News, Views and Musings (Blog)

  • Older synthesizers and new studio friends.

    The Korg Radias is a bit of an odd duck, being unapologetically digital in a myriad of ways. 
    Often described as thin and lacking in the bottom end but I would tend to disagree. 
    Its synthesis approach is an interesting combination of virtual analog, cross mod, sync, ring modulation, ring sync, digital wavetables, VPM (Orgs take on FM), formant, formant sampling and vocoder married to an arp, modulation sequencer and step sequencer.

    The virtual analog engine can cover a good portion of the MS2000's sonic realm but the overall sound has a particular sheen. It's a characterful synth and probably better described as a digital subtractive synthesizer. It excels more so in this capacity than it does in the realm of true analog emulation. If you're looking for standard quality analog emulative synthesis I'd veer more toward the Nord Lead end of the spectrum. That being said, there's a full complement of Korgs  DWGS waveforms taking you into the fully digital realm with lots of options for great sounding EP's, Bell's, Clav's and the like. These can also be step modulated to good effect for vector and wave sequence styled patches.

    Dual filters in single, serial, parallel and dual modes with a continuously variable digital filter that sweeps from LP 24DB through LP 12 DB, BPF, HPF on one side to LP, HP, BP and Comb varieties on the other. Add to this end of signal chain waveshaping, drive and sub oscillators (in a variety of wave shapes) the drive and wave shaping being either pre-amplifier of pre-filter when needed. 

    Hiding the sub oscillators within the end of the signal chain leads to some confusion and explains why many find the synth thin or lacking in sonic heft at times. The drive and waveshaping can be either pre-amp or filter and some beautifully grungy lo-fi and bit reduced textures are be found in within.

    There are dual LFO's that have variable contour shapes and phase offsets whilst the 3 EG's can be logarithmic, linear or exponential in nature. Add to this 2 FX inserts + Arpeggio and 3 Modulation sequences per part married to a 6 slot modulation matrix with enough source and destination slots to keep anyone busy.

    It marries extremely well with standard 4OP FM, DCO, and VCO based Analog synthesis, sampling, and creative external processing. However, it doubles as a rather great vocoder and external processing unit too. The reverbs are largely nothing to write home about but are perfectly utilitarian when used sparsely.

    On a final note, it's a superb pad and experimental noise machine, capable of the sorts of tones and textures one would find on Aphex Twin's Ambient Works Volume 2.  Just don't let the dated presets fool you into thinking otherwise.

    I prefer synths that are a slow reveal, so this probably explains my fondness for the Elektron Monomachine and Roland JD-XA. It is finding its way into newer material and what better way to get under the hood and utilize its more in-depth features than to use it with intent and purpose.