Thursday, June 21, 2007

Korg TR Quick Review

 Product Synthesizer Tr Images Pro

After having the mixed feelings and ultimate sell off an Alesis Fusion HD6, I acquired the Korg TR to see how it stacks up in controlling my studio.
Its alot nicer than it looks in the pictures. People may complain of plastic construction, but thats only the end caps!!!! The front face is black metal & high quality knobs and buttons.

The Korg TR is very solid, but it's sounds won't inspire you by itself. You will probably want to connect it to a PC with a larger sound library, or some external gear. This board will serve as the basis for music creation & composition, however. Out of the box the knobs are set to control basic external gear parameters very well, like RES, CUTOFF. These control knobs even worked with Reason without any setup. Any time saved not setting up obscure midi parameters is a good thing. Once you get your channels, and programs set, you can save it as a song template and use it every time you start a new song.

The sounds of the Korg TR leave something to be desired. If your sound is completely electronic or sort like Jean Michael Jarre, then you will like it ALOT. It has amazing organs, and electronic strings, but you will be hard pressed to find any gritty guitars or other sounds onboard. Even through tweaking the rom it can be difficult to make it sound mean, unless you are going to be doing it with a synth program. The category button is set up nicely to find a particular sound you are looking for, although scrolling to select programs inside the sequencer mode is a mixed bag. It doesnt matter however, because you can use the category button inside Sequencer mode. This is unlike the Alesis Fusion's inability to do so, and its a good thing. The drums are pretty decent for hip hop and some electronic music. As far as rock, they come off as a little cheap. I am not sure Korg has ever been good at drums, so you will be better off loading up something in Reason again. Some of the kicks are very very nice and bassy though. Nothing faboulous, even though the sound quality is very high. The high point of the rom is its synth sounds. They sound better than older yamaha stuff, which always had a catlike meow sound to them. Overall the Korg has more of an "ahhhhh" type of quality to every sound. It is more soothing. I think this has to do with whoever was in charge of creating the rom, however long ago it was.

Sequencing is solid & very easy. You will be able to start making songs in no time. Loop features are very nice to set up. Menus are easy to navigate once you get the hang of it. It is a good compromise between touch screen, and an even smaller menu based screen. Combis are also flawlessly easy to put into sequencer mode!! You could probably create a keyboard split of all your gear, save it as a combi, then import it into sequencer mode and have easy control. With the TR88, this would be ideal!!

EFX: They sound amazing, but you only get a single effect to apply to ALL of the tracks. Not even per-track, so choose wisely. Let me specify this: You can only have one effect, and then have the ability to turn that effect off or on for each track. You also get mastering effects, but thats applied to your entire mix. SO if you want to add amp distortion to one sound, then add reverb to cant. It is hard to change the quality of the onboard sounds too much, but most of them sound acceptable, and can be tweaked with the RES, HPF, and cutoff functions to make them blend in you mix. I think judging this board based on what effects it has is not a good idea since it does have assignable outs, and you can just set up something in your computer during monitor/mixing to apply effects.

The build of the board is way higher than it looks in any picture. Its actually very nice, and the buttons are nicer than I expected. The keys are a little nicer than an Alesis fusion, but are nothing special.

Overall this is an amazing piece of equipment to use in your studio for composing and controlling all your gear!! The USB to PC also makes it a good midi controller. I would recommend this board if you found it used and the price was right. Make sure you get an SD card (it has no internal memory for songs). You can use this to trigger samples on your computer, so if you don't gig, then the lack of sampling features is no big deal....even then the sampling upgrade option could be applied later if you feel you really need it.

Conclusion: Average sounds except for Synths & Organs, easy integration into your studio, and its fun to play. Great as a controller & techno machine. Worth the money.

Sound Quality: 9
Musical Expression & Voices: 6.5
Build: 8
Key Action: 6
Sequencer / Menus: 8

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