Korg Pandora PX5D
It's been a few years since the last addition to Korg's pocket-sized Pandora family, but in early 2008, the fifth generation finally arrived.
Earlier models were fine examples of how to squeeze the maximum practising and jamming potential into a tiny box, and it's nice to see that Korg has kept up with technological advances, squeezing even more features into the PX5D. It's actually even a little smaller than the PX4D.
Despite the lack of space, the controls and connections are laid out clearly. There are standard jack connections for the main input and output (the latter doubling as a headphone output) and mini jacks for the aux input and footswitch connection. For the latter, a Y adaptor is provided for connection to two footswitches.
The on/off switch has a third USB position, used when the PX5D is connected to a computer via the supplied USB cable. This can be used for recording direct to your PC or running the editor software, and in both cases the Pandora draws power from your computer.
If you're not using the USB option, power is provided either by two AA batteries or a 4.5 volt DC adaptor (not supplied).
In standard Play mode, the PX5D's presets are accessed via the up/down cursor buttons. You always have instant access to the gain, tone and volume of the amp or synth models via the four knobs on the upper edge, and the data wheel to the right of the LCD screen is used here for master volume.
For editing patches, you access parameters via the left/right cursor buttons, adjusting them with the data wheel. You also have the option of saving four presets to the soft keys immediately under the display for quick access.
Moving swiftly on, there's more than just one mode on the PX5D. In Rhythm and Bass mode, accessed by pushing one of the tiny buttons below the LCD screen, you have access to 128 drum rhythms and bass patterns.
There are simple patterns in a variety of styles, which can be chained together (up to 16 at a time) for greater jamming variety. There are also three demo songs, for which the tempo and key can be adjusted to taste.
Next is the Phrase Trainer mode, where you can record short clips from CD or mp3 (via the aux jack) and slow them down to as little as half speed. The maximum length of these clips is 20 seconds, but this can be increased to 40 or 80 seconds with a corresponding reduction in sound quality.
Audio - A variety of preset sounds from the Pandora
The most impressive aspect of all of the Pandoras so far has been the huge range of effects, and the PX5D is no exception. To give you an id ea, there are 28 guitar and bass amp models, two synth models, 41 filter and modulation effects, 11 reverbs... you're not likely to run out in a hurry.
Overall, we find the headphone sound on the bright side, so do take care with the volume levels - the PX5D can get loud. You can tame the brightness easily by adjusting the treble and bass controls on the offending patches.
Otherwise, we are very impressed. The drum and bass sounds are fat and surprisingly realistic and there are lots of inspiring guitar tones among the presets. At the heart of the sounds are some good amplifier models; they're possibly not the most accurate we've heard, but they're perfectly representative of the classic boxes at which they're aimed, especially in the realm of headphones.
Once again, Korg has well and truly excelled with the more unusual sounds; there are some wonderfully creative applications of filtering, auto-wah and synth sounds here.
While you can buy standard multi-effects units with similar features for less than the price of a PX5D and a couple of footswitches, that's not entirely the point. Part of the appeal of the Pandora range is the portability - a complete guitar rig and 'practice suite' in your jacket pocket.
What's more, the huge range of effects on the PX5D will outdo a number of similarly priced floorboard units. The convenience of miniaturisation comes with compromises (fiddly patch navigation, relative flimsiness and the need for battery power) but the strengths far outweigh the weaknesses.
Impressive range of features
The input/outputs might be better situated on the end, rather than the side of the unit
The PX5D is a useful tool for any guitarist at a very reasonable price.
Balance Compression Compressor Filter Fuzz Limiter
1/4 Inch Jack Mini stereo jack AUX input line
Stereo Output USB
Built-in Chromatic Tuner
12str 1x12twd 1x12vox 1x8twd 2x10blk 2x12blk 2x12vox 4x10twd 4x12cls 4x12mdn 4x12vin 4x12vox AC 100 Ac2x15 At Pan1 At Pan2 Chorus1 Chorus2 Classic Cls8x10 Combi Drone1 Drone2 Env Cho Env Pit Feedbk1 Feedbk2 Feedbk3 Feedbk4 Filtdn1 Filtdn2 Filtup1 Filtup2 Flange1 Flange2 Flange3 Flange4 I Nfpit2 Inffln1 Inffln2 Infpit1 Jaz1x15 Jazz LA Studio La1x18 La4x10 Maj3dwn Maj3up Maj6th Mdn4x10 Min3dwn Min3up Mtl4x10 Octave Octfuzz Per4th Per5th Phaser1 Phaser2 Phaser3 Pitch1 Pitch2 Pitch3 Pitch4 Random1 Random2 Random3 Random4 Rotary1 Rotary2 Rotary3 Scooped Slow Attack Stu1x15 Studio Talk1 Talk2 Talk3 Talk4 Trem1 Trem2 Trem3 U-Vibe1 U-Vibe2 UK Major Uk4x12 Uk4x15 Us2x15
No of Effects
Unit Power Source
2 x AA Batteries USB