Korg’s modwave synthesizer was unveiled in January this year during the NAMM “Believe in Music“ event and joins wavestate and opsix as a formidable trio of innovative digital synths, this time bringing wavetable synthesis and a host of other tricks to the party.
At first glance, the three synths share a lot in common, most notably form factor and price. They’re also all products of Korg’s Californian R&D division and offer a fresh, distinct approach to synthesis compared with Korg’s current analog line of products.
If you’re after a synth to help you stand out from the crowd, these digital monsters are a great place to start. While the interfaces and engines require a bit of time with which to become familiar, your investment will be rewarded by rich sonic worlds you may never have known even existed.
As mentioned, modwave is at its heart a wavetable synthesizer, but one that’s full of surprises. Each oscillator can load one or two wavetables from the expectedly expansive onboard library. Wavetable parameters include position and morph (the latter of which has many modes of operation) which are by default setup as modulation destinations for dedicated envelopes and LFOs respectively. If two wavetables are loaded, they can be blended together via a dedicated knob for even more permutations.
The first big surprise you may encounter is that each oscillator can alternatively offer sample playback, and the vast factory sample library spans many gigabytes covering all sorts of instruments and special effects, from acoustic pianos to synth pads to noisy ambience. There are more than a few nods here to Korg’s classic DW line of synths, a reference that extends to the moDWave’s name itself.
The two oscillators (in whichever configuration you choose) along with their associated envelopes and LFOs form a single program, two of which can be layered together to form a Performance. This alone presents a huge scope for sound design, but each Performance also includes a variety of powerful and unusual modulation sources.
First, there’s Kaoss Physics, which models a ball rolling around a surface. The two axes can modulate a number of parameters simultaneously (assigned via the modulation routing section). Swipe your finger on the XY pad to get the ball rolling, or decide ahead of time from where the ball should emerge when a note is triggered. There are pages of parameters to influence the ball’s behaviour including surface bumps or holes and even variable friction, which can themselves be modulated for dizzying levels of modulation complexity.
Add to this Motion Sequencing 2.0 which is largely inherited from the wavestate’s Wave Sequencing 2.0. In this case, we have 8 sequencer lanes to play with. The first four have pre-allocated duties such as pitch and timing. The last four are assignable and can act like automation lanes. The principles here are the same as wave sequencing 2.0 where the timing lane determines how each lane advances each step, and some lanes such as pitch can be optionally influenced by the shape lane (e.g. pitch slide), all of which are governed by the Master lane.
If you’re feeling impatient, there are plenty of presets to explore at every step along the way. But if you are willing to invest the time, you’re likely to create something truly unique, to your exact specifications. Or just a happy accident.
Modwave is available to order now via your Korg Dealer
Expect to pay $1199 AUD.