Korg SOS SR-1 Loop Recorder Review

Korg SOS SR-1

Korg SOS SR-1

Last weekend, Shimamura Music store in Nagano-city, Japan was offloading their remaining stock of Korg SOS SR-1 recorders at a rock bottom price, so I decided to pick one up. I have had my eye on one for a while and I didn’t think I would likely come across one on the used market so I bought one. I’m very glad I did, because this little device is a total homerun purchase for me for a number of reasons. First I MUST say that I have a “specific” need or use for the Korg SOS SR-1. That requirement is that I needed to be able to record a keyboard like the Yamaha DX-7 into the Korg SR-1 and seamless loops between two A and B points. From there I want to have all loops recorded into separate WAV files for easy export into either a DAW or a multi-track hardware recorder. In this regard, the Korg SR-1 works absolutely perfect and to my knowledge is the ONLY recorder that does this particular task. I’ll elaborate further below.

1. I plug the Yamaha DX-7 ( example synth ) into a Mackie Mixer and then the mixer into the 1/8 line in jack of the Korg SOS SR-1.

2. As a guide, I then browse through the many on board Drum patterns of the Korg SR-1 for recording a 8 to 16 bar loop. No problem there.

3. I set the Korg SR-1 to record the drum pattern for 16 bars as an example. On playback, the SR-1 sounds great and the drums are recorded “seamlessly” at the initial volume level.

4. Then I practice and record loops, overdubbing as much as I please ( unlimited overdub tracks ) over 16 bars with the Yamaha DX-7. ( Or with any other synth plugged into the mixer ).

5. When finished, I finalize my 16 bar pattern in mere seconds and pop out the microSD card for transfer to the computer. In Sonar for example, I am able to drag and drop all overdubs separated into individual tracks. Simply brilliant!!! I can also put the WAV files into the Boss RC-300, Roland VS-1680, Zoom R8 etc.

6. From there, I can mix and add anything I like to enhance the audio tracks “individually”! I can now delete tracks and do further editing if so desire as well.

IMPORTANT!! Yes, I have to push the play or record button to overdub so the Korg SR-1 would likely NOT work well in a live situation. My purpose was to find the fastest way for me to overdub and record synthesizer or keyboard patterns and have them recorded into individual WAV files. I didn’t want to use the computer because I prefer to play my parts live on hardware synths and wanted to keep my hands on the keys as much as possible instead of a mouse. That’s just how I operate so I know others will prefer other methods. The Korg SOS SR-1 works very well at getting overdub loops between two A & B points into separate and “seamless” WAV files. It’s simply works fantastic.

Are there any issues with the Korg SOS SR-1 that I’ve encountered so far? Well not really, BUT these are likely problems for many.

1. You cannot connect the Korg SOS SR-1 directly via USB to the computer. – This isn’t a problem for me and don’t mind using just the microSD.

2. The microSD is more difficult to use than a regular SD. – Perhaps, but again it’s a minor issue for the work that I do.

3. It’s difficult to read the screen and the batteries don’t last long. – Again double true. To combat this I bought an adapter and have memorized the menus I need to get my projects done. It’s an inconvenience, but not a major problem. I definitely would not use this as an “out in the field” recorder. I think at this time there are better options and the same or similar price point. For looping though it’s awesome!!

4. Is the Korg SOS SR-1 a good live looper? – I don’t think so. The Boss RC-50 and RC-300 are much better suited for that purpose AND they have midi. Where the Korg SSO excels at is recording individual loops and saving them into individual WAV files all in sync. You “could” use the SR-1 as a live looper, but frankly there are better options for “LIVE” use.

5. Is there anything else like the Korg SR-1 on the market today? – No! I haven’t seen anything that can record unlimited seamless loops, all in sync, and with only the push of a button which can then be all saved into individual WAV files. There’s nothing out there quite like the Korg SR-1. It’s really fun to be able to loop record keyboards like the Yamaha DX-7. This give you the ability to layer different sounds, patterns, and build up 80’s and 90’s sytle songs without the use of a sequencer or any programming. You can also pipe in effects or tryout the Korg SOS effects which aren’t too bad as well. Your audio data is then saved and you can import them into likely any DAW for later editing or song creating.

The Korg SR-1 is simply brilliant as a loop sratch pad for ideas and song creation. It is quickly becoming my favorite piece of gear to record music. With the WAV files you can then insert right back into a Roland VS recorder, Zoom recorder, etc for later playback or in sync via midi. The two main keys are that the Korg SOS records into separate WAV files AND it allows you to record seamless AB loops VERY quickly with almost no setup in between takes. Ideas don’t stay long in my head. They need to get out quickly and the Korg SOS SR-1 allows me to record fast into a usable data format that can later be reused or modified for another piece of gear. For my specific purposes, Korg hit a huge homerun with the Korg SOS SR-1 recorder.

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