13 June 2008
I was excited when I heard about Korg developing a synthesiser program for the Nintendo DS, but yesterday I got a chance to see and hear it in action at the London International Music Show. I can confirm it's very cool. It wasn't officially on display on the Korg stand, but a gentleman called Tatsuki was kind enough to demonstrate his own pre-production copy of it, which looked like it had been burned onto a generic homebrew card.
There have been other instruments created for the DS before, but this is arguably the first that has been designed to work for solo performance (unlike Jam Sessions). You can create loops (including basic drum loops), and sequence different patterns to build up more complex pieces of music. Most importantly, you can save your creations to the card. Using wi-fi, you can apparently play with up to eight others and share sounds, although my understanding was that they would need to have their own cards too.
The sound was extremely high quality. It was being amplified through decent speakers at the show, but it sounded crystal clear and much like I'd expect an original MS-10 from 1978 to sound. Not that I have a great idea of what that's supposed to sound like, but I mean that it sounded like an instrument and not like a toy.
The synth appears to use the interface well. When you patch the effects, for example, you touch one socket and drag a cable to another socket to patch them together. The touchpad can be used as a Kaoss pad emulator, which bends the sounds playing according to how you stroke the touchpad, and adds a bit more of a human touch.
Here's my photo from the show:
It's due for launch towards the end of July, but won't be getting a UK launch unfortunately. So I guess I'll have to import it.
If you want to know what it sounds like, check out the sample song on the official website. There were bits in there that sounded like parts of Oxygene.
Speaking of which, the show took place at Excel in Docklands, built on the site where Jean-Michel Jarre held his Docklands concert in 1988. I hadn't been back there in twenty years, and it was strangely moving to see the Millennium Mills building still standing proud on the other side of the docks.