KORG Minilogue Review: A Powerful Synth at a Low Price Point

During the NAMM show this year, KORG announced the arrival of their new synth that they have called the Minilogue. I had a chance to do an evaluation of this instrument earlier this week, and it’s one of the most powerful and versatile synths to come from KORG since the MS2000.

I’ve worked with the KORG MS2000 quite a bit, and I have always been impressed with its functionality.

They say that good things come in small packages, and the MS2000 definitely fits that category. It was made in the early 2000’s, and since then KORG has been focusing on workstation-style keyboards.

The latest model is the Kronos, and they have done an excellent job with it. They have made other workstations in the past (such as the Triton, which I used to own), but few of them have the functionality that these two giants possess.

I’m glad to hear that KORG has developed a new synth, and I’m excited to share my thoughts and opinions on this fabulous new piece of gear. So, if you want to take quick look at some of the features of this new synth, keep reading.

Simplicity in Design

One of the things I always liked about KORG is that their instruments are easy to use, so I can get creative right out the gate. It’s easy for me to get inspired when I play one of their instruments, and that says a lot about the company and their products. They design them with the musician in mind.

The KORG Minilogue is far from the exception. In fact, it’s added a tremendous amount of functionality with a simple design, so you can do more in less time. Still, you shouldn’t be fooled by the lack of bells and whistles. There’s a lot of power hidden inside, and it comes out when you play it. It can morph sounds in a variety of ways, which you can do with different waveforms and LFO’s.

Powerful Presets

If you’re like me, you like to keep things simple, which means that you love presets. That’s one of the things I like about KORG, and the Minilogue does anything but fall short. Not only does it have 100 different presets (most of which are geared toward modern dance music), but they can also be modified in any way you see fit.

The KORG Minilogue also gives you the ability to build your own, and it gives you 100 slots of memory to store them for later use. You can even add up to eight patches to a “Favorites” list if you want to access some of them more quickly.

16-Step Sequencer

Another thing I’ve always liked about KORG’s keyboards (and this is especially true with their workstations) is that it allows me to sequence in real-time, so I am able to create music on the fly. The same thing can be done with the KORG Minilogue. You can program it to play a variety of patterns, and you can automate a number of processes to give you more control over what it can do. Some of them include, but are not limited to:

  • Step length
  • Gate length
  • Swing amount

You can even use its Motion Sequencer to automate knob and switch movements.

4-Note Polyphony

The KORG Minilogue can be played in monophonic mode, which can come in handy whenever you’re playing leads. But it does allow you to set up as much as a 4-note polyphony. This type of “voice allocation” can be set in several different ways:

  • Poly Mode – Gives you the ability to play up to four notes at the same time for straight polyphonic playing.
  • Duo Mode – Allows you to play two notes at the same time.
  • Unison Mode – A mono synth mode that plays the note in four different octaves.
  • Mono Mode – Straight monophonic playing, but it allows you to add two or three more notes that you can use as sub-oscillators.
  • Chord Mode – A type of monophonic mode that allows you to play up to four voices simultaneously as a chord. You can play any one of 14 different chords with just one note.
  • Delay Mode – Allows you to play one note, and it will play three more in a cascading pattern.
  • Arp Mode – Gives you an arpeggiator with a 4-octave range.
  • Sidechain Mode – Comes in handy if you want to play a lead against a lower note. It will reduce the volume of the previous note after another one is played.

The settings in each mode can be changed with the “Voice Mode Depth” knob, but it won’t allow you to play more than one mode at the same time.

Pitch Bend and Modulation Controller

I’m sure I’m not the only one, but I HATE pitch wheels. The main reason is because I don’t like the way they feel. I don’t have the control of a joystick or horizontal pitch controller, especially when I’m playing a lead.

Many synthesizers have them, which is what I like about the KORG Minilogue. It has a horizontal pitch/modulation controller on the lower-left part of the panel, and the best part is that it can be used to change other parameters as well. This gives you a lot more ways to manipulate the sound of the instrument.

Here are some of the parameters that you can manipulate with this controller:

  • Gate length
  • Envelope
  • Filter

Of course, there are many other effects that you can change with this controller, and I won’t be able to mention all of them in this post.

Drawbacks

While there are many positives to this synth, there are some drawbacks, but that’ll be the case with any piece of gear. That’s why it’s important to make a careful evaluation of both to help you make an informed decision.

One major drawback of the Korg Minilogue is that it has smaller keys, which can annoy some people. Personally, I don’t like them, but I prefer the feel of a real piano over a keyboard that plays like mashed potatoes. Still, there are those who don’t mind (and in some cases prefer) smaller keys with a lighter feel, but everyone has his or her own preferences.

The KORG Minilogue also lacks a “sample-and-hold” feature, which limits it to some degree. And the lack of pedal inputs won’t give you the level of control that you might expect.

Final Thoughts

The KORG Minilogue may not be the most powerful synth on the market, but you get a lot for a $499 price tag. The quality of the sounds and the simplicity of its design make it worth looking into. It has a more powerful synth engine than you may think, and it’s a perfect instrument for people who want to create modern sounds without spending a fortune.

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