Review of Korg Kaossilator 2 Portable Synthesizer

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Usage and Testing

 

To start using the Kaossilator 2 press and hold the power button until the startup screen appears. To shut the unit down, press and hold the same button. Pressing the Sound (snd) button allows the user to select one of the 150 different preinstalled sounds. Sliding one’s finger or tapping the “+” or “-“ section on the value slider will change the sound selection.

The Function (fcn) button cycles through numerous settings including beats per minute, musical key, scale, note range, arpeggiator pattern, arpeggiator time, arpeggiator swing, loop length for each sound bank, loop fader, loop save/load, master recorder, audio player, and utility which is basically the settings section.

Using the Arpeggiator (arp) button allows additional ways of manipulating the available sounds. Holding down the arp button and using the value slider can call up one of 50 patterns. The arpeggiator settings can also be adjusted in the function menu by manipulating the shape, time and arp swing.

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The device can record performances of up to 8 beats (2 measures of 4/4 time signature) to be played back in a loop. In addition the user can overdub additional performances while playing the current loop.

To record simply hold down one of the loop buttons (I or II) and perform on the touchpad. During recording the loop button lights up red. If the recording progresses past the specified number of beats then an overdub will occur. Releasing the loop button changes it to green and the recorded phrase will continue playing back as a loop. Pressing the loop button at this point will stop the loop playback. Recording with the same loop button creates an overdub.

Audio can be recorded from the built in mic or from a connected external one. To record select one of the loop banks and hold that button.

To adjust the volume between loops go into the Loop Fader page via the FCN key and use the slider to adjust the balance.

If you never have used a portable synth then there will be a slight learning curve with the Kaossilator 2. Definitely read the instruction manual while playing with the device to get the most out of the unit. If you have ever used Apple’s GarageBand then the functioning of the Kaossilator 2 should not be too hard to figure out. Just remember you are limited to 8 beat loops.

The sound is pretty expansive for a small handheld device. While the two loop banks are limited to 8 beats the ability to overdub can provide a more richly textured composition. The included 150 sound library is a good starting point although they become tiresome after playing on the Kaossilator 2 for awhile. Thankfully new phrases can be sampled using the line input or built in mic.

One drawback to recording is that you must keep the Loop button held while creating your phrase; this limits the use on the touchpad to just one hand. If unhappy with an entire or partial phrase, these can be deleted as well, although a bad overdub can ruin a good sounding phrase and there is no Undo feature unless the phrase has been saved.

This portable synth does lack a midi, which may be a deal breaker for some interested in picking it up.

 

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