KORG M01D Review
Japanese software synthesiser vendor DETUNE leaves KORG DS-10 looking entirely outdated, as they deliver their own fully-fledged music suite to the Nintendo eShop.
KORG M01D switches out the classic MS-10 analogue synthesiser interface used by its predecessor, instead choosing to place the toolset of the more sophisticated M1 at your disposal. Whether taking a train or lying awake in bed, the Nintendo eShop title’s eight-track sequencer will see you fulfilling your compositional aspirations in no time.
The M1 music workstation saw release back in 1988, at which point it was seen as being unique for its PCM sound generator that could play realistic instrumental sounds from sampled audio data, and has since been used by artists such as Aerosmith, Depeche Mode, Madonna, Mike Oldfield, Pet Shop Boys, and Queen, in world-renowned songs such as “Vogue” and the synthesised orchestral opening to “The Show Must Go On.”
That’s what it has helped accomplish in the past, of course, and it’s now down to you to compose your own sensational creations. That there’s no tutorial will make getting to grips with KORG M01D all the more tricky, especially with the application placing 342 types of sounds for you to explore and arrange across your eight-track step sequencer.
In its stead, newcomers can turn to the digital manual to read through a rather extensive rundown of precisely what every ominous function key, button and slider do. As with many things in life, it will take time to familiarise yourself with every tool placed at your fingertips, but once you push through this you can really reap the rewards of KORG M01D‘s irreproachable depth.
It’s the numerous screens that you will initially need to be accustomed to. The main menu letting you edit the overall structure, as well as presenting sound names, tempo, number of steps, and available memory space (each song can be comprised of 16,384 items of note data). Beyond this you have the Browser screens where you choose the sounds played by each track, are organised across three banks and ten sound categories, with users able to adjust attack and decay settings, as well as volume, pitch and pan with certain sounds.
Synthesiser Sequencer (SYN SEQ) and Drum Sequencer (DRUM SEQ) screens let you enter and edit note data, whilst a Keyboard (KBD) lets you record performances in real time, although it isn’t possible to play chords. Your options don’t end there either, with a KAOSS Pad letting you draw lines with the stylus that are then translated to melodies or drum patterns in your chosen key and scale, the Mixer lets you edit volume and pan levels for each track, whilst the FX screen sees you applying reverb or echo to the sound.
By this point, you’ll most likely feel overwhelmed by everything before you, but you can always feel free to put to use as much or as little as you wish.
Once you have finalised your musical creation, there are multiple methods through which your efforts can be shared. StreetPass lets you select a creation to send to any other eager composers that you wander by, use a local or Wi-Fi connection to exchange with a registered friend, whereas you can also export your song as a MIDI file by saving it to your SD Card, allowing you to then upload it wherever you wish.
KORG M01D, as with titles such as New Art Academy, successfully broadens the 3DS output beyond that of purely a gaming device. Whilst it certainly won’t be for everyone, and could have perhaps been geared toward being slightly more accessible, DETUNE should be commended for the sheer depth that they have achieved with this emulation.