Korg Krome EX Music Workstation
Krome is a spectacularly big seller — it’s priced right, combining a great array of sounds, with just enough control and features. The seven-inch touchscreen is an excellent focus of any programming — logical and legible. Otherwise, Krome is housed in an unspectacular lightweight chassis with a synth keybed that will please most people most of the time.
Krome EX is an upgrade option for would-be Krome klients.
For an extra $500 (or so) you’ll score a selection of superior piano samples. The new grand piano is grand and the new upright is righteous. This is a semi-weighted keyboard so the EX won’t find piano perfectionists jumping onto the deck of SS Krome, but it’s currently a welcome secret weapon.
Krome EX also offers some additional up-to-the-minute sounds, many contributed by the Korg Gadget team. I’m a Gadget fan, so I was pleased to hear the Gadget Geeks were the ‘insane’ kids gaining control of the Krome EX ‘asylum’.
LIKE IT OR LUMP IT
Krome, unhappily, uses a ‘lump in the lead’ power supply. If it becomes separated from the synth on the way to a gig then you’re kinda screwed. I think this is my only real gripe.
Krome takes its time to boot up. Once awake you can begin to explore the 700-odd sounds — all sonic bases are more than adequately covered.
Krome follows the time-tested Korg MO of supplying Program and Combi sounds. The Combis (which can combine as many as 16 Program sounds) are heavy on keyboard splits, big layers, double arpeggiations and drum accompaniments. The Combis are amazing fun. They will trigger your creative juices without even touching your computer. Some of the Combis sound a little dated (probably intentionally), like a crazy wave sequence from my ’90s Wavestation SR. Others sound bleeding-edge contemporary — instant party starters with dancefloor-ready drums etc. Either way, it’s hard to imagine how one uses the auto accompaniment features beyond idea exploration. (If you find yourself locked into a great groove, just hit the EX’s Record button.) That said, I’ve found myself in enough hotel lobby bars in the Far East to get a sense of how workstations and auto accompaniments are expertly used in entertainment settings (think: girl/boy vocal/keyboard duo playing karaoke-style favourites).
TAKE A SHINING
Krome is a great all-rounder. It’s enough of a workstation to record ideas, and for performers to have a set list of backing tracks, but it’s not a blue-blood arranger (Korg has that covered by the PA series).
It’s enough of a synth to ensure you’ll always have an appropriate bass, lead, pad, or orchestral sound. You’ll never get caught short (which you can’t say of Korg’s more specialised analogue synths and emulations).
And now, with the EX, it’s enough of a piano to attract the envious eye of even ardent piano purists.
Krome EX is a worthy workhorse, whether that be for the studio producer who needs a keyboard to take out ’n’ about; a gigging keys person; or as an excellent all-rounder for churches and schools.