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User Review

My tool for several years! - Reviews Korg Karma

Sound generation method: Synthesis System HI (Hyper Integrated)
Sampling frequency to 48 kHz PCM for internal
PCM ROM Memory: 32 Mbytes, 425 multi-samples + 413 drum samples.
Polyphony: 62 voices.
Keyboard: 61 notes, velocity sensitive and aftertouch.

I stop here the list of numbers, there are more important things to clarify.
The feature that seems most striking about this keyboard is that it is incomplete sold by Korg: Karma MW software free, you sail in the fog without radar. Indeed, the KARMA function affects more than 400 parameters, but the keyboard as it does not allow you to edit them, or even for the most part, just look! So when you browse the chapters dedicated to the KARMA function in textbooks, it is not uncommon for long explanations are concluded by: "However, the KARMA Workstation does not edit these parameters." Ouch.
KARMA MW software can be downloaded on the website of Karma-Lab, for $ 149.00 (slightly more than € 100.00, depending on the variable exchange rate). This notice does not concern the KARMA keyboard alone, but the duo keyboard + KARMA MW software.
The price is an important factor influencing the opinion that necessarily is a product, I said that I gained the keyboard KARMA Used for € 400.00 in early 2011.
The manufacture, I can compare it to the Workstation KORG i30 I own since 2000. Clearly, the KARMA is not manufactured with the same care as the i30. Some keys to move the location and false contacts. The screen (small and non-touch, I'll come back in the 'USE') provides only low-quality display on a yellow-orange. Adjust the contrast only allows to find a compromise, but not a satisfactory solution. For cons, the color change of the formwork brick of the eternal black plastic.
The touch keyboard is comparable to that of i30: very average.

UTILIZATION

If I understand what I've read and heard about this Workstation, it seems to drag a reputation as a highly complex instrument to use. For me it's wrong (I recall that I consider the KARMA MW software as required). It's just very dense. Of course, you need a confirmed level: we can not possibly work to control the KARMA without a strong background in music theory and sound synthesis. But it's like any learning, there are steps: first get the basics, then put them into practice. Over the discovery of the KARMA function, many questions arise, but all eventually find an answer. It's just a very powerful tool, with its corollary of menus and submenus.
on the other hand, what heresy not give such a monster as a small screen, non-touch and more! The i30 was, however, a large touchscreen that has never shown the slightest sign of weakness in 12 years of almost daily use. Ditto for my digital studio D1600 mkII. This technology is controlled by KORG, but absent here. Regrettable.
Fortunately, the menu pages are organized logically, create a sound 'from scratch' in the Program mode is not a problem. It is spoiled a bit for the function Combi (which allows to combine eight Programs), where information is necessarily somewhat compacted. As for the sequencer, so far I have not let go of the i30, in whose favor the touch screen is a clincher.
Configure the KARMA function directly on the keyboard? Do not even think. Everything happens in the KARMA MW software, and when the manufacturer recommends a minimum 17-inch screen, it's not for nothing! I will of course not fully explain the KARMA function, because there is more than just a book it would write opinion! Know that you have more than 400 parameters that you can edit at leisure. The result will be a continuous stream of MIDI messages sent to the synthesis engine of karma. Much more powerful than a arpeggiator, a much more versatile arranger keyboard, you program a support base and you can then bring him all the necessary changes in real time while you play.


SOUNDS

At this writing, the Korg KRONOS is happening in the store with her 9 synthesis engines on board. Glups! Now, integrate the huge difference in budget, and 10 years of age KARMA: for € 400.00 (argus at + or - 10% for now) was more than enough to have fun. My little 5-inch speakers Yamaha galèrent lot to try to make the sound delivered by the HI synthesis. If we manage to get an overall view of the possibilities offered by the synthesizer, combined with modulations generated by the KARMA function, we arrive at the results frankly stunning.
The big downside is the lack of a piano sound available. Again, a regression compared to i30: it is certainly not a digital piano, but still, we would expect a piano sound correct, at least for the models.
I think the key is to acquire sufficient flight hours to achieve considering the creation of sound "traditional," common to all the synths in this range, AND KARMA function as a whole, to have an overview , knowing when the selection of basic multisample how we will program the KARMA function. Come on, I dare a metaphor as you put them end to end components, considering the KARMA function as a part added, a sort of backbone, you play with Lego, but when you design your sound from the start by integrating the capabilities of the KARMA function, you sculpt a block of marble. Yes, karma is the ability to move from LEGOVille to the Rue de Varenne. Class!

OVERALL OPINION

Throughout the hours spent trying to tame the beast, several factors constantly remind ourselves that the business slowly but surely nibbling of space in the manufacture of synths: limited screen size and not touch, no ribbon controller, touch bad software sold in the supplement when it is needed, expansion cards for multi-samples sold separately, overall strength questionable ... For practicing ENSONIQ SD1, we feel that at one time manufacturers were full of inventiveness and trying to provide maximum opportunities for their clients, but were limited by technology. Today it seems that the technology is deliberately limited, or sold in kit form, to increase margins. (Small aside: before I talk about controlling manufacturing costs, find out about the introductory price of KARMA)
However, it is gradually drawn into the creative possibilities that seem endless. Stephen Kay (creator of the KARMA function) argues that a theoretical calculation of all possible combinations of parameters leads to a result is hundreds of billions. It is believed readily. Nothing but the creation of a single module with one KARMA his work far beyond the range of possibilities, so when we think we can run four KARMA modules spread over eight sounds, and all this will modulate in real time!
While my opinion recites many negative points, I regard this as exceptional Workstation. But I hate the mentality of fanboy. Some see contradictions in my mind, or at least an imbalance, but it's just that I can not help but think what would have been if the KARMA out in a period of "race to arming "between manufacturers, with today's technology.
What I can guarantee you that if you skip the step and that you adhere to the concept KARMA, you take off over the keyboard for several years.

PS: I am open to any discussion of KARMA, my email AudioFanzine is here for.