Value 61-key: £1,950, 73-key: £2,200, 88-key hammer-action: £2,550
It’s powerful to say which was the primary synth worthy of being known as a real workstation however many level to the Korg M1. Korg has continued to evolve the format because the M1’s 1988 launch, with its present flagship synth, the Kronos, blurring the traces between musical instrument and computer-based DAW. The Kronos stays a preferred alternative for keyboard gamers however, as a flagship product, its options and pricing are past many musicians’ necessities. Korg’s new Nautilus Music Workstation goals to unravel that. The instrument packs most of the identical skilled options as its grander stablemate with out in depth hands-on controllers and at a extra reasonably priced worth.
The Nautilus is accessible in three sizes: the top-of-the-line 88-key model contains a totally weighted hammer-action keyboard, good for many who choose piano-like taking part in; the 73- and 61-key varieties (the latter is what we’ve right here) have semi-weighted synth-action keys. The keys have a padded, dampened really feel however stay attentive to gentle touches. The dynamic response of the keyboard may be simply modified on the fly through one of many prime panel’s rotary knobs, a surprisingly helpful characteristic that makes it simple to match the keyboard’s response to the sound and magnificence you’re taking part in.
Nonetheless, not one of the keyboard variants generate aftertouch, a efficiency controller that’s as ubiquitous as pitch bend, and that has been a normal aspect of virtually each synthesizer keybed for many years.
There are an additional six controller knobs, which carry out totally different features relying on which of their three modes they’re working in. In Sound mode, the knobs management widespread synth parameters reminiscent of filter cutoff and resonance, in Arp/Drum mode, they management traits of any at the moment taking part in arpeggio or drum sample, and in Person mode, they are often mapped to mixer and sound-engine parameters on a per-patch foundation. An uncommon characteristic of those knobs is that they are often recessed to take a seat flush with the Nautilus’s prime panel, placing them out of the best way of inadvertent changes and unintentional harm whereas in transit.
Though the Nautilus lacks the extra hands-on controls of the Kronos – faders, switches, vector joystick, and so forth. – operation over its controls is accessible through the color touchscreen that dominates the synth’s prime panel. The touchscreen takes on duties that devoted buttons would historically management, reminiscent of switching between totally different modes and coming into values (you may also join a qwerty keyboard to one of many Nautilus’s two USB ports and use that to enter names and values). The display is correct and responsive, however on just a few pages, the density of knowledge and compact nature of onscreen objects make correct choice troublesome.
Positioned the place Korg historically locations its numeric keypads, there’s a set of six quick-access buttons. You possibly can assign instructions and features to those buttons, reminiscent of mode switching and sequencer-transport management (however not cursor controls). Korg gives 4 preset mappings, and there are 4 person slots which you can configure your self.
In step with all of Korg’s workstations because the M1, the Nautilus’s sounds are organised into applications and combos (or combis for brief). The previous represents a single patch or sound. The latter is a multi-timbral mode that lets you mix as much as 16 applications into extra complicated sounds or for multi-channel use inside a DAW. Gigging musicians will likely be happy to listen to that the Nautilus retains Korg’s helpful Set Record mode, which lets you assemble collections of applications and combis and change rapidly between them through the touchscreen. What makes this characteristic much more helpful is the Nautilus’s capacity to change applications and combis with out chopping off a sound’s launch stage or results tails. It’s a cultured contact.
Complementing these modes are drum package and arpeggiator features. Drum kits map totally different drum sounds to every key and may be linked to a built-in drum-pattern participant that lets you use predefined or customized drum elements and have them play as backings to your performances. Equally, the arpeggiator has entry to a whole lot of preset patterns and permits for customized creations. The tempo of each drum sample and arpeggiator may be dialled in utilizing one of many management knobs, or through a devoted faucet tempo button. This button additionally flashes to show the present tempo. This may be helpful, however the button is massive, brilliant and infrequently distracting. You would possibly need to tape over it.
Applications may be primarily based on considered one of two core tone-generation engines, considered one of which, EXi, can load totally different synthesis fashions. All instructed, this offers the Nautilus the identical set of 9 synthesis engines because the Kronos.
The primary, HD-1, is a strong PCM sample-and-synthesis (S&S) engine that pulls collectively Korg’s years of experience. HD-1 applications can consist of 1 or two oscillators that may be layered or cut up throughout the keyboard. Every oscillator gives as much as eight layers into which multi-samples may be loaded. These multi-samples can come from the Nautilus’s inner ROM, from any EXs sound growth libraries loaded at start-up, or constructed from your personal samples. Multi-samples may be loaded from detachable media reminiscent of USB sticks or created utilizing the Nautilus’s sampling mode. The layers in an HD-1 oscillator can load wave sequences too. These are sequences of as much as 64 steps through which every step can have a pattern assigned to it. There’s about 2GB of RAM obtainable for storing pattern knowledge, although this needs to be shared between the EXs and person samples.
EXi-based applications are additionally constructed from one or two oscillators that may be cut up or layered on the keyboard. Right here, nonetheless, every oscillator is predicated on considered one of eight synthesis engines. The primary of those, SGX-2 Premium Piano, makes use of a mixture of multi-samples and modelled string resonances to create a variety of acoustic piano sounds, each grand and upright, leading to lush, convincing sounds which might be extra editable and modifiable than a traditional PCM-based piano program could be.
For electrical pianos, there’s the EP-1 MDS Electrical Piano mannequin. Like SGX-2, the EP-1 mannequin makes use of samples however is extra than simply an S&S engine. The MDS moniker refers to Korg’s Multi-Dimensional Synthesis expertise, which smooths the transition between velocity layers, leading to a pure dynamic response to totally different taking part in velocities. The engine caters for seven flavours of electrical piano and contains each amplifier and cupboard modelling for a very genuine sound.
Korg appeared to their very own traditional CX-3 combo organ when growing the CX-3 Tonewheel Organ mannequin, which incorporates adjustable tonebars, correct modelling of the unique’s tube amplifier and 7 sorts of rotary speaker, the pace of which may be managed with the Nautilus’s joystick controller.
The STR-1 Plucked Strings engine makes use of bodily modelling to create a variety of struck and plucked sounds: guitars, harpsichords, clavinets, harps, bells, drums, and so forth. By modelling how such devices create their sound, STR-1 can precisely recreate the timbral modifications that outcome from totally different taking part in nuances, and accomplish that in a approach that’s troublesome to attain with sample-based engines.
There are 4 EXi fashions that mannequin the sound of different synthesizers. The AL-1 Analog Synthesizer was initially developed for the groundbreaking Oasys workstation and gives a contemporary, versatile and highly effective tackle analogue-style subtractive synthesis. Extra subtractive pleasure is supplied by the MS-20EX and PolysixEX engines, fashions of two of Korg’s best-loved classic analogue synths. The ultimate EXi mannequin is MOD-7, which mixes Variable Section Modulation (basically a type of FM) synthesis taken from Korg’s traditional Prophecy and Z1 synths with wave-shaping ring modulation and pattern playback.
Every EXi mannequin has its personal interactive show. For instance, the MS-20EX mannequin attracts on display the controls and patch panel of the traditional MS-20, which you should utilize as a controller for programming the synth. In the meantime, the CX-3 mannequin presents drawbars which you can work with, and the SGX-2 permits you to regulate the lid top of the piano.
The Nautilus comes loaded with 1,920 applications and 256 combis, with an additional 640 applications and 1,536 combi slots obtainable on your personal creations. You possibly can browse the gathering by class or financial institution or, if you already know the financial institution and program variety of the sound you need, sort it in immediately. The preset sounds are exceptionally effectively designed and polished, with quantity of this coming all the way down to the standard of the Nautilus’s results processing, which makes use of Korg’s REMS circuit-modelling expertise. Every program, combi or sequence helps 12 insert results, two grasp results and two complete results. Grasp results are basically ship results, and complete results may be thought-about a grasp bus insert results. Results routing is surprisingly versatile and there’s a large alternative of results obtainable.
The Nautilus’s Open Sampling System goals to simplify the method of sampling from any obtainable supply. Exterior alerts may be fed in through the synth’s two inputs or USB audio from a pc. The inputs are supplied as jack sockets however may be switched between line and mic degree operation (there’s no phantom energy so it’s possible you’ll want to make use of a separate mic preamp). Alternatively, you may pattern immediately from throughout the program or combi mode.
Sampling on to RAM is carried out at 48Hz/16-bit, however you may enhance this to 24-bit if sampling on to disk as an alternative. Samples should be loaded into RAM for use in applications, drum kits or wave sequences and are dithered to 16-bit when used on this approach. Nonetheless, they will play from disk in full 24-bit glory when used as audio tracks within the sequencer. This direct-to-disk sampling comes into its personal while you need to seize the sound you’re at the moment taking part in, because it lets you rapidly file concepts with out having to change to and configure the sequencer or faff round getting issues prepared in your DAW.
As soon as captured, you may edit and put together your samples in all the usual methods: enhancing begin and finish factors, chopping and pasting, truncating, looping and so forth. There’s additionally time-stretching and loop-slicing features, with the slicing playback sample obtainable to load right into a MIDI monitor within the sequencer. You possibly can even stack up samples right into a single multi-sample, which can be utilized as the premise for a brand new program patch. General, then, the Nautilus’ sampling capabilities tie in exceptionally effectively with the remainder of the instrument – not as highly effective maybe as a devoted software program sampler however helpful nonetheless.
The Nautilus’s sequencer gives 16 MIDI tracks and 16 audio tracks. It’s a workable system, however general there are too many compromises compelled by the restrictions of the Nautilus’s kind, particularly in comparison with the options of a computer-based DAW. That mentioned, the Nautilus comes with bonus software program that features Korg’s personal Gadget 2 LE DAW, Cause Lit, and 5 plug-in devices.
With its massive characteristic set, it isn’t simple to attract a single conclusion in regards to the Nautilus. Compromises have been made to make the workstation extra reasonably priced than the Kronos and, on the entire, such compromises are simple to dwell with, even when the quick-access keys might do with a bigger variety of features obtainable to them and the omission of keyboard aftertouch looks like a step too far. On the sequencing aspect, it’s somewhat anachronistic to construct such a factor right into a synthesizer on condition that nowadays we stock computer systems in our pockets which might be extra highly effective than what was obtainable when Korg first minted their workstation template. However the sequencer isn’t with out its makes use of. Nonetheless, it’s on the synthesis entrance that the Nautilus does its greatest work, providing astonishing flexibility, excellent sound high quality, and good sound design all through.
1.Color touchscreen show gives entry to all the Nautilus’s features. When utilizing EXi-based applications, the panel can show interactive graphic edit panels for controlling, for instance, the tonebars of an organ or the patching of an MS-20.
2. The short-access buttons can have features assigned to them and make up for the lack of devoted mode-selection and sequencer-control buttons. You should utilize Korg’s predefined mappings or create your personal.
3. The six real-time management knobs can help you make changes to the sound as you play. In addition they present hands-on management over the arpeggiator and drum-pattern participant. Urgent a button causes it to recess into the casing, one other press pops it up once more.
Devoted buttons for enabling and latching the arpeggiator and drum sample are situated right here. There’s additionally a devoted tap-tempo button, which flashes brilliant white to make sure you by no means miss its visible tempo cue (even in case you would possibly need to).
This rotary management lets you set the dynamic response of the keyboard as you play. It’s not unusual to have the ability to change a keyboard’s responsiveness however having the ability to take action on the fly permits you to match the response to the sound and magnificence you’re taking part in.
There’s one USB port for interfacing the Nautilus with a pc and one other for connecting exterior USB media, class-compliant MIDI controllers or an alpha-numeric keyboard for typing in names and values.
- 9 synthesis varieties together with acoustic piano, electrical piano, tonewheel organ, analogue synth, MS-20 and Polysix
- Constructed-in pattern seize and enhancing functionality
- 128 set lists, every with 128 slots
- Results: 12 inserts, two sends, two grasp
- 16-track MIDI sequencer and 16-track hard-disk recorder
- 60GB SSD drive
88 key: 143.7 x 38.7 x 13.9 cm
73 key: 122.7 x 38.6 x 11.6 cm
61 key: 106.2 x 38.6 x 11.6 cm