Jump to content


Please note: You can easily log in to MPN using your Facebook account!

Virtual Analog - KingKORG or Novation Ultranova...?


iluvchiclets

Recommended Posts

Hi all,

 

I recently have become fascinated by virtual analog keyboards. For many years now, the benchmark I used to evaluate keyboards was how good their pianos, EPs, and organs sounded. Suddenly now I'm all, "Oooo...oscillators, filters, drifting...!"

 

So I bought an Alesis Micron and a Roland SH-01 GAIA, both of which I am enjoying very much. But now I need more!

 

I am waiting for the release of the Roland JD-Xi, so that I can compare it to the Novation Mininova. I thought either of them would be a nice addition to what I have for not a lot of money, but I would prefer large keys. In the meantime, I have begun to research the Ultranova and the Korg KingKORG. I live in Ontario, and the KingKORG seems to be selling for $799 now (a sure bet that Korg is dropping the product?) so I am comparing it with another full-size key offering - Ultranova.

 

Any users have any opinions about these two synths? I really enjoy both of them when I play them - the KingKORG has such a beautiful sound to it. (Not crazy about the reverb for some reason...) The Ultranova sounds huge too, just was curious if there were any reasons one should go with one or the other? Any features one is missing?

 

Thanks in advance for any opinions...

Electro 5, NI Kontrol S61/49, MX49, PC3, Rev2, Prologue, Pro3, Juno-DS, Mopho Keys, SE02, drums, tons of synth software, guitars, amps, and pedals...help me!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites



  • Replies 55
  • Created
  • Last Reply

If you enjoy the Korg then go for it. The only thing bad I can say about the Korg is the physical feel of the hardware. It sounds pretty buttery. I just don't like the build and keys.

 

I really want to like the Sledge 2. I like the form and it is now 24 voice and it is 61 keys with aftertouch. I especially like the way the mixer section is laid out like a Moog but have not messed with one and the demos don't blow me away. Maybe some of the guys with hands on experience with the Sledge will post.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lots of variety in the VA world. Are you into sound design? I think the biggest factor here is that if you are not, you want a machine with killer patch library and large user base that's into sharing their patches. If you are into designing sound... some things to look for are...

 

Sound quality - which depending on the programming may or may not be related to the sample and bit rate of the device

Polyphony?

# of oscillators and types

# of filters and types

# of modulation sources and destinations - general flexibility in routing

# of chainable FX

Does it have an Arp?

Does it have a Sequencer?

# of controllers available and freedom of assignability

After touch? Poly or Mono?

 

Other hardware options.

Nord Lead 4

 

Blofeld

 

Bass Station II

 

And the mothership... the Virus TI Keyboard

 

But then of course you have to keep in mind that some of the best VA work is being done in software as standalone and VST/AU/AAX etc. So you might want to look into controllers and a laptop/audio interface as well.

 

 

 

Yamaha CP88, Casio PX-560

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks to both of you for answering,

 

That Sledge 2 does look interesting...I don't think I have seen one of those before? I noted it said street price around $1000...that probably means $1100 CAD. Starting to get way out of hand considering I already own a Krome, MOX6, and others... Maybe I'll see a Sledge "1" for 2nd hand cheap?

 

It really is all about $$ as well - I have not ruled out owning a Mininova or even a Microkorg!

 

ElmerJFudd: I do own Komplete 8, and I can spend a whole afternoon playing with Massive and Reaktor. They are quite stunning programs! My problem is I find whenever I am in front of a computer (or holding a mouse) I feel kinf of sterile inside. I don't know what it is!? I really should feel quite fulfilled when I use all my VSTs and Native Instruments stuff, but I am always looking for hardware. I have just come to accept I might have a bit of both hardware and software.

 

I am leaning a bit towards the Ultranova as I see quite a few of those used at a good price, and I can't find anyone who has owned a kingKORG?

 

I appreciate what you are saying - I do like instantly satisfying patches, but I am not adverse to doing some twiddling of knobs. And I would like something I can grow into...

Electro 5, NI Kontrol S61/49, MX49, PC3, Rev2, Prologue, Pro3, Juno-DS, Mopho Keys, SE02, drums, tons of synth software, guitars, amps, and pedals...help me!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

FWIW Sledge 1 becomes a Sledge 2 minus the sampling license via a free firmware download.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't own either of these instruments, but I've played both of them. Like CEB I have my doubts about the King Korg interface, but I have absolutely no doubt about the sonic quality of the DSP. The thing doesn't alias. The modeled filters are solid.

 

I don't feel quite the same way about the sonics of the Ultranova, when you pull the effects off there is a tiny bit of aliasing. The filter sweeps sound more modern. But the sweet spot in the instrument is huge. The modulation parameters are extensive. The effects have a lot of variety and power.

 

If I was doing some modern dance music, I would lean toward the UltraNova. If I was channeling a more vintage vibe ... I'd head to the King Korg. Hoping this helps.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There's a lot to like about both the UltraNova and KingKorg. If you can't demo both then watch all the reviews and demos you can so you can hear the differences. Some big differences feature wise: UltraNova has aftertouch and a built-in audio interface, the KK does not. The King Korg can do 2 sounds, split or layered -- the Nova can only produce one sound at a time.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I demo'd the King Korg a couple days ago at Sam Ash in Long Island. It does sound good and warm and vintage for sure, but I also have to agree with CEB about the build quality being somewhat sub-par. I would suggest tinkering around a bit more with your Micron, and if you really like the sound, just upgrade to a used Ion where you get 49 keys and a full array of knobs. It is essentially the same synth engine, minus the reverb, delay, and step sequencer. To this day, this remains one of the best VA engines for emulating vintage analogs. It has numerous filters specifically modeled after Moogs, Oberheims, Jupiter, ARP, and so on. But then I don't know if the vintage vibe is what you're after, or if you want a more modern EDM sound.
Kurzweil PC3, Yamaha MOX8, Alesis Ion, Kawai K3M
Link to comment
Share on other sites

For what it is worth .... If you still have the Gaia I would pass on the UltraNova. I am not saying the UltraNova is not better.

 

If you really want more I don't think you are getting all that more for your money. I would put off buying another new sub $1000 synth until you can put together enough scratch to get something closer to what you really want. A KingKorg is still cool if you like the hardware since it is a different sounding beast than what you have. Or maybe a used Prophet 08 or used Nord Lead or used V-Synth or new Mopho X4 etc.....

 

I just don't think you are getting all that much more over what you already have with an UltraNova. If you were one of my buddies I would tell to hold off until you could make a serious jump in hardware whether it is a mono or a poly or VA or real analog.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I recently have become fascinated by virtual analog keyboards...

 

Thanks in advance for any opinions...

 

I think I might get secret double-banninated for this. But here's my contrary opinion:

 

Don't buy anything.

 

Like Brian Eno once did, consider the gear you own right now to be the extent of your palette of colors, and explore them more. Make great music with what you have.

 

Long story short, I committed to no new gear purchases in 2014 and it was the most fruitful time of growth for me as a player in many, many years. Your new love for analog may yield more fruit in the long run from not buying any more, at least at the present time.

 

 

..
Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's a huge price drop from $1600 to $799 for the KingKorg, at first I thought it was a typo until I checked myself. But that's only at one store - L&M, everywhere else in Canada it still sells for $1600 and in the US for $1300, so it's a heck of a deal. Ultranova has much nicer keys though.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks - you have all given me some points to think about.

 

Tusker wrote:

If I was doing some modern dance music, I would lean toward the UltraNova. If I was channeling a more vintage vibe ... I'd head to the King Korg.

This is very interesting...I had not thought in terms of vintage vs. modern. Definitely my interest is in older sounds (Herbie Hancock, Bob James, Boards of Canada "Vibe") although I thought any keyboard should be able to to any style, no? A square wave is a square wave.

I think what appealed to me about the Micron and the KK is the gorgeous sound that was instantly coming out of it - as opposed to a lot of the patches on the GAIA which were quite bombastic and edgy! I am determined to make that GAIA sound like I want it to...but it does bring up the point as to whether a certain brand lends itself to a certain genre or not. I don't think this should be the case, if they are doing VA properly, no?

 

Thank you DulceLabs.com for pointing out that the KK is multi-timbral. Having 3 oscillators running at the same time should be enough for me, but it is a point I am now considering.

 

synthizen2 wrote:

just upgrade to a used Ion where you get 49 keys and a full array of knobs.

Yes, I might! The minute I started playing the Micron, I was quite blown away. I can't believe I have seen this keyboard so many times in the past and just dismissed it. Right away I went looking through Kijiji for used Ions, but my recollection is I have not seen any before. I think they might be hard to find now?

I would jump on one of those in a heartbeat...but as I wrote above, should not my GAIA be able to do the same thing? What is different between the two? They both have lots of different waveform and filter options.

 

CEB and timwat your opinions are very welcomed. A very nice sentiment - maybe I should not buy anything, and just learn on what I have. I am going to give all my keyboards a good "analog" workout when I get some time off work, and really enjoy what I have. Being a hobbyist, I really am quite lucky to own what I do.

 

There is an 2nd hand Ultranova near-by for $350 which is what is tempting me...

 

 

Electro 5, NI Kontrol S61/49, MX49, PC3, Rev2, Prologue, Pro3, Juno-DS, Mopho Keys, SE02, drums, tons of synth software, guitars, amps, and pedals...help me!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey gg22,

 

I don't often read people's gear lists (maybe I should?) but I just noticed you have an Ultranova. How do you like it? Have you had a chance to play the KingKORG, and any comparative feelings?

 

 

Electro 5, NI Kontrol S61/49, MX49, PC3, Rev2, Prologue, Pro3, Juno-DS, Mopho Keys, SE02, drums, tons of synth software, guitars, amps, and pedals...help me!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Street price on the Sledge 2 will be 899.00. The Canadian dollar seems to be falling, so that still translates to about 1125.00 Canadian.

 

I am anxiously awaiting the Sledge, myself. I watched several videos - including Geoff Downes using one in Yes, and love the sound. I too have recently been bitten by the VA bug, and was kinda holding out for a Supernova II, but then the NAMM show had this, and it seems to do everything right. Just waiting to try out the actual keybed.

 

..Joe

Setup: Korg Kronos 61, Roland XV-88, Korg Triton-Rack, Motif-Rack, Korg N1r, Alesis QSR, Roland M-GS64 Yamaha KX-88, KX76, Roland Super-JX, E-Mu Longboard 61, Kawai K1II, Kawai K4.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi all,

 

I recently have become fascinated by virtual analog keyboards. For many years now, the benchmark I used to evaluate keyboards was how good their pianos, EPs, and organs sounded. Suddenly now I'm all, "Oooo...oscillators, filters, drifting...!"

 

Haha, same with me.

So i bought a Nordlead A1.

Ooh, that patch number B37, i can't stop playing it...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I thought any keyboard should be able to to any style, no? A square wave is a square wave.

 

...but it does bring up the point as to whether a certain brand lends itself to a certain genre or not. I don't think this should be the case, if they are doing VA properly, no?

In my experience, nowadays we have gotten to a point where almost any board can do almost any style, but certain brands still lend themselves to (or in some cases, define the sound of) certain styles. It all depends on how demanding or how creative the performer is.

 

All self-respecting synths have a saw wave and a square wave, LPF and HPF etc. However for example my JUNO-G cannot do a proper Emerson-ish lead, because the characteristic of the filter sounds nothing like a Moog, and the portamento is limited to 2 octaves. The Nord Stage on the other hand can only do 2 synth sounds at once, so it cannot do the multi-layered over the top church organ+strings+brass+choir+synthpad stuff required in, say, symphonic metal. And neither of them can synthesize a proper FM EP used all over 80s pop.

Life is subtractive.
Genres: Jazz, funk, pop, Christian worship, BebHop
Wishlist: 80s-ish (synth)pop, symph pop, prog rock, fusion, musical theatre
Gear: NS2 + JUNO-G. KingKORG. SP6 at church.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This thread is timed perfectly for me. I have a student who is looking to buy his first synth. I gave him some free software like the MiniMogue, and while he likes the sound, he hates to work with software. I can't blame him... until now, he has practiced with the MEK at my place, with its 60 or so rotary knobs...

 

So I came up with a list of VAs with both a good physical interface and good features. I came up with KingKorg, Ultranova and Nord Lead 3. (The 4 is a bit over his budget)

 

And guess what.... none of the three is a perfect match. All of them sound good in my opinion, but Nord Lead lacks effects, Ultranova lacks knobs and key range, and KingKorg... well, it just feels a bit cheap, especially the keybed.

 

I also considered the Sledge, but I find that it sounds a bit too aggressive for the kind of music he's interested in - Eno-style ambient. Of course he will need good effects for that too, but I hope he will come to terms with software by then...

I was tempted to mention the Alesis Ion too, which has a great interface and great features, but 1) it doesn't sound great to my ears, 2) again, no effects, and 3) I have used two of them at school for the past six years, and both were just unreliable.

 

So all things considered, maybe the KingKorg is the best choice for this psticular task. I just hope that it won't break after some time.

 

Just thinking out loud. :)

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

the Nova doesn't have a lot of knobs, but you can assign any parameter to any knobs, per program. Plus you can assign them in the Touch mode to do other parameter changes.

Live: Korg Kronos 2 88, Nord Electro 5d Nord Lead A1

Toys: Roland FA08, Novation Ultranova, Moog LP, Roland SP-404SX, Roland JX10,Emu MK6

www.bksband.com

www.echoesrocks.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I thought any keyboard should be able to to any style, no? A square wave is a square wave.

 

...but it does bring up the point as to whether a certain brand lends itself to a certain genre or not. I don't think this should be the case, if they are doing VA properly, no?

In my experience, nowadays we have gotten to a point where almost any board can do almost any style, but certain brands still lend themselves to (or in some cases, define the sound of) certain styles. It all depends on how demanding or how creative the performer is.

 

All self-respecting synths have a saw wave and a square wave, LPF and HPF etc. ..........

 

Filters are different. They have different characters. On board effects can vari a lot also. Some boards emulate multiple saws using a single saw oscillator and sounds thick and some just sound like a chainsaw which can be cool for some really aggressive tones. Some synths are geared more toward different styles. One reason I like the Gaia is it is geared toward a lot of the Lady Gaga stuff. Both Kern Brantly and Brockett Parsons used the Gaia on the Monster Ball tour. But Lucky Man sort of sounds like ass played on the Gaia. :D

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Definitely my interest is in older sounds (Herbie Hancock, Bob James, Boards of Canada "Vibe") although I thought any keyboard should be able to to any style, no? A square wave is a square wave.

 

The KK and UltraNova are quite different in design philosophy. As CEB pointed out, the filters give a lot of the flavor. At one end of the spectrum you have VA synths which have their "own " character and at the other, you have VA's which emulate a particular analog synth, or specific synth components.

 

The Nords, Gaia, UltraNova set out to emulate analog synths in general, which an occasional gentle nod to a particular topology (for example the moog ladder filter). By contrast, the Alesis Ion and KK are actually setting out to model specific filters from specific synths. One of the better models in the KK is the MS20 filter, which is celebrated for shrieking like a banshee and is great for processing drums, arps, or even full mixes ... even though it may not be your favorite filter for a fat saw lead ...

 

[video:youtube]I4teEKOFEOk

 

... however, the other filters are quite beautifully modeled also ...

 

[video:youtube]sZ3SX2Qtug0

 

While the Ultranova does not aim at this precise level of emulation of vintage character ... it does provide a lot of modulation and effects which are desirable for modern electronic music.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I recently have become fascinated by virtual analog keyboards...

 

Thanks in advance for any opinions...

I think I might get secret double-banninated for this. But here's my contrary opinion:

 

Don't buy anything.

 

Like Brian Eno once did, consider the gear you own right now to be the extent of your palette of colors, and explore them more. Make great music with what you have.

 

Long story short, I committed to no new gear purchases in 2014 and it was the most fruitful time of growth for me as a player in many, many years. Your new love for analog may yield more fruit in the long run from not buying any more, at least at the present time.

At the risk of being double-banninated along with you, I wholeheartedly agree! It's easy to forget that some of the greatest music around with sounds we venerate today was made with instruments that couldn't do a fraction of what today's equipment can do.

 

While it is true that it can be really hard (in some cases impossible) to emulate certain "signature" synthesizer sounds on a given piece of gear, just trying to get there will force you to thoroughly learn your instrument's capabilities from top to bottom. And the results can be surprising. Who would have thought, for instance, that a particular famous sound created by Vangelis on a Yamaha CS-80 for the Blade Runner soundtrack could be emulated quite closely by Casio's XW-P1? Yet Mike Martin did just

.

 

More to the OP's point, while the GAIA isn't the smoothest "VA" around (if you relax the definition of a VA to allow single-cycle PCM waveforms), it CAN produce some very analogish sounds as attested by multiple YouTube videos. The same is true of the Alesis Micron. Here's an example of the latter:

 

[video:youtube]

 

Definitely my interest is in older sounds (Herbie Hancock, Bob James, Boards of Canada "Vibe")

I know I'm really getting old when Boards of Canada is an example of an "older sound"!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I recently have become fascinated by virtual analog keyboards. For many years now, the benchmark I used to evaluate keyboards was how good their pianos, EPs, and organs sounded. Suddenly now I'm all, "Oooo...oscillators, filters, drifting...!"

 

You could take the suggestion to get nothing new, and explore more deeply the VA's you have. Sometimes that's a good approach to gear, but not always :D.

So considering your fascination with things VA, I'll throw my recent acquisition into the ring: Waldorf Blofeld. I have the module, but it's available in a keyboard as well. This one is definitely worth a listen; it's quite a chameleon.

'Someday, we'll look back on these days and laugh; likely a maniacal laugh from our padded cells, but a laugh nonetheless' - Mr. Boffo.

 

We need a barfing cat emoticon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Timwat is on the mark: don't buy anything, heh. At least don't let your premature GAS exceed the gains. Instead, roam around the user groups and try out a few newer patch sets first. There is always the factory base set, the secondary sets you (hopefully) personalize from those, possible added sets from the makers and unexpected goods from other fans. I've found many useful new voices this way. Most any synth is much larger inside than you might think at first listen. Try enhancing your existing gear vertically before you add another instrument. You could easily A) decide you have enough power in-hand, for a while, anyway and/or B) learn a few things that lead you to a better next purchase. Its also a good way to save up for a next-tier instrument. If you play a Kronos after playing the KingKORG, you'll feel a clear line between a sports car and an old Gremlin with blown seals.

 

 

 

 

"Whatever you now find weird, ugly, uncomfortable and nasty about a new medium

  will surely become its signature.

 CD distortion, the jitteriness of digital video, the crap sound of 8-bit –

   all of these will be cherished and emulated as soon as they can be avoided."
      ~ Brian Eno, 1996

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks all!

 

CEB - I think I'm starting to get it now - a lot of it has to do with the different filters that keyboards offer. Probably why my Micron sounds different than my Gaia.

 

thisspaceforrent and David Emm - I appreciate what you are saying. I might just cool it for a bit. I have no doubt my Micron is pretty amazing (I do love that video you posted!), but I can't help looking at that Ultranova for such a nice price ($349) Yeah, Boards of Canada isn't old by any means, but their sound sure is a throw-back! :)

 

allan evett - I keep reading about the Waldorf! I wish I could find one to try. I will keep my eyes open for that one as well.

 

 

Electro 5, NI Kontrol S61/49, MX49, PC3, Rev2, Prologue, Pro3, Juno-DS, Mopho Keys, SE02, drums, tons of synth software, guitars, amps, and pedals...help me!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If the GAS is simply too strong, another suggestion is to wait to see what the Roland JD-Xa is like.

 

Wow - I have been watching that JD-Xi...now I discover the JD-XA?!

 

I think my head's going to melt...

Electro 5, NI Kontrol S61/49, MX49, PC3, Rev2, Prologue, Pro3, Juno-DS, Mopho Keys, SE02, drums, tons of synth software, guitars, amps, and pedals...help me!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If the GAS is simply too strong, another suggestion is to wait to see what the Roland JD-Xa is like.

 

Wow - I have been watching that JD-Xi...now I discover the JD-XA?!

 

I think my head's going to melt...

We just might see it shown at Musikmesse in a couple of weeks. If not actually announced for release then at least an actual working prototype. What Roland showed at NAMM was just a physical mockup. It didn't even have I/O connectors so there most likely wasn't any electronics in it beyond whatever was necessary to get the LEDs on the panel to light up.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey gg22,

 

I don't often read people's gear lists (maybe I should?) but I just noticed you have an Ultranova. How do you like it? Have you had a chance to play the KingKORG, and any comparative feelings?

 

 

Initially I was just looking for a compact synth action MIDI controller with aftertouch, but the choice is limited and when I saw a good deal on Ultranova I bought it just for the keys. Internal sounds are just a nice bonus for me - but so far I was able to recreate almost any sound I needed pretty close, and I didn't even have time to learn in more depth how to program it.

For $350 it's a steal, has a nice software editor, and there are many patches you can download from the Novation website.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I love the way the King Korg sounds and think the tube preamp is well implemented. It would drive me insane to have those sorts of sounds under my fingertips with no aftertouch to modulate them.

 

Personally I'm very partial to the Yamaha AN1X and its PLG150 AN cousins.

 

[video:youtube]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...