NAMM Release Radar: Korg Wavestate
Ever year NAMM provides us with new and exciting releases from all kinds of brands. Korg is one specific brand that seems to follow the trend of releasing new stuff this time of year. We often see a wide variety of new products from Korg each year, spanning across their ranges of keyboards, synths, etc. However, there tends to be one release from this company that stands out among the rest. In 2018 it was the Prologue, last year it was the Minilogue XD and this year it looks like that product is going to be their new Wavestate synthesizer.
Just like many other releases this year, the Wavestate is bringing a vintage package into the modern world of synthesis. While drawing from many late 80s and 90s synths, the most obvious nod here is to Korg’s 1990 Wavestation. Basically, we are talking about concepts like vector synthesis and wave sequencing, which are a little bit too hefty of a topic to explain in this article. Just know these types of sound engines are what this unit is being based off.
The Wavestate seeks to reimagine the past while utilizing the advantages of the modern era. Thanks to these modern advancements, this one is a really unique synth compared to the other stuff out there. The blending of several different types of synthesis in conjunction with convenient digital features makes this one stand out. Let’s look at some of the specifics as to why this guy is going to be so cool.
Analog Layout with Digital Advantages
Those familiar with original Wavestation (or any 90s digital synth) will instantly recognize the massive improvement in front panel capability. Instead of relying on a screen to handle the bulk of the controlling, the Wavestate utilizes many of the hardware features found on analog synths. The buttons, knobs, joystick, and sequencer all work to provide a really nice physical connection for users. Many will obviously prefer this type of layout for both live use and the overall experience. It does seem that real-time performance was at the forefront of Korg’s planning for this release.
Playing in Real-Time
As just mentioned, there is a lot of appeal here for players looking at synths with solid real-time capabilities. First off, the classic Prophet VS-style joystick makes for great expression via different modulation settings (i.e. A B C and D axes). Additionally, the full-size velocity-sensitive keys will be much appreciated by many players.
Beyond the physical aspects, there are plenty of digital features that enhance this instrument’s live abilities as well. The Wavestate has an all-new smooth transition element that makes it, so you are able to let a sound decay even after you have already changed to another patch. Furthermore, live organization is made easy thanks to the well-designed setlists. These features are going to yield some really slick performances!
New and Improved Filter(s)
Not too many people were fond of the original Wavestations filter, most found to be rather bland and not expressive. Luckily, this issue has been completely remedied in the Wavestate thanks to the inclusion of several classic and not so classic options. The four-way switch on the front panel includes one modeled after the MS-20 and after the Polysix along with a highpass. The last switch position is the “more” selection, this will bring up another 9 filters to make a total of twelve to choose from. These filters include 2 and 4 pole, lowpass, highpass, band reject, and bandpass filters. In conjunction with the deep step-sequencing abilities, these filters offer a lot of exciting paths to go down.
The Wavestation was all about giving the user the ability to create super dynamic sequences that had the potential to be wildly interesting. This process was made possible thanks to having each step of the sequence being editable with several different parameters. While this was a way of getting unique sequences, there was no real evolution to the sound. The original Wave Sequencing was basically capable of very exciting loops.
At the heart of this new release is its updated engine, Wave Sequencing 2.0. This new platform takes everything great about individual step editing and expands it greatly. Instead of getting just step to step sequencing, now you can take advantage of the Wavestate’s lane functionality. Lanes are basically separate pairings of steps that can all interact with each other however you see fit. You are able to control these lane’s loop points to make for some long-form evolving sequences. The possibilities here are endless, there is truly so much that this has to offer for anyone doing nonlinear sound design.
- 37 (3 octave) Full-Size Keys
- Classic Vector X/Y Joystick
- Wave Sequencing 2.0
- Editable Step Lanes
- Programmable Setlists
- Smooth Sound Transition Between Patches
- Multiple Classic Filters
- 14 Simultaneous Effects
- 4 Built-in Arpeggiators
- Random Parameters Button
- Massive Sample Library