After a rather enormous leak yesterday Korg has now officially revealed Wavestate, the brilliant reinvention of the Wavestation.
Wavestate is a digital synthesizer that offers amazingly mobile and evolving sounds that are forever changing in their new Wave Sequencing 2.0 engine. Although it’s the spiritual successor to the 1990 Wavestation Korg describes it as being “far from a nostalgic release”. It owes much to the Oasys and Kronos, it’s influenced by groove boxes, modular and algorithmic composition and then there’s the welcome sight of the knobs and hands-on control that was never part of the original Wavestation.
The idea of Wave Sequencing 2.0 is to split apart a sound and let you create patterns of modulation for each step of the sequence. You have separate “lanes” for the sample (swapping samples for each step) duration/gate, timing, pitch, shape and step sequencer values. Each lane can have different lengths and loop points and it can all be randomised for instant sonic exploration. When played together you can have different sounds on every note, even within a chord.
Then you can apply regular modulation like LFOs, velocity, envelopes and other controllers. And if that’s not enough then you can throw in an arpeggiator just to keep things interesting. And you’ve got 4 layers of this craziness.
If it sounds complex and exhausting to program then it probably is but the front panel is covered with parameters that we’re familiar with like filters, envelopes, LFOs and effects. There are 8 “Mod Knobs” that can be mapped to the key sound changing characteristics of your patch. And pretty much everything you see can be modulated.
I love how the randomisation button labelled with a dice also has the word “Help” written under it.
Other specifications include 64 stereo voices, 14 simultaneous effects, smooth sound transitions, modelled filters including the MS-20 and Polysix, Vector Synthesis control with a joystick and the compact 37 full-size keys form factor. No aftertouch though.
It comes packed with gigabytes of samples and that’s definitely the flavour it gives off. This is a sample-based synthesizer and has everything from the cheesy to the lo-fi and extraordinary wound into the synthesis engine. So it can do pianos, it can do strings, silly voices and animal noises. It has the original samples from the Wavestation as well as a thousand times more content. There’s no mention of importing your own samples so we’re assuming it has what it has.
But it’s the power of movement that makes Wavestate really interesting. Several synths do per-step modulation these days but not to this extent. This is more like the software approach of Arturia Pigments 2 or Fxpansion Cypher 2 and it’s much easier to realise in software. It’s going to be interesting to hear how people get on with the little screen, the Wave Sequencing and digging into the content.
It’s an unexpected synthesizer and also one that along with the Argon8 and Hydrasynth declares that it doesn’t have to be all about the analogue. And diversity in synthesis is always what we should strive for.
A great introduction to the Wavestate from Bo Beats.
Sounds only demo: