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Comparing Two Inexpensive Korg Synthesizers: The Minilogue and the Microkorg

I won't claim to be a synthesizer know-it-all here, as I am just starting to learn sound synthesis in recent years, but I have really been enjoying playing around with these two machines. Both are relatively inexpensive, normally at or below $500, and with patience, I have accessed them at a good used discount. The Minilogue (2016) is pictured in the attached video. I use a sound I created, playing with the settings on the synth, which are mostly controlled by the onboard analog knobs and switches. The attack and release are set to give each note a slow onset and conclusion, and the polyphonic mode is used to play chords. Some other patches I've made use the mono and unison modes to create powerful stacked lead sounds. The mono and unison settings only allow one key to sound at once, but there are special parameters reserved for each mode that make the note sound fuller and stronger. The original Minilogue can store up to 200 patches, whereas the 2019 sequel, the Minilogue XD, which is on my wish list, can hold up to 500 patches. With the Minilogue, I have found myself sitting in my basement with it set up, spending hours on end making new sound patches. I use mostly my original patches when I play out with this synth.

The Korg Microkorg (2002) is the other synthesizer I'm using now, and it has several similarities to the Minilogue. It is also polyphonic, with up to four notes sounding at once, although, there are other modes where mono and duo patches are possible. It also has memory, and can store up to 128 different patches.

There are also a few important differences, which is why it is nice to own both. One, is in my opinion, the preset patches on the Microkorg sound better. They are more full sounding, diverse and dynamic, whereas, on the Minilogue, I like my original patches much better than the presets, many of which sound too similar to me. The second major difference is in the way that patches are created on each synth. Unlike the Minilogue, the Microkorg uses a digital-analog hybrid system called a matrix editor to produce patches. The Minilogue's analog system allows for more real-time control of the patch's qualities than the Microkorg's edit matrix, but there are more variable parameters in the Microkorg's edit matrix. The Microkorg also features a vocoder, which allows for sounds to be articulated with your mouth, recreating vowel and consonant sounds. The vocoder patches are customizable, with a separate matrix editor for the vocoder. The vocoder makes for some really cool effects, some essential for certain songs. For example, the introduction to Earth Wind and Fire's 'Lets Groove' can be roughly recreated with anyone's voice using the vocoder. I find playing with the vocoder to be as much as a fun time killer as creating synth patches.

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