A leak from an online retailer appears to suggest a new line of MIDI 2.0-ready keyboard controllers from KORG with impressive specs.
UPDATE: 25th October 2023
Further to our report on the leak of the new KORG Keystage controllers, KORG has now officially released them. Everything is pretty much as originally reported. Some added info that we didn’t have at the time of the leak includes:
- 16 scenes for saving different configurations
- Integrated arpeggiator with 20 rhythm patterns
- Chord mode with 32 preset sets and 32 user sets
- Removable accessory tray, can be mounted at two different angles (with Keystage 61 also at two different positions)
- Connections: USB (Type B) , MIDI IN/OUT, EXPRESSION, DAMPER, AUDIO OUT (L/Mono, R), headphones
- Power supply: USB or optional 9V power supply (KORG KA-350), not included
Both Keystages are available to order now with first shipments likely to land in December 2023.
Original Article: 28th September 2023
In an apparent leak from online retailer B&H in New York (page now removed), it seems that KORG has entered the MIDI 2.0 controller keyboard fray with the introduction of the Keystage keyboard controllers with PolyAT. The specifications look impressive, especially if MPE is your thing! Let’s take a look at what we know…
On The Surface
The KORG Keystage is currently presented in a 49 or 61-key format with 8 rotary knobs. Each of these has its own OLED screen. There is also a main OLED display to their left. There are some basic button controls, including a set of transport controls. It’s a minimal layout and looks clean and tidy. The wood end cheeks set it off nicely. KORG’s designers have clearly been studying the competition. Some obvious nods to similar products from Arturia and Native Instruments are obvious.
Oh, and the keenly eyed amongst you might notice a small logo on the far right of the keyboard. Yes, that’s right. That’s a ‘Polytouch’ logo. And who does that logo belong to? Correct-o-mundo… ASM, makers of the Hydrasynth! In an episode of the Pro Synth Network Show a while back, Glen Darcey of ASM alluded to the fact that some major manufacturer had been in discussions about licensing the Polytouch technology. I guess we all know who that is now!
Many will be happy to see MIDI 2.0 Property Exchange implemented here. This means that there is bi-directional communication between the Keystage and supported instruments. All parameters are automatically mapped and labelled on the displays. Could this be another step towards universal controllers actually being more… well, universal?
Hot on the heels of NI’s new Kontrol range, Keystage features a semi-weighted, polyphonic aftertouch keybed with MPE capabilities. I truly believe we are now well and truly in the age of PolyAT. It’s only taken 40+ years! So well done KORG!
Under the hood, the KORG Keystage has some very impressive features too. First up, there is an integrated audio interface with direct stereo outputs. One less box to carry for gigging musicians is a good thing, right? At the time of going to press, there are no more specs on the audio interface. Other system features include an arpeggiator and chord modes for quick live performance or inspiration.
Working With Software
KORG claim that the Keystage is compatible with almost all DAWs, however Ableton Live integration is a headline feature here. The Keystage will detect the currently active instrument in Live and automap itself to it. Switching devices will prompt the Keystage to remap itself immediately. As Ableton Live is MPE-ready, Keystage fits right in. Live’s Drift synth immediately springs to mind here. And if you don’t have Live, Keystage comes bundled with Live 11 Lite, as well as a bundle of other great KORG products. These include Korg Gadget Producer Bundle and wavestate native LE.
For the gigging musician, Keystage’s weight is great too. A mere 4.2kg/9.3lbs for the 49 key and 5kg/11lbs for the 61 key version.
Connectivity includes 5-pin MIDI in & out, USB-B, 1/4″ TRS audio outs and a pair of pedal inputs. Power is supplied by an external PSU or over USB. It also comes with a detachable music rest.
Price is listed as $599 for the Keystage 49 and $699 for the Keystage 61. No information is currently available on release dates.
- KORG Website
- More from KORG
- KORG Keystage 49 & 61: KORG
- KORG Keystage Knobs: KORG
- KORG Keystage 49 & 61 Rear: KORG
- KORG Keystage Plate: KORG