KORG has revealed yet another new device in advance of NAMM 2018. It’s called the KR-55 Pro – quite possibly the pinnacle of rhythm machines for instrument players jamming with themselves.
Rather than employ synthesis, the KR-55 sticks to drum and percussion samples that can be spiced up with built-in effects and mixed with an equalizer. The machine also packs an SD card recorder for the moments when inspiration strikes, letting you record an instrument on top of the drum and percussion patterns.
The KR-55 ships with 24 drum and percussion styles, each including a selection of patterns – two variations, basic, fill-in 1, fill-in 2, and ending. The chain function allows these patterns to be structured into a complete song, and played back automatically.
Being a “Pro” unit, the KR-55 is equipped with a hearty collection of inputs as to integrate with more of your existing gear or let a friend plug-in and jam together with you and the rhythm machine. There’s an XLR mic input, a pair of bass and guitar inputs, and a stereo AUX input – creating the possibility of multi-channel mixing. The KR-55 also features a built-in instrument tuner with a large and visible meter, along with a guide tone.
KORG‘s new rhythm machine can run on DC power, or battery power – eating up six AA batteries and allowing for up to 7 hours of use. The company is also selling a foot switch to let you control the device by foot.
To make the KR-55 Pro stand out from the pack, KORG developed a new secret weapon – Real Groove Technology. RGT uses data captured from professional musicians to supposedly add more realism and flair to the 24 rhythm styles and more accurately reproduce the experience of playing with an actual drummer or percussionist.
More importantly, the KR-55 Pro is designed so that all sounds, grooves, and phrases retain their quality at every tempo. We aren’t sure whether KORG is doing real-time time stretching or uses another technological approach, but the end result is quite welcome.
In addition to its recording ability, the KR-55 is able to play back audio files from the SD card, complete with a playlist function where up to 24 songs in 10 banks can be played back in order. The playback speed can be adjusted as well.
All in all, the KR-55 Pro certainly packs a lot of technological ability and drumming/percussion punch into a portable machine that stays easy and intuitive to operate. We can see this one ending up in plenty of musicians’ gig bags throughout 2018, assuming KORG is being reasonable with the pricing. The price tag and availability for the KR-55 Pro haven’t been announced yet.