Korg Dss1

Korg Dss1

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Dss1, Sampler from Korg.

4 user reviews
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Korg Dss1 tech. sheet

  • Manufacturer: Korg
  • Model: Dss1
  • Category: Samplers
  • Added in our database on: 04/08/2004

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Korg Dss1 user reviews

Average Score:4.3( 4.3/5 based on 4 reviews )
 2 reviews50 %
 1 user review25 %
 1 user review25 %
Value For Money :
Audiofanzine FR03/17/2009

Audiofanzine FR's review

Korg Dss1
(Originally written by amnesie1/translated from Audiofanzine FR)


Easy and intuitive use regarding sound synthesis. In spite of the lack of controls, it's easy to browse through the different menus and you'll quickly find any parameter you want to edit. However, the main problem is that some parameter changes are audible in real time but others only after retriggering! For example, if you edit the filter cutoff the change will affect notes you play afterwards but it will have no effect on the current note. On the other hand, you can edit resonance parameters in real time!!! So don't try to edit the sound in real time, use the modulation matrix. Given this, the modulation matrix should be more comprehensive.

The synthesis engine is very comprehensive. Both methods are rather easy to use and give interesting results although they are not as ergonomic as the other functions of the device.

I haven't used the sampling section so I can't say anything about it.

The biggest turnoff is the storing of data. You need floppy disks, which isn't the most simple nor ergonomic solution. And the floppy disk reader is incredibly slow... I won't create too many presets...


Here come the most subjective section.

The 12/24 dB analog filter sounds just fabulous and very fat. Processing a digital sound (sample, wave) with this analog circuitry produces it a very strong and interesting character. I love hybrid solutions.

The sound is not well-defined and it could be more refined, but it has the character of the time when it was made. You get a good dose of aliasing, which result very interesting musically speaking . If you like Carpenter's sound this synth is for you!!!

And once again, listen to its fabulous filter!!!


It's true that it's very bulky and you won't be able to take it with you on stage. It also looks awful. But what a sound!!!

I find it's quite pleasant to use once you've learned the basics (sample and waveform creation). The floppy disk storing solution is not very practical and a ROM would be a great improvement.

But in spite of these disadvantages I love the sound and the versatility of this bulky monster.
FP User10/31/2008

FP User's review

Korg Dss1
Used as a polysynth and not as a "sampler", this beast holds its own next to all the great analog polysynths. You've got one of the best resonant analog filters that Korg ever put in a synth - very creamy and musical. The synth architecture is somewhat similar to that of Korg's previous flagship DW-8000, however the DSS-1 gives you the opportunity to use any waveform or sample you desire; plus, you get these extras: oscillator sync, bit crushing, advanced unison detune, a second LFO, and a second Digital Delay line!! The velocity and aftertouch parameters are also more refined. Most parameters have at least double the resolution from the DW-8000. Some deficiencies of the DSS-1: no variety of modulation waveforms (only a sine wave for each LFO). No portamento. No sequencer or arpeggiator.

Price paid: $250 USD


Of course there are some flies in the ointment. As all synths from the mid-80s, there is not a lot of realtime control. It's from the "knobless" era of synthesizers, so you're left with some buttons and a couple of data sliders to edit the sound. However, the DSS-1 does offer a very sensitive and useful aftertouch which can be applied to LFO vibrato or VCF cutoff. And of course you have Korg's ever present "nasty, waggly joystick" for the usual round of performance modulation duties. A data slider (set to the parameter of your choice) can be used as a third realtime controller. The MIDI implementation on the DSS-1 allows you to control the parameters via a MIDI knob/slider box. I have successfully programmed a Kenton Control Freak to work with the DSS-1. This makes programming an easier chore, but beware: when you hold a key down and move a slider on the MIDI knob box, you will hear digital "stuttering" noise from the outputs, making the knob box quite useful as a programmer but not so useful as a realtime performance controller. (Side note: the DW-8000 had no problem in realtime performance mode with the Control Freak.) Oh well, you can't have it all.


The Korg DSS-1 is something of a "dark horse" in the synthesizer world today. Back in 1986, people bought this keyboard for the sampler section (samplers were a big thing back then), completely overlooking the powerful synthesizer within. However, nowadays its paltry 256k internal memory, 12-bit sampling rate, and incredibly slow floppy drive make the sampler section something of a joke, and totally obsolete for producing realistic type sounds (pianos, EP's, orchestral instruments, etc.). The DSS-1 is now revered for its analog synthesizer section. You see, under the hood of this beast lies a full-blown analog polysynth section, with real VCFs (resonant) and VCAs. In fact the DSS-1 is pretty much an analog polysynth with the VCOs ripped out and replaced by a 12-bit sampler. If the sampling section is used simply to store analog-type waveforms (saw, pulse, square, tri, sine, etc.), then the DSS-1 comes into its own as a powerful and fat analog polysynth, with digital waveforms that are infinitely expandable. For instance, you can sample the raw, unfiltered oscillators from a Prophet-5 or OBXa, or you can use one of the data sliders on the DSS-1 to "draw" your own waveforms, just like on a Fairlight! The DSS-1 is capable of big fat synth-brass and synth-strings that will compete head-to-head with Prophets, Oberheims, and Jupiters. All kinds of weird textural sweeps are possible by taking samples and applying oscillator sync to them (it's a sample-mangler!). Basses can be very punchy and in-your-face. Yet: the most gentle, ethereal, swirling pads are possible as well. And if that isn't enough, you've got two built-in digital delays which can be run in parallel or in serial mode. This enables you to get all kinds of chorused, flanged, or ping-pong type effects which can radically alter the character of your sound. It's a very capable synthesizer!


The DSS-1 is built like a tank. You could launch this thing at Baghdad and it would still be in one piece when it landed! It was built to take a beating as Korg's flagship synth in 1986. In fact, I think the DSS-1 marks a new era in build quality for Korg, following a long line of budget synths from the Poly-61 (1982) to the DW-8000 (1985). The DSS-1, retailing at $2,600 in 1986, put Korg back on the map as a producer of big-sounding, rugged, fine quality synthesizers. This scope and durability come at a price, however: the DSS-1 weighs in at a hefty 41 lbs., and is actually larger in size than a Roland JD-800! In my opinion the DSS-1 is the best Korg synthesizer since the Trident (1980), and it's also the last Korg synthesizer with an analog filter and signal path (their final hybrid synth).

I love my DSS-1!! I still manage to program new sounds on this beast that totally surprise me. I'll never sell it, especially considering the measly $150 or so that I would get for it (it goes for dirt cheap these days!). I get far more use out of it than this small amount of money. It will remain in my studio for the forseeable future.

Originally posted on FutureProducers.com
Posted by: ChipCurtis ( 4-, 2006)

rick49's review (This content has been automatically translated from French)

Korg Dss1
Well, small bet with me dj day public ...

A "big bte" of 20 kg, with a conventional keyboard with 5 octaves VLOC and monophonic aftertouch, joystick and expensive Korg (quite handy when you are used) controlling the pitch bend and / or the filter cutoff and LFO X DCO and VCF of the Y In passing, note that even if the keyboard is noisy and rev hard enough, the aftertouch is extremely well calibrated and provides a lot of nuances, which is not the case for all machines.
He sampled 12-bit mono up to 48 kHz, but with a rev limit memory (256 Kwords). It possde 8-voice polyphony with 2 oscillators per voice, and it is unfortunately "monotimbral" (it rpond on a single MIDI channel, and analog processing is the same for all samples rpart on the keyboard). The internal memory can store 32 patches, and disk 4 "Systmes" of 32 patches each.
It allows, in addition to the Sampling, the 128-harmonic synthse additive and even the design of waveforms (a fawn inconvenient, I admit). Above all, it possde part synthse subtractive high quality:
- COD 2 (containing the waveform samples, or drawings synthtises) synchronization and detune (the PWM is accessible by intermdiaire of sync), they can RESOLUTION be lowered from 12 up to 6 bits (rare!)
- 1 VCF (analog) 12/24 dB rsons
- 2 LFOs (one for COD and one for the VCF)
- 2 envelopes 6 paramtres (ADBSSR), one for the VCF and one for the VCA and the decay of gnrateur envelope VCA has its own "keyboard tracking"
- 1 gnrateur ramp for COD
- VLOC can modulate the self-bend, the cutoff of the VCF, VCA, the times of the two envelopes, or even switch between the two COD
- Aftertouch can control the intensity of the LFO, VCF cutoff or VCA.
- There is a single mode where you can rgler the number of oscillators and detune stack
- An equalizer bass / treble
- 2 dlais numriques (DDL) ranging up to 500 ms, configurable SERIES or parallle with feedback and LFO 2 indpendants (reverse-phase switchable) modulating the harsh . Necessary for All make wonderful chorus / flanger "av the hands" ... is a signature of the DSS-1.
Custom settings via a system that is ditables menu srigraphis, two sliders and a Data Entry rtroclair LCD 2 lines of 16 characters.
For transfers, I used the Sound Designer on the Atari era, but Sample Vision should work on PC.
If I score 5 / 10 Part Sampling and 9 / 10 the rest, my bill will not surprise you ...


I think we must distinguish the party Sampling (synthse and additive) and Part synthse subtractive ...
The particulirement Sampling is not easy: it is mandatory to save on disk all the samples one at a time before recharging for rpart on the keyboard in a "multi-sound", o need several diskettes and waste of time ... If you want to make synthse additive must manually edit each harmonic on the small LCD screen, and if you want to draw a waveform, you dbrouillez to move the data-entry from vumtre one that tells you the progress in the time axis of the waveform ... Ttonnements guaranteed, but rsultats INTERESTED!
As against the synthse is a subtractive rgal, even if you would like to have "real buttons" when Ms.! All parameters are srigraphis and end up in land well known! However, as pointed out amnesie1, the order by Systm dcevante is often exclusive.


Sampling the game? Uh ... He should have said that the Korg reconstruction filters, there is! So a lot of aliasing, a sound "dirty" (and worse by reducing the manually RESOLUTION D / A converter) which can be trs INTERESTED some styles. Nothing to see, for example with his contemporary the S-50, we are more in the register Prophet 2000.
For cons, the association of additive and subtractive synthses is a killer ... A style you sound PPG (missing only the wavetable). Many wave forms provided for the original synthse are taken from the DW-8000, but attacking a filter even better.
The filter, precisely: Fully analog, it is my opinion the best Korg has ever included in a synth. 12/24 dB, a rsonance trs cool, and its standard. It is certainly the same (an obscure NJM 2069 made by Korg) as the Poly-800 (1 and 2), DW (6000 and 8000) and DSM-1, but on the DSS-1, they have to least bothered to cbler all the pins! On Poly and DW, they left out 12 dB in the air, and the DSM-1 (rack version), they simply between the religious order of the rsonance mass (no comment ...).
The dlais numriques trs are used and also allow to obtain chorus thick and alive. The PWM is "mulable" by lasynchro oscillators (hint available on the excellent site http://glenstegner.com/dss1/home.html). This will be fun for lead sounds. Put the mono bte, stack the 16 oscillators, detune the rglez between voice and take cover your speakers ...
I know for example trs few post-1980 machines able to reproduce correctly some prs pure synthse the famous string sound of the VP-330 (immortalized by Vangelis), and the DSS-1 is they l (thank you to the DDL!). And you do not have the problem of the single envelope of the VP ... Even better, the brass sound of the above-named CS80 is also reproducible with a beautiful grain (not so far from the original that I know for jou above).
Clearly, if you want a sampler of high quality go your way (especially with 256 Kwords of RAM!). If instead the synthse you are passionate and more you intend to process samples with an original and made trs "vintage", go for it head down ...


I possde this machine since its release (late 1986), and I must say it is still a special place in my home studio (including physical, unfortunately!). I use it almost exclusively for his part synthse, which gives me trs beautiful tablecloths, trs for lead sounds and powerful, electric pianos and "the DW-8000" friendly. As for the Sampling, its ct "vintage" is INTERESTED in the Mellotron sounds, among others fltes.
The least? Trs a memory limit, a lack of buttons, and a conviviality trs approximate sampler for the part.
In résumé if you want a cheap machine (for how much longer?) That allows you exploded on synthse and sampled more, go ahead! For me it's probably among the very best in analog synthse outside the "SRES values" that everyone rightly connate. Anyway, I will not sell mine ...
PS The DSM-1 is quite DIFFERENT. It possde 16 voice polyphony with a single oscillator per channel (not sync oscillators in passing) and a true 4-channel multitimbral, but the filter is not rsons, especially there no DDL, making it a completely different machine, so if you do not confuse your most interested by the ct synthse ...

elriton's review (This content has been automatically translated from French)" A big sound"

Korg Dss1
Synth / Sampler 12-bit linear 24/K8Khz (well rotted)

COD 2 with 8 votes
Resonant filters very effective

2 Digital Delay

1 line / mic
2 audio outputs (Left / Mono - Right)
IN / OUT / THRU twelve o'clock
Ability to add a SCSI interface (good luck to find the kit!)


The manual is clear and after a few hours, the machine is controlled.

The editing is tedious because all sound is through the LCD interface.


The A / DD / A are not transparent.
In addition there is a strong aliasing

However, filters (VCF) and time (DDL) are very effective.

UNISON mode allows you to superimpose the eight votes to lead an impressive monophonic


I use the DSS since 1988 with varying degrees of success.

Typed too, I have often given up as it is used.

However, I served as a time box effect, filter, sample player to deflect sound from its origin.

Finally his big sheets (Strings, choirs, etc ...) can play the songs by Vangelis (Blade Runner, Chariots of Fire, etc ...) effectively.

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