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  • #16
    Jerry, if this Korg thing doesn't work out for you, I can always use a proofreader.
    Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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    • #17
      But seriously...ever have one of those days? Well, today was one of them. So what better way to try to salvage it than by playing with a cool keyboard?

      Uh...I mean...working on a Pro Review.

      Anyway, there are a lot of programs in the M3...512 pre-loaded programs, another 512 free programs that became available after the M3 was introduced, programs for use with the optional EXB-RADIAS board, GM2 programs...lotsa stuff. So the question then becomes how do you access all this stuff? In the heat of a session, when you're looking for a string synth program, can you find it easily or do you have to hunt? Let's find out.
      Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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      • #18
        Programs are organized as banks, and there are dedicated buttons for each bank. The image shows where the buttons are located - toward the upper right corner. The upper row of buttons selects internal banks, and the lower row, user banks. Of these banks, 1A - 1D (each bank has 128 presets) contain batches o' patches, 1E has 32 vocoder-based patches and the rest are user patches, 1F is for EXB-RADIAS patches but unfortunately, if that board is not installed, the bank is essentially "dead." 1G is an overachieving General MIDI set of patches.

        As for the User banks, the U-A through A-D banks contain the 512 new patches that Korg made available to users recently. A-E, A-F, and A-G contain user patches. However...although I haven't gotten too much into the whole USB storage thing yet, I'm assuming that you can shuttle user patches in and out via USB sticks or hard drives. Note that the user banks can switch between M3 and EXB-RADIAS programs, but you have to decide this ahead of time by using a global command to set a bank to one option or the other.

        A quick aside: One of the things that really appeals to me about the M3 is the EXB-RADIAS option. I reviewed the RADIAS for the August 2006 issue of Keyboard magazine and really fell in love with it. I seriously considered buying it but at the time, my bank account was arguing with me about the wisdom of that decision, and I didn't. It's nice to know that if I can scrape up the bucks for an M3 at some point, I'll be able to get a RADIAS in there too. And by the way, if you saw Dr. Walker's synth tour at the Frankfurt show in the Harmony Central Theater, you'll know he's a big fan of the RADIAS too.

        Of course, you can choose programs by hitting a Bank button, then using up/down arrow buttons to scroll through programs in the bank. One question with any type of synth is how long does it take to switch programs, and whether it gets ugly if you're switching from a program with, say, a long decay to one with a short decay. The M3 is actually very good in this respect if you're just incrementing and decrementing. If you spin the data wheel to select programs, there is some lag as it moves through the programs, although it's about par for the course.

        But something that did surprise me was that if you're sustaining a note from one program by holding the key(s), then switch programs, the sustained notes from the previous program will continue sounding as long as you hold down the keys. Of course there may be a timbral change if there's a change in effects, but still, that's cool.

        I must admit that as I scrolled through the programs to test the response as detailed above, I got hung on many of them. The KARMA+drum track feature is wonderful, as you can call up a sound and get lost in the patterns and changes...I've attached an audio example of the "Cosmic Furnace" patch in action. The Drum Track is providing the drum track, and KARMA is adding the rhythmic changes to what I'm doing with the right hand. Partway through the example, you'll hear me working the ribbon controller, which is assigned to some kind of filtering. (And to those into French dance music from the 80s, yes, that would be the ideal pattern to put behind a remake of Philippe Russo's Magie Noire--still one of my favorite tunes of that era.)

        What?!? My hour is up for today? Okay. Well, tomorrow we'll find out if there's any kind of decent search function for finding sounds of a particular genre or style.
        Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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        • #19
          Craig, this is TOO funny. I had the same problem today trying to install the editor/librarian for the Korg Pandora PX5D. No matter what I did, the device would not show up in a MIDI port (though it recorded and played back audio seamlessly in my DAWs).

          To all: Download Craig's article and keep it in a safe place! It saved my bacon! (Well, it saved me a little embarrassment in front of the Korg guys at least. )

          I'm following your M3 tour with great interest. Very cool stuff about the velocity and aftertouch resolution. Looks like one deep machine!


          I'm glad that my embarrassing myself in front of the Korg tech support folks saved you from doing the same. Having already embarrassed myself in front of Yamaha over the same issue, I'm actively looking for other keyboard manufacturers in front of whom I can embarrass myself. All in a day's work If it's any consolation, Korg indicated this is a problem they have to deal with constantly. So it's not just you and me. Hello? Microsoft? Anyone home? Does the XP SP3 service pack solve this?

          Agreed about the velocity/aftertouch, particularly the aftertouch. I'd go so far as to say that until you've played this controller, you haven't experienced what aftertouch can really do. If only it was poly aftertouch!!!! But sadly, that seems to have died with Ensoniq.

          Memo to Korg: Consider releasing a master keyboard controller with this keybed.
          Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

          Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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          • #20
            First of all, I gotta say the color touch display is great. It's spoiling me with respect to gear in general...it's a great way to interact with an OS.

            Second, this may be in the manual somewhere, but what's the recommended way to clean fingerprints that accrue over time from the touch display screen? Diluted Windex? Warm water? Chamois? Any cloth? Paper towels? Inquiring minds want to know...
            Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

            Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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            • #21
              One thing I forget to mention in the beginning is the price range, especially since there was a recent price drop. So I checked at Musicians Friend and found the 61-key version is going for $2,199, the 73-key model for $2,599, and the 88-key version with the weighted-action keyboard for $2,999.

              This kind of price range may take it out of the "beginner" class, but based on what I've seen so far, considering what you get in return this is pretty competitive pricing.
              Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

              Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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              • #22

                Second, this may be in the manual somewhere, but what's the recommended way to clean fingerprints that accrue over time from the touch display screen? Diluted Windex? Warm water? Chamois? Any cloth? Paper towels? Inquiring minds want to know...


                Many of our users have found (and we agree) that microfiber cloths are a great method. A touch of water and not much pressure works fine.

                I also personally will use eyeglass cloths or cleaners, like I would on my computer screen. But I've found that the cheaper the brand the more wet they seem to be, so I prefer Bausch & Lomb (for example) over cheap generic one.

                A search at either forum will bring up many discussions of cleaning both the surfaces and displays of our products.

                That's what's so great about the 'Net communities.

                regards,

                Jerry

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                • #23
                  The M3 categorizes programs based on categories such as Keyboard, Organ, Strings, Vocals, Brass, Guitar, Bass, Slow Synth, Lead Synth, FX, Drums--15 total--and two user-definable categories.

                  The main program screen itself shows the category; in the first image, at the top you can see the Bank (USER-A), Category (00 Keyboard), and program name and number (000: 4-Way Stereo Grand). If you touch the Category label, it opens up a menu that shows all programs in that category, as shown in the second image.

                  In the lower left, you'll notice a Jump to Sub (-Category) button. Touch that, and it does one more level of sorting based on particular sub-categories. For example, the Sub-Categories for Keyboard are Acoustic Piano, Synth Electric Piano, Real Electric Piano, and Clav/Harpsichord.

                  When you save a program, you can specify both a category and sub-category. However, there are no other "tagging" options (such as author, date created, etc.), nor are there any search functions other than browsing categories and sub-categories.
                  Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                  • #24
                    I know this is early in the review, but I'm already smitten by the aftertouch, the touch screen, the sound, and also, the editing software which is very helpful.

                    For example, check out the Browser section of the software shown in the first image. The left side shows the various categories, and to its immediate right, you can choose whether to show programs from that category in all banks, or individual banks.

                    The software is bi-directional in the sense that if you single-click on a program in the browser, it's selected automatically at the M3 itself. However, in the browser, the editor's "virtual keyboard" is inactive. I wish this wasn't the case, because if it was, you could click on a program, click on a few keys, and decide if it's the sound you want. (Yeah, I know, I can reach over and hit the keys on the M3...)

                    Double-click on a program in the browser, and it opens up in the editor software. At that point, the keyboard becomes active, so you can edit--click key--edit--click key--edit etc.

                    In the software's Preferences section, you can specify an audio interface, as shown in the second image. When running USB, audio is not transferred (that happens only with the FireWire interface). However, what this means is that you can feed the M3 outs to the audio interface's audio inputs, and it's ready for recording into any software you happen to be using; or you can monitor the interface's audio output and hear the synth in action.

                    This was actually a useful discovery, because a lot of times when programming I use headphones to pick up on small sonic nuances. This means I don't have to swap the 'phones back and forth between the M3 headphone out and audio interface out--I can just leave them plugged into the interface and whether I'm playing the M3, working with a sequencer, or editing with the editor, I don't have to change where the headphones are plugged in.
                    Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                    Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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                    • #25
                      I already mentioned the superb aftertouch response and velocity, but before going too much further, let's cover the remaining real time control options.

                      On the back, you have 1/4" jacks for assignable damper, expression pedal, and sustain switch. These are assignable to various functions, e.g., the footswitch can do modulation, portamento, program select, tap tampo, sequencer control, etc.

                      To the left of the keyboard, there's a 4-way joystick, ribbon controller, and two switches. The first image shows the joystick and ribbon controller; that cool blue look on the joystick is internal illumination, not nifty studio lighting. It looks REALLY cool. The action is good - just stiff enough to give a little resistance, but easy to move rapidly.

                      (As an aside, I always wonder how design teams deal with this kind of decision. Do they have tons of musicians come in and fill out a form where they can check off "too stiff," "not stiff enough," or "just right?" Do engineers get into impassioned arguments - "It needs to be stiffer" "No, you're a moron, it's too stiff already!" Or does some springy material show up, they put it in, and say "good enough for me?" In any event, they got it right.)

                      BTW the joystick is assignable, so you don't have to use it to control the defaults (pitch bend, vibrato, and filter LFO).

                      The one inconvenience with a joystick is that unlike a mod wheel, you can't leave it set to a specific position, as it returns to center when left alone. The way Korg gets around this is with the multi-purpose switches, which you can see in the second image. Among other talents, you can assign the second switch (SW2) to lock the joystick position - in other words, if you find a joystick setting you like, push the switch and the joystick value will remain even when it returns to center. However, only the axis you've selected to lock remains fixed - for example, if you lock the Y axis value, you can still use pitch bend, or vary whatever else is assigned to the X axis. Incidentally, you can program the switches to be momentary or toggle (push on, push again for off).
                      Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                      Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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                      • #26
                        I've mentioned that I like the touch display, but it's not just about the touch; it also is good at conveying information you want to know.

                        For example, check out the first image. This shows a typical program screen, and note the section that's outlined in red: You can see that pushing on SW1 sends the sound an octave down, while SW2 locks the joystick and ribbon controller. JS-Y means that it locks the value when you pull the joystick toward you; had it said +Y, it would lock the value when you push the joystick away from you, and JS Y means that it locks whatever is selected on the Y axis.

                        The switches also allow for momentary or toggled changes, such as adding modulation. This varies from program to program.

                        C.S. tells what the control surface with the faders controls. In this case, the screen shows how the sliders vary KARMA parameters, but there's more to the story...we'll get into the details later. It probably goes without saying that if you alter any preset assignment, any changes show up in the display, and are saved with the program if you save it.

                        The second image shows the screen that indicates what the control surface faders do. For the faders, this is "read-only" - you can't vary the faders from the display. Then again, why would you want to, when you have real faders you can adjust...
                        Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                        Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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                        • #27
                          The controller feature is a good thing, but there are actually five "pages" for the controllers so there are more real-time control options than it might appear at first. Looking at the first image, you can choose whether the controllers affect the Mixer, do RealTime Control (what's currently selected), send data to External gear, cover Tone Adjust, or edit KARMA parameters. So you could, for example, hit the KARMA button and do real-time KARMA manipulation, then hit the RealTime control button and do things like mess with filter cutoff, resonance, and the like.

                          Let's talk about that External option for a second. If you select the Setup option, there are 101 templates for a bunch of common soft synths and programs - the second image shows the template for Reason's mixer. There are of course templates for other Korg gear and their Legacy Collection soft synths, but you'll also find templates for instruments from Arturia, Applied Acoustics, BFD, Garageband, MachFive, Digital Performer, Cubase, PlugSound Pro, various Steinberg instruments, etc. etc. A PDF is included on the M3 distribution CD that shows the parameter values for all the presets.

                          External presets 102-127 let you program (and save) your own controller setups. For example, the third image shows External Set 127 being set up so that the sliders generate controller #007 ("licensed to change levels") on channels 1-8.

                          I found that the external signals are always transmitted through MIDI regardless of which page you have selected on the M3. The External switch is basically for selection and programming.
                          Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                          Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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                          • #28
                            A Pro Review is a bit of a balancing act, because I don't want to just drown you with facts and specs, or just observations, or just audio examples; it needs balance. So let me inject some opinions in here.

                            The sound is just gorgeous. It's detailed and clean, without being clinical. I don't know what Korg has done from a technical standpoint but OASYS notwithstanding, this is the best Korg product I've ever heard; the quality is stunning by any standards.

                            It's unfortunate that an MP3 can't really convey this, whether you're listening to what I'm posting here or what's on the Korg site. There's a subtlety that is obvious when listening to non-compressed files, so if you're curious about this keyboard, you might want to hit your local store, strap on some headphones, and listen to what I'm talking about.

                            Also, I know I've mentioned the touch screen before, but I'll say it again: It rocks. Learning any synth as sophisticated and complex as the M3 is not easy, but the touch screen sure makes it easier.

                            Finally, the look of the M3 is really quite appealing. Anyone who comes into the studio and sees it does a double-take; the lines are clean and functional. I realize that looks don't affect performance, but I can't help but have the looks influence how I relate to the M3. It's an inviting keyboard to look at as well as play.

                            So far, I'm really, really impressed. Hopefully I'll find something to complain about soon to keep this interesting
                            Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                            Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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                            • #29
                              So, it not so many words.....

                              The M3 is the BOMB!

                              That is all.
                              Studio One 3, Ableton Live 9, a StudioLive 16.0.2, HS 80M monitors, 2 ATH M50 headphones, Synths both hardware and software, and a DJ rig using turntables.

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                              • #30
                                I have been an M3M owner since May 2007 and i think its a superb instrument by Korg

                                You are doing a great job going thru it
                                I live a life of fearless self invention

                                If you want to see God laugh, don't make any plans

                                Good is the Enemy of Great

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