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The State of Wave[state]

  • Music
  1. Korgs I’ve Owned Part 1 — DS-8 and SQD-8
  2. Korgs I’ve Owned Part 2 — X2
  3. Korgs I’ve Owned Part 3 — X50
  4. Korgs I’ve Owned Part 4 — PS60
  5. Korgs I’ve Owned Part 5 — Kross 2
  6. Korgs I’ve Owned Part 6 — Kronos 2
  7. Kronos’ Public Debut
  8. Necessity’s Child
  9. Korg KRONOS 2 Discontinued!
  10. Korgs I’ve Owned Part 7 — Wavestate: A Most Versatile Sound Creation Tool
  11. Korgs I’ve Owned Part 8 — Opsix: A New Approach to FM
  12. The State of Wave[state]
  13. Watchin’ Your [op]six…
  14. Status of Korg Kronos DVD-ROM Images, System Updates, and Manauls

Back in 2020 or thereabouts (thenabouts?), Korg reinvented the Wavestation, and called it the wavestate. With four complete wave sequencing synth engines and the ability to mix and morph between them, the wavestate packed a lot of punch in its 37-key body, and pushed the Raspberry Pi Compute Module beyond what most mortals thought possible. It launched alongside the opsix, Korg’s reimagination of what FM synthesis should be. Both are amazing synths, and I’m fortunate to own them.

During NAMM 2021, Korg floated pictures of something they called the wavestate SE, which featured the same synth engine with a 61-key keybed. There were no details, and the SE faded from most peoples’ memory.

Until this past weekend.

Two years after its introduction, I finally bought a wavestate, and as I’ve said elsewhere, I think it could very well be my perfect digital synth — and it can emulate a polyphonic analog synth quite nicely as well. With 64 voices of polyphony, I’ve been hard-pressed to run into any voice stealing. Still, some people felt it a bit cramped, both in voice count and, once the function was added, user sample space topped out at 2GB.

Enter MkII. There are two differences between the original hardware and the MkII: Polyphony has been increased to 96 stereo voices and sample storage has been increased to a hefty 4GB. Any performance made for the original wavestate will work on the new models and any peformance made on the new models will work on the original and also with the wavestate native software synth and VSTi. Everything else about the MkII is exactly the same as the original. That, unfortunately, includes the case and keybed that’s shared with the opsix and modwave. Still, a worthy instrument with a price-tag of $600USD. That’s the same price as the original.

What’s more interesting is that the wavestate SE has quietly reappeared, along with a lovely, special “Platinum” edition. The innards are generally the same as the MkII (polyphony is increased to 120 voices), but the SEs have been built into a beefy metal case and sports a 61-key keybed with aftertouch! It is “only” channel aftertouch, but for the wavestate, any aftertouch makes for an incredibly expressive instrument. Based on the description, it’s the same keybed that was on the flagship Kronos. In my not-so-humble opinion, it’s about the best-feeling performance keybed out there.

The SE and SE Platinum are price at $1999USD and $2199USD respectively, and include a very sexy hard-shell case to help protect your investment when traveling to and from the gig.

Yes. I said gig. Not only can the wavestate be a killer synth for any style of electronic music, it can work just as well as a multitimbral that can utilize as many as four splits or layers or even used with an external controller to make a multi-keyboard rig. A good bit of programming would be required, but it’ll absolutely do it. I’ve even taught mine to mimic a MiniMoog for the synth lines in Heart’s Magic Man.

My Conclusion

I obviously haven’t had my fingers on the new wavestates yet, but based on recent videos, I don’t think the MkII is a worthwhile upgrade if you already have an original wavestate (and have kept up with the firmware updates). 64 voices is plenty for me, and probably for you, too. I haven’t done much with user samples yet, but the original 2GB is really a fair chunk of storage if you do a halfway decent job of preparing your samples. If you don’t have an original wavestate but wanted one, I would buy a MkII. That said, I’m guessing that in the very near future, you’ll be able to get some great deals on used original wavestates.

If I hadn’t just purchased the Sequential Take 5 (see Resolution #3) as well as made some other huge investments in a new music computer, a new mixer and mixer/interface, a new effects pedal, and another flagship synth which I’ll write about in a few days (for now, I’ll just say that’s it’s a whopper of an analog synth. It was not in “the plan,” but I got a helluva deal.), I’d seriously consider an SE as an upgrade to the original.

Of course, I’m continuing to update my YouTube wavestate playlist with new videos about the MkII and the two SE models, as well as with more original wavestate content.

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