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H O W   I T   W O R K S

Korg M1 was released in 1988. Its technology is the AI (for Advanced Integrated) Synthesis, based on sampled acoustic waveforms (called "Multisound"instead of common oscillators (square, saw, sine,...). There is a total of 100 Multisounds (4 Mb) available in the ROM, gathering samples from standard and exotic - essentially asian - acoustic instruments as well as samples from classic synths of the past. Korg M1 was also the first widely-known music workstation.

Bobby M1

Korg M1 is THE best-seller synth

Basis of the sound is the "Program" (or "Prog") constituted from one ("Single" mode - 16 voices polyphony) or two ("Dual" mode - 8 voices polyphony) multisounds in parallel processed each by a pitch envelope, a simple digital non-resonant low pass filter (called "VDF") and then fed into the digital amplifier (called "VDA"). Two LFOs (Triangle, Saw Up, Saw Down or Square) are available for each multisound: first one is modulating the pitch envelope and second one the VDF. Aftertouch and joystick - another M1 particularity - can be assigned to modulate the pitch envelope, the VDF and/or the VDA with a positive or negative response. Program is finally processed by the multi-effect processor which offers 2 independant effects featuring reverb, flanger, chorus, delay, rotary speaker, etc... A Prog bank contains 100 Progs.

Joystick


The M1 joystick which combines modulation wheel and pitch bend

Another great new feature in 1988 was the second mode called "Combination" (or "Combi") which permits to combine - or stack - several Progs and create a "big sound" in five different ways:

- "Single": one Prog only

- "Layer": two different Progs layered together

- "Split": two different Progs separated on the keyboard (first one on the left zone/second one on the right zone)

- "Velocity Switch": two different Progrs controlled by the velocity (if you play softly you hear the first one,  if you play harder you hear the second one)

- "Multi": 1-8 Progs mixed together. For each one you can set the MIDI channel, the keyboard zone, the velocity response, transpose, panning,... In a few words the ideal mode to work with the internal - or an external - sequencer.

You can also assign two new effects for each Combi, whatever mode you have chosen. A Combi bank contains 100 Combis.

M1 buttons

The famous M1 "smarties" buttons


Another great feature for 1988 was the MIDI integrated sequencer which allows up to eight polyphonic tracks to play internal or MIDI sounds simultaneously. Memory capacity is 4'400 notes (7'700 if you reduce Prog and Combi memories to 50 sounds each instead of 100).  At this time and due to this new feature, Korg M1 became the "musical memory pad" for a lot of musicians.      

All M1 models include 2 slots for expansion: one for additional sampled Multisounds ROM cards and the other for Prog/Combi ROM or RAM cards (for saving sounds or sequences). 

Bobby M1
COMBI mode can create big sounds!


Korg M1 rack version is the M1R unit. Korg also commercialized the M1 EX (M1R EX for the rack version) synth model which added new Multisounds in the ROM memory (8 Mb for a total of 275 multisounds). They also declined it in a 1 unit rack called M3R which is in fact a M1R without the sequencer.  

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