Short Review: Korg DS-10
By Dan Staines on: 13/08/08 03:02:57 PM

DONE BY: AQ Interactive

IT’S FOR: The Nintendo Dual-Screen Computron

YEAR: 2008

The Korg DS-10 is a software synthesiser. An instrument. It is not a song-making program. You can try to make songs with it if you want to, but it’s so primitive and limited in this respect that you’d have to be incredibly patient and/or talented to wring something decent out of it. Some people talk about it as though it were a touch-screen version of Fruity Loops, as though you could use it as a self-contained production suite, but these people are full of shit.  The DS-10 is not like Fruity Loops, it is like something you would use within Fruity Loops. It is like a VST module: an isolated piece of software designed to emulate the functions of a specific bit of hardware – in this case the Korg MS-10:


So what can you do with it then? The truth is – not much. Since you can’t export loops or sounds, it’s difficult to see why anyone would use it as a substitute synth, especially when there are more robust and practical alternatives available for free on the internet.  I suppose if you were feeling particularly adventurous, you could – like the guy in this video – try using it live, though there’s little to recommend it for that purpose, novelty aside. The only real use I’ve got out of it in the fortnight I’ve had it is as a musical scratch-pad of sorts, but once again the inability to export hinders its functionality on that front. What’s the point of spending ages making a really cool loop, only to have it trapped forever on the DS?  It’s fucking frustrating is what it is.

Now, that said, there is one area in which the DS-10 could be exceptionally useful, and that is as a kind of educational gateway product. Although it has its fair share of shortcomings, this is still a fully-functional software synthesiser, and as such has a lot of potential as a learning tool for people who are interested in producing electronic music, but don’t want to shell out for professional-level hardware/software. If you had given me something like this ten years ago, before I started using programs like Cubase and Reason, I’d have been totally stoked. As it stands, the novelty of twiddling knobs and tweaking effects patches has worn off for me, but if this is all new to you, then man – you could get a lot of the DS-10. In a sense, it is the ultimate beginner’s synth.

Although the DS-10 is only available via import from Japan right now, the program itself is entirely in English, and easy enough to use that you probably won’t need the moonspeak instruction manual. Also, if you’re desperate, you could always just check out the instructions for the original MS-10. There are some disparities between the two of course, but they’re similar enough that you could probably get the hang of things without too much effort. And anyway, fiddling without knowing exactly what you’re doing is half the fun, I reckon. 


I JUST REALISED: You could, if you wanted to, hook up your DS to a recording device with the line-out and export your loops/songs that way, but Jesus Christ who could be arsed to do that? Not me, that's for fucking sure.

Tags:   short review   Korg DS-10   music software   doof doof doof   beep boop beep
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