Programming the Korg Z1 Synthesizer

While I have excessively done synth programming in my youth, I rarely find time for it nowadays. Nevertheless it happens, especially when it is raining all day.

I have ranted about the Korg Z1 back in september, and I’m still more than pleased with it. It simply sounds gorgeous. The sound is not too digital, though it lacks the warmth of more recent virtual synths like the Access Virus C. Unlike the latter one, it never leaves me alone when I want to try out some special things. There are four equally featured, freely assignable LFOs and envelopes (the envelopes are one of the most flexible ones I’ve ever seen in a synth), two mixer buses and three types of routing for the two multimode filters. The FX section also provides more features than you might expect, containing two effects blocks and an additional (global) master FX. The arpeggiator is called to be very flexible as well, but I cannot judge as I never used it. Editing sound programs usually is easy due to the many dedicated hardware buttons to jump to the most important sections of the menu.

Of course there are also dark sides when it comes to programming the beast. It is very demanding, mainly due to its complex oscillator section. There are two oscillators which provide 13 different models independently (except for the fact that some models disable the second oscillator due to missing DSP horsepower). This means that you have a “13 in 1” synth, and of course I want to learn how to program them all. The manual is OK and I have seen worse ones, but some oscillator models provide parameters and settings which are outlined in the manual like “Increasing this value adds harmonics to the sound”. The manual neither states what it does technically nor what the intended use is.