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Korg Electribe-MX Review

EMX1

I would encourage anyone looking to inject some more variety into their DJ sets or is looking for a nice integrated box to produce some sick tracks to check out the Korg Electribe MX.

The EMX-1 is a new drum machine/synthesizer workstation combo from the folks at Korg. It places a great sequencer, five mono synths, three effects, and a full-on drum machine all in a small intuitive box.

First and foremost I have been a fan of the Korg Electribe series since the original ES-1, EA-1, and ER-1. These were very easy to program on the fly, and kept the party moving. Although I adored them, they did have their shortcomings. When I got the new Korg EMX-1 home to my apartment I was amazed by the improvements that Korg has made. The first thing I noticed as I pulled it out of its box was the chassis. The older Electribes had a plastic case that never felt particularly sturdy. The new EMX-1 has a solid metal case that makes me feel confident about taking this piece of gear on the road or to a club. Even the knobs are much sturdier and feel solid with very little wiggle. Plugging in the beat machine I noticed yet another functional upgrade. The power supply is a bump in the line power cord now making it much easier to plug in and get going. No more ugly wall wart.

Alright, lets get down to brass tacks – how does this puppy sound? I plugged it into my receiver. All the lights came on I scrolled to a preset hit play and BAM! I’m in business. A very cool electronic drum and synth pattern began. The visual feedback was very nice. The LEDs and the backlit screen make it very easy to find out what parameters are on, and what is happening to the sound. I grabbed some knobs and began twisting. Every time you move a knob the screen changes and lets you know exactly what parameter you are affecting. You can warp and manipulate the sound in a very easy intuitive way. This machine isn’t about swimming through an encyclopedia-size set of menus and pages to find the parameter you want to change. Without even cracking open the manual I was making music in seconds.

The sounds and synthesis are a combination between PCM drum samples and five analog modeling synth parts. The PCM drums are all of good quality and lend themselves to most types of electronic music. They would not sound out of place in any house, hip-hop, trance, or drum and bass tune. My favorite section is the effects where you can really get out of this world. In fact robotic electro, super space anthems, and big dance epics are what this box specializes in. You’re not going to find any realistic French horn samples in this aggressive beast.

The friendly sequencer emulates the classic 808- or 909-style drum editor. There is a new erase key added to the transport that makes this thing so much more usable on stage, and improves your workflow much faster when programming. Other new features are the ribbon slider and the arpeggiator. Both of these let you program very quickly and intuitively, as well as making it a snap to add variety to a pattern or performance. After playing with the parameters I was building up and taking down tracks in real time without having to stop the sequence. The best was that the beat never, ever, ever got boring. With all the knobs to twist and the different controls to play with you couldn’t ask for a more interactive workstation.

The new Korg Electribe MX is an awesome box. It has great synthetic synth sounds and punchy drums, and most importantly it lets you affect your music in real time with ease and simplicity. I would encourage anyone looking to inject some more variety into their DJ sets or is looking for a nice integrated box to produce some sick tracks to check out the Korg Electribe MX.

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