Korg Prologue | 200 custom patches
(compatible with 8 and 16 voice versions)
Please send $26.00 (USD) or €25.00 (EUR) or £23.00 (GBP) to this paypal address: [wcologarb at gmail.com] writing „prologue patches” + your email in the title / note. Choose the correct currency in the „Recipient Gets” currency menu if you see it (please do not use PLN currency:) I will send the soundpack after I get notified about your payment (max 24 hours).
Via Debit / Credit Card:
Send me an e-mail letting me know you’d like to have your card charged – I will send you a payment request and it will be processed by my Paypal and your bank (you don’t have to own a Paypal account, your card is enough, it’s 100% safe – here’s full explanation).
How many patches?:
You will receive all the sounds from my Youtube & Soundcloud demos plus extra sounds. This is 200 patches (which means there are over 240 individual sounds!). The patches are designed in a way to best utilize the power of the Prologue-16 yet not block the polyphony of the Prologue-8: you will have the choice to switch the layers on or off.
What genre / style?:
There is no one style, because it is you who decides what style these patches will be played in. It’s a wide variety of sounds that are meant to inspire and make you look at the synth in a different light. Some patches are bread & butter, some offbeat; they’re the result of me trying to find the limits of the instrument. The patches are ready-to-use in music or can serve as starting points; you can find the textures or the dynamics that you like and tweak them to suit your exact taste or purpose. I tried not to include patches that would overlap with any other soundsets out there, so 90% of my patches should be original-sounding to you.
What format / import method?:
My presets will come under the name „WCOG” in a collection available as two files: sysex format and Korg Librarian format. If you are using Sysex, your entire memory (000-500) will be taken. If you are using Librarian, you will have the choice to import my patches to slots 001-200 or 301-500. If you want to import only single patches or rearrange their locations, it can only be done via the Librarian.
Any external stuff?:
I did not use any external FX in the demo; all the delays, phasers, noises and other effects are part of the Prologue engine & my intentional patch design. I did not use the onboard LF Comp but I used some slight EQing on some patches. I recorded my demo straight through an audio card. This is a standard factory Prologue unit – you don’t need any custom oscillators, FX or other addons (just the factory „Waves” oscillator).
Notes on grades lower than 3/3:
modern: VPM does some job, but this synth is far from Hydra / Opsix
engine: 1 filter, 1 lfo, 1 destination at a time, only 3 shapes, no matrix, no seq
low end: it’s perfectly fine, but not in the league of the champions (like Pro-3)
high end: average, not in the league of Prophet / Nord Lead / Peak & Summit
timbre plasticity: VPM and FX very useful, but filter and modulations limited
versatility: it’s not bad, but it’s not great either: mod limits & no sequencer
ui & ease of use: front panel good / the menu buttons and value knob not so good
PROLOGUE vs MINILOGUE
Back in the day I got myself interested in the new Korg lineup and read about the Minilogue XD and the Prologue. I thought the XD was a Prologue minus 4 voices, plus the sequencer. I chose to buy the XD and never looked back at the Prologue. I thought: „why should I need those additional voices if Korg removed the great sequencer?”. But now that I’ve had the chance to grab the 16-voice Prologue and spend some time with it, I must come to the conclusion things are not what they seem. The 16 voices and the layer / stack architecture inspire new areas of sound design and performance. What’s more, the Prologue sounds a bit different (better) than the Minilogue, even though they seem to have exactly the same filter and multi-engine… or maybe not? The filters are in fact slightly different. And I think Korg’s engineers mentioned something about the need for a different VCA design to accommodate the 16 voices, but I’m not sure where and when I heard that. Anyways, that’s nerd stuff.
So let’s start with day one. I powered the synth up, started to tweak the knobs, switch the switches, and… I was dismayed. I didn’t quite understand what was happening. It had been 2 years since I played the XD. Had I forgotten the Korg sound? I meticulously tweaked the entire scope of each and every knob in search for the sweet spots. I checked the filter, the effects, the distortion, but I couldn’t get the Prologue to a place anywhere near the XD’s sound appeal. I thought it sounded like crap, and to add insult to injury, this crappy sound was much more limited in timbre plasticity / malleability than the XD. Changing the waveshape on the saw and the pulse waves sounded as if someone was tearing the wood panels apart. The filter was falling into useless, howling self-oscillation each time I turned the resonance more than halfway. Even when I lowered the resonance and the gain, big chords would cause crackles in my audio speakers. I thought: „damn, you have to be a saint with an angelic patience not to overdrive this thing”.
But there was just something about the interface and the 16-voice layering potential that kept me intrigued and inspired and 12 hours later I started to appreciate this synth. I just needed to get off my high, „hi-fi” horse – I had been playing the Novation Peak / Summit before. That’s why the Prologue’s sound was like a rude awakening, a 5:00 AM wake-up call in a roach motel. I had to re-wire my ears and remind myself how cool this kind of grungy, unruly & wayward sound actually is. In this respect the Prologue transported me back to my Ensoniq ESQ days – a quick teleportation from a soy-latte-in-a-shopping-mall kind of feeling to a gun-fight in the wild west. The gritty sand, the scorching heat, the feeling of being alive.
Now, after several weeks spent with the Prologue I am in awe and I think I need to change my grading scale – or give the Prologue 4 out of the 3 points in the vintage domain. The word „analogue sound” gains a new meaning. I’ve always tried to avoid ranking synths as „the best”, because things in the synthland are much more nuanced than this black-and-white view. But if you ask me to make a „top-3 list” of synths with vintage, dirty, organic sound, this list will include the Prologue, the Matrixbrute and the OB-6.
To many people the Matrixbrute sounds obtuse & nasaly, while the OB-6 sounds too clean compared to the Prologue. Recently we’ve also seen the introduction of the prophet-esque Take-5, but the Take-5 needs some additional modulation to make it pleasantly organic. This applies to pretty much every other DSI / Sequential synth – Pro-3 and Rev-2 also need a more or less clever modulation to „soften” their output. But the Prologue has the much needed softness and dirtyness of the oscillators from the get-go. It sounds like a true vintage synth and the frequencies that it spits out seem tailored for the human ear.
The pitch of the oscillators is very drifty. Generally speaking it’s like a mix of a 1970’s preset synth, some digital hybrid from the 80’s (like the aforementioned Ensoniq) and some fx pedal boxes – and all of it running through an old radio speaker if you activate the drive. Korgs have just something in their design, I don’t know what it is because I’m not an engineer – but the 1982 Poly-61 still holds strong on my list as one of the most inimitable, original-sounding models in the synth world. Now the Prologue may just have become my choice for my favorite contemporary „vintage-sounding” synth. There is some serious potential hidden within the modules, and you uncover this potential by turning the knobs in the same way you peel away the layers of an onion. Each layer has a slightly different size, taste & color. There is also a lot of potential in the generous FX section, plus the option to make the Prologue kind of „binaural” if you make use of the x-fade / layer architecture.
Just like the Poly-61, the Prologue is peculiar. It looks „hi-fi” on the outside, but when you judge its sound against its looks, the sound may strike you as cheesy. But it’s a very special kind of cheesy-ness – a good one. It leads to a paradox – it makes other synths sound cheesy in a strange, subversive way. Let me explain: Prologue’s VPM noisy waves, plus the unstable oscillators, plus the overdriven filter make it the master of a genre. Other subtractive-analogue synths often sound so-so doing this kind of stuff because they sound too synthetic. On the other hand, the „pro” synths like Yamaha EX-7 or Korg Kronos with their „professional” acoustic emulations could actually be the most cheesy form – because even though they try so hard, we still know they will never exactly sound like a physical, acoustic instrument. The Prologue, on the other hand, sounds acoustic / „cheesy” in the way a vinyl record or an old mouldy flute sounds „cheesy” – it’s a pleasant, slightly degraded, slightly warbly sound. It’s something natural, sensual, and I think this is the quality that I missed in the OB-6 – the best-sounding Sequential poly synth. It was too perfect.
I promised myself that I would lambast this synth in the UI section of the review, but now that I’ve made 200 patches on it, I’m not so eager.
When you look at it, the Prologue makes an impression of being a high-end instrument. It looks like a vintage Denon or Akai amplifier. The LED displays, the chrome switches, the sleek black metal panel plus the elegant knobs… it’s a beauty. Although I have to say the knobs were falling out of my grab at the beginning – it felt like trying to grab an ice cube. But one gets used to it.
When I went past the looks and tried to make some sounds, there was confusion. I thought something must have gone wrong during the production stage of this synth. I thought „wait a minute – so Korg makes this high-end, 5-octave synth but they give us 3-position switches, tiny displays and a main knob which goes in irritating increments? And there is no aftertouch?”.
Next: the display does not show a lot of values. It shows the pitch value of the oscillators, but not the shapes. It shows the voice mode value, but it doesn’t show the portamento value. The voice spread knob is on top of the panel, while other more important things are hidden in a menu. Also there’s no „1-shot mode” for the LFO like in the XD.
All of these shortcomings gave me the impression the synth was half-baked. When I read about the tuning issues of the first firmware and that some people were returning their units, I thought it wasn’t just my impression – it seemed the synth really was half-baked.
But I have to be honest (or nonchalant) with you – I simply don’t care. Tuning issues are a thing of the past. The user interface, even if irritating, is only irritating for the hand and not the brain – if you know what I mean. Using the Prologue is like a quick scuffle instead of a protracted, psychological abuse. I’d rather have a tooth knocked out by a school bully than be tortured all my childhood by psycho parents and their neverending preparations for the last coming of Christ. And that’s how I feel with the Prologue – when the time comes, I just have to turn the value knob or press the buttons like crazy for a short while and that’s it. If I want to change the envelope for the multi-engine oscillator, I press „button 7” five times. If I want to change the velocity of the filter envelope, I press „button 5” four times. End of story, end of pain, I’m free to go. There isn’t anything else I have to learn or maneouver around, no sneaky tricks. It’s just muscle work of an acceptable intensity.
If you’ve read my Juno-60 write-up, you will know that the physical design of things has a tremendous appeal, and that sometimes it may even overshadow people’s objectivity and skew their opinions about the actual performance of the things in question. Maybe this phenomenon is also taking place here & now: with my Prologue. It’s the only modern synth that heats up and smells like an old garage. The front panel is so warm after 1 hour that I’m actually wondering if everything’s ok with it – it has the temperature of your morning coffee or your bathtub water. Not only do I like the sound of it, but I also like the way it looks and the way it interacts with me. The fact that the engine is limited inspires me to put in extra creativity & effort. Besides, the limited modulation becomes a non-issue when simple patches sound great. If I approach the issue in a logical manner, it seems the Prologue is too limited or half-baked. But if I think with my heart, I just want to keep it, keep coming back to it and make music. And this has always been the most important outcome that we should always aim at when dealing with instruments.
But I’m not going to lie to you. I do reazlie & I do expect that many people will be disappointed with the Prologue. The sometimes „mushy” / „muddy” / „mid-rangey” sound and the limited architecture will confuse and irritate many users. Even if we assume guys at Korg wanted to keep the synth simple and inspiring, a second LFO would not do much damage, would it? I mean, it wouldn’t turn the synth into a piece of NASA machinery… Two LFOs would attract many musicians who make „evolving” pads & soundscapes. Alas, there is only one LFO, which somewhat reduces the synth’s plasticity / versatility. In one way the Prologue is more flexible / plastic than the OB-6 because it has VPM and great FX, on the other it’s less plastic / a lesser chameleon because it has only one filter and no sample & hold LFO. But let’s not forget that the OB-6 is very much loved despite its limited architecture. You have to look at the Prologue the same way. It’s like a Juno-106 – no fancy modulations but hey – THAT SOUND! Korg should get a medal for it. I haven’t had that much inspiration since my days with the Yamaha AN1x. If it’s true that Korg discontinued the production of the Prologue after several short years, then we have a modern tragedy.
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