Category Archives: Kronos

Famous Synth Sounds Vol.1

William Busch has (re)created a whole bunch of synth sounds for the Korg Kronos, as heard in popular compositions during the last decades. The sounds have been taken from various genres, e.g. Rock (ELP, The Who etc.), or Jazz/Fusion/World Music (Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Joe Zawinul etc.). Don’t miss the demo track provided on the download page.

All credits to William. Thanks for the excellent service.

Korg Kronos AL-1 engine – Waveform Phase Randomisation

The AL-1 engine of the Kronos features a parameter to define the phase of its waveforms. Besides the range of -180 through 180°, a »Random« value is provided. This neat feature reminds me of my first real synthesizer, the Waldorf Microwave I, which featured a similar parameter called »Startsample« (page 3-13 of the programming manual).

In case two oscillators are used, the different shift at each key press causes some phase cancellation effect, so every note sounds a bit different, breathing life into a sound’s soul. However, this effect is not always desirable. Especially sounds with little partials can become almost silent at some keypresses. Sounds with lots of partials, however, clearly benefit from this setting.

Since fulfilled wishes trigger new ones, I’d like to see two more parameters, so that one can define a range within the randomisation takes place. But that’s the cherry on top. I’m content with the cake already :) .

The Kronos’ MOD-7 engine provides a further parameter called »Free Run«. This emulates the behaviour of old analogue style synths where the oscillators are running constantly. Thus the phase at each key press was also “Random”, but the deviation between two key strokes is much less (and thus much more subtle) than with the »Random« value.

Anyway, I always thought that the AL-1 sounds a bit too static and digital. Detecting this parameter changed things a lot and made my day respectively eve :) .

Der Notenanzeiger

Nachdem ich auf dem Konzert am Samstag von der Chaconne in F Moll von Johann Pachelbel sehr angetan war, habe ich mir über das International Music Score Library Project (kurz IMSLP) die Noten als PDF besorgt.

Nachdem ich keinen (einsatzfähigen) Drucker unterhalte, wollte ich erst den Rechnerbildschirm hinter den Kronos stellen. Aber zum “Umblättern” hätte ich jedesmal umständlich zur Maus greifen müssen.

Informationen im Web zufolge verwenden inzwischen einige Musiker Tablets, um Noten anzuzeigen. Allerdings ist die Notendarstellung auf den 10,1 Zoll des Transformer 101 hochkant deutlich zu klein.

Im Querformat geht es eben so mit dem Notenlesen. Allerdings kann man so immer nur eine halbe Seite darstellen. Während dem Spielen alle paar Takte mit dem Finger auf dem Bildschirm zu scrollen ist leider nicht ganz praktikabel.

Abhilfe schafft spezielle Software wie die kostenlose Version von MobileSheets. Zum Vorwärtsblättern genügt es, den Bildschirm zu berühren. Die Software stellt dabei sicher, dass die Notenzeilen immer komplett sichtbar (und nicht etwa abgeschnitten) dargestellt werden. Sehr schön. Allerdings müssen die Noten, die ich via ownCloud zwischen Schreibtischrechner und Tablett synchron halte, zuerst in die Datenbank von MobileSheets importiert werden. Für einzelne PDF-Dateien sicher machbar, aber ich habe mir noch nicht angesehen, wie gut das Ganze mit einer größeren Sammlung vonstatten geht. Schön ist, dass man die Noten anschließend noch mit Notizen anreichern kann. Dieses Feature habe ich allerdings noch nicht ausprobiert. Ob es wirklich Papier und Bleistift ersetzen kann, muss ich also erst noch herausfinden.

In der Praxis passiert es mir häufig, dass der Bildschirm zwar kurz berührt, das Gerät aber noch nicht zum Umblättern animiert wird. Abhilfe könnte ein Pedal schaffen, das das Umblättern auslöst. Auf Zubersoft.com finden sich Hinweise auf passende Pedale, die über eine USB-Steckverbindung (BiliPro page turner) oder Bluetooth (Airturn BT-105 oder Cicada PageFlip) gekoppelt werden können. Letztere haben bauartbedingt den Nachteil, dass man stets für geladene Akkus sorgen muss.

Das gilt allerdings auch für das Notenanzeigegerät selbst. Sowas möchte man jedenfalls nicht während des Spielens (und schon gar nicht während eines Konzertes) auf dem Display sehen :) :

Nach wie vor wäre mir ein etwas größeres Gerät, das eine DIN A4-Seite komplett anzeigen kann, lieber. Größere Tablets, wie das DIN A3-große namenlose Gerät von Panasonic oder das Dell XPS 18, stehen bereits oder demnächst zur Verfügung, sind aber sicher nicht als Schnäppchen zu bekommen.

Mit dem Arnova Familie Pad von Archos steht ein etwas leisstungsschwächeres 13 Zoll- Gerät mit einer HD-Auflösung von 1280×800 Pixeln zur Verfügung. Allerdings sind hier neu noch immer 270 und gebraucht 200 € fällig. Nur weil ich ausnahmsweise mal ein klassisches Stück spiele lohnt sich das sicher nicht, zumal man dann auch noch in eine stabile Halterung wie den König & Meyer 19740 Tablet PC Halter investieren sollte.

Fazit: Das perfekte digitale Notenanzeigegerät zum kleinen Preis und mit ich-muss-nicht-nachdenken-Akkulaufzeit gibt es derzeit nicht. Ich sollte wohl die Noten einfach wieder auf Papier drucken. Aber das wäre ja einfach, praktisch, zielführend und, wie soll ich sagen, eben nicht zeitgemäß :) .

Running »Audio Tools« on a Mac – Oscilloscope

Audiotools oscilloscope

Audiotools oscilloscope

Audio Tools is a set of open source tools including an Audio Signal Generator, two Audio Level Measuring Sets and, what I was after, an Audio Oscilloscope. The depiction above shows a simple pulse wave where the pusewidth is set to 50%, why this one is also called a square wave.

The oscillators of the AL-1 analog modeling engine of the Korg Kronos features a couple of interesting parameters. One of them is named »Edge«, which adds partial tones to the sound. In the oscilloscope, those appear as spikes at the edges:

Squarewave with spiky edges

Squarewave with spiky edges

A nice tool for some late saturday night synth programming session. I do not really need it, but it’s fun to visualize the sounds anyway :) .

Self-Jamming workflow for the Korg Kronos

Qui Robinez is sharing free soundsets for a couple of synthesizers, including the Kronos. Additionally he has uploaded a couple of tutorial videos.

The Kronos is a music workstation, supporting a couple of workflows. In this video Qui shows how to convert a Combination to a song, how to loop portions of tracks, and how to import a program into the song, including its effects settings.

Hint: When trying to loop tracks, ensure that the song’s length is set to more bars than the loop length. Otherwise there won’t be much effect :) .

RPPR

RPPR stands for »Realtime Pattern Play Recording«. It is a feature of sequencers as found in some Korg workstations (AFAIK the M3, M50, Triton, OASYS, Kronos etc.). The user can record musical patterns. It is subsequently possible to assign those to keys of the keybed for single finger playback. That’s not what I’m after. But the patterns can be read from respectively converted to Drum Track Patterns. Those can be used in program and combination mode for accompaniment. Hence my interest :) .

Korg put a video online outlining RPPR. To convert a RPPR pattern to a drum track pattern, just use the command »Convert to drum track pattern« from the menu of the »Pattern Edit« page.

It is also possible to create patterns based on MIDI data. Load a MIDI file in disk mode to one of the song slots. Select this song in Seq mode and convert the track data to a pattern. A brief step-by-step tutorial can be found at korgforums.com.

It is not possible to rearrange the Drum Tracks of the user bank direktly. For workarounds, see this posting.

Jeux d’orgues 2 pour le Korg Kronos

During the last couple of days, I spent several hours to convert »Jeux d’orgues 2« for the Korg Kronos. I imported the SoundFont, adjusted the multisamples, created programs and combinations. More details can be found via the Jeux d’orgues 2 product page.

Release Notes

Initial release :) .

Feedback

I need feedback whether the data provided works well on other machines. While I think the files provided should do the trick, I’m not absolutely sure whether I understood the sample management of the Kronos correctly.

Fundraising

I had a lot of fun playing this pipe organ’s stops using the Kronos, and hope you enjoy as well. In case you do, please consider spending a couple of bucks to Joseph Basquin (see »FAIRE UN DON« at the bottom of his page) who kindly agreed to reuse his samples.

The joy of Kronos

Korg Kronos X 88

Korg Kronos X 88

After excessively testing the Kronos, I’m completely overwhelmed. I didn’t expect it being that great. Though the grand and electric piano, the organ and string modelling engines already provide a more than pleasing playground, I’m especially impressed by the AL-1 analog modeling and MOD-7 FM engines.

Reliability

Despite the complexity the device runs relatively stable. Some weird behaviour, requiring a reboot, may happen after hours of programming work, which IMO is not a major issue. I got the device to crash, though, when importing and playing some organ soundfonts like Jeux 1.4 from hammersound.com.

Fan noise

The fan was very noisy and audible from a distance of at least 15 feet. Obviously its vibrations have been amplified by the base panel made of hard masonite. My dealer first tried to decouple it from the chassis using some foam, but to no avail. He finally replaced it by a model with similar specs. It’s still audible, but I barely notice it when sitting in front and programming the machine. I’m very grateful for the great work they did.

Kronos Original Fan (RDM6025S)

Kronos Original Fan (RDM6025S)

Stand

I replaced my DIY-welted stand by the K&M 18810, which is rather solid and provides enough room for the legs and pedals. IMO its assembly classifies it as a stand for stationary use, not being made for stage nomads.

Foot controllers

I’m using a Roland DP-10 sustain pedal and an additional Yamaha FC 5 connected to the Kronos’ assignable switch input.

Roland DP-10 with rubber plate

Roland DP-10 with rubber plate

I’m still after a pedal block compatible with the Kronos with two (or three) integrated (half-damper) switches similar to the ones of Roland and Nord shown below. If possible, an integrated swell respectively expression pedal would be great. In case someone can share some pointer, I’d be interested.

Roland Pedalblock

Roland Pedalblock

Nord Pedalblock with plate

Nord Pedalblock with plate

The factory CX-3 organ presets use the joystick to switch the rotary speaker’s speed. In case you want to optionally use the footswitch, assign one of the AMS mixers to the speed parameter, and provide both the joystick’s Y-axis and the footswitch to this mixer’s inputs.

Conclusion

The Kronos, son of the OASYS and kind of grand son of the Z1, IMO is an unrivaled digital piano, organ, and synthesizer. I already spent hours playing the outstanding grand piano emulations and programming the AL-1 and MOD-7 engines.

Replacing your Master

I’m still using a Roland A-50 master keyboard, a device without a soundprocessor of its own, to control a couple of external engines. Though it is a rather barbed device, I love the action of its 76 keys, to have available both the Roland modulation lever plus the traditional wheels, the programmable sliders, buttons, and foot pedal inputs, its four MIDI output jacks with corresponding buttons on the panel, and its robust chassis which even forgot that my girlfriend once dropped it to the ground accidentally.

Continue reading