Korg Rk-100S Keytar with Built-in Synth

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Since the full swing keytar comeback, Korg has ventured into making their catalogues for inspiration. The new RK-100S says it all. With a classic look combination and Korg’s current analog-modelling synth technology in a compact, wearable unit, RK-100S takes the Korg trend a notch higher. Take a look at a brief overview of this keyboard.

Overview of Korg RK 100

Korg RK 100

The first RK-100 was released in 1984. RK-100S is sort of a replica of it with quite a striking design that resembles its original touch. It comes in a red, white or black finish, though the new RK-100S is more compact than the other due to the 37-note ‘slim-key’ keyboard. The keys are velocity sensitive but have no after touch. To change the programs you have an up-down lever that facilitates it together with a three-digit LED display. It is embedded with two ribbon controllers; one of them being a short one on the neck while the other a long one that runs below the keyboard. Also, by selecting one of the eight buttons which are above the right side of the keyboard, you can easily access banks of favourite patches. They look fascinating when you play them since they light up and they look like switches for arpeggiator steps.

There are four more backlit buttons just above the left side of the keyboard: the Tap, Arp, Short ribbon, and a Shift button that yields a few more buttons when it is used in conjunction with other buttons. For assigning the function of the long ribbon, the keyboard is embedded with an octave-shift buttons as well as two other buttons. Most of the connections are found on the right side of the instrument except for the volume dial and audio output which are located on the front panel. As for the headphones, there is a stereo signal carried by 1/4” audio jack that suits it and can also use 1/4” monaural cable or a stereo Y-cable. There are two ways to power it; by use of six AA batteries or an optional AC adapter.

 Built-In Synth

This keyboard has a small field of keytars that are capable of generating their own sound. It is also the only keyboard that employs analog modelling synthesis. As for the synths, there are a few other full-featured synth engines which have been derived from the Micro Korg XL+ just right under the hood referred to as Multi-Modelling Technology, engine models classic analog and digital waveforms and it also includes a vocoder.Korg RK 100

Each of the programs on the keyboard contains about two timbres or different MIDI channels in Multi-Mode. These timbres can easily be split or be layered into different key zones. Note that any program which has just a single timbre has eight-voice polyphony. This feature changes whenever another timbre is added or when a vocoder is added which in turn causes the number of polyphonies present to be halved. Also each timbre has two oscillators together with a sub-oscillator. There are waveforms which include; sine waves, pulse, saw, triangle. The first oscillator can generate a selection of sampled instruments, noise and single-cycle waveforms reminiscent of Korg’s DW-6000 and DW-8000 synths. As for the master effects, there are two which have 14 choices including delay, reverb, tape, compressor, ring modulator, and echo. There are quite a number of multiple modulations routings together with a virtual patch matrix that is of five different modulations source. Also each timbre has two-bands EQ.

RK-100S Editor

From the Sound Editor Software is where you should edit sounds while using Korg RK-100S. The software itself is a free download. The main screen has up to 200 pre-sets together with a list of pre-sets which have been assigned to the eight favorites buttons that are on the RK-100S. The pre-set list reads like a spreadsheet which has columns that have not been labelled.

 In Performance

RK-100S is a bit heavier than expected, despite the fact that it is more compact than the other Korg RK-100 series. It is fairly dense when it is at seven and a half pounds. It is hard to notice the wooden construction since all the colors of the RK-100S have been painted with glossy finishes. Like you would expect, the slim-key actions feels easy though it may be a bit troublesome for players who have been used to the full-size since they may be required to get accustomed to the approximate 75%  scale.

There are ribbon controllers that are responsive and at the same time fun and each can serve multiple functions for instance the short ribbon which can be assigned to either the pitch-bend or modulation.

As for the long ribbon, there are quite a number of implementations. In one it acts as a playing surface by just sliding your fingers across the long ribbon in order to play a scale with programmable note and range values for each of the pre-set, whereas in another, it offers a unique take on pitch bend. While you are playing a key with your right hand, you can easily press one of the two long Ribbon buttons which are on the neck. This will sustain the note you had played which in turn frees the right hand to use the long ribbon for an upward wide-range pitch bend or filter modulation.Korg RK 100


The RK-100S is one heck of serious looker with its retro-friendly synth engine. Once you get around playing this keyboard it becomes quite hard to put it down or even take it off. It is a complete modification of the other RK-100 series, from the physical appearance to the internal features. It is a complete fitting tribute to the original Korg RK-100 while getting enough forward-looking inspiration with very expressive possibilities and a cool factor as well. You can never go wrong with it. If you are looking for a keyboard to start with, then this is one is the best one for you. Get a chance to enjoy a wholesome exclusive, fun, music producing session.

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