Kronos takes over at top of Korg's keyboard line

(ShackMan | Posted 2011-02-08)

Kronos takes over at top of Korg's keyboard line

It's not often that the standard-bearing flagship of a brand rolls out of the top slot. It's even less often that the newcomer wins Best in Show at Winter NAMM just before it comes out to the public. Now it's time for the Oasys to step down, and the Kronos is coming in. Just about every single feature has been carried over and/or improved on the new board, and of course, a whole new lineup of updated sound engines is making this Korg's best workstation yet. In keeping with the epic vocabulary of Kronos, Korg referred to the new sound engines simply as “The Nine,” which brings back Lord of the Rings references for me. Fantasy nerd moments aside, here they are:

  • SGX-1 Premium Piano: VMT (Virtual Memory Technology) Piano sound engine
  • EP-1 MDS Electric Piano: Multi-Dimensional Synthesis Electric piano sound engine
  • CX-3 Tonewheel Organ: Tonewheel organ modeling sound engine
  • HD-1 High Definition Synthesizer: Flagship PCM, sampling and Wave Sequencing sound engine
  • AL-1 Analog Synthesizer: High-fidelity analog modeling sound engine
  • MS-20EX Legacy Analog Collection: Analog modeling sound engine
  • PolysixEX Legacy Analog Collection: Analog modeling sound engine
  • MOD-7 Waveshaping VPM Synthesizer: VPM, Waveshaping, and PCM processing sound engine
  • STR-1 Plucked String Synthesizer: Physical modeling sound engine
The very first feature users will notice is that Korg is no longer relying on RAM or USB storage for sounds. Not only have they made the jump from SD cards and internal memory, they've gone a few steps further and thrown in a Solid State Disk Drive. For those who aren't quite so nerdy, that's plenty of gigabytes (up to several thousand times the storage capacity of previous keyboards like the Oasys) of storage and incredibly fast speeds. Faster than USB 3.0. Faster than internal memory. Faster than all of that combined, and with way more storage space than has ever been possible before. This leaves the Kronos capable of insanely high-resolution sound samples, and plenty of them. There's also no need to off-load or pre-load sounds. They're all stored on the Solid State Drive, and they're played directly from there too, so you constantly have access to your entire library of full-length, un-looped samples.

16-part combi's allow you to make the most of all the engines, including effects, simultaneously, and Korg's Dynamic Voice Allocation makes sure you always have polyphonic headroom for more notes. Keeping with the 16 theme, the Kronos features a full-scale on-board sequencer with support for 16 MIDI tracks and 16 audio tracks. This is all recorded at 24-bit, 48kHz resolution for maximum clarity.

All of this is controlled through an 8” TFT TouchView display touchscreen. This, too, is fully customizable, with the ability to put the keyboard into Set List Mode. This allows the user to arrange all of the programs, combis, songs, etc. necessary into easy-to-select pages, or just run through the patches as you go at the touch of the screen or an external pedal. Also, Smooth Sound Transition mode allows held notes to continue sounding as long as you wish while you change programs, combis, effects, or whatever else. This is a long-asked-for feature, and it's finally here.

I'd be doing you a disservice if I didn't mention that the effects were just as high quality as the recording capability. Rivaling that of individual units, the Kronos offers 16 effect slots at any one time, including 12 Insert Effects, 2 Master Effects, and Total Effects. For these 16 slots, users will be able to choose from a library of over 150 effects, and the Kronos has room for many more. Sounds can also be sampled instantaneously from any mode (program, combi, or sequencer) with Korg's Open Sampling System.

Updated KARMA technology supports the user with infinite permutations of phrases, backing tracks, and musical effects to boost creativity. This is coupled with a vastly expanded drum library for grooves and inspiration as well as sounds designed by world-class keyboard players.

The Korg Kronos comes in 61, 73, and 88 key flavors. The only difference in features between the three is in the feel under your fingers. The 73 and 88 key models come equipped with Korg's finest RH3 graded hammer action, while the 61 key sports the touch-responsive synthesizer action taken from the M3. They range in price from $3,000 - $3,800 street.

For more information on the Kronos Workstation, please visit

James Rushin is a bassist, keyboardist, writer, and composer living and working in the Greater Pittsburgh area. He has performed with Selmer artist Tim Price, Curtis Johnson, guitarists Ken Karsh and Joe Negri. His compositions have been featured at West Virginia University and Valley Forge Christian College. He will be spending the Fall and Winter months working on playwright Frank Gagliano's Voodoo Trilogy and Bodoni County Songbook.

Got questions? Comments? James can be reached as ShackMan in the Music Gear Review forums, or you may e-mail him at

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