Review of the
Korg Electribe Analog
by TweakHeadz Lab
I have it sitting right in front of me as I type. When i
bought it, I was a bit unclear about whether the Electribe would respond
to its own controllers over MIDI from a sequencer. I am very happy to
report--yes--you can twist the knobs going in and hear the result on playback.
And it sounds exactly as you expect it to sound. The Electribe A found its
permanent home just north of my computer keyboard, and south of the monitor.
Why do I give it such premium studio space?
One reason. Control! I can use it as a mini controller,
I can sync it to Logic Audio and control playback from the large buttons.
I can Tweak the knobs and watch my data go right into a track. Best of
all, I can record a track and then afterwards, do some serious knob tweaking and
have ALL the changes faithfully recorded in Logic, dynamically changing the
passage as much as I want.
I have a Korg MS-20 sitting here too.
Why would I
want an Electribe when I have the real thing? Well lets be clear on one
thing. Analog Modeling that the Electribe uses is NOT Analog, but a purely
digital representation of analog dynamics. Can you tell the difference?
Yes you can. In addition to being much richer and thicker sounding, analog
synths have a certain fluidity and instability. One note never sounds
exactly the same. The knobs smoothly alter sounds, yet in a sometimes
unpredictable way. The Electribe is perfectly predictable. You tweak a
setting and it will always sound like that. Also when you start resonating
at extreme settings, the digital nature of the sound shines through. That is a
strength or a drawback, depending on what you want. To sum up, there are
some analog sounds that the Electribe can only hope to simulate. But, its
much better than a sampled analog waveform and it can fool most of the ears,
most of the time. Its very much like the difference between hearing a
sampled acoustic guitar in a track and having a real acoustic track. You
begin to notice that certain nuances always sound the same, rather than always
different. But in the mix, often the sampled guitar wins out due to one
That's why I got it and I am not
disappointed. The ability to have a 303 style interface with its
step pattern arpeggios and use it to not only sync to my sequencer but to talk
to all my other modules and samplers as well. As great as my MS20
sounds, it will not sync to MIDI unless I take pains to get the CV jack a signal
it will understand. All my knob twists can only be recorded as an audio
track and there is no editing after the fact. With the Electribe I can go
in the hyper editor in Logic and redraw controller curves and get the sound
exactly the way i like it. And there is no hassle of keeping large audio
files on my hard disk.
Here's where it falls short: There's no amp envelopes. If you want
to program a sound with a long release you are flat out of luck. What you get
are two knobs for EG Int and Decay. These give you most of the
combinations of a typical Attack/Decay/Sustain Filter envelope, and for basses
and short note synths, that's all you need. To get a long release you have to
use the delay to emulate it. Another issue with the Electribe is that velocity
is not supported. Too Bad! But then again, in the old vintage
gear velocity was not supported either. Positively you can tweak the
filter very fast and the box will track it. If you want the sound of
an LFO, you will have to do it through the chorus. There is no dedicated
LFO in the unit otherwise. The good news is that if you want those square
wave gated type techno LFOs syncopated to tempo you can get them. The bad
news is if you are a creative LFO-ologist, you are going to miss dedicated lfos
to pitch, filter and amp. But a little creativity goes a long way on the
Most delightful is that the Electribe
has a strong 'thump factor" that is lacking on nearly every sample playback
synth. The Thump factor refers to the tendency to produce uneven bass
waveforms that cause your woofers to go "thump" and oscillate through the room.
You can rattle the pictures on the wall with some bass tones on the Electribe,
just like we used to with real analog synths. The lower mids are very
pronounced. This is what many equate to an 'analog' sound. The biggest
asset, as mentioned before, is the MIDI control over the box when used with a
sequencer. I like the delay. It can do syncopated delays based on
the tempii of the preset. That's very, very cool for dance music.
The flange/chorus is good too, and its possible to get authentic sounding Wah
Wah tones, if you tweak the filter cutoff while a note is playing, and the
flange is deep enough to cut through a thick mix. Its also great for making
dance loops. You can also route external audio in and tweak it with the knobs.
This will give you a contemporary, lo-fi edge.
How versatile are the sounds?
Very. There is
a wide variety of possible sounds with the Electribe. Most of the common
analog sounds are covered. Especially if you are doing dance type sounds,
the Electribe may give you everything you need. If you really miss the
velocity, sample some sweeps and use your sampler's extended controllers.
Bang for the Buck?
Its a excellent deal.
Don't even think this is the only synth you will ever need. 2 note
polyphony is 2 note polyphony. As an addition to a midi rig, it shines.
It has it's own niche carved out. Its a bass, lead and arpeggio box, and
it does those things very, very well.
Order from zZounds
Rich the TweakMeister
Review: Korg Electribe
Which Keyboard is for Me?
Roland Synths and Modules
Korg Synths and Modules
Yamaha Synths and Modules
Emu Synths and Samplers
Access Virus Synths
Vintage Synths Forum
The Moog Forum
Waldorf Synthesizers Forum
Clavia Nord Synths
Dave Smith Synths and modules
Kurzweil Keys Forum