Korg M50 61
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Korg M50 61

M50 61, Workstation from Korg in the M50 series.

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Audiofanzine FR 03/15/2009

Korg M50 61 : Audiofanzine FR's user review

5

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(Originally written by G. Hagen/translated from Audiofanzine FR)
I bought this Korg MS50-61 two months ago. It's a modern workstation (in September 2008):

_ Five octaves, 80-voice polyphony

_ 1077 samples in 608 fully editable programs

_ 32 user programs

_ One GM2 compatibe sound bank

_ 48 drum kits

_ 384 combinations (expandable up to 896)

_ Four assignable controls (volume, effects, filters, envelopes, etc.)

_ One classic pitch (but no ribbon controller)

_ Two assignable switches

_ Four pads assignable to chords

_ One drum track allowing the use of 600 pre-recorded patterns

_ arpeggiator

_ 16 track sequencer

_ 170 effects usable with five effect inserts, two master effects and one global effect

_ Two Midi connectors, two audio outputs, phones output, two foot controller connectors, damper connector for sustain pedal, 2GB card reader, USB port

_ Touch screen for more intuitiveness.

UTILIZATION

Easy configuration if you're used to Korg devices. It works like a computer: each screen displays one page with several tabs. I can still remember the time when we only had LCD displays, but modern touch screens make everything much easier.

Sound and effect editing is easy but the possibilities are so many that you can get lost pretty quickly. For example, after two months I stilt can't use master and global effects. But I can easily chain five insert effects to get a rotary speaker for an organ, an exciter for the drums (they need it), a distortion for a lead guitar and a chorus for a rhythm guitar, plus a reverb for the whole of it. That would be impossible with a T1!

I have a complaint regarding the user's manual: The printed manual isn't comprehensive enough. Why is the 400-page parameter guide only provided on CD?!

SOUNDS

I first worked with the Yamaha PSR 410 then with the Korg T3. I wanted to change to a Yamaha S 700. But I finally chose the M50, which confirms that Korg is better than Yamaha regarding sound. Of course, it's all a matter of taste. I like orchestral music, rock, jazz, pop and techno. And for these music styles, the M50 seems to be more comprehensive and it has a very authentic sound.

_ It provides endless strings that complement each other. The A007 patch (Intimate Strings) sounds warm and lyrical. Tremolo strings are frightening. At least two string quartets give me a thrill due to the authenticity of their vibrato.

_ Brass patches are also surprising and convincing. It's true that vibrato is sometimes too present. But once again, you get very comprehensive sound possibilities: solo trumpet, trumpet duo or section, muted, with or without vibrato. Same thing for the trombone, French horn and tuba. Lots of different brass sections ranging from very synthetic to authentic jazz section.

_ Piano patches. Acoustic pianos have been greatly improved: just compare them with the M50 (A000) and the M1 (A049). The unit also provides many different electric piano patches (almost too many).

_ Plenty good-sounding choir patches. The classical chorus sounds amazing.The Mountain Voices patch sounds great: you can hear farmers taking their herds to high mountain pastures.

_ Liturgical organs: at last a synth that provides different and authentic sounding patches! It doesn't sound like a pathetic boosted accordion!

_ Electric organs: you'll surely find the right sound among the several patches. The rotary speaker effect doesn't sound that authentic because it's still too fast. But you can edit all effect parameters. From Hammond to DGWS organs, everything is possible.

_ Drums: 48 drum kits ought to be enough, from jazz, to rap, hip-pop and house kits. The keyboard layout of the main kit components (bass drum, snare, toms, crash, cymbals, triangle, etc.) is the same for all kits, following Yamaha's standard layout, which is very convenient. You also get ethnic kits (Brazilian for example) and orchestral kits. The Chinese gong is impressive...

_ Bass guitar patches: Huge number of patches, I haven't tried them all out. They subharmonics allow you to imitate Björk's style without sounding ridiculous. On the jazz double bass, you can actually hear the fingers moving over the strings!

_ Acoustic guitars: their attack sounds too massive. In spite of that the nylon guitar (A004) sounds wonderful. On the other hand, all 12-string guitars sound like a supermarket harpsichord. It's surprising because guitar patches were the highlight of the Korg T1. Luckily, electro-acoustic guitars sound better.

_ Lead guitars sound very good. The variety of patches is much better than on of my T3. You can mimic every noise a guitarist can generate with his instrument.

_ Synth patches are sorted in fast, slow and motions. I haven't tested all of them yet.

_ SFX patches: Great if you like to add weird sounds to your songs. Dogs, horses, car, door, storm, rain, lightning, train, scream, laugh, jungle, birds... Almost anything you can imagine. The T1 could even burp! The M50 is more polite... but it has no sampler anymore (it's big brother, the M3 does have a sampler but it's also much more expensive!). It's a pity...

_ Wood instruments: Flute patches sound warm (but the vibrato is too present) and clarinet patches sound beautiful. The M50 really makes a difference in respect to the T3 when it comes to oboe, horn and bassoon patches. Most saxophone patches sound good. They have a great groove when you play with the pitch parameter! On one patch you can even hear the breath of the saxophonist! But the sound is not authentic anymore when you play high notes. The synth provides different soprano, alto, tenor (wonderful) and baritone saxophones. The difference between each of them is clearly audible. And you also have saxophone section patches.

_ Melodic percussions: countless bells, xylophone, steel drums, vibraphone, kalimba, marimba, celesta, etc.

As a summary, I like the playing feel and the sound.

OVERALL OPINION

After two months of use, I'm still in love with it because the M50 keeps on surprising me. It's light (15 lb.), it looks good (but the bottom side is fragile because it's made out of plastic) and it's convenient. What do I like the most? The powerful sound engine even if it doesn't provide expansion possibilities (via PCM card for example) unlike the M3. I didn't choose this product for the Drum track or arpeggiator but these functions are powerful and might inspire me in the future.

I planned to buy a Yamaha S 700 to replace my T3. I also thought about the Korg PA500 (but it's an arranger keyboard not a workstation). And I discovered the M3... Beautiful, professional... and very expensive! Then came the M50. The first time I played it I knew it would be MY instrument. I don't regret having bought it.

Unbeatable value for money: you get the sound engine of the M3 without a sampler or the Karma and Radias systems, but it's still expensive.

I hope I can use it to create my songs the next 15 years!