MicroKorg vs Minilogue: Synthesizers Comparison & Review

If you're a lover of electronic music and a live performer, you already know how important having and using the right synthesizer is to develop your music. With the right one, you do not need to worry about adding any traditional instrument to your song. Well, here are two of some of the best synthesizers on the market.

Owned by Korg, both MicroKorg and Minilogue offer different features that set out to fulfill your synth needs. In this article, we perform a slightly deep comparison between these two synthesizers to simplify your decision-making process on which synth is perfect for you. But first, we'll briefly review both synths individually, then launch into full comparison mode. Let's get into it.

MICROKORG REVIEW

The first thing you should know about Microkorg, especially if this is your first time encountering this Japanese synthesizer manufacturer, is tons of other Microkorg versions. Hence this version shouldn’t be mistaken for the XL or S version. Since that is out of the way, what is the MicroKorg Synthesizer? It’s pretty simple.

For starters, the MicroKorg is an analog synthesizer. In essence, it means that this synth doesn't just copy sounds it produces. Instead, analog synthesizers produce sounds electronically through the use of analog circuits and signals. Although some people refer to this synth as a digital synth, what matters is that it is a very functional tool, especially for expert electronic music producers and live performers.

Aside from being an analog synthesizer, the Microkorg also doubles as a vocoder. You need to attach a mic to the Audio in 1 jack on the synthesizer. The vocoder has eight channels with 16 effects (all 16 work in pairs) that opens you to the tons of advanced features in it. This synth comes with 37 keys, making it compact and easy to carry around.

As one of the bestselling synths, many artists have deployed the Microkorg in their music creation process at some point in their music career. A quick list includes Avicii, Calvin Harris, Flying Lotus, Kaskade, Charlie Puth, Pharrell Williams, Ariana Grande (more vocoder features), Owl City, Timbaland, etc. Now that you have an overview of what the MIcrokorg is about, let's sneak peek into its specs and features.

MICROKORG SPECS

  • Keyboard: 37 Mini-Keys, Velocity Sensitive
  • Dimensions: 20.63 x 9.13 x 2.76 inches
  • Weight: 4.85 lb (2.2 kg)
  • Display: 3-Digit x 1 Line, 8-Segment LED
  • Polyphony: 4 Voice
  • Multitimbral: 2 Part
  • Audio Input: 1 x 1/4" line input, 1 x 1/4" Level switch LINE/MIC
  • Audio Output:1/4" TSR L/R, 1/4" Headphone out
  • Synthesis Method: Analog Modeling Synthesis System
  • Effects: 3 Modulation Effects (Flanger/Chorus, Phaser, and Ensemble), 3 Delays (Stereo, Cross L/R), and 1 Equalizer
  • Presets: 128 Programs
  • Controllers: 1 Modulation Wheel, 1 Pitch Wheel, 5 Assignable Parameter Control Knobs, 2 Edit Select/Assignable Control Knobs, 8 Program Select/Assignable Buttons, and 2 Mic/Line Switches
  • Internal Storage: No
  • User Memory:128 Programs
  • External Storage: MIDI System Exclusive
  • Sample RAM: No
  • Expansion Slots: No
  • SCSI: No
  • Sequencer: 6 pattern Arpeggiator
  • Specialties: Condenser Mic and Vocoder, Master MIDI Controller Keyboard Capability: AA Battery or AC Powered

MICROKORG FEATURES

  • HOW DOES IT WORK?
    Thanks to the Digital Signal Processing (DSP) technology, it recreates or copies the analog sounds that it picks. Then, the two oscillators create every sound unit that you can manipulate and tweak by collapsing each sound unit into different layers. The oscillators also work to control the synthesis wave that this synthesizer produces. Some of the waves that these oscillators handle include vox, triangle, saw, etc.
  • WHERE SHOULD YOU USE IT BETTER?
    You can use this synth anywhere. However, it is best to use it during live performances. It catapults the quality of your live performances from zero to 100. And, of course, you can use it as both a synthesizer and a vocoder when performing live.
  • PRESETS
    This synth comes with as many as 128 preset sounds to spice up and modifies your sounds. If you want to add that warm touch to your sounds, or you want your sound to come off as sharp and extreme, these presets can make it happen. The best part is, it applies to both vocoder and synth sounds. With each sound organized based on categories, you can quickly locate any sound you want based on the genre.
  • EFFECTS
    The effects on this synth are all you’ll need to create perfect music. You have access to a two-band equalizer, three modulation effects naming Ensemble, Phaser, Flanger/Chorus, and three delay effects which are L/R, Stereo, and Cross. To spice up your live performance, you can synchronize the delay effects with either the MIDI clock or the six pattern arpeggiator to give you a robust sound in groove music and your live performance.

PROS & CONS

PROS

  • It is a versatile synthesizer as it doubles as both a vocoder and a synth with mind-blowing controls that appealingly modify sounds.
  • You can easily access the presets as categories organize them
  • You get the luxury to customize and edit waveforms and the preset, making you add your touch to the sound you create on it.

CONS

  • You can't save custom presets as there is no space for them.
  • Beginners might find this complicating to operate.

MINILOGUE REVIEW

With the recent wave that seems to send electronic musicians back to analog synthesizers, producers familiar with digital or virtual synthesizers might have a hard time making the transition. But with the Korg Minilogue, using analog synthesizers should be easy-peasy! As a beginner electronic musician who's searching for a functional yet easy-to-use analog synthesizer, investing in this Minilogue synthesizer from Korg might give you all you need.

For starters, it is a great way to introduce yourself to analog synthesizers and also understand how analog synth works. The best part is, there are more than enough presets at your disposal to modify and edit your sound. Without further ado, let’s dive deep into all this analog synthesizer has to offer.

MINILOGUE SPECIFICATIONS

  • Keyboard: 37 slim and velocity-sensitive keys
  • Dimensions: (W x D x H): 500 x 300 x 85 mm
  • Weight: 2.8 kg
  • Display: Real-time OLED Oscilloscope
  • Maximum Polyphony: 4 voices
  • Voice modes: 8 (Unison, Mono, Duo, Poly, Side Chain, Chord, Arp, and Delay)
  • Programs: 200
  • Sound Generation: Analog Synthesis
  • Delay: Output Routing (Post Filter, Pre-Filter, Bypass), Feedback, Hi-Pass Cutoff, and Time
  • Filter: Filter Type (2-Pole, 4-Pole), Resonance, Velocity, Key track, Cutoff, and EG Int
  • Sequencer: 16 tracks polyphonic sequencer
  • LFO: Wave, EG Mod, Rate, Int, Target.
  • Controls: 41 controls accessible directly on the panel for immediate access to the parameters.
  • Connectors: MIDI In, MIDI Out, Output, Sync input, Sync output, USB Type B, Headphone, Audio input
  • Power supply: AC adapter included (DC9V KA350), 10 W
  • Mixer: Noise, VCO1, VCO2, VCO2 MOD.

MINILOGUE FEATURES

  • HOW DOES IT WORK?
    It has an easy-to-operate workflow. Thanks to the oscillator design that's flexible enough, you can modify the waveforms on this polyphonic analog synthesizer. The synth circuits make it easy for you to quickly access all the effects and tools you need to create a fantastic sound. As a result, you can apply pure analog synths to the various sounds you make. This workflow quickly boosts your creativity as an electronic music producer. Although it’s an analog synthesizer, you’ll find it very easy to use.
  • WHERE SHOULD YOU USE IT BETTER?
    This Minilogue synthesizer is perfect for music production in your studio and live performance with an easy-to-navigate interface. Left to me, I'd say it is just the ideal synth for live on-stage performance. The reason is simple. Every function you'll ever need is at your disposal. The interface is designed to easily find and effect any preset, effect, etc., to your sound. As a beginner, using this synth on stage makes you seem like you've been at the electronic music production for years. You only need to get your beat and sound mixes right, and you're good to go.
  • PRESET
    Korg encourages creativity with their 200-program preset on the analog synthesizer. Here, they broke down the 200 presets into 100 editable presets and 100 blank slots for electronic music producers to work their magic to create analog masterpieces. Another thing about the presets is that you can freely synchronize them with any delay setting and a step sequencer while creating your sound. If making your sound scares you as a newbie in the game, you can select any sound of your choice and tweak it to your taste.
  • VOICE MODES
    There are eight voice modes on this minilogue that allows you to creatively modify your sounds to fit the type you want to hear during a performance. These voice modes include Unison, Mono, Duo, Poly, Side Chain, Chord, Arp, and Delay. Coupled with Voice Mode Depth dial (VMD), you would easily unlock the functionality of each of the voice modes when applying them.

PROS & CONS

PROS

  • It has fantastic aesthetics and build-quality
  • The OLED screen makes it easy to visualize every sound you create
  • Beginners would find this synthesizer the perfect introduction to analog synthesizers
  • Parameters come with knob controls that are easy to use.
  • It makes it easy for newbies to create unique sounds even though they might have no idea what they're doing.

CONS

  • Sequencers are a little bit difficult to operate.

MICROKORG VS MINILOGUE

Although these two synthesizers are from the same brand, they have different features crafted to suit a particular purpose. Here are some of the ways these two synthesizers differ.

  • Their designs differ. For starters, there are noticeable differences between these synthesizers. While they both use velocity-sensitive keys, the keys differ in shape. For instance, while MicroKorg uses Mini-keys, Minilogue deploys Slim-keys. Also, aesthetics-wise, the Korg Minilogue outshines the MicroKorg. It has an aesthetically pleasing appearance that makes you proud whenever you take it to a live performance. While the MicroKorg is also physically attractive, it’s not exactly like the Minilogue.
  • There’s a reason why Minilogue is the better synthesizer choice for beginners looking to explore the use of analog synth. By design, Minilogue is so much easier to operate. Its user interface is intuitive. Hence, beginners with zero knowledge of creating fantastic sounds would find themselves creating a lot of creative sounds with it. They’d almost assume that they are pros. In addition, each function comes with a dedicated knob that makes sound editing easy to do. On the other hand, the virtual analog MicroKorg is the exact opposite of intuitive. It also doesn't come with any faders, buttons, or knobs that would have made it easier to edit and program sounds. A beginner would find it difficult to operate these synthesizers and would mostly need to take a couple of lessons to make magic with MicroKorg. Majorly, it is for pros.
  • The presets on both synthesizers are another factor that distinguishes both synths. Here's what I mean. On Microkorg, there are only 128 presets. While these presets are helpful in the creation of fantastic sounds, they are factory presets. In essence, you can't precisely make changes to the factory presets. It also means that you won't be able to save it when you create custom presets unless you overwrite one of the factories presets. Trust me, overwriting a factory preset is not entirely a great idea because, someday, the overwritten preset might be what you need to perfect a sound. However, Minilogue comes with 200 presets. While 100 of these presets are factory presets, the remaining 100 are just slots for users to create and save their custom preset. Hence, it’s easy to say that the Minilogue gives users the chance to express themselves during their music creation process.
  • Another difference between these synthesizers is, MicroKorg doesn’t come with any sequencer. Minilogue, on the other hand, comes with a 16-step polyphonic sequencer which makes the workflow on the Minilogue synthesizer a lot more fun and easier to do.

VERDICT

Truthfully, both synthesizers are sound. However, they are for a different target audience. Here's the thing! If you're an experienced sound engineer or used to analog synthesizers, you should invest in the MicroKorg synthesizer. Adding this synthesizer to your collection of synthesizers is a great idea, especially since it doubles as a synth and a vocoder.

Now, if you’re a greenhorn when it comes to synths, or you’re just learning how to use the analog synth, the Minilogue is the perfect option for you. It is easy to use, and it has dedicated knobs that simplify the music creation and editing process for you. You also get the luxury of visualizing the wave you play via the OLED screen. In the end, whichever synth you opt for depends solely on your skills as a music producer and what you expect to get from the synthesizer.

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