Korg N364 Workstation – A Great Sounding Synth!

Korg N364 Workstation

Korg N364 Workstation

I’ve had my eye on a Korg N364 Workstation for a while at a nearby used music shop here in Nagano-city, Japan. Ever since I started working with my older 1993 Korg X3 I’ve been really liking the functionality and sound of the Korg X and N series synths released during the 1990’s. The Korg N364 was released in 1996. What I also like about these two synths which are very similar, is how well the sequencer is put together and quite easy to use. The Korg N364 later introduced an arpeggiator and RPPR Pattern Play which made the sequencer more fun to use as well. The sound out of the Korg N364 is really really good and after giving the Korg N364 a trial run, I new I had to have it alongside the X3.

What’s interesting is how expensive the X3 and N364 are on Ebay. I bought my X3 back in the late 90’s for about $400 and the N364 I picked up for $350. On Ebay though, the Korg N364 is going for between $600 and $800 which is pretty steep. The X3 is a little less but close. The N364 that I bought has two common issues unfortunately. First, the LCD Backlight is no longer working. I’ll likely have to buy a new backlight and solder a new one inside so that I can see what I’m doing in the dark. I did this with the Roland W-30 recently and it worked great. The other problem is with the Floppy Drive. The belt inside is shot and I today I had to order a new one. I recently replaced the Floppy Drive Belt on my X3 and now it works great so I’m hoping to get the N364 Floppy back on it’s feet shortly. When I opened up the N364 I noticed the Floppy Drive had the same 26pin cable arrangement as the X3, however the X3 Floppy Drive is DD while the N364 is DD/HD.

Until I get the Floppy Drive fixed, I’ve been transferring files to and from the Korg N364 using a few programs. On the PC, I use the free XEdit v3.13 which allows me to load up X3 and N364 PCGs to transfer to the N364. I can also convert PCGs to Sysex as well. On the Mac, I use both Midi Quest and Sysex Librarian which both work great. Currently I have the N364 loaded with all the factory preset programs and combis. Unfortunately I don’t have the preset RPPR sets loaded but that’s no problem as I plan to create my own. Until I get the Floppy Drive fixed, there is actually no alternative method for importing the RPPR files. Pretty much everything else can be loaded via Sysex or Xedit using PCG files. Sequenced songs and patterns can be transferred via sysex so it’s easy to back those up. One of the great things about both the X3 and N364 is that the RAM saves the songs and patterns internally. You don’t have to save to disk to retain your work on power up. This is awesome and a big reason why I like these two synths.

I’ll update this article when I get the replacement LCD Backlight and Floppy Drive Belt for the Korg N364. It should be as good as new very soon although it plays great already. Both the Korg N364 and X3 are wonderful workstations. I recommend to check them out if you can find one at a decent price.

The sound though is really really good.

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12 thoughts on “Korg N364 Workstation – A Great Sounding Synth!

  1. Today I hooked up my Korg X3 to the Korg N364 and successfully transferred the PRELOAD.SNG and RPPR.SNG files using MIDI dump. It worked great and I was able to restore the songs and patterns 100% to the Korg N364. I then used a program called “Korg N263/364 File EditorVersion 0.91 to view the PRELOAD.PST and RPPR.PST files so that I could correct any problems with the RPPR sets. Most of the parameters were fine but on a few I had to modify the track number. The Korg X3 does not have RPPR so you can load up PST files and transfer them. Instead you have to load up the .sng files to transfer the song and pattern data, then view the .pst files to add or correct the pattern set parameters which is easy. After that the songs, patterns, and rppr sets work excellent. From there I was able to dump the data to the computer in sysex format for backup. The Korg X3 also allows the ability to save the .sng data to .smf so I was able to backup the files to MIDI. Note that the N364 .sng data does not playback using the correct sounds on the X3 because the programs are different. The X3 does however read, load, and convert the N364 .sng data just fine. Awesome!

    It’s also possible to transfer the .sng data from the Korg N364 to the Korg X3 also and then save that data to Midi files if required. I should have the Korg N364 foppy drive repaired by the weekend but it’s nice to know that the Korg X3 and N364 with respect to data communicate well with each other. The Korg N364 can handle 99% of all the Korg X3 data which is cool.

    For people without a Korg X3, you can use the program SNG2MIDI.EXE which works ok but you have to extract each song individually.
    usage: SNG2MIDI [-song #] input.sng output.mid

    Another great program that works very well is called SpGold version 4.09 or know as Sequencer Gold.

    • hi good day.
      I’m Zel from Malaysia
      n364 is great keyboard. I have one. My father bought it 13 years ago. still not bad… floppy drive and lcd light is broken. The main problem is I cannot restore back all the progs and combi sound to it original setting without floppy drive. Seems like you just solved the problem using SysEX librarian on your n364. Can you please teach me how to do that by using sysex librarian? I’m not familiar yet with the software.

      fyi: I have usb-midi interface, macbook and N364, can all this items help to solve the problem?

      best regards,

      Zel

  2. I’ve been playing around with the Korg N364 arpeggiator and I must say it’s a lot better than I what I’ve heard. The arpeggiator does NOT sync to anything really on it’s own, BUT it does sync very well when sequenced. What I found was you have to set arp sync to “off”. This allows you to get the attack almost spot on when triggering the arp. If you set the sync to “on” there is a significant delay in the attack.

    Second, you have to set the sequencer tempo to 120 for example and then the equivalent in arp speed needs to be set which would be 48. I then set quantize to 16th notes or whatever you want to quantize the arp to. I also find that if I set the latch to “off” and simply trigger or play the arp myself I get excellent results. I usually set sequencer record to loop so if the arp latch is “on” it will overdub which I don’t want to happen.

    I usually set the sequencer to a two bar count in and then right on the first beat I trigger the arppegiator. It’s almost always in perfect or near perfect sync because “my” timing is good. If your timing is not good you will have problems, so practice your timing!! I then play the desired note changes if any and then stop playing the arp at the loop point. With quantize properly set, I almost always get a perfect recording and an “in sync” recording of the arp. If there is a problem it’s usually human error on my part.

    Thus it’s perfectly simple to record the Korg N364 arp into the sequencer. The only real tricky part is if you want record a song with a tempo of 100. You then need to determine the corresponding arp speed. At the moment I’ve concluded that arp speed of 48 = 120bmp. Unless there is some documentation floating around, one will have to calculate from there the corresponding arp speed for whatever sequencer tempo that is set.

    I find that the Korg N364 arp plays and records very well. If you need to sync the arp with external gear, you can simply record the arp into the sequencer and create a pattern or RPPR set to ensure perfect sync with your external gear. I actually find recording arp sections to patterns to be better because everyone who plays an arp live knows that you have to precisely hit the next key dead on otherwise the “DOWN” or “UP” arp will skip or vary the arpeggio pattern. If the arp is locked into a sequenced pattern and then triggered via RPPR, it will always play on the down beat correctly and give you a perfect arpeggiated groove progression.

    The arp in the Korg N364 is more of a players arpeggiator and less of a sync and leave it alone style arp. It’s really a lot of fun to work with and to record into your songs.

  3. A while back I purchased a floppy drive belt for my Korg X3 from this company here:

    http://www.bustedgear.com/repair_Korg_x3_drive_belt.htm

    The X3 belt arrived within a week and it worked great on my X3. So when I found out my Korg N364 drive belt wasn’t working I thought the X3 belt should work. To test this I placed the X3 belt on the Korg N364 drive and was disappointed to find that although the “drive not ready” error was gone, I was now faced with a memory protect error. Figuring I would gamble a bit, I decided to buy two more floppy drive belts from bustedgear. I currently have one working in my X3 and another in my Yamaha SY77. I figured if I couldn’t get them to work on the Korg N364, I would have at least two backups for other gear.

    Today the two floppy drive belts for the Korg X3 and Yamaha SY77 arrived in the mail. I decided to test one out again on the Korg N364. To my pleasant surprise the belt worked and my N364 floppy drive was now back in working order. Awesome!

    It’s very important to note that bustedgear.com in now way advertises that the X3 floppy drive belt will work for the Korg N364. The reason is that the Korg N364 floppy drive belt is indeed “different” than the X3 belt. It’s slimmer in fact and that was likely the reason it didn’t work for me the first time. The Korg X3 floppy drive belt is much wider. You have to very carefully align the wider X3 belt around the wheel and spindle of the N364 very carefully. I found it does fit “exactly”, but it’s also very easy to get it crooked and thus when it rotates it will slide off the gold spindle. I gently turned the floppy drive wheel a few rotations to make sure the drive was properly fitted entirely on the spindle and that it didn’t slide off. Then I put it back into the Korg 364 and it worked great.

    I was able to successfully format a couple of floppies and even save some data. I now know that my floppy disk drive for the Korg N364 works just fine. The belt was the problem. Hopefully the wider X3 belt will stay in shape and keep the N364 drive going for quite a while. If you are in need of a replacement floppy drive belt you I’d recommend the bustedgear.com floppy drive belts, but be forwarned that the belts are different and it may not work for you as it did with me. Right now there are basically no alternatives, so I think the gamble likely will work out in your favor. Give it a shot as it works great so far in my Korg N364.

  4. Hey man my name is Mark and I’ve had a korg n364 for 15 years. I never used it because I couldn’t get the hang of it. Can you give me a few simple steps to lay down a track?
    Thanks for the help! :-)

  5. Hi Jim, just thought i’d drop a line and say Hi..
    I’ve owned my Korg N364 for 11 years now and I still love this awesome synth.
    One thing I’d really like to do is to extract all the sounds from the Korg and use them in FL studio as a VST instrument. I also have the N-Edit pro program that edits the sounds from the Korg and it exports sysex files.
    I can’t seem to load the sysex files in FL studio like you can with the Yamaha dx7 sysex files within the plugin Sytrus. doing it this way would save me a LOT of time, otherwise I’d have to record the entire Korg sounds in Edison then save the wav files in Direct-wave..There’s even Synth-maker in FL studio that helps create the VST plugin. I guess I’m in no hurry for it really but once I find the easy way to load my Korg sounds for use in FL, things will be a lot better. I’m thinking the best way to do it through recording the sounds in Edison then saving them as a state file in direct-wave and use only the sounds I need and like. if you know anything different let us know.

  6. Hey Jim,
    I am Albert from the Philippines. I have a KORG N364 and it worked for me very well since I brought it 3 years ago… Lately, an accident just happened while we are having a band gig at a bar… My KORG N364 just lost its memory I think because all my customized Patches and Tones are gone. All the numbers (patch value) were just stucked in a single tone which is the piano. And they were labeled “InitProg”. I was so down at that time I don’t know what happened. Until know I still have that problem. There was no “Low Battery” sign on it’s screen that could be atleast a reason.
    Can anybody please help me?

    • Hi Albert, that’s sad you lost your custom sounds. have you replaced the battery at all yet?
      In the Korg manual, it states that only a Korg Dealer can replace this battery but I reckon just about anyone with some technical knowledge would be able to. I found a link in Ebay which sells this item here
      http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/KORG-N364-N264-BRAND-NEW-SONY-BATTERY-/150813047447?pt=Keyboards_MIDI&hash=item231d287a97#ht_1021wt_1163 As for replacing the sounds in your Korg, all you need to do is do a factory reset by doing this, HOLD ENTER AND 7, THEN POWER ON.
      On another note, do you have the N-edit pro program that enables you to customise the sounds on the korg? It also enables you save and backup your Keyboard data. hope this somewhat helps.. :)

      • Thanks for your reply.
        No, I never tried to open the unit. I’m a video editor, I know so much about computer softwares but not about keyboards-computer connections. And I think the battery is still fine. I think, the problem was because while were on our way to that bar, the road was rough and that could shake the unit.

      • If I am going to do a factory reset, do you think I can still recover those presets? I mean the original sounds under PROG & COMBI? Because at this moment, since after that problem happened, all the sounds under BAND A,B,C & D are all just the same and they were all labeled “InitProg”… All I can access at ease are those sounds under BANK GM which is I think the ROM BANK.
        You think I can still recover those original sounds?

        I also downloaded the KORG N364 system files that could be used in formatting the unit. I saved it in a Floppy Disk and hopefully it could help. Thanks for your reply!

  7. yeah, loading the floppy disk should get back all your sounds too.. I had a problem where all the sound names appeared in strange letters, loading the original floppy disk solved it so it should do the trick. Good luck :) I’m trying to get a VST of this keyboard happening on my computer now so I can easily jump to the sounds i want in FL studio..already got the user interface for it happening :) just have to figure out how to implement the sysex data into it to make it work. I’m using a program called Ctrlr to do it in.

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