Korg's new M3 and M3-M keyboards
Author: Vedran Dakic
Date: 18 Jan 2007

Does anyone remember M3R? Well, if you do or if you actually own them, you just might have a small confusion here. But it won't last long, I can promise you that. Back in the 1988, the world had its first workstation and, as many of you can remember, that was Korg M1 (AI synthesis, 4MB ROM, poly 16 voices, max 2 OSC/voice, 61 keys, 32 effects@2 effect units), sold in quantity of over 200.000. Later on, we had M1R (rack), M1EX and M1EX-R (with additional 4MB ROM). Afterwards, there was also a M3R (1U rack model with its own set of cards), which adds a little bit to the confusion. This might be the reason why one of the products that are being announced today, M3-M (rack M3 version) has this "-M" addition to it...

Anyway, here are some pictures:

Now, to me, this seems like a reasonable "OASYS spin-off". It has Karma (hmm, I see additional "Drum Track" key next to that, which could probably be used for turning the drum track on and off - cool thing). Looking at numbers, there are four Karma layers plus the Master layer, with 8 scenes. So, like OASYS has. It also has eight (8) velocity-sensitive pads, a TouchView interface (it looks much more like Trinity's and Triton's then OASYS's), eight control switches, eight sliders, a revised joystick, SW1/SW2 and sliding pad and all of the other bits and pieces - COMBI/PROG/SEQ/SAMPLING/GLOBAL/MEDIA mode, and the usual sequencer/sampling controls. In case you wondered, it also has seven sound banks (both "I" and "U", so, from I-A to I-G and U-A to U-G).
A close look to the back of this syntheseizer shows something rather interesting - EXB-FW (FireWire interface, two connectors, looks like two IEEE1394 400 Mbit/s connectors). You can use this connector to connect the M3 to your computer and, by using your favourite sequencer you can make M3 appear like a standard plugin with complete control. There are also three USB connectors (two A-type, one B-type), MIDI IN/OUT/THRU and the usual things - three pedal inputs, S/PDIF IN/OUT, two audio inputs, four individual outputs, L/R outputs and headphone connector. Pretty much standard. But there's something that finally got some attention - the Sequencer. It goes up to 480PPQ (all of the "old" functions like RPRR, Cue List, One Touch Recording are there).

What's not so standard? Well, there's something called a 73-note model (by the way, 61 and 73-note keyboard have a new keybed). You might find this thing a bit strange, but when we discuss Korg Komponent System, it's all gonna be very clear. So, what's going on here? You can have a RADIAS-R module and M3 in this model directly. And the 88-key (RH3 keybed) model can host dual M3's or M3/RADIAS configuration. Pretty innovative, I'd say. But you can also have RADIAS as a EXB-card in your M3 (it's called EXB-RADIAS) and use RADIAS sound within M3. Very cool. BTW, it's a 24-voice, single timbre RADIAS-in-a-card. And on top of that, you can use the color TouchView interface like an X-Y pad (Z1 anyone?)

The expected price of a 61-note model is $2600 and should be available in early summer

Some technical info:
- EDS (Enhanced Definition) Synthesis, 120-voice poly
- 256MB ROM (1024 multisamples and 1606 drumsamples)
- three models, 61, 73 (!) and 88-key
- 1664 user programs (512 preloaded), 1792 combinations (384 preloaded), 144 drumkits (32 preloaded)
- 170 effects, 2 master + 5 insert effects, 1 total effect
- Karma v2, Wave Sequencing, - Open Sampling System (64MB RAM preloaded, up to 320 with additional EXB-M256 card with 256MB of RAM)

We'll try to bring you a complete and detailed review very soon so - be sure to drop by later. Meanwhile, since this seems like the hottest Korg product on this Winter NAMM, here are some high(er)-res pictures for you (just click on these links):