Synth Site: Korg: Z1: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.8 out of 5
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The best synth I have ever played - Full Stop.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Saturday-Mar-20-2004 at 06:38
Glen Stegner a professional user from USA writes:
I just got my Z1 the other day and I have to say this is one powerful and versatile synth. Of course I haven't had the time to really dig into the programming, but I've read up on it in advance of my purchase and have a good idea of its capabilities. Mine already has the 18-note-polyphony DSPB-Z1 board installed.

The analog modeling sounds are what I plan on using the most, and many of the presets in this area are quite good, although some could use some tweaking. The X/Y pad is great for going wild with realtime modulation, pitch bending, filter sweeps, and so on. The pads are phatt and very punchy, especially the oberheim and prophet style brass pads. The Minimoog square lead is awesome. Fantastic basses. Great presets also for trance, acid, techno, et al with their built-in rhythmic elements using sample & hold or arpeggiations.

Aside from the great analog sounds, there are fantastic glassy "digital" type pads (D50, M1, SY77, etc.) that are actually synthesized and not based on PCM samples. There are no samples inside this machine. These pads have great realtime control and don't sound static or looped like on PCM based synths.

14 knobs on the left upper area of the synth are dedicated to the most commonly used parameters for live performace, and five more under the LCD menu screen can be programmed to alter other ones (and there are a LOT to choose from!) Using these programmable knobs, you can assign up to 4 parameters to a knob (by pushing down it).

Of course one of the great things about this synth is the arpeggiator. Some patches are saved with the arpeggiator in "On" mode, and besides the usual up, down, up/down, and random settings, you can create several of your own custom arpeggiations based on note order. Oh yes, the arpeggiator is polyphonic!

This thing can emulate all of the best of the best vintage analog synths right up to a Matrix 12 because of its complex modulation routings. It has sample & hold, pulse width modulation, FM synthesis (called VPM by Korg), comb filtering, ring modulation, hard sync, and much more. Also this thing can emulate the best Rhodes piano and Wurlitzer piano I've ever heard from any synth or PCM based keyboard that I've played. It does not have a realistic sounding piano, but it has just about everything else. The horns, plucked instruments, and strings are awesomely modeled and you get very realistic timbre variations by using the X/Y pad or through key velocity (like the spitting sound of a trumpet when played hard); you can't get this on a PCM based synth!

Add to all of this a great effects section, and you have one of the most powerful synths to come out of the last 10 (or more) years, in my opinion. It is built like a tank, has a great keyboard action, accepts PCMCIA cards for memory expansion, and is an all around sexy looking synth. The knobs feel great, they have rubberized surfaces and have great resistance. It just oozes quality and professionalism, none of this cheap plasticky JP8000 or MS2000 retro looking stuff. It's built like a modern professional synth but has all of the capability and much more than those and other analog modelling synths.

This synth was Korg's answer to both the Clavia Nord Lead and Yamaha VL1, and they did a fantastic job of combining both acoustic and analog modelling in one unit. What a great silver dream machine. I can only imagine these will be going up in value and becoming collectors items in the coming 10-20 years. Korg stopped making them and went back to PCM with the Triton, although the Triton does support an expansion board for Z1 type modelling.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Saturday-Feb-14-2004 at 15:49
andrew lund a hobbyist user from Australia writes:
I've owned the Z1 a couple of weeks now, and I can already see this is a synth that I will never sell. I thin the Z1 is the fanatics synth choice. I often like to think of how a real sound is produced by different instruments when programming sounds, and the Z1 is THE instrument that the physics head will love. You will have to dig into the manual a lot a first, and join a Yahoo Group users groups to fully understand the machine. However, this becomes a fast machine to program once you fully understand everthing in the edit pages, and Korg's stupid "jump" button which is clumsy to use at first. But really, you can get the kinds of acoustic emulations that would be very hard to program on most digital synths quite easy on this once u get the hang of it. The sounds respond to playing technique that no analog or digital synth ever has! amazing. And the good nesw is you can make the acoustic physical models quite synthetic if you like, giving you instruments that have the expressive qualities of acoustic instruments but sounding fresh. Someone knocked the Z1 for not being able to make a "40ft glass violin". Well, you can. Just alter the string length, adjust the dampening (making it sound harder, like a glass resonator would) and voila! A large galss violin. Yeah, sure, now lets get back in reality and turn the dampening up! Eeewwww. Then again Atari teenage riot make a living out of making screaching annoying music. If they are reading this, be sure to follow my "glass violin tutorial". All in all a unique synth, that with the right tweaking has a "magic" thats hard to explain. Its like a living breathing organism. This would be perfectly suited to sitting alongside a real analog synth, that while crude have a punch and brightness this thing doesnt have. Yes, the Z1's refined. Yes it sounds amazing. But i think you'll need to use the enhancer effect in the effects section to get anywhere near analog brightness. I'm buying a Roland JX-8p to compliment this one. Who said virtual acoustic/analog couldnt live in harmony with the real analog deal? We live in the best time for synths, where the variety of new and used gear is stunning and mainly affordable. The Z1 has to be one of the most refined and versatile synths ever made. It would be idiotic to expect it to do everything! Thats just not possible on ANY machine. This is a must have synth, sell your Roland JP-8000 now mister!

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Monday-Feb-09-2004 at 08:12
Just the best synth of the last 10yrs. A fabulous piece of inspirational kit. Everything is thought out to perfection. Great sounds flow with great ease. This synth is capable of everything.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Wednesday-Jan-14-2004 at 03:42
Anders a part-time user from Sweden writes:
Sooo easy to use - the best user interface EVER! The presets are so-so, but if you buy this synth and only plan to use the presets, you should be taken out and be shot!!! The manual is good but a bit scetchy at times...

12 note poly that can be expanded to 18!!! I -F-I-N-A-L-Y- got me a "lean-mean-silver-dream-machine"!!! - I can't praise this one enough! The synth-engine (MOSS) is SOOO versatile and powerful! Imagine if you will: two Memorymoogs with the modulation & routing possibilities of a Matrix-12, the FM power of Yamaha's FS1R or possibly the AFM side of Yamaha's SY99, TWELVE Yamaha VL1's!!!!, a Hammond B3, a Fender Rhodes 73, a Würlitzer A 200, an IMPROVED polyphonic version of the arpeggiator found in the Prophet VS, with the ability to store 15 patterns of your own! The filter banks of a Moog Modular or maybe one of Don Buchla's wonderful creations, Korg's KAOS-pad and for sweetening four BRILLIANT FX-units!!! - WOW! A million thanx to Owe for selling it to me!

The sounds this instrument is capable of is truly AWE INSPIREING! The controlls abd keyboard are TOPCLASS!

It's probably the most solid instrument EVER! I don't gig with a backup, but with a compliment - a Korg Wavestation EX - they blend like icecream and hot strawberry jam!

No need for support! If you DO need ANYTHING - check out Eriks site - - it's excelent.

This is THE synth! If you like me don't care much for samploid synths - then this is for you! ...I mean why would you buy an instrument that has the word "WORK" in it's desription?!? - Beats me! Z1 for world ruler!!! The only thing I wish for is that Korg will release the "Oasys" - not the PCI-card, but the prototype synth that led to this, it also include - among other things - an updated version of Wavesequencing and Vector Synthesis! Check it out at: and then FORCE Korg to release it, but tell them to put wheels on it, joysticks are for flight simulators!!!!!

Feel free to check our bands site at: - for rewievs, music and other goodies!

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Friday-Jan-02-2004 at 11:33
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