One more new addition to my studio! I couldn’t resist buying this old synthesizer. This was the first one that Korg ever made, the Minikorg 700. The price seemed pretty good and I’ve been seeing them going for much more lately, so like the Arp Axxe I figured I better grab it while it was still affordable.
It’s a pretty basic synth. Not a lot of options and most of them preset so they are either On or Off. But the one cool thing about it, something that was later duplicated on the MS-20, is the inclusion of the resonant Highpass filter along with the standard Lowpass filter. The 2 combined give you some very unique and powerful sounds that most synths just cant do.
There’s only 1 oscillator with 3 waveshapes, triangle, square and sawtooth, but the sawtooth is actually a rising sawtooth instead of the falling version which is standard on many synths. While checking out the sound of each shape coming from my Aion 921 oscillator I noticed the rising sawtooth had beefier lows so it’s a nice option to have.
It also has 2 chorus modes, I and II. It’s a really interesting chorus sound because it’s so clean sounding that I wasn’t sure if maybe there was actually a second oscillator! Chorus I sounds like a slightly detuned second oscillator and Chorus II sounds quite a bit further out of tune. As far as I can tell from the service manual it’s actually a chorus and not an oscillator but it’s a very clean sound and not at all like the familiar flanged sound of a standard chorus. Maybe it’s a vibrato circuit from the old organs at the time.
There isn’t a complete adjustable envelope generator, just a switch that says “Expand”. This routes a basic preset envelope to the filter and seems to work equally on both the highpass and lowpass filters. There’s also a Sustain switch that lengthens the release time just slightly. That’s useful except it simultaneously lowers the actual “sustain” to zero so that a held note decays to nothing in a couple of seconds. So you can have a long held not and no release, or a short held note with a bit of release.
There are a couple of additional envelope controls starting with an attack slider that works exactly as you would expect.
Next to that is a slider labeled “Percussion”. This seems to be a combined Decay and Sustain adjustment. On lower settings the decay is very fast and teh sustain level is zero for punchy sounds. On longer settings the sustain level comes up a bit and the decay time gets longer.
The Bender switch adds a quick bend up to the note each time you press a key. Note that the instrument is permanently in single trigger mode which is highly annoying if you like an envelope setting. It’s not that easy to completely lift your finger from the key before hitting the next one to retrigger the envelope. When the Sustain switch is on the volume quickly fades to nothing until you fully release a key to restart the envelope. That’s not as easy as it sounds if you are playing a fast phrase!
Repeat is an LFO that retriggers the envelope for the filter as long as you hold your finger on a key. There is a slider to adjust speed.
Vibrato is self explanatory as is Delayed Vibrato, although the delay time is very short, maybe 1 second. There are adjustment sliders for Vibrato speed and depth but none for the delay time like the old Roland synths had.
The Portamento time slider, along with the ON/Off switch, is also standard. That leaves just the master tune and volume sliders and one more switch for the Footage which goes from 32 to a very high 2 foot setting.
That’s it! Not much to it but even as I play with it now to write this I find it has an amazing sound. Sometimes simplicity is better because you can focus on a nice filter setting and then just get on with the music. Less things to worry about and fiddle with.
The back panel plate is kind of cool too.
They called it an Electronic Organ! And it has both the names Univox and Keio Electronic Lab Corp, Tokyo Japan on it. You can see how beat up it is too. I love wondering about where this thing has been, the music that has been played on it, and the various owners over the last 40 years.
Also, the end panels are made out of Plywood. I’m not sure if that’s original or not.
Since there is room on the top panel to the left of the keyboard I might do some mods to this eventually. Maybe add a pulse width control, perhaps even Pulse With Modulation. Merely mentioning PWM has probably triggered an alert for Nick Batt at Sonic State! It would also be cool to add a second oscillator or maybe the ring modulator that appeared on the 700s.
But for now I’m perfectly happy the way it is and I’m glad to have another historic item in my collection, even though I swear I’m not trying to collect them! I really do use them all!
So…. next? A new Moog Model D? It’s definitely on the short list. We’ll see what 2017 brings.