The Korg M3 can be a little intimidating when first viewed. There were so many sliders, buttons, and other controllers that I didn’t really know where to start after I got it set up. This hesitation quickly disappeared the instant I hit a key by accident. The KARMA (Kay Algorithmic Real-time Music Architecture) kicked on with a cool groove, and soon I found myself tapping chord changes on the pads with one hand while improvising a simple melody on the keyboard with the other. I discovered that many if not all of the buttons had duplicates of their functions in the touch screen. Essentially, this means that for every function that the keyboard is capable of, there are perhaps two, three, or more ways to change it. If you don’t like the buttons, use the touch screen. If the touch screen is too slow for the live performer (or it’s being used in XY mode), learn what the buttons are mapped to and use them.
Regardless of the deep editing and tweaking that can be performed on the combinations and programs, I enjoyed the majority of the sounds and samples as they were. I was especially impressed with a Wurlitzer electric piano patch, as I actually own a Wurlitzer… and this patch was spot on. I also enjoyed the joystick, ribbon, and XY (KAOSS-like pad) controllers, as I am more of a performance-oriented noodler than a serious sequencer. I also have seen video of a pretty impressive vocoder feature, which can be used when you plug a mic in the back.
This keyboard had the Firewire and Radius expansion boards installed, along with the Xpanded (free) upgrade offered by Korg… but not the extended memory board, which I highly recommend, because it lets you load all the expanded sample libraries at once. Regardless, I had enough to explore with the multitude of programs and combinations already included which, according to Korg, are some of the very same that are in the OASYS.
Overall, I enjoyed using the keyboard as a standalone workstation, and I felt like I would be able to write some pretty interesting songs if I continued to use it. I didn’t use the firewire connection and the editor available (works as a standalone program or a plug-in) to connect it to my DAW, but I can see how it would be a valuable addition to a studio. This workstation would not only appeal to studio people, but also to live performers because of the ability to switch scenes on the fly. For the songwriter, it might be of interest to the hip hop/techno crowd, because it had plentiful programs in those genres. Basically, if you’re weighing the included features with the price point, this keyboard is packed full of value, especially when compared with its next closest competitors, which were still more expensive! Who wouldn’t want a condensed OASYS for that price?