Published On May 16, 2017 | Production, Reviews

It’s a Kronos that’s lighter on the fingers, but not on sounds.

Review: Christopher Holder

It’s dirty and underhand: an intro video that has four or five keyboard masters — musical directors and virtuoso players — jamming on the Kronos LS? It’s not fair.

Not as though I needed too much convincing. I always considered the Kronos to be the ultimate musical director’s workstation; the one-stop keyboard that virtually guarantees you’ll never be caught short, packing a gargantuan range of sounds from a bunch of killer engines — sampling, recording/sequencing, split/layering, Karma… it’s effectively the full Korg toyshop in one package.

Most of us don’t/won’t need the Kronos but if you draw a wage from making/composing/arranging/teaching music then Kronos is a no-brainer tax deduction. It’s the muso’s version of the tricked up tradies ute… why skimp?

And back to that video. The LS version of the Kronos employs a lightweight manual that not only makes it 6kg easier to lug, it’s totally suited to organ and electro-mechanical pros — making staccato clav stabs and fast runs a comparative breeze. When you think about it, we’ve been chasing the ‘hammer action’ holy grail for so long we’re in danger of forgetting that there are many more players who don’t care if the manual feels like a 30-foot Bechstein. In fact, try performing a fast palm gliss on a heavy action keyboard and you’re likely to need hand therapy for a year.

Of course, traditionally, the organ aficionado is more than happy to make do with 76 notes or less. But there are 88-note advantages, such as bashing out a full piano part or making the most of a keyboard split.

Reacquainting myself with the Kronos has been fun. What with the two-minute-plus boot up you know this is not a workstation to be trifled with. The touchscreen control is useful, indeed necessary, to negotiate the depth and breadth of editing.

There are nine synth engines to pick from, including specialist platforms such as Korg’s CX3 Hammond emulation, the SGX-1 piano engine (the best in the synth biz as far as I’m concerned), as well as some great analogue emulation from the Korg MS20 and PolySix engines, and more. The presets are mostly dripping in reverb. You can string together as many as 16 simultaneous effects and there are dedicated knobs for constant access to a couple.

Do I have quibbles? Of course. The piezo beep of the buttons sounds uncannily like programming a microwave (I’m guessing there’s a way of turning the beeping off/down in a menu somewhere). The rhythm generations in the Combi patches sound a bit dated/cheesy to my ear. A believeable sax sound still eludes us. The UI overall could be more user friendly — it’s a task to wrangle all the complexity and depth into a manageable seven-inch window.

Nevertheless, ultimately, we’re talking about the ultimate player’s and MD’s synth.

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