Korg microKEY Hands-On Review

I received a Korg microKEY USB powered as a gift over the holidays – woot! Here is a hands-on review.

Size
It’s bigger than I expected. Here are some shots giving you some perspective. Here it is when compared to an Akai LP2K25.

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Here it is compared to my Novation Remote SL 25.

modulatethis_korg_microkey (11) modulatethis_korg_microkey (7)

And finally, a shot of it in my laptop back pack.

So as you can see it’s not quite as backpack ready as some of the competition, but it is quite portable considering the number of keys.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mini Keys
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It has the the same synth action 37-key velocity sensitive keyboard as the MicroKorg XL. I like the action quite a bit. Korg says “The proportions of the black keys and white "waterfall" keys have been adjusted for optimal playability, and the key touch makes it easy to play chords, glissandos, and rapid-fire phrases.” – I agree. Unlike the Akai, the white “waterfall” keys on the Korg go down to the case so they are less likely to get snagged when sliding in and out of a gig bag.

Modulation & Pitch Wheels
Besides feel, the mod and pitch wheels are the reason I wanted this controller. I love to do “couch potato” sound design and have been frustrated that all the small controllers don’t have a mod wheel. Well the microKEY addresses this nicely.

Octave Buttons
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You can transpose using the octave buttons. The buttons change color with each press giving you instant visual feedback on the setting.

  • Green = 1 Octave
  • Orange = 2 Octaves
  • Red = Three Octaves
  • Blinking Red = 4 Octaves

USB Hub

DSCN3604
There are two USB ports on the side allowing you to use the keyboard as a HUB. This is a pretty nice idea if you wanted to quickly hook up other nano controllers (or any USB device) without having to bring along another hub. Nice touch Korg!

Editor
As with other Korg controllers, you can use the KORG KONTROL Editor to set velocity curves and and mod wheel range.

Price
At $99, I think the microKey is a great value when you consider it's also a USB hub.

Final Thoughts
The microKey is the best feeling Mini-key keyboard I’ve played to date – much better than the button feel of the original NanoKey or the spongy action of the Akai.

The microKEY seems is a good choice for players and sound designers on the go who want a nice velocity sensitive synth feel with pitch and mod wheels but don’t necessarily need the unit to fit all the way into the pack.

The microKEY is now my controller of choice for “couch potato” sound design work with VSTs!

Link
Official Product Page – http://www.korg.com/Product.aspx?pd=579

Mark Mosher
Electronic Music Artist, Boulder, CO
www.ModulateThis.com
patchlab.modulatethis.com
www.MarkMosherMusic.com

At $99, I think the microKey is a great value when you consider it's also a USB hub.P

Contollerism Midi/USB Keyboards & Controllers

Mark Mosher: Multimedia Artist & Technologist View All →

Artist site: http://www.markmoshermusic.com
Host of Sonic Encounters Podcast: http://markmoshermusic.com/podcast/
Boulder Synthesizer Meetup founder and host: http://www.bouldersynth.com

8 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Agreed. The selling point for me was that the keys are good to play compared to other portable midi-keyboards, and so far I’m very happy with it =)

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  2. Great review. I’ve just bought this myself, and I’m quite happy with it. Only thing I’m struggling with is to program sustain function into the mod wheel. I guess it should be pretty straightforward using the Kontrol Editor, but I seem to be doing something wrong..

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  3. That is a very reassuring review and makes me feel more confident about purchasing it. I have an Akai LPK25 and find a good size, but find working with only 25 keys to be a little silly, and agree that the action feels pretty cheap and hard to be expressive with.
    My main gripe (pre-purchase) on the microkey is that they didn’t also include a sustain pedal jack. Seems like there’s room. Otherwise, this is just about perfect.

    Like

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