Korg R3

Korg R3 Image

Occupying the middle ground in Korg's MMT lineup between the flagship Radias and the ultra-portable microKorg XL, the R3 delivers sophisticated virtual analog power in a compact yet sturdy package. Its 37 full-sized, velocity-sensitive keys and four assignable knobs make it a lightweight yet flexible performance instrument for shaping classic modeled sounds with a synthesis engine in the spirit of the MS2000.

The R3 is marketed as a "Synthesizer/Vocoder", and the included gooseneck mic lets you take full advantage of its 16-band vocoding capabilities right out of the box. Simply enter Vocoder mode for access to all of the vocoder's variables that work with an internal or external carrier signal. It also lets you record up to sixteen 7.5-second Formant Motion sequences, allowing you to play saved phrases—albeit at a fixed tempo—through the vocoder without external input. Whether you're looking to channel the spirits of sci-fi robots, make a guitar do backing vocals or are in need of some unconventional choral accompaniment, the R3's pro-grade vocoder earns its place in both the mix and the title.

Each of the 128 editable patches can contain up to two timbres, sharing the somewhat meager polyphony between them. These can be layered or divided across the keyboard and can be assigned to individual MIDI channels. Each of these two timbres contain all the capabilities listed, so despite being well suited for mono and lead styles it's possible to get surprisingly complex, evolving pads which belie its 8-note polyphony. This is best displayed when using each timbre's modulation sequence, which lets you record a variable's knob changes and can yield complex changes in a single key press. There's also a 6-mode arpeggiator with a toggle button and latch control to further animate the sound.

Every timbre consists of two LFOs, two oscillators, a wave-shaper with sub-oscillator options, two insert effects, and three envelope generators for filter, amp, and one for assignment using the Virtual Patch system. This feature lets you define up to six additional routings, giving the unit a fitting touch of modular dynamics which can add subtle dynamics or make sounds spiral off into mayhem. Unfortunately the routings are limited, but most of the logical sources and destinations are included. The two oscillators cover a wide range of traditional analog waveforms with some useful extras (osc1 includes 64 DWGS preset waveforms and the vowel-like Formant wave) and allow a number of interactions between them: ring mod, VPM and unison, among others. External signals can also be processed through the filters, gates and effects. All of this is wrapped up with one master effect and a variable 2-band EQ with some other fine-tuning mods to polish the finished sound.

All of this programming demands an intuitive interface, and although it involves some menu-diving, this is handled by selecting the category with a rotary encoder and then editing individual variables with the 4 main pots. Though it isn't "per-knob" editing, each pot is encircled by a slick-looking LED halo which shows the value regardless of the knob's current position. Each knob also has its own small LCD screen which can show the variable or its value by hitting the shift key. This combination along with the Original Value light takes much of the drudgery and guesswork out of building your own patches, but it's recommended to load up the included software editor since some sub-variable and effects tweaks can seem cryptic at first.

Overall, the R3 is a fun, good quality, affordable synth for anyone who enjoys sculpting sounds using traditional subtractive synthesis, and offers enough complex features and character to earn its place in the mix. Great to program and built with portability in mind, the R3 has what it takes to rock the stage!

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26 Visitor comments
Re/Member
January 31, 2013 @ 6:56 pm
To Christian: What you want to do is start a patch from scratch and set both OSC 1 and 2 to Saw, have them both raised up in the "mixer" section. Next, go to DRIVE/WS and select SbOSCSaw on the first knob and crank up the depth (third knob). From there, scroll back to OSC 1 and on the section knob, set OSC1 Mod to unison. It's a different type of unison (non-stereo) that doesn't eat up any polyphony. Mess around with that plus OSC 2 tuning and you'll get some really great SuperSaw sounds while keeping all eight voices.
Christian
January 24, 2013 @ 3:21 am
Does anyone know how to make a powerful supersaw on the R3?

Whenever i crank the Unison control, my polyphony just drops.. when I set 2 Trimbres, 4 Unison Detuned Saws, I can just play one Note... -.-
Alexx
December 7, 2012 @ 4:24 pm
Very disappointing at first sight, but awesome synth when you spend some time for play with synthesis options. Sound combines toxic and organic character with MS2000 "virtuality". Fattest basslines, GODLIKE pad/atmo/textures, Minimoog-like waves... And my lovely classic 90s supersaws - noisy and powerful, better than JP8000 or AN1x ones!!! Don't try to get good timbres from oscillators only, real R3/Radias power is in Waveshaper, FX and EQ. EQ contains some kind of enhancer that makes your basses ROAR and your leads SCREAM.
steve
November 5, 2012 @ 12:35 pm
I see electro artist "Shook" uses this thing on stage! awesome sounds come out of the thing for sure. Check out this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mdcFzlJkn4
Sian Howard
October 17, 2012 @ 12:43 pm
I have had an R3 for four years, I can highly reccommend it. The oscillators sound much better than most earlier VA synths. You can play lush high string sounds without horrible aliasing. Great 24-bit effects, and a great vocoder - best out-of the-box sounds I've heard. The paucity of real time controls isn't any problem once you get used to the workflow. Nice semi-weighted keyboard action, feels great for leads. I guess the Radias is even better but I haven't tried one. I don't own a polyphonic analogue synth (just a MOPHO at the moment) so the R3 is my go-to synth for rich pads and leads.
 
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  • The link above will take you to a search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 8 Voices
  • Multitimbral - 2 Timbres
  • Oscillators - 2 OSCs per Timbre (with Waveform mod, Cross-mod, Unison, VPM), Noise Generator
  • Waveforms - Saw, Pulse, Triangle, Sine, Formant, Noise, DWGS, Audio In
  • LFO - 2 LFOs per Timbre - LFO 1: Saw, Square, Tri, S&H, Random. LFO 2: Saw, Square+, Sine, S&H, Random
  • Filter - Wave-shaping, 2 Chain-able Filters per Timbre - Filter 1: 12/24dB-LPF, HPF, BPF Filter 2: LPF, HPF, BPF, COMB
  • Envelope - 3 ADSR envelopes per Timbre - Pitch/Filter/assignable
  • Effects - Compressor, Limiter, Gate, Filter, Wah, EQ, Decimator, Talk Mod, Delays, Reverb, Chorus, Flanger, Pitch Shift, Cab Model
  • Vocoder - 16-Band
  • Sequencer - 1 Motion Sequence per Timbre: Formant Motion (7.5 seconds x 16)
  • Arpeggiator - 8-Step Arpeggiator - Up, Down, Alt1, Alt2, Random, Trigger
  • Keyboard - 37 keys (Velocity sensitive)
  • Memory - 128 User Patterns
  • Control - MIDI In/Out/Thru, Pedal and Switch Inputs
  • Date Produced - 2006 - present

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