Keys Review takes a look at both the Korg Wavestate Sequencing Synthesiser and the Altered Opsix FM Synthesizer in this review doubleheader. Take a listen to what Tom discovered when he headed to the studio.
KORG’s legendary Wavestation introduced the world to Wave Sequencing, transforming raw samples into sounds that no-one had ever heard before. The flagship OASYS and KRONOS keyboards developed Wave Sequencing even further, expanding on its unique palette of lush, evolving pads and driving rhythms. Now, KORG is proud to announce the next step in digital synthesis: the wavestate. Featuring the radically re-imagined Wave Sequencing 2.0, the wavestate delivers astonishing, ever-changing sounds with extensive hands-on control. Far from a nostalgic reissue, the wavestate is designed from the ground up for a new generation of musicians, producers, and composers, taking cues from sources as diverse as modular synths, groove boxes, and algorithmic composition. The compact form-factor, with 37 full-size keys, transports easily and fits neatly into any stage, studio, or desktop setup.
- Wave Sequencing 2.0
- Extensive modulation with hands-on control
- Gigabytes of samples
- Modeled filters, including MS-20 and Polysix
- 64 stereo voices
- 4 Layers with Vector control
- 14 simultaneous effects
- Set Lists and Smooth Sound Transitions
- Compact. Great design. 37 full-size keys.
- Designed by Korg R&D in California
Wave Sequencing 2.0
With the Wavestation, each step of a Wave Sequence had a duration, a sample, and a pitch. This created ear-catching patterns–but the patterns repeated the same way, over and over. What if they could evolve in organic, unexpected ways, instead of just repeating? Wave Sequencing 2.0 splits apart the timing, the sequence of samples, and the melody, so that each can be manipulated independently. Also added are new characteristics including shapes, gate times, and step sequencer values. Each of these is a “Lane,” and each Lane can have a different number of steps and its own start, end, and loop points. Every time the sequence moves forward, the individual Lanes are combined to create the output. For instance, a sample may be matched with a different duration, pitch, shape, gate length, and step sequence value every time that it plays. You can modulate each Lane’s start, end, and loop points separately for every note, using velocity, LFOs, envelopes, Mod Knobs, or other controllers. Each note in a chord can be playing something different! Lanes can also randomize the step order every time they play, with realtime control over the range of included steps. Finally, individual steps can be randomly skipped, with a modulatable probability from 0 to 100%. The result is organic, ever-changing sounds that respond to your control. The four onboard arpeggiators can interact with Wave Sequences for even more possibilities.
Easily expressive. Exceptionally deep.
Bursting with knobs and controllers, the wavestate invites you to explore. All of the basics–filter, envelopes, LFOs, effects–are at your fingertips with dedicated front-panel controls. Eight programmable Mod Knobs are customized to bring out the most in every sound, often taking them in entirely new directions. Use the knobs in realtime performance, and also save the results as new sounds. Add in the Pitch Bend and Modulation Wheels and the unique Vector Joystick, and you’ll always have multiple dimensions of realtime expression.
Want to dig deeper? Almost all front-panel knobs, and most on-screen parameters, can be modulated. You can even modulate settings for individual Wave Sequence Steps! Mod Processors let you transform modulation signals using quantization, smoothing, curvature, and more.
Randomization that inspires.
Looking for even more inspiration? A dedicated front-panel button, marked by a “dice” icon, generates new sounds via intelligent randomization. Randomize the entire sound or just a part of it, such as the filter, the Sample Lane, or the effects. Use the results directly, or as a jumping-off point for your own creations.
Ample samples. 64 stereo voices.
Totaling in the gigabytes, the wavestate’s sample library is more than a thousand times larger than that of the original Wavestation. That’s a lot of great-sounding raw material for Wave Sequences. There’s a bank of samples from Plugin Guru, brand-new samples from KORG, and a selection from the Kronos and Krome libraries. Of course, KORG also provides all of the Wavestation’s samples (including all options), plus a huge library of Wavestation Wave Sequences. Play up to 64 stereo voices with pristine clarity, using KORG’s proprietary anti-aliasing sample playback technology.
Choose your filter.
Add vintage character to your sounds with the aggressive MS-20 Lowpass or Highpass filters, or the strong, sweet Polysix Lowpass. Shape and refine with a full collection of resonant 2-pole and 4-pole Lowpass, Highpass, Bandpass, and Band Reject filters. Or, step outside the box with KORG’s unique Multi Filter, which creates modulatable blends of multiple modes simultaneously.
Multiply by four.
With all of that synthesis power, you might think the wavestate would play only one sound at a time. Not a chance. For even more rich and complex results, layer up to four Programs together in a Performance–each with their own effects and arpeggiator. The Vector Envelope and Joystick mix the individual voices of the four Layers, and can also modulate any other parameters.
An arsenal of effects.
The wavestate’s superb effects deliver production-ready sounds. Each Layer has three dedicated effects; additionally, the Performance has a master reverb and parametric EQ. Along with standards such as compressors, EQs, choruses, flangers, phasers, and stereo delays, you’ll find distinctive processors such as the Wave Shaper, Talking Modulator, Reverse Delay, Multiband Mod Delay, and Overb (from the OASYS), plus modeled effects including VOX guitar amps, VOX wah, multi-head tape echo, and a collection of classic guitar pedals.
Set Lists and Smooth Sound Transitions.
Set Lists offer effortless organization of your wavestate Performances, and deliver instant access at the gig or in rehearsal. Smooth Sound Transitions allow previously-played voices and effects to continue to ring out naturally, even once a new sound has been selected.
Plays well with others.
Balanced stereo outputs connect to any recording or monitoring system, and a stereo headphone output is provided for private playing or onstage cueing. Din-style MIDI jacks ensure connection to other MIDI-equipped instruments and audio gear. The wavestate supports class-compliant USB MIDI connections to Windows and Mac computers, and the wavestate librarian program is available as free download from KORG.
Designed by KORG R&D in California.
KORG R&D created the original Wavestation, co-created the OASYS and Kronos, and has developed fundamental technologies behind many other KORG instruments. The wavestate reflects their unique aesthetic, delivering stunning sound and deep flexibility via cutting-edge technologies. Three of the key sound designers from the original Wavestation, John Bowen, John “Skippy” Lehmkuhl (Plugin Guru), and Peter “Ski” Schwartz, joined Belgian artist Airwave and the renowned KORG voicing team to create the incredible wavestate sound library.
Wavestate SSP £ 699.00 inc VAT
The opsix represents a new and expansive reimagination of classic digital synthesis. Much like KORG did when bringing wave sequencing back in a more powerful, more musical, and more immediately accessible way with wavestate, so was the approach to FM sound generation of the opsix, resulting in another incredibly flexible and unique synth.
The opsix is an “altered” six-operator FM synthesizer. With its astoundingly accessible operator mixer and flexible sound engine that goes well beyond traditional FM, this instrument widens the potential of digital synthesizers to their utmost.
The opsix is an instrument for players of all generations—modern in every way, getting back to the basics to offer you a glimpse of the future. Whether you are new to synths, looking for a completely unique addition to your sound palate, or an original FM purist, opsix will deliver on all expectations and more.
- True six-operator FM synthesis, and more
- FM exploration, easier than ever
- Full editing with the DATA ENTRY rotary encoders
- Five operator modes that expand FM synthesis
- 40 preset algorithms and user algorithms
- Three EGs, three LFOs and 12 virtual patches offer an extensive range of modulation.
- Eleven powerful filters, including MS-20 and Polysix.
- Up to three simultaneous high-definition effects, 30 types
- Visually-satisfying editing with a spectrum analyzer and oscilloscope.
- Powerful 16-step polyphonic sequencer
- Add unpredictability to sounds with the Randomize feature
- Favorite and smooth sound transition (SST) functions.
- Compact design featuring a 37-key keyboard.
True six-operator FM synthesis, and more
The opsix is a new digital synthesizer that features our newly designed six-operator sound generator. Although the instrument has a six-operator FM sound structure like classic FM synthesizers, the opsix doesn’t just reproduce their sounds—it totally reimagines them! With a diversity of waveforms, operator modes that go beyond the realm of FM, and a filter that brings together a fusion of subtractive synthesis, opsix tames complexities of FM so that you can focus on exploring sounds instead of programming them. Simply put, opsix offers the editing simplicity of analog synths to control the power of arguably the deepest type of digital synthesis.
FM exploration, easier than ever
Musicians today use hardware-based digital synthesizers to achieve a level of operability that just cannot be found with software-based instruments. The six sets of knobs and sliders on the opsix panel, as well as the operator mixer, are symbolic of this fact. KORG’s volca FM was the first FM reimagination that helped to bring the most dynamic parameters of FM to the surface, and we expand upon that with opsix’s workflow.
The knobs and sliders with two-colored LEDs on the opsix let you quickly and clearly see the relationships between operators, whose roles change with each algorithm. This lets you make direct changes to the pitch and volume for carriers, and to the brightness of the sound or the strength of the harmonics for the modulators. These controls give you sonic control over the unpredictability of FM just by subtracting and adding sounds as if you were using a mixer or drawbars!
Full editing with the DATA ENTRY knobs
To add to the six operator mixers, the opsix features several knobs on the right side of the panel. Use the six DATA ENTRY knobs for full editing without minimizing or summarizing any information. Taking a look at these controls, you might think back to the days when traditional FM synths were more difficult to operate. Back then, you had to move through massive numbers of pages, and couldn’t figure out where you were in the overall scheme of things. Rest easy—with the opsix, we’ve taken away these worries. You can now edit without getting lost, thanks to the combination of six graphical parameters on the large OLED display at the center, and the rotary encoders.
The HOME/ALGO page is the starting page for everything on the opsix, and features major parameters including algorithms, EGs, and effects. Use this page with the operator mixer to get started with everything you need to do.
Five operator modes that expand FM synthesis
Of course, the opsix is a collection of everything appealing about FM synthesis… but that’s not all. Aside from sine waves, the opsix offers an expanded list of diverse waveforms in pursuit of sounds with even more complex harmonics, which can also be used as a subtractive synth offering simple filtering.
Operator modes on the opsix are used to generate sounds that are completely outside what a traditional FM sound generator can make. The operator modes let you create sounds using modulation other than FM. The opsix offers you a much wider range of sound creation, letting you combine the five operator modes (FM, ring modulation, filter, filter FM and wavefolder) and select from a wide range of waveforms.
40 preset algorithms and user algorithms
An algorithm is a combination of different operator roles and connections. The opsix goes far beyond classic FM synthesizers by offering 40 preset algorithms and then goes on to offer a user algorithm function for exponentially greater sound possibilities which lets you construct and arrange an algorithm from scratch.
Wide range of modulation
The synthesis offered by the opsix is made even more powerful with the processors that come at the end of the signal chain. The MOD section works separate from the operators, with three EGs and three LFOs; and 12 virtual patches make a wide variety of routing possible. Use these features for a huge range of modulation to create swelling or add rapid motion to your sounds.
In contrast to FM, the FILTER section follows your creation of sounds by offering analog synthesizer-like subtractive synthesis. Select from a full range of filters you want to use, from the radical MS-20 low-pass/high-pass filter, to the powerful yet soft Polysix low-pass filter that gives your sound a “vintage” feel; as well as two- or four-pole low-pass, high-pass, band-pass and band reject filters with resonance.
A treasure-trove of effects
The high-definition effects you’ll find on the opsix can be used right away in recording. The instrument offers Up to three simultaneous high-definition effects with 30 types available. From standard effects like a compressor, EQ, chorus, flanger, phaser and stereo delay, to distinctive effects like rotary speakers, grain shifters and more… as well as shimmering reverbs, the effects add a new dimensions to the already awesome sounds.
Spectrum analyzer and oscilloscope
The analyzer built into the opsix is a must-have feature for visualizing FM synthesis. It shows output levels for each frequency band, so that you can see the distribution and changes to the harmonics at a glance that are caused by modulation. The opsix also features a built-in oscilloscope that lets you check the output waveforms. The colorful changes to the sound and visual feedback are sure to draw you into a deep “synthesizer vortex”!
Powerful 16-step polyphonic sequencer
The 16 buttons on the bottom right-hand part of the panel glow green with the colors that evoke FM synths, while providing you with a multipurpose 16-step sequencer. With this onboard polyphonic note sequencer, you can record up to six notes per step, and edit the velocity, gate time and playback timing for each note. This lets you create long phrases or make subtle shifts in timing to emulate strums or drum rolls, something that’s not possible on a typical 16-step sequencer. Also, the motion sequencer of the opsix lets you record changes of up to six parameters, creating smooth motion changes in sound within a phrase, or building rhythms that change dramatically with each step.
While the opsix has an easy-to-use 37-note keyboard, it also features a sequencer that rivals that of grooveboxes. Just press the PLAY button—you’ll be floored by the power that this sequencer lets you unleash.
Add unpredictability to sounds with the Randomize feature
Use the Randomize feature as found on the wavestate if you’re in the mood for unexpected sonic discoveries. Press the button marked with the die icon to generate a newly randomized sound. You can use the Randomize feature for the entire sound, or just for the operators, the algorithm or the sequences. Use the randomized sounds as-is or edit them as you like—the sky’s the limit.
Free bundle of music software
The opsix comes with a diverse variety of music software from Izotope including “Ozone Elements” which lets you not only create songs but also master them using AI, “Skoove” which will help you improve your keyboard playing skills, “Reason Lite” DAW software, as well as software synths from KORG and other brands.
opsix SSP £699.00