Synth Site: Korg: Karma: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.6 out of 5
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Surreal Media a professional user writes:
Ease of Use: 8 I've owned my Karma for at least 2 years (forgot the exact time I bought it, but it was shortly after release). This workstation has a really long and gradual learning curve. For the first year or so, I was only using the preset patches and combis, and tweaking the realtime knobs to modify ge's a bit. The Karma is very easy to operate in that level, so even complete techno-newbies can start using the Karma right away. The sequencer is very handy for putting down ideas FAST. Especially with OS 2.0, hit 3 buttons and you've got your sound ready (with effects too if you want) in a sequencer track.. then press Record, press Start, and you're recording! If you mess up, hit 2 buttons and you can redo the recording or dub over it. I like Karma better than the Triton because of this button method of going through menus, which is faster & easier than the triton's touchscreen, so you can get your ideas down lightning fast. The note editor takes a bit of getting used to, and is meant more for touching up and fixing your mistakes instead of writing songs in. It isn't awful though, and once you figure out how it works, it comes in pretty handy for editing. If you want to _write_ songs on a graphical display -- use a computer. All in all, this isn't the easiest synth to use.. but it's no DX7. If you spend time with it, you'll reap the rewards. You can get some amazing sounds out of this beast (more on that in the next section) and once you master it you'll be surprised with how much this 'ROMpler' can really do! And I haven't even touched on the Karma function yet! So, concluding this paragraph, you've basically got a Triton with a faster processor, no sampling (bah, use a computer for that!), and a smaller screen (which is actually more intuitive & faster than Triton IMO).

KARMA - Kay Algorithmic Realtime Music Architecture --------------------------------------------------- You can kiss all your other wimpy little arpeggiators goodbye. KARMA is the mother of all arpeggiators. Period. This thing can truly inspire you! Whatever you use it for, jamming, inspiration, or using it in your music, KARMA works. I recently had a situation where I needed to pump out an interesting DnB+Techno track in a short amount of time. I had some great drums down (made with the Karma's excellent RPPR function), a good pumping bass, and some other padding inside the track. I was running out of time and needed an interesting lead to finish the track, but whatever I tried was too simple and I didn't have much time, so i turned to the KARMA function. I browsed through the 1000+ KARMA Generated Effects, and picked a lead pattern I liked. I messed with the realtime knobs for 10 minutes, and sculpted the pattern into an original interesting lead sound that fit perfectly with the track! I recorded this into the sequencer and added some hand-made lead (for more uniqueness) in a few places (inspired by the GE lead), and ~VOILA~ my track was complete ahead of time and I was a happy camper.

A lot of you may now be wondering if KARMA will replace musicians and let inexperienced newbies create songs without any knowledge create music. You might also be thinking that I'm a fool and I shouldn't use some computer algorithm to make my music. That's not the way KARMA works. It provides you musical clay to work with, and you must mould it into something great. You have a lot of control over this moulding, so you can create something very unique. KARMA is also a refreshing creativity-generator for tired minds! You can not even use the KARMA function in your song, but let it inspire you to experiment playing different types of music. It has certainly opened my mind to a lot of possibilities!

The KARMA function is easy to use at the shallow level, but as many say, the deeper you explore it, the more exciting surprises and power you'll find.

Features: 10 In the last few months I've been starting to edit the presets on the Karma and programming new ones from scratch. It took a while for me to really get to that part, but now that I have, I discovered that the sound engine of the Karma/Triton, despite being a 'ROMpler' is quite flexible! You can make a lot of new and interesting sounds by combining and modulating the different waveforms. I've made a bank full of pads, leads, and basses for my techno music. What you've got is basically a 2-osc synth in one patch, and all the basic waveforms are right there in the ROM! You get all the goodies: Saw, Square, Pulse, Triangle, Sine, plus variants of these sampled off different analog synths. Then you have a nice filter for each osc, modulation up the ass, and EXCELLENT effects. If 2 oscs isn't enough, you can layer patches together as combis for 3, 4, 10 detuned oscs anyone? ;) People are complaining that the sounds are bad, but you've got a very capable synth right there, letting you make some great analog sounds right off the bat! And then you get the other ~400+ waveforms to mess with. So don't complain about crappy sounds. You've got a very capable subtractive synth with -tons- of interesting waveforms to choose from. You just have to program it well! And that comes with practice. Try messing around with the presets and modify those at first. Once you know how it all works, you can start creating sounds from scratch. One little issue that just came to mind with this synth is that there arent enough banks!! There are ==so many== sound possibilities with this thing that it's a shame there are only 5 editable banks. The thing is, I like to keep the factory presets intact so I can examine how they are programmed, and they are handy for some ready sounds.. so I only have bank C and D to put my stuff in. I find myself constantly switching banks on my floppy, which kind of sucks.. but oh well, I'll have to live with it ;P Maybe one day I'll have the courage to clear up banks A B and E. Theres an F bank for the expansion synth EXB-MOSS, but you can't use it without the expansion card, so it always sits there and taunts me :-o

Annnnyways ;)

MIDI is very nicely implemented. I use the Karma to control software synths all the time. The realtime knobs can all be mapped to midi CC numbers, and you have the double 4 knobs on the left, which adds up to 16 realtime knobs - plenty. Velocity (lol) and Aftertouch are all there, good stuff. The joystick is an interesting design, letting you modulate 4 different things at the same time (you can set it to modulate ANYTHING including KARMA function, and you have +X -X +Y -Y range of motion, pretty cool concept.

Expressiveness/Sounds: 10 Mmmm, ridiculously fat basses, dreamy pads, fresh ethnic instruments or good old-fashioned traditional bread & butter, this thing has got it all!

Those complaining about crappy sounds are generally using premade presets and want more/different premade patches.. If you are one of those people, go get yourself an expansion card or get a Sample CD with the premade sounds you want. Otherwise, you can program quite an amount of sounds with this thing using just the ROM itself. I won't need an expansion card except maybe for new drum sounds.

The effects are of IMMACULATE quality! You have so many damn effects on here it isn't funny. GREAT eq and compressor included.

Reliability: 6 It seems little flimsy on this side. Hasn't broken on me yet, but here are some bad points:

* Keys seem very cheap and wiggle a little when you move them sideways.

* Knobs arent the worst I've seen but it looks like they'll break off with minor force.

* It generally feels cheap, unlike the excellent build of the Nord Lead or Virus, this one feels like it'll crack or something will fall off if you treat it roughly.

Saying all this, it has fallen once due to a keyboard stand being loose, and it came out working perfectly. I haven't gigged this though, and wouldn't feel like doing so. On the bright side, at least most of it is made of metal, and it's quite light.

Customer Support: 10 Steve Knowles at Korg Canada is VERY helpful, this guy should be commended or something.. best tech support I've ever consulted! :)

Overall Rating: 10 If it were lost or stolen, I'd buy it again. It is a very helpful, innovative tool that really helps me make music and inspires me. The sounds and sound engine are great and nice to work with once you have it figured out. This is my only ROMpler, and I keep it right up beside my computer. I've owned many others before, but this one takes the cake, and is the only one I've kept. I use this as frequently for techno as my Virus, and it helps me bring new flavours into my music all the time. Good stuff.

This would make a good -second- or possibly -first- synth to buy for a beginner, after learning what analog synthesis is all about. It's quite hard to get started programming your own sounds not knowing about synthesis, but you have all the great presets and KARMA which make this synth worth it even if you never touch the program editor. I worry though about beginners buying this as their first synth, and being overwhelmed by the presets and KARMA, and forgetting all about programming. Either buy this as a first synth if you have a persistant personality, or if you are already skilled in the art of sound design this will open up a world of new things that you might have not believed were possible! For what it does, it deserves a 10!

Witek Radomski Surreal-Media www.surreal-media.com

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Saturday-Jul-26-2003 at 17:38
Eric a professional user from Canada writes:
This workstation is a maroon monster!!! I've been working with my Karma for almost 2 years now and I am still discovering new depths. With such a complex and powerful system such as KARMA, there is no end to the possible results that one could obtain in a lifetime. This machine is very much underrated and misunderstood. It takes time and dedication to learn how to use it - and even then, you'll be only scratching the surface. BUT the benefits are truly awesome. Any serious electronic musician should have one in his/her rig. Top marks for this one!!!

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Sunday-Apr-06-2003 at 12:18
spike a professional user from U.S.A. writes:
I got my Karma last summer. Killer board. I have rev 2. I have not used the sequencer at all, nor do I sequence on a computer. The beauty of this machine is, it's like being the composer, director and musicians on the fly, but you have to be brave. Programing can be difficult, but not having to sequence allows me to move where I want to go. Some say the machine dictates what you play. This is not a board for the timid, you need music skills, compositional skills, synthesis skills, and most important, guts. I just now sent away for M.W., I can't wait. Last Sunday I bought a Micro-Korg, hooked it up to my Karma, Killer deal. It is so dynamic to have the Karma driving the MK arppegiator, Shut of the Karma, at an appropriate time in the piece, MK arp. keeps running, switch scenes and come back in. If you don't like control over your music, or your not very spontaneous, don't buy this board. I am planning on buying MOSS. Stephen, Thank you so much...........

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Sunday-Mar-09-2003 at 01:45
Gerry a hobbyist user from Texas writes:
This synth really "ROCKS" I consider it might end up being a (classic one). Well most of us (pro's) buy a keyboard for its sounds or samples, and in this area Karma has the best sounds ever introduced inside a keyboard. The only disadvantage of this synth are those "HORRIBLE KEYS" why Korg, why?. Its like having hotcakes without syrup, or driving a Ferrari without good tires, u know? How can anyone exploit the potential of this atomic bomb? Well, i might get used to the keys anyway, but next time Korg i'm able to pay 100 dlls more for better keys similar to the ones from (KORG i3) tight ones.

Bye.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Tuesday-Feb-11-2003 at 18:14
BERNIE a hobbyist user from UK writes:
I've had a K7 and a X5DR. I got tired of these and wanted a BIG FAT system to really let fly with all those juicy sweepy synthy blasts we all get the urge for. And the Karma gave me just that. The stuff I've whacked out since I got it is really pleasing, to me at least. One problem I have is not being technical minded eenough to get to grips with the sequencer pproperly, so now I'm looking for a system tthat'll let me record my Karma as I play it one ccombi at a time, and then record onto previous tracks. But yes, the Karma is a whopper of a system, I can't seem to find anyone who has a bad opinion of it at all. Go on, buy it, you know you want to he he he he!!!

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Thursday-Jan-02-2003 at 16:00
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