Synth Site: Korg: PS3100: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.3 out of 5
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tomatocherry a part-time user from Japan writes:
Hellow, To my "World Wide KORG PS3100 OTAKU" friends, I first time saw an picture of PS-3100 when I was 10-years old children at my musical text of my school in 1978. Naturally I could not to buy This. I bougt PS3100 5years ago(2000!). I ofen use Prophet-5,Arp-Odyssey etc..,but PS3100's sounds is most be remindful of Japanese or like India soul(WABI-SABI). To put it more concretely,Japan has a high percentage of humidity,and Buddhism country. Famous Japanese musician used PS3100 synthsizer at 1978-1981,Listen! (Sorry not at good English;) Haruomi Hosono;COCHIN MOON (1978)and more. Ryuichi Sakamoto;Thousand Knives(1978)and more. Yellow Magic Orchestra;Yellow Magic Orchestra(1978),Solid State Survivor(1979),BGM(1980)and more.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Tuesday-Mar-07-2006 at 05:08
Marc a professional user from United States writes:
The PS series of polyphonic synthesizers were hands-down the most powerful polyphonic synthesizers at the time(s) of their release. While the PS-3300 might be the ultimate polyphonic synthesizer of all time, the PS-3100 is still more useful, diverse, and powerful than most analog non-microprocessor polyphonics. Yes, the PS-3100 uses divide-down circuitry to arrive at its massive polyphony. Yes, this is a technique that has been used by organs... but the PS-3100 has little in common with the organ beyond this technique. In order to make this device a true polyphonic synthesizer, Korg placed a separate VCF, ENV, and VCA per note... which immediately removes it from any organ similarity, while simultaneously making it one of the few truly polyphonic synthesizers. I'm baffled by the constant "thin" assessment on this review page. The PS-3100 has a very warm, broad sound... it can be deep and dark, or bright and punchy. Yes, it's a one oscillator synthesizer... but having multiple oscillators is no guarantee of a great or thick sound. In my opinion, the great benefit of multilple oscillators is diversity of timbre, more than anything. Layering oscillators can create a thicker sound, but often you're just creating a chorus effect... and to that end, the PS-3100 has a great chorus (which I rarely use, as it makes it sound more like a 1980s era synth). If you cannot make great analog polyphonic sounds without multiple oscillators, well... maybe it's not analog you're really looking for... or, maybe it's not non-microprocessor analog you're looking for. The PS-3100 has a host of great and uncommon functions. The LFO (modulation generator 1) goes up to a frequency of 1k! This is far beyond the frequency range of just about any other synthesizer, which makes it capable of a host of amazing effects... not to mention the diversity of LFO waveforms... including pink AND white noise (although I wish they might have made the noise generator available to the audio path). Possibly the coolest module on the 3100 is the Resonator. The Resonator is basically a 3-band equalizer... except that it is sweepable! This fact transforms it from a basic but useful sound-shaping device to the coolest modulation possible. You can assign MG2 or whatever is patched to control the manner of sweep... whether its a simple triangle-wave modulation, or wheel, or envelope, noise or sample and hold from the patch bay! The modulation routings in combination with the Resonator are one of the amazing strengths of this synth. There is nothing to compare to this rare and awesome analog sound. There is the amplitude modulator... which sounds essentially like a ring modulator. Yes, you can get those clangorous bell-tones, but you can also use it to broaden the sound, or to make high-frequency modulation sounds in the same way you can use the LFO in conjunction with the frequency. Yep, the PS-3100 creates analog FM! The Envelope Modifiers section is a single controller for the Envelope-Generator-Per-Note. This is where you set the basic envelope for the sound. I wish a pot would have been assigned to the Release stage, just like everyone else... BUT... this limitation can be immediately fixed with a single patching in the patch section. Run a patch cable from the patch output of one of the voltage processors into the release patch point, and pow. One of the voltage processors now operates as a release pot (Limiter A acting as fine-tuning, Limiter B acting as coarse). You actually end up with MORE control over the release than if you had a single release knob! So, put your release-stage fears to rest. The General Envelope Generator is a single Envelope Generator you can apply to the sounds in ADDITION to the Envelope-generator-per note... or, you can direct it to control just about EVERYTHING ELSE. It's great for PWM, I've found. Of course, it's a single Envelope, so you run into the fact that added notes to a held chord don't re-trigger it... but who cares. This is only really irritating if that's all you have in the way of envelope control. A neat feature is that you can designate how many notes held will trigger the GEG. This means, for example, you can control which chords get a filter sweep and which don't based upon how many notes are in them. There are so many features I want to list... but this is already an epic! For how cool and versatile everything on this device is... add in the power of the patch bay, and it's all multiplied by an almost infinite degree. I'm sorry to keep using the word diversity, but... that is the strength of the PS-3100. I think many are too used to ROMplers and the like... they don't realize how amazing the capabilities of the PS-3100 are for its time and what it is. Sound... how does it sound? Well, sound is subjective... but I will say this: you could program it all day and still becoming up with patches that surprise you by the end. It can create pretty much any analog sound you can think of, and a lot of sounds you wouldn't expect from analog. It is not simple. It is among the least simple non-fully-modular analog synthesizers. I would say if you're looking for something for techno or any electronic variant that requires MIDI control... or if you're looking for something that "does great leads, pads, and basses..." you're probably not the sort that would enjoy the PS-3100 (not that it doesn't do great leads, pads, and basses...). However, if you're the sort that enjoys analog synthesis, the analog sound, and walls of knobs... you don't get much better than this. At some point, I am going to start posting examples of the PS-3100, to put to rest the notion that it is thin, simple, etc. Oh, and one final thing: the modulation wheel is MADE OF METAL... it is the least flimsy thing I've ever SEEN. It does, however, have an extremely subtle center detente- which is very good because often, due to the various voltage requirements, you need the wheel to start from a fully-down position, and you wouldn't want it landing in a massive detente if that point didn't represent zero. As for the keyboard action: the same as synthesizers everywhere. If you have any questions, please e-mail!

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Monday-Apr-05-2004 at 08:50
grindstaff writes:
<---pointing to the 5 of 5 I gave it earlier <<<

The unit uses an octave divider to create the polyphony and that is quite like 1 osc per note. Rather flat- .............................................. Moulin Noir: ma'am, I never said I never made any interesting sounds I merely stated what I believe to be factual. <-----note the (expired) link to songs actually done by my band) ................................................ The unit is a great collector's item and when in a series with real modular synths can produce interesting results. Minimal, but results are results, eh? After a while simple string pads and so forth grow...monotonous. Even with detuning.And a simple chorus effect. There is a good use for the tuning function besides discordant growls or wheezy burps and that would be alternate tunings or temerament.

If I had to choose 1 synth for the proverbial desert island I would take a casio 101 over this hulking beast...

Oh and I apologise for the typo, I truly knew that about the ps3300. Maybe someday Moulin Noir will let me hear her wonderful music examples created on YOUR ps? I would love to hear and own a sample cd of ps3100 sounds that have true interest and variety. Er, consider it a challange I suppose? ^___^

In the realm of synthesis are many types and flavors of sound made from various units and even more listener preferences. before I would even CONSIDER paying hard earned cash for an analog dinosaur of this type I think that readers have the benefit of personal opinions and observations.

So I gave mine~~~ Heh, any ways , peace.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Sunday-Jan-11-2004 at 23:46
Moulin Noir a professional user from Sweden writes:
User reviews on this site contains large amounts of rubbish and useless information. Take for example mr Grindstaff who's spent 12 years with a PS-3100 without learning to create interesting sounds. A remarcable achievement indeed. All my musician friends that has tried mine just loves it, and makes it do all sorts of weird interesting sounds in minutes.. which anyone with two cents of subtractive synthesis knowledge can. No, it hasn't any similarity whatsoever with ARP 2600's or old oberheims at all. No, it isn't organ-like and it sure doesn't sound like an organ. It has 12 separately tuneable oscillators with octave division, ie every c-note is played by the same oscillator and so on. It's completely polyphonic! Yes there are 48 analog filters and 48 simple envelope generators inside. But it is a one vco per note synth - which makes the oscillator section thinner than synths with several oscillators you can detune. However it does have a nice chorus, and the wonderful sweepable filterbank. All modulation inputs handles audio range, which makes all sorts of weird effects possible. Bottom line: The PS-3100 is a very special sounding, flexible, completely polyphonic synthesizer. Personally I use it mostly for solos, effects and somewhat Jarre-like swoshy pads, as it has a sound that sticks out from my other analogue synths (Arp Odyssey, Korg Mono/Poly, Trident, MS-20, MS-10, Studio Electronics ATC-1, Oberheim Matrix-6 etc). Will it do what an Oberheim can do? No. Will it compare to an ARP 2600? No. Can it do things neither the Arp nor an Oberheim can do? Yes, and lot's of them. BTW: No mr Grindstaff, a PS-3200 doesn't contain 3 PS-3100:s inside, that's the PS-3300.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Monday-Aug-11-2003 at 20:39
grindstaff a part-time user from US writes:
I had one for about 12 years. This unit weighs about 70 pounds and is heavy in that aspect...The unit uses linear voltage and it is hard to find an analog sequencer for it. It uses what is called an octave divider to play the 48 notes. The pitch wheel has a flimsy feel to it and the various knobs are nice, the resonators are the best part.

It can be patched to another similar synth (ps3100,ps3200) for extra sounds. The unit is actually closer to an organ than a synth according to several sources like Wes Thomas (Analog dealer)and will not even compare to an ARP2600 or old Oberheims.

It looks real nice but is limited in use.It is hard to get classic analog sounds from other than filter sweeps and some modulations. The ps 3200 is the same only has 3 ps3100 units inside...thats the real deal if you really are serious about this dinosaur. I paid 350$ for mine and managed to sell it for way more.the keyboard feels flimsy but stood up to use. I am not sorry in the slightest to have sold it and do not miss it. I would never get another and if given one I would sell it immediately to a collector of antiques...Tangerine Dream used one for a short while as did my own band (alien-mbc ...... as well as Michael Garrison (electronic artist) who initially wanted two but decided to invest in another unit.I picked it up from a local store who could not sell it for a long long time. It has a wood looking case that is cheap veneer and chips easily, the actual panel is metal and looks nice.

Because I feel the unit is actually rather simplistic (I have used several patch bay types of synths including a university RCA one that stood 5x 8 feet..) I rate this as basicly a 1 for sound, a 5 for looks and a 3 for user interface.

The one good thing about the = or- 5 volt patching is that it is almost impossible to screw up when experimenting with the 5-8 cords it will accept on it's front panel.They look marvelous hanging there all buisness like as the rest of the synth rigs pours out the sound. sampling it is a good use, but after a few months it becomes obvious that the unit hardly compares to other units of that era.

This is just my personal opinion after owning one from 1986-1999. But my how folks stared at it.

Rating: 1 out of 5 posted Wednesday-Jun-06-2001 at 13:58
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