Korg Microsampler makes sampling fun

Korg Microsampler
Korg Microsampler

Today I found a used but practically new Korg Microsampler that someone obviously bought and then decided they didn’t want it. It came with the box, manual, adapter, and mic. I like sampling and despite hearing mixed reviews about the Microsampler, for my purposes I think I’ll be quite happy with hit. I’ve read about the limitations of the Korg Microsampler and I don’t think it will give me that many problems with the somewhat lower expectations I have with it. I’m actually quite excited about the Microsampler and I’m sure I’ll use it quite a bit.

The main reasons why I picked up the Korg Microsampler are several. First I spend a lot of time waiting for my kids at the swimming pool, hip-hop dance studio, ballet, and at their cram schools here in Japan. The Korg Microsampler will allow me to sit in the car or in the waiting area and give me something to do. With some samples loaded up I can create some pattern ideas with which I can use later with my other keyboard samplers and workstations. I can also experiment with chords and ideas in musical theory that I often read about or watch in video format. Of course the keys are small and perhaps not practical to play full blown piano on, but they are enough to finger some chords and work with progressions. It will also be fun to sit in the car and sample my own voice and have fun playing around with the samples. Not to mention the 80’s style stuff I can likely accomplish with the Microsampler.

What drew me to the Korg Microsampler was the fact that it’s portable, runs on batteries, and can hold enough samples to create some creative song ideas with it’s pattern recorder. You can load up some drum kits, bass samples, and some EP or synth sounds to create some patterns. The effects seem pretty good and it’s quite easy to sample things using the mic or audio inputs. I’m quite satisfied with the Microsampler thus far.

To me, the Korg Microsampler is not meant to be a full blown sampling workstation. I also don’t think it’s a powerful multi-sampler nor does it have lots of ability to tweak samples. My dedicated samplers at home can pretty much do everything I need. Instead the Korg Microsampler is a great little keyboard sampler to get samples in, record to a pattern, and then transfer back out again in a very portable manner. It may be able to do a lot more once I log more time with it. I’ll definitely update my article here once I learn more about it. Stay tuned!

Yamaha SY77 Music Synthesizer

Yamaha SY77 Music Synthesizer
Yamaha SY77 Music Synthesizer

The day following my purchase of the Yamaha V50, I took a drive over to another used music store that I usually visit about twice a month. I was stunned to see sitting on top of a shelf a vintage Yamaha SY77 in excellent condition. It had a hard shell case and inserted into the card slot was an MCD64 64K Memory Card. The pice tag was $100 bucks. I took it down from the shelf and quickly decided to give it a whirl to see how nice it sounded. As expected, it sounded great.

Just one day before I had found a fantastic Yamaha V50. One of the things I wanted was a memory card for it, so I got onto Ebay and checked around. As exepcted I found a couple of MCD64 memory cards, but they were at least $75 plus an extra $35 or so for shipping to Japan. You can imagine what I was thinking when I saw the MCD64 memory card sticking out of the Yamaha SY77. In my mind, I basically bought the memory card and got a Yamaha SY77 synthesizer for free…laugh. Seriously, that’s what I thought.

When I got home with the Yamaha SY77 I noticed that it was extremely heavy. This thing is built like a tank and it weighs like one as well. Throw a hard shell case in with it and you have some major ball busting to carry this around. I don’t know if I’ll be lugging it on the stage, but I can certainly say it will fit nicely in the home studio. It’s a big synth, but the keys feel great and really solid just like the Yamaha DX7.

A couple of notable problem areas on these Yamaha SY77 synthesizers are (a) the LCD fading out and (b) the floppy disk drive failing due to broken drive belts. In my case, the LCD was just fine. However, my floppy drive was indeed not working. I opened up the synth and took a look inside. As expected ( and hoping ), the floppy drive had a broken belt. The rubber stuff was luckily easy to clean off in my case and quickly I scrounged up a rubber band to replace the floppy drive belt temporarily. I needed to check and see if the floppy drive was operational or whether there was an additional problem.

I put the Yamaha SY77 back together with the floppy drive fixed using a rubber band. I started it up and decided to format a new floppy disk. Awesome! The floppy drive worked like a charm. Now I can just order a new floppy belt off of Ebay and know that will fix it for quite a while. I don’t know if just using the rubber band will be stable enough long term. I was happy that I didn’t have to pay $85 from Floppy Drive Solutions for a new floppy drive, although I may do that in the future if I use the drive a lot. Right now, transferring voice banks from the computer via midi is the way to go. I can also use the MCD64 Memory Card for adding extra banks to the SY77.

All in all it was a great day and a nice surprise to come home with a really nice Yamaha SY77 to go along with the Yamaha V50 from yesterday. After playing both synths, I must say that the sequencer, drum machine, and raw edgy synth sound of the Yamaha V50 is pretty cool and unique. However, the incredible power of the Yamaha SY77 Synthesizer is simply awesome. I haven’t tried the sequencer yet, but it looks great and of course it’s a Yamaha. They have probably the best sequencers. What I like the best about both synths are the keys themselves. They are so nice to play and are very sturdy.

If anyone has any questions about the Yamaha SY77 or Yamaha V50, please feel free to comment or send me an email anytime. Thanks and enjoy!

Kawai K4r 16bit Digital Synthesizer

Kawai K4r 16bit Digital Synthesizer Module
Kawai K4r 16bit Digital Synthesizer

Today I picked up a “like new” Kawai K4r 16bit Digital Synthesizer Module at a local second shop in Japan for an amazing price of $20. I couldn’t believe the price and they even had the module sitting over in the junk section. I think they either thought it sounded like junk, or they looked it up and couldn’t find any info. Whatever they thought, they basically let me walk out the door with an almost mint condition Kawai K4r Synth. Not only that, but the Kawai K4r came with a Ram Card, set of manuals, power adapter, and an extra Rom Card titled “Synthetic Productions – Masteram Series Voice Card for Kawai K4 Volume 1”.

Honestly I had never heard of the Kawai K4 or K4r until today but for $20 I had to give it a shot. The sounds are pretty good, but after reading about this synth module, there are quite a few cool sounds and editing capabilities under the hood. It will be fun to go through all the presets, card voices, and do some preliminary programming with it. I can say that a few of the pads, basses, and sfx sounds are fabulous that I quickly listened to. At the price I bought it for I feel it’s going to be a really fun synth to work with.

All in all, it was a pretty good week picking up a mint Roland W-30 and Kawai K4r for a total of $100 bucks. My thinking is that they must have come from the same person because they were both produced in 1989 if correct and the they were both in mint condition. It’s going to be a fun weekend jamming with these two machines.

Later I’ll write some additional comments and thoughts about the Kawai K4r synthesizer as I learn the ins and outs of how to program with it in addition to just playing around with the presets. Stay tuned!

Sampler Triggers Arppegiator Sync for Roland Juno 6

Roland Juno 6 Synthesizer
Roland Juno 6 Synthesizer

Today I successfully managed to trigger and sync my Roland Juno 6 arpeggiator with my Yamaha RS-7000 Sampler Workstation. AWESOME! It works beautifully and the timing is very tight and doesn’t have any problems at all. I sampled a positive pulse sound and loaded wav up with the Yamaha RS-7000. I then used the Sequencer to create a pattern of pulse beats. After that I connected a cord from the headphone jack of the RS7000 Sampler to the Trigger Sync Jack (In) of the Roland Juno 6. I turned on the Arpeggiator along with the hold button and presto …. the arpeggitaor was triggered flawlessly. You have to turn up the volume on the RS-7000 all the way too so that you get at or above the 5V mark.

The Yamaha RS7000 Sampler is perfect for me because I can also sync with Midi and have any other drum machine, sampler, synth, etc. play in time with the Roland Juno 6. Sweet! You can also program different patterns among a few other things on the Yamaha RS-7000 so that you can get some really cool Arpeggiator arrangements for the Juno 6. After searching around the internet I could find very little if any information, so I was quite thrilled to find a solution so easily and quickly. Now I don’t have to waste money on a Roland TR-707 or TR-626 for simply triggering the Juno 6 or creating patterns. The RS-7000 does it all and more.

Thus getting the Roland Juno 6 in sync with my other gear is now completely solved. Saving patches is the only minor glitch, but that is actually proving to not to be a big problem because I can pretty much program the sounds I need rather quickly anyway. It’s also fun to just be plain different whenever I do a song each time because it adds variety and I can come up with new fresh ideas. The Roland Juno 6 is a fantastic synth and for the price I paid $90 including manual and hard case, I really feel like I’m in Synth Heaven. Much fun indeed!