Demo: Why Korg Wavestate is the brand’s next step in digital synthesis

January 7, 2020 Off By Sam Willings

As promised, Korg announces its new synth today: Wavestate, a 37-key, 64-voice, four-layer digital synth that’s presented as the modern successor to the Wavestation from 1990.

The classic synth used vector synthesis paired with a technology called Wave Sequencing that could create ever-evolving pads and textures. Its key limitation, however, was the repetitious nature of the patterns that would form the synth’s textures.

Second Wave

In traditional Wave Sequencing, the timing, sequence and pitch of each sample could be defined, creating patterns that could be looped. Using Wave Sequencing 2.0, Wavestate treats each of these characteristics independently and adds more parameters into the mix. Each parameter can have its own loop length and start/end point, and the result is textures that are more unpredictable but with an even greater degree of control (See the diagram below).

Each parameter has its own Lane, and the Lane’s start, end, and loop points can be modulated individually for every note using LFOs, velocity, envelopes, or other sources. So, when playing a chord, for example, each note can carry its own characteristics to create a more complex texture.

Wave Sequencing 2.0

Probability engine

Lanes can also randomise the step order, with control over the range of included steps. Individual steps can be skipped, with an adjustable probability from 0 to 100%, giving you control over the dynamic, evolving sounds. Wavestate sports four arpeggiators which can interact with Wave Sequences for further flexibility.

For serious sound randomisation, a dedicated button marked with a dice will generate new sounds using so-called “intelligent randomisation”. This can be used on as many or few parameters as you like, such as the filter, Sample Lane or effects.

Korg Wavestate Top

Get hands-on

Wavestate encourages exploration with all the knobs and parameters you need at your fingertips. Filters, envelopes, LFOs and effects are adjustable with dedicated front-panel controls. There are eight programmable Mod Knobs for warping sounds. The knobs can be twisted in real-time performances, with the option to save results as entirely new sounds.

Pitch Bend and Modulation Wheels combined with the Vector Joystick could provide endless creativity and expression. Almost all front-panel knobs and on-screen parameters on the Wavestate can be modulated, all the way down to modulating settings for individual Wave Sequence Steps.

Wavestate Joystick

Korg has included a boat-load of effects for achieving production-ready tones, with each of its four Layers containing three dedicated effects, plus a master reverb and parametric EQ. Effects include standards such as compressors, EQ, chorus, flanger, phaser and delay, plus the more exotic Wave Shaper, Talking Modulator, Reverse Delay, Multiband Mod Delay, and Overb (from the Korg OASYS), plus modelled VOX amp and wah effects, and even more stompbox-style effects.

Use your voice

Wavestate’s sample library is said by Korg to be “more than a thousand times larger than that of the original Wavestation”, including samples from Plugin Guru, Korg’s original Wavestation and more from Kronos and Krome libraries. 64 stereo voices can be played simultaneously, with Korg’s proprietary anti-aliasing sample playback technology to maintain clarity.

Four Programs can be layered up together in a Performance to go even further with your sound design, each with their own effects and arpeggiator. The Vector Envelope and Joystick can be used to blend the individual voices of the Layers, as well as modulating other parameters. With an impressive selection of modelled filters, there is some real scope to get creative with Wavestate. The synth recreates the MS-20 low-pass and high-pass filters, the Polysix’s low-pass and a collection of resonant 2-pole and 4-pole filters. A flexible Korg Multi Filter sounds particularly interesting, allowing multiple modes simultaneously, controlled by modulation.

wavestate long shot

Wavestate to Wavestage

With Set Lists, you can organise your Performances and access them instantly in a live performance environment. Smooth Sound Transitions allow for previously played voices and effects to ring out naturally, even after selecting a new sound.

Connecting the Wavestate to a FOH mixer or recording interface can be achieved using its balanced stereo outputs, and a stereo headphone out. Din-style MIDI ports allow connectivity to other MIDI instruments and audio gear. USB MIDI connections to Windows and Mac computers are supported too, with the Wavestate Librarian programme available as a free download from Korg.

With Winter NAMM less than a week away, and more gear set to be announced from Korg, no doubt we will be getting our hands on Wavestate and more – stay tuned as we reveal more.

Wavestate will be available for shipping soon and is priced at £699. For more music tech news click here. More info from Korg here.

Keep up with NAMM 2020 news here.

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