KORG volca series

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jjj just posted this on his store's Facebook page:


Has anyone else seen these yet? jjj says they are crazy stupid fun and I basically want all of them but want to hear more about them.

STOP KILLING ANIMALS, THEY'RE MINT (DJP), Monday, 6 June 2016 22:29 (six years ago) link

they are fun! i have a beats and have messed around with a friend's sampler. the sequencers are very "playable" -- lots of real time manipulation, really encourages you to be hands-on.

the kick on the beats is surprisingly solid. the toms and clap are decent also, but overall yeah it sounds about how you would expect for a $150 drum machine (insert usual caveats about processing, that the 303 was a toy, etc). the sampler seems like it might have a more distinctive character out of the box.

i don't think you can go wrong if you're looking for an impromptu jammer or travel buddy.

home organ, Monday, 6 June 2016 23:28 (six years ago) link

*updates wish list*

STOP KILLING ANIMALS, THEY'RE MINT (DJP), Tuesday, 7 June 2016 15:03 (six years ago) link

the keys is really cool - 3-note poly, some weird/interesting voice modes. crusty noisy delay if that's your bag (it's mine!).

was hyped for the sampler one before release, but I was hoping for being able to play the samples pitched across the keyboard and you can't out of the box - there's some real hack way of doing it involving a fancy MIDI cable from another company. so it's more of a 'load in your samples that you prepared on the computer, sequence them' deal. can get android apps to load the samples on if you don't have an iOS device.

the motion sequencing stuff is excellent, obv this is one of korg's strong suits now what with electribes, then these, and the minilogue doing a fancier version of it - gets around lack of LFOs, brings the sound alive.

if I didn't already have a reface DX, I'd be all over the new FM one (can load DX7 patches!)

they should do a little mixer for them all next!

Justin Townes' URL (haitch), Thursday, 9 June 2016 03:05 (six years ago) link

I like the Keys, but haven't used it in awhile. The best use I found for it was controlling it with midi and blending it with soft synths playing the same chords (maybe with different voicings), to add some grit and rawness.

sam jax sax jam (Jordan), Thursday, 9 June 2016 17:55 (six years ago) link

Didn't notice this thread as I haven't been on IMM in a while.

I like these, they're great fun but best used imo as step sequencers and we had a great night at a friend's birthday bash improvising on a full set. Agree though that the Sample is very limited and needs a bit of work for it to do what you want. Also don't undersestimate how short the sample length is.

The whole backing track for my PSBs pre-cover track was done live on a Beats/Keys/Sample setup.

Horizontal Superman is invulnerable (aldo), Wednesday, 22 June 2016 13:31 (six years ago) link

that great video of legowelt making a track shows off his modded keys, which he uses as a polyphonic sequencer.

Justin Townes' URL (haitch), Tuesday, 28 June 2016 05:49 (six years ago) link

one year passes...


A mixer that powers three Volcas!

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Thursday, 18 January 2018 19:13 (four years ago) link

That's the only really useful function of it - if they're synced then play/pause performs the same function as muting the channel and I just use a cheap 4-1 mix block to balance the volumes against each other.

Bimlo Horsewagon became Wheelbarrow Horseflesh (aldo), Thursday, 18 January 2018 20:20 (four years ago) link

two years pass...

volcæ re-evaluation! what are your faves? I think I've played with all but the NUB ASS at this point. (got a 'producer pack' with FM, bass and sample + mixer and case when it was clear we were going into heavier lockdown in March.)

beats: bad snare. not so much of the motion sequence stuff either. I think it might be the most dated of them at this point.

keys: still like that crunchy delay from upthread. it's limited in what it does but for stuff like simple chord stabs, easy way to get 'em.

bass: this one stands up the best of the OG three for me - filter sounds good; motion sequencing three oscillators so they're squirming around like a bag of snakes is a nice unusual trick.

sample: didn't really end up liking this, just cos I prefer playing a sampler like a synth, and this is too much of a faff to play pitched. preferable to the beatsas a drum machine.

FM: amazing that a box this size has more usefully tweakable control than a real DX7, but it does. it is still hard to program a sound totally from scratch though. wish it had one more voice.

kick: love this - lots of tone shaping, can use it for 808 style basses, great performance stuff. rulez. why spend more on a eurorack kick?

modular: the fact that it's the key Buchla concepts in a box that size is a miracle. the patch 'cables' are a touch fiddly, but it's my favourite by miles and miles.

drum: some really good sounds our of this. I need to put a bit more time into learning it - it's reasonably complex. this is the one I'd like in a larger format with 1/4" outs and stuff.

nub ass: not played with.

everyone hates the mixer for not being exactly what they want but it actually sounds nice and crunchy when you push it hard. every other one that's tried to keep the form factor looks like a cramped mess to me.

2 Markov Chainz (haitch), Tuesday, 29 December 2020 02:01 (one year ago) link

kinda tempted to get a nub ass. i've got a volca sized gap on my table, a spare sequencer channel, and nothing else that does that sort of sound. it's either that or a b*******r for that price level i guess?

kites aren't fun (NickB), Tuesday, 29 December 2020 13:16 (one year ago) link

KEYS - I've rediscovered my love for this, I know it's a bit limited in scope but I just love the sound. It responds very well to fx, and I still think it's best layered with some other synths. My most recent success was adding a very sharp attack from a u-he preset playing the same part, it modernizes the sound a lot.

FM - love this too, it sounds amazing (especially for bass, and even pitching up the bass sounds for chords & leads). I've been pretty happy to tweak presets rather than worry about programming something from scratch.

Given how much I like the size & sound of these, I would love to have more Volcas in my life, but none of the other ones are very enticing. My workflow is to control them with midi and record the audio while tweaking knobs, so I don't care about live jams. The sample seems fun, but it's easier for me to just do it on the computer. Same for the Kick. And the Bass doesn't seem like it would do anything that the Monologue wouldn't.

Actually I forgot about the Modular, that does sound fun, will have to look into it some more. How easy is it to set it to a specific bpm? The clock knob looks fiddly, and I'm not sure how using a DAW external clock would work exactly.

change display name (Jordan), Tuesday, 29 December 2020 17:16 (one year ago) link

I have a track coming out that is basically two Volcas having a conversation

change display name (Jordan), Tuesday, 29 December 2020 17:17 (one year ago) link

it'll still take a sync clock from the other volcas. I think if you were to clock another volca with MIDI off your DAW and then send sync out to the modular's sync in, that should be pretty solid.

2 Markov Chainz (haitch), Wednesday, 30 December 2020 09:47 (one year ago) link

(the modular, that is!)

2 Markov Chainz (haitch), Wednesday, 30 December 2020 09:58 (one year ago) link

what i have been enjoying with the volca fm of late is running the 'picking' preset through a short delay and also doubling up the sequence with a reverby pad running on something else and you can get some really nice fake oud sounds that way, get some phrygian mode going and you're sorted

kites aren't fun (NickB), Monday, 4 January 2021 23:43 (one year ago) link

I wonder if that's the same one that I read as 'plucking'? It must be, it's the best one. After getting it I was inspired to make two whole tracks using mostly that preset, and a bass. On one of them I think I layered it with a marimba patch and some harp samples, but yeah it's so usable.

change display name (Jordan), Tuesday, 5 January 2021 17:13 (one year ago) link

I think there's a pluckkey *and* a picking preset, which is confusing! Picking sounds like a zither string being hit with a stick, pluckkey is more of a harp type sound, which has almost a flutey tone to it, albeit with a harder attack. Still not sure what a 8arnbass is though

kites aren't fun (NickB), Tuesday, 5 January 2021 22:08 (one year ago) link

i'm wanting to get a cheap drum machine and have been looking at the volca beats — anybody know the difference between the analog vs. the digital one?

Totally different head. Totally. (Austin), Sunday, 10 January 2021 19:14 (one year ago) link

these might be mischaracterisations, but from the demos I've seen, volca beats has got some nice classic 80s drum machine sounds but seems to be cursed with a terrible snare that sounds like a wasps fart. volca drum has got a wider palette and sounds a lot more modern. guess it depends on what sort of music you want to make with it?

kites aren't fun (NickB), Sunday, 10 January 2021 20:03 (one year ago) link

Not a Volca but I can recommend the Korg NTS-1 synth. It's a bit cheaper (£100 or so) and is well worth it for the effects alone - filter sounds lovely and there are several different reverbs and delays that can do some crazy shit. There are downloadable oscillators and effects as well but I haven't really explored them. Only downside is it's pretty small and flimsy, so more like a Monotron than a Volca in terms of build.

paolo, Tuesday, 12 January 2021 09:37 (one year ago) link

Austin I'd def give the volca drum a try - you can get more, and more weird, sounds from it. all digital but lots of tone shaping on offer, plus sequencer does probability and stuff like that to get you out of endlessly sticking with the same loop.

this guy fakes a Lyra 8 with it! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWbdrH5qcgM

the beats is analogue kick and snare matched with sampled hats and other percussion, it's sorta nothing you can't get from a decent sample pack.

2 Markov Chainz (haitch), Thursday, 14 January 2021 16:22 (one year ago) link

Wow! I have no interest in using it for drums, but a lot of interest in using it for non-drum applications.

change display name (Jordan), Thursday, 14 January 2021 16:28 (one year ago) link

Hmmm. I keep going back and forth on whether I should get the drum. I used to play music with a buddy but I moved away and lack music buddies here. I've got a looping pedal but it gets boring after a while and I feel like a new piece of gear might be what I need to get back to it.

Is it pretty intuitive to use? I had an Alesis awhile back and I had a very hard time figuring it out.

Cow_Art, Thursday, 14 January 2021 21:41 (one year ago) link

(not a Volca and more expensive but maybe a bit like a more flexible Beats?)

Being cheap is expensive (snoball), Wednesday, 20 January 2021 19:28 (one year ago) link

one month passes...

Is it pretty intuitive to use? I had an Alesis awhile back and I had a very hard time figuring it out.
forgot to give an answer on this, sorry! so, it is and it isn't. you get six drum voices and you can do what you like with them, no preset 'kick' 'snare' etc, which means dialling in sounds from scratch will take longer (no real templates for each).

you also need to grasp that you get two layers per voice, which is good for doing one short sharp sound and another longer tailed one to combine the two.

2 Markov Chainz (haitch), Tuesday, 23 February 2021 13:12 (one year ago) link

I tried using the 'Edit' function of the Volca FM for the first time, attempting to do some actual patch programming (or just get the LFO set to pitch for a given patch!). I watched a tutorial and it seemed like the parameters coming up on mine did not match what the video guy had, idk.

I'm still getting great results just by twiddling knobs, you can get a long way from the presets just by changing the algorithm and adjusting decay & velocity. I may never learn it properly but I'm still getting more tracks out of it than maybe any synth I've owned.

change display name (Jordan), Tuesday, 23 February 2021 15:10 (one year ago) link

Nice to hear you're getting good use out of it, Jordan! The Volca FM is the first synth I bought, 3 years ago. I ended up selling it in part because I couldn't get my head (and fingers) around programming it.

american primitive stylophone (zchyrs), Tuesday, 23 February 2021 17:18 (one year ago) link

one month passes...

Loki hates lo-fi delays I guess?

Being cheap is expensive (snoball), Friday, 9 April 2021 18:30 (one year ago) link

(that's supposed to start at 33 seconds in)

Being cheap is expensive (snoball), Friday, 9 April 2021 18:31 (one year ago) link

tax marvel

John Cooper of Christian rock band Skillet (map), Friday, 9 April 2021 18:38 (one year ago) link

It's a streaming series, no budget for a Minilogue (much less a Kyra or something)

change display name (Jordan), Friday, 9 April 2021 18:43 (one year ago) link

If this had been a late 70s BBC series, it would have been a Stylophone.

Being cheap is expensive (snoball), Friday, 9 April 2021 22:05 (one year ago) link

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