Korg micro-preset (M-500)
Analog preset synthesizer

This is a little, fun synthesizer!  I find it very expressive, and - after a bit of practicing using the Traveler and Modulation Depth sliders, you can get amazingly "felt" usic passages.  Of course, being this small, it has many limitations:  the attack and sustain knobs won't work with all families of sounds, and so the traveler (filter) effect.

The momentary Portamento-on switch is very useful - so you can add portamento only when you need it (i.e., on a trombone patch, only when you want it to "slide").  The Random Repeat feature is a "random vibrato" effect, but it subtle and chaotic-sounding.  This synth can sound very similar to a Theremin, and it can definitely nail down the sound from "Good Vibrations" by the Beach Boys.

Reportedly this synthesizer was used for the synth line in the '80s hit "Enola Gay" by OMD!!  (source:  The A-Z of Analogue Synthesisers, Part One: A-M, by Peter Forrest)

In all, a small, inexpensive (on the used market) and unassuming synth.  However, the expressiveness of this mini-synth makes forgive a lot of its issues.  Check it out if you have the chance.



The micro-preset Sound Matrix

The micro-preset is structured on a matrix composed of six main families of sounds, and five variations for each (often just playing an octave up or down).

2' 2' Trumpet I Violin I Recorder Whistle
4' White Noise Trumpet II Violin II Flute Soprano
8' 8' Trumpet III Viola Oboe Alto
16' Pink Noise Trombone Cello Clarinet Tenor
32' 32' Tuba D.Bass Bassoon Bass


Korg Micro-Preset sound demos


Preset name with audio demo My comments
Synthe 1  2' Standard synthesizer sound.  Better with portamento.
Synthe 1  4' More of a nasal quality.
Synthe 1  8' Again, this synth has a wooden, nasal quality.
Synthe 1  16' Same as above, an octave down.
Synthe 1  32' This will work well as synth bass.  Modulation to "travel" effect (filter cutoff)
Synthe 2  2' Similar to Synthe 1, but more "piercing".
White Noise Standard white noise effect, useful for wind, crashing waves, rain, helicopter and Martian sounds.
Synthe 2  8' Great hip-hop lead sound.  Thereminesque.
Pink Noise A more filtered version of white noise.
Synthe 2  32' Useful for techno sounds.
Trumpet I Honest (for the time) reproduction of a trumpet sound.
Trumpet II A trumpet with a slightly different attack than Trumpet I.
Trumpet III Brassier quality.
Trombone Again, honest trombone reproduction.
Tuba Realistic synthesized tuba.
Violin I Violin played in the super-high registry.
Violin II A more gentle, suave violin.
Viola Cool emulation of a viola.
Cello Standard cello sound.
D. Bass Double bass (contrabass) sound.
Recorder Pretty realistic, considering!
Flute Nice wooden flute sound.
Oboe Impressive reproduction!
Clarinet Okay
Bassoon OK bassoon.
Whistle Playing with portamento and vibrato effects, can be convincing.
Soprano Beautiful soprano voice sound.
Alto Listen to the diva at the opera.
Tenor Thank you for the performance, Luciano!
Bass Deep... from the throat!


Video demo

Korg M-500 micro-preset.rm

You'll need the Real player, available at www.realaudio.com


Korg M-500 Micro Preset pictures (click on thumbnails to enlarge)

the synth                     front panel                back panel




Year of release: 1977
Polyphony: monophonic
Presets: 30
Responds to velocity: no
Sound generation method: analog
MIDI: no
Sound expansion capabilities: No
Misc: portamento
Effects: no




SITE Type of resource DESCRIPTION
www.korg.com Home page Home page for Korg, one of the three most important Japanese synth manufacturers.