Korg Wavestation

Korg Wavestation Image

When Sequential Circuits finally went belly-up, their research and development into vector synthesis was picked up at Korg. This led to the hugely successful Wavestation Synthesizer which was based on Sequential's ProphetVS. The Wavestation incorporated the 2-dimensional vector joystick of the ProphetVS which allowed the user to alter and animate sounds.

Korg added to this a second break-through form of synthesis: wave sequencing, by which short segments of sampled audio waveforms could be played one after the other and cross-faded into each other for some complex and unusual tones, pads, textures and rhythms. The Wavestation had 2MB of ROM based samples at your disposal. Programming is not exactly easy but this great digital synth is capable of lush ambient sounds and strange effects. It has the obligatory lowpass filter, though it is non-resonant and digital sounding. Also on-board are some multi-effects which are pretty nice. This synth is easily upgraded and expandable with PCM cards too.

Korg Wavestation EX Image

In 1991 the Wavestation EX, also called EXK-WS, was released (pictured above). The EX added 150 more waveforms (4MB) including acoustic instruments and drums. The EX also adds 8 multi-effects including: Mod Pitch Shift-Delay, Stereo Compressor-Limiter/Gate, Vocoder, Overdrive and Distortion effects, transposable keyboard and added MIDI implementation and control. Wavestations are used by Orbital, The Future Sound of London, Genesis, Jan Hammer, Depeche Mode, Toto, Vangelis, Legendary Pink Dots, Biosphere and Sin.

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50 Visitor comments
Christopher Winkels
February 25, 2010 @ 9:19 pm
Part 2: Downsides. The filters are dull and lack crucial resonance. The sound is mid-rangey, without bass beef. It aliases like a typical digital synth in the top octaves. There's no portamento, and use of hard sync imparts some annoying glitchy artifacts. While 32 oscillators was a lot in 1990, that didn't translate into 32 voices wavesequences. Crossfades halve polyphony, and if you also wanted to use 4 oscillator slots for vector synthesis a 4-voice synth was likely. The patch and program architecture is frustrating. Programs must consist of patches and patches must be assigned to programs. The result is that any patch change modifies every performance using it. It had the unfortunate rep too of showing up on a huge number of film and TV soundtracks in the early and mid-90s. Nothing makes one realize how lazy some sound designers are than hearing those same two or three wavesequences over and over again. Still a good synth though.
Christopher Winkels
February 25, 2010 @ 9:07 pm
I have mixed feelings about the Wavestation. I owned two, an early buildl, and a later EX version.

The early one was unreliable and constantly switched itself on and off without warning. That one went back to Korg three times before they gave me a new EX model as replacement.

The good: they were really powerful synths with a quality interface, deep programming, excellent effects and were a breath of fresh air when most people buying new were still stuck with dull ROMplers like the M1. It implemented features like hard sync which were then uncommon in digital synthesizers.
ricky d
August 30, 2009 @ 1:17 am
In my message below, I didn't mean to say "It's good for music that calls for some exotic-droney type of sounds geared towards techno". I don't know where I got the "Techno" part from. lol.
August 22, 2009 @ 7:02 pm
Rush also used this on the Roll the Bones tour - per Geddy's equipment list in the tour book.
July 31, 2009 @ 2:38 pm
This is a great synth for drone, ethereal, new age music, and soundtrack compositions. Not so great for rock, pop, etc. Not fun to try and program but there are some very good 3rd party sounds available. Solid construction and quality Korg is known for.
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User Rating

Rated 4.27 (733 Votes)

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  • The link above will take you to an eBay 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 - Up to 32 Voices
  • Oscillators - Digital synth with 2MB ROM samples, Vector Synthesis, Wave Sequencing
  • Multitimbral - 16 parts
  • Filter - 1 LowPass filter per voice
  • Memory - 150 patches
  • Keyboard - 61 keys (velocity / aftertouch)
  • Effects - 2 onboard effects
  • Control - MIDI (up to 8 channels at a time)
  • Date Produced - 1990-94
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