NAMM 2020: Keytar fans rejoice - Korg’s RK-100S is back and better than ever

NAMM 2020: Fashion being what it is, there simply aren’t as many options out there for keytar players as there once were. While the market isn’t completely devoid of modern synth axes – options include Yamaha’s entry-level SHS-300, Roland’s metal-styled AX-Edge and Alesis’s Vortex 2 MIDI controllers – there’s hardly an abundance of them to choose from.

Released in 2014, Korg’s RK-100S was one of the best of those options, boasting a sleek design and powerful analogue modelled sound engine. Despite this, however, at some point over the past few years Korg quietly discontinued its keytar line leaving a mid-range gap in the market. Now it’s back, in the form of the updated RK-100S 2.

With a wooden body modelled on the look of the original RK-100 keytar – released by Korg in the mid-’80s – the RK-100S 2 features a 37-note ‘slim’ keyboard paired with two ribbon controllers for expressive modulation of parameters such as pitch and filter modulation. 

Once again, sounds are powered by an analogue modelling engine, but Korg claims to have significantly expanded the number of patches onboard. Particular attention has apparently been paid to the lead sounds, providing a selection of programs that will “emanate powerful presence when soloing”.

There’s also a vocoder, accessed via a minijack input, allowing users to connect a headset mic for some ultimate ’80s-style synth funk action. The same input can also be used to run external audio through the instrument, in order to, for example, play along with backing tracks.

The RK-100S 2 is battery powered, with a promised lifespan of up to eight hours of continuous operation from six AAs. An optional power adapter is available as a separate purchase though. The instrument also features MIDI output and USB ports for use as a controller for software setups or external sound modules. A free desktop editor application lets users tweak and organise sounds and adjust MIDI settings.

The RK-100S 2 will come complete with a strap and soft case. There’s no official word on price or shipping dates as yet, although it wouldn’t be too outlandish to expect a price point in the region of the RK-100S’s original RRP of £695. Find out more at the Korg site.

Si Truss

I'm Editor-in-Chief of Music Technology, working with Future Music, Computer Music, Electronic Musician and MusicRadar. I've been messing around with music tech in various forms for over two decades. I've also spent the last 10 years forgetting how to play guitar. Find me in the chillout room at raves complaining that it's past my bedtime.

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