigging musician who needs a RELIABLE analog synth that stays in tune, won't overheat, and won't run you into monthly repair bills, THIS IS THE ONE TO GET! - at between $150-$200, it's the best-kept secret on the used synth market today.

Probably the biggest reason for the miscalculation of the value of this synth to today's vintage enthusiasts is the way it was packaged - sleek, flat black panel, spartan control panel (one parameter-at-a-time access), and of course the word "digital" as part of the description of the synth. Knob twirlers, need to get at those 53 parameters all at once? Download Anthony Ruggerio's DW8000 Patch Editor and Librarian for Windows at Makes programming the thing a piece of cake.

About the construction: Unlike mentioned elsewhere on this page, very sturdy and solid for a plastic casing - feels almost like metal casing. It's thick, hard, smooth-surfaced plastic (almost unbreakable), not the typical thin vacuformed type of later 80s and early 90s synths. It definitely feels like one solid keyboard - no bending of the plastic casing is possible. The keyboard does has a stiffer spring mechanism than the typical Yamaha or later Korg styles, but actually I find this assuring - almost feels like a semi-weighted board. Because of the stiffer spring-back, you get that clunk sound as you release the key. Not a real problem, and it definitely doesn't feel cheap.

Overall evaluation: This is one of the best analog synthesizers on the used market, an outrageous value for the money. It simply lacks the vintage 70's wood-paneling and knobby appeal of the current trend, which makes it a steal when you realize what it can actually do. A real musician's working, gigging keyboard, not a museum piece.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Friday-Aug-29-2003 at 12:11
John Lyell a professional user from USA writes:
Just scored one for $120 with a soft case included. Unbelievable deal.......couldn't pass it up !!

I currently own four other synths: a Roland JV-2080, Korg X2, Korg Wavestation EX, and a Korg DW-6000. I do alot of Ambient, Electronic and Space Music and have been looking for something else to add to the arsenal. I've been thinking about getting a DW-8000 for some time.

After having the synth for several hours now, I can tell that some of the sounds will fit nicely with the style of music I'm doing (Ambient, Soundtrack, SpaceMusic, Atmospheric, Electronica). The DW-8000 is a different sounding bird than the 6000 and a little different that anything else I already have. Very cool synth for the price !!

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Saturday-Jul-12-2003 at 20:32
Richie Rich a part-time user from Miami, FL writes:
the manual is free and available at

got the cord for $7 bucks at MAE in Fort Lauderdale, FL. they ship anywhere...

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Saturday-Jun-21-2003 at 14:26
Philipp Koltsov from Moscow Russia writes:
A-a-ah, so nice synth!! Fat sound, good solo sounds (Emerson & Zawinul plays this keyboard!), nice strings, pads (seems vintage Roland more then Korg...something like Juno or Jupiter ...Z-z-z-z!), bass....but u can buy ANOTHER synthesier 4 deep realistic (or non realistic) bass! & keyboard! It's a pleasure to touch this vintage keys! U are in the 80's now! Good, good synth! Beutifull DX-7, Jupiter 8 & OB Matrix gibrid! (even FM sounds available!)

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Friday-Mar-28-2003 at 19:51
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