Korg Krome Music Workstation
Call us old romantics but we'll always have a soft-spot for workstations. It's easy to forget that in the late '80s, these all-in-one synth-and-sequencer devices represented a great way to build musical arrangements.
In fact, they remained relevant to everyone making Electronic music until the humble plug-in became less humble and more all-consuming.
"Korg has decided it's high time that a more affordable workstation range should go hunting for new devotees"
These days, most people wouldn't dream of making their music through a workstation, for all of the advantages that a computer provides, yet workstations remain essential products to gigging keyboard players and MDs of live shows alike. Additionally, with tighter DAW integration features than ever before, they're beginning to attract studio-based composers once more.
Korg's leading Kronos technology is at the top of the tree for workstation products but the Kronos range remains expensive. So it's no wonder that Korg has decided it's high time a more affordable workstation range should go hunting for new devotees, featuring a reduced but still extensive feature set. Enter the Krome series.
Feel at Krome
"Krome's entry price point is highly competitive for this standard of workstation"
Available in 61, 73 and 88-note versions (the latter of which features a weighted keyboard), Krome's entry price point (just £799) is highly competitive for this standard of workstation.
Additionally, mindful that the industry has been seduced by the tactility of the iPad and other tablet devices, Korg has enhanced Krome's appeal by providing a large touchscreen interface as its main control centre.
From this, you can browse for sounds, adjust effects, switch between Program parameters, balance the range of sounds in a Combi(nation) and so on; the vast majority of functions can be adjusted here.
Around this are buttons and dials on both sides with Korg's traditional mod/pitch joystick on the far left and a collection of four dials nearer the middle. These are real-time controllers and can be used to control four Tone, User-defined, or Arp parameters at any time, with a toggle switch flicking between these banks.
Just to the left of the screen is a hugely neat option called Drum Track. This provides a stylistically relevant drum groove depending on the Program or Combi you've selected. Crucially, these drums are note-triggered, so they're great for live performance too.
Audio Example 1: Drums
Tempo control is over on the right-hand side, with a 40-300bpm range. Also on a drum tip, the Mixer within Krome allows you to balance dry and ambient sounds for its drumkits, giving you natural reverb control.
"The sound library is vast, offering a smorgasbord of sonic options, pulling from Korg's impressive, Kronos-led EDS-x engine"
As you'd hope, the sound library is vast, offering a smorgasbord of sonic options, pulling from Korg's impressive, Kronos-led EDS-x engine, with 3.8GB of memory. All of the sounds you'd expect are present with a wide range of keyboards, strings, brass, synth pads and running sequences, one-shot effects and a good collection of basses and drums too.
The Grand Piano is of particular note, as Korg have provided sufficient ROM to ensure that this is a loop-free Program. Traditionally, workstations get around the problem of requiring huge amounts of memory to generate realistic sounds by using sample looping and enveloping techniques. While these can be effective, they never sound like the 'real thing'. The Grand Piano escapes this and it's highly playable as a result.
Audio Example 2: Piano and strings
Polyphony is set at a seemingly generous 120 voices but, in practice, this equates to 120 oscillators, meaning that four oscillator sounds used in a Combi effectively quarter that total. While the playing surface is Aftertouch free, it responds beautifully to Velocity. The sound engine provides 640 Programs and 288 Combi presets with extra space for User sounds too.
Effects provision extends to five Insert Effects (shared between parts in a Combi), two Masters (think about these as auxiliaries) and one Total (global) Effect, while each individual track features its own three-band EQ.
Audio Example 3: Cello
While the presets provide instant gratification, onboard editing is available to tailor sounds. In Program or Combi mode the Tone Adjust button gives some editing options but it's by no means a long and comprehensive list.
Such in-depth editing is available but, to be carried out, requires moving across multiple pages to access parameters. Alternatively you can connect Krome to your computer via the supplied USB cable and install Korg's editing software. You can then integrate Krome via a plug-in interface to your DAW.
"It's a piano player's dream, with a great-sounding Grand Piano and all-new electric pianos too"
So, to whom will Krome appeal? The impressive range of features and the incredibly lightweight frame will make it a player's favourite. In particular, it's a piano player's dream, with a great-sounding Grand Piano and all-new electric pianos too.
As a sketch-pad for musical ideas, it's intuitive too and with decent integration to DAWs, the days of workstations being completely incompatible with computer-based setups are, hopefully, behind us.
So, while this may not immediately pique a studio-based musician's interest, the attractive price-point and wide range of features should ensure Krome's future gleams encouragingly.
Large, well-designed touchscreen. Great range of sounds, including a loop-free Grand Piano. 'Drum Track' function provides instant inspiration.
A solid workstation, with great keyboard sounds and DAW integration, at a good price.
All MusicRadar's reviews are by independent product specialists, who are not aligned to any gear manufacturer or retailer. Our experts also write for renowned magazines such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Computer Music, Future Music and Rhythm. All are part of Future PLC, the biggest publisher of music making magazines in the world.
2x1/4-inch jacks L/R/Headphone MIDI out USB
1027 x 93 x 313
Number of Keys