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  • Well, the comments posted above completely mirror my thoughts about the new sounds...so I'll move on to more functions we haven't yet covered. (As the review progresses, I'll try to record some examples using the newer sounds so you get an idea of what they sound like.)

    One M3 feature is the ability to record up to 100 user patterns - drum, bass, chords, whatever. These can be up to 99 measures long, in any time signature from 1/4 to 16/16 (including the "usual unusual" ones like 5/4, 7/4, 7/8, etc.). Basically, you can think of this as working the way most drum machines work, where you create patterns and string them together. As to how you string them together -- well, that's in the next post.

    Anyway, the first image shows the Pattern Edit screen. Like a drum machine, you can keep overdubbing as the pattern loops, and you can also erase data by holding down the Rec/Write switch as the pattern plays. You can quantize your playing as you record, or set it to "high resolution" which is essentially unquantized. Note that you can also enter patterns in step time, but [warning! personal bias alert!] I don't think that's a lot of fun - I'd rather play. Besides, if you want to edit something because you had a hard time playing it, you can always go a pattern Event Edit screen (second image) that's like the one in the sequencer, including the ability to filter data so you can see only the data you want to alter.

    If you go to the "Magic Upper Right-Hand Menu Button" (my term, not Korg's - don't worry, their marketing department hasn't gone off the deep end), there are additional functions: Pull in a loop from a track, copy to a track, convert to a drum track pattern, and the like.
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    • "RPPR" stands for Realtime Pattern Play/Record. Basically, it means you can take patterns and play them sequentially or simultaneously, with suitable sync so that the patterns are always working together (as in Ableton Live's Session View, where when you fire off a pattern, you can make it wait until it's supposed to start playing, like at the beginning of the next measure). Another option is more like a trigger mode, where you can start a loop and it will play through to the end before stopping - good if you want it to keep playing while you occupy your fingers elsewhere.

      You can also record what you play as a performance, which is a lot of fun if you have multiple loops loaded up and want to play them against each other. Your key presses are recorded as a track data in whichever track holds the pattern you're playing.

      The attached image shows the RPPR setup screen. This is where you locate patterns and assign them to particular keys. Note that while these keys are dedicated to RPPR, any keys that don't trigger patterns play normally. So, you could stick drum loops on the bottom octave, bass loops on the top octave, and play an instrument sound over the loops in the middle.
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      • Here's a link to the upgrade instructions so you can get an idea of what's involved. Note that you need a USB device with 4GB of storage.


        Hi Craig:

        I'm not sure where you came up with that figure... The file you download is 256 MB zipped up, and easily fits on a 512 MB stick...

        ???

        regards,

        Jerry
        Korg Guy

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        • Hi Craig:

          I'm not sure where you came up with that figure... The file you download is 256 MB zipped up, and easily fits on a 512 MB stick...


          Hey, it's your fault! I was so smitten with the piano roll and new sounds I temporarily lost my ability to type. I have since edited my original post in an attempt to remove all traces of Moderator Stupidity. But c'mon...haven't you missed a decimal point every now and then?

          But since you're obviously following the thread, damn, that update is nice! Seriously. Next time I'll concentrate on my typing rather than playing the M3. Although I will say, I have a great little groove thanks to my lack of attention to typing...
          Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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          • Hey, it's your fault! I was so smitten with the piano roll and new sounds I temporarily lost my ability to type. I have since edited my original post in an attempt to remove all traces of Moderator Stupidity. But c'mon...haven't you missed a decimal point every now and then?

            But since you're obviously following the thread, damn, that update is nice! Seriously. Next time I'll concentrate on my typing rather than playing the M3. Although I will say, I have a great little groove thanks to my lack of attention to typing...


            LOL, who can argue with that response?



            Keep enjoying, there's a LOT of nice stuff in this release.

            I'll be lurking...

            Jerry

            Korg Guy

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            • Okay, now that KARMA is up to version 2.2, it's time to check it out. In case you wondered, KARMA stands for Kay Algorithmic Realtime Music Architecture (named after is inventor, Stephen Kay).

              Trying to sum it up in a few words isn't easy, but I'll try. Basically, KARMA is not about creating or recording sounds, but creating music. Probably the closest point of reference is an arpeggiator, because the arpeggiator creates new music based on what you're playing. However, that's also kind of like saying that the way to understand a Lamborghini is to compare it to a tricycle. KARMA can create variations on drum patterns, strumming effects, crescendos, changes in phrasing and dynamics (as well as "internal" tempo changes within something like a glissando), and more.

              But what makes KARMA more than a lab curiosity involves two aspects: Musicality and control. Regarding musicality, KARMA is not just a randomizing-kinda deal - it's obvious some thought went into how KARMA goes about making musical decisions. As to control, you can vary the extent to which KARMA-ization gets introduced into what you're playing, and as the acronym states, this is all real-time stuff. As a very simple example, imagine a drum part where you can introduce changes with a slider - subtle in some places, complex in others.

              This is gonna be a fun part of the review.
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              • Before going any further, I have to say that the M3 was in my dreams last night. I dreamt I was in the studio with someone who saw the M3 and thought it was a work of art, not a keyboard, because of the pearl white look, the soft blueish-white glow on the joystick, and the red accents from the LEDs and buttons. I was trying to explain that it was a musical instrument, but the person kept arguing with me that I was wrong. For some reason (hey, it was a dream, don't expect logic), I never played anything and just looked at it and said "You're right, it is a work of art."

                I think this dream came about because I've also been playing with Yamaha's Tenori-On lately, which is indeed a work of art that also makes music. The M3 and Tenori-On seem kind of philosophically similar in terms of look (a Japanese thing, maybe? My daughter just bought a Japanese dress that included white, red, and gray).

                I also realized that with both the M3 and Tenori-On, the look makes you want to play these instruments. Coming from a guitarist's perspective, this reminds of how when I see a gorgeous guitar, I really want to pick it up and play it. I'm happy to see that instrument designers are getting away from boring black boxes with a little LCD and calculator-style keypad, and designing musical instruments that you'd be happy to plug in and hang on your wall.

                I think it's important not to underestimate the salutary effect of playing an instrument that also looks beautiful. Korg seems to be heavy into this - their Zero4 and Zero8 mixers come to mind as well.

                Okay, so much for that little rant...thanks for indulging me...
                Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                • I think that before we investigate KARMA's practical applications, we need to get "under the hood" a little bit. I'm going to simplify things as much as possible, because the object here isn't to be a rocket scientist - just to give a feel for how KARMA works.

                  The core of KARMA is what's called a "Generated Effect." If you've used MIDI plug-ins, you can think of the GE as a MIDI plug-in on steroids that's hidden within the system, so only the ability to vary crucial parameters gets exposed to the user. A GE has a repertoire of over 200 internal real-time parameters (RTP) that can be KARMA-fied; again for an analogy, think of these as similar to a microprocessor's instruction set - the list of operations a microprocessor can do.

                  Not all parameters are applied to all sounds. What you'd want to vary with a drum part is probably somewhat different from what you want to vary with, say, a bass line or guitar part. As a quick example, you might want to create a "strum" effect with guitar, but you probably wouldn't want to create a strum effect with a kick drum. As a result, there are several GE "modules" for different purposes. These include models that affect LFOs, melodic repetitions, gated controls, drum/percussion, bass/lead, etc.

                  The crucial aspects of these models are brought out to sliders and switches that allow you to affect the sound in real time. You can also use MIDI control mechanisms, like footswitches and pedals, to influence KARMA. This is what keeps KARMA from being just an "algorithmic randomizer" kinda deal; KARMA influences the sound, but you can influence KARMA.

                  So what kind of sliders and switches are we talking about? Quite a few, actually - 8 sliders and 8 switches, for starters. But you can also store 8 "scenes" of slider/switch settings. The eight pads can be a part of KARMA control as well.
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                  • In Program Mode, you can use one KARMA module to generate a particular phrase or pattern. In Combi mode, you can use up to four KARMA modules, with each typically applied to a different program within the Combi. Let's pick a program and check out what KARMA can do.

                    The first image shows the main program screen for the Log Drum program. Normally I wouldn't bother showing this, except note that "C.S." (Control Surface) indicates that KARMA is in play for this preset, because I pressed the KARMA button instead of the Real-Time Control button. So, now the control surface sliders and switches are all about KARMA control.

                    The second image shows the KARMA GE page. This displays which GE module is active, but note that while many programs come with pre-programmed GEs, you are in no way limited to the existing selections - you can choose from a variety of GEs. The third image shows the screen from which you can choose a category (left tabs) and a specific GE. For example, here we've chosen a Melodic model, producing a "Syn Techno Riff."

                    The fourth image shows the KARMA RTC (real-time control) screen, which is where things get really interesting. The sliders affect various aspects of the sound; note the abbreviation below each slider (Swing %, RhyCmpl, etc.). In many cases, these abbreviations are enough to let you know what's being controlled. But if not, moving the slider gives a more complete description in the SL field toward the middle. For example, if you move the RhyCmpl slider, the field shows "Rhythm Complexity."

                    Above the sliders, you can see what the eight switches do. When you press a switch, the SL field turns into an SW (switch) field and again, gives a more detailed description of what the switch does. As one example, the enigmatically-labeled NtSclTy switch is revealed as the "Note Scale Type" switch.

                    In case you haven't been keeping track, we're talking about a serious number of adjustable parameters. So what does it sound like, you might ask? Let's boot up the music computer and do a little recording.
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                    • Here's what you'll hear in the attached MP3 audio example. I had originally thought of breaking it up into separate segments, but running it continuously gets the point across a bit better about how this is a real time process.

                      The example starts with me just playing a few notes from the Log Drum program, without any KARMAfication.

                      Next, KARMA gets turned out, and you'll start hearing the pattern. At first, no sliders are being adjusted.

                      The first adjustment (about 7 seconds in) is to Swing, whose effects I'm sure you'll be able to hear. At about 10 seconds, Swing gets turned off, and the Rhythm Complexity slider gets turned up. At around 15 seconds, the note duration gets turned up; at 17 seconds KARMA starts affecting the number of repeats, and at around 19 seconds, transposition of the repeats kicks in.

                      This is cool stuff! But that's also enough for today - more to come.
                      Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                      • Hi Craig,

                        I recently ordered an M3, due for delivery next week, and in the meantime I'm learning so much about the M3 internals from you that your review could also be a training manual! Fantastic job you are doing, thank you.

                        I can't help wondering whether you have a job for life ... by the time you finish the detailed review(s) of M3 Expanded OS v2.0 and Karma v2.2 and the Karma PC Editor for the M3 and the Korg M3 PC Editor ... the next releases will probably hit the streets

                        Incidentally, I also found the M3 video materials produced by Stephen Kay very informative as training aids: Karma Labs M3 Videos

                        Best regards,
                        Rob

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                        • Hi Craig,

                          I recently ordered an M3, due for delivery next week, and in the meantime I'm learning so much about the M3 internals from you that your review could also be a training manual! Fantastic job you are doing, thank you.

                          I can't help wondering whether you have a job for life ... by the time you finish the detailed review(s) of M3 Expanded OS v2.0 and Karma v2.2 and the Karma PC Editor for the M3 and the Korg M3 PC Editor ... the next releases will probably hit the streets


                          Well, now that the AES videos are done I just fired up the M3 for another installment...I really thought I'd be done by now but the thing is so deep I drdastically underestimated the amount of time it would require!

                          Okay, it's booted up now...let's see, what to cover next...
                          Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                          • Craig, I may have missed it somewhere looking through you review, but how does the Radias EXB compare to the stand alone module? I have been in love with the Radias but alas, my pockets are also not deep enough at this point in time. Now that the EXB is available for the M3, are the same kinds of control over the parameters available as with the Radias? If there is one thing I love about hardware synths is knobs and it seems the m3 may suffer some in terms of real-time control. AMAZING review btw.
                            "Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime is death."
                            - George Orwell, 1984

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                            • Well, we may need Korg guy here because he thinks I have the EXB installed, but when I try to change the user patches from EDS, there's simply nothing else there. However, I believe I was sent an EXB so if it's not there, I can install it. This is definitely something worth covering. I'm with you on the Radias - a great, great synth.

                              I spent yesterday getting my media thing together - consolidating everything I've saved externally on a single USB stick (bought a 4GB stick just for this purpose, that should hold me for a while), investigating the new presets more, and the like.
                              Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                              Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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                              • I have an M3 with the EXB and had a Radias module up to a few weeks ago.

                                they are very very close, but not quite identical. You loose the drum mode of the radias (which is a terrible shame), the step sequencers, and the arpegiator and some of the neat things you can do with it and the mod sequencer. Another thing I found unfortunate was loosing the drum mode for OSC1. You could use that and the mod sequencers to create really cool pseudo wave sequences.

                                On the other hand, you gain very tight integration with Karma and the ability to layer it in combinations with the normal M3 sound engine. This is pretty powerful stuff, and you can use the EXB as a kind of FX processor for the normal part of the engine.

                                You loose the knobs...but you gain a touch screen. Thats kind of a wash.

                                I found the two close enough to not feel the need to also have a dedicated Radias module. I also bought my M3 when they were giving away the EXB-Radias (dont know if thats still the case) so It was an even bigger bonus.

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