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Korg Radias

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As me and the seller drove in a black Mercedes W126 SEL cab with the Radias in trunk, I learned, voluntarily or not, many things about the demands of trance music, what kind of effect plugins Armand Van Helden uses, the superb quality of Virus TI, and so politely on. But nothing about the Radias sitting behind us. So here's the first impression as experienced by me: One of the most uncanny synths I've had the pleasure to possess. Visually: impressive. Functionally: abundant. Physically: awkward. Interface-wise: exciting & intimidating. Sonically: original (whether original means good or bad needs to be decided by you).

Prior to the purchase I had the feeling, probably having heard it somewhere, that the Radias is an MS2000 on steroids with less edge. And I think I agree, to say the least. MS2000 is much more beefy and nasty, not so modern-clean. If the MS2k leans towards the classic analog sound, the Radias resembles more the early VST. If Korg wanted to do a replica of the VA modeling engine from the MS2k, they failed. If Korg wanted to do a less compromised, more modern version of the MS2k with a view in mind to do away with its engine and timbre limitations - they succeeded. We can look at it this way: Radias makes up for the sound deficiency in versality, polyphony and its interaction with the user. Lots of effects including waveshapers and grain shifter, pcm drums, 3 x mod SEQ, 2 x step SEQ, editable ARP, seamless filter, LFOs with phases syncable, release curves on EGs, mod matrix with patching controlled by sequencers, vocoder controlled by sequencers and on the top of it all Formant Motion function (recording your own external sounds into Radias'es vocoder). Thanks for the fun Korg. I literally had stomach pains cause I couldn't get myself up from the chair. I wanted to play, and play, because each twist of a knob produced a new sound. I haven't had that much fun in a long time. Nevertheless putting ultra-fucking-cheesy phrases like "now everybody in da house say reaaady-ass", "yo dude gimme a break", "we are aliens from another dimension" and Kid Rock's "bawitdaba" into the formant sample library was unnecessary.

A word of advice: do not try to make the Radias sound like Waldorfs or Nord or Novas. It never will. You're just gonna hurt the synth and hurt yourself. If you want the traditional VA-analog sound, be it lush or sturdy, you WILL be disappointed. If the aforementioned synths sound raw / deep, then Radias sounds processed / hollow. I think this is why this synth is so controversial and polarising. Take any evolving band like Korn or NIN or any other you might know and see how fans divided themselves into two camps after the release of a new album. "They sold out", "the new album sounds too clean", "the raw energy is gone", "The Mechanical Animals album is just a mere shadow of the masterpiece which the Antichrist Superstar album is"... sounds familiar? Some people like to keep good things unchanged, some people like to refresh their sensations with new things.

Big guys with big mouth and big wallets in big houses with big studios and old habits (see Waldorf Q owner) will probably call the Radias all the cliched words like 'weak' and label the synth 'useless', having compared it to 09_Deep_Moog_Whatever_Bass on their Andromedas, Prophets or other deities. But let me just exchange this word for another one: different. Radias is interestingly different even more, not so much in the sound domain, but in the patch domain, if you know what I mean. You just need to avoid its sonic cul-de-sacs that remind us of VST and explore the patching routes. You can try to do certain things on other synths, try, and never succeed, while on Radias you'll do it, plus you'll do it quick. I love to take the Radias to areas of sequenced retro-computer music, industrial jittery frameworks and digital-sequence type of ventures (you know, ding-ding-dang-io-io-whistle-dong thing). The software and the interface for this is just genius. Yes, I often do get the impression of sitting inside a plastic bucket when tweaking Radias, but you know, I can always use the tools given to turn the plastic bucket into a wonderland of plastic oddities.

I'd say the overall quality and experience is "state-of-the-art" if it wasn't spoilt by the main endless knob. If it has a bad day, it skips values. What the fuck is wrong with these modern synths. After one month of usage the endless rotaries on Blofeld / Radias / DSIs skip fucking values. But apart from that, the interface is terrific & the editing is supa dupa quick. Like piloting a spaceship when you know what your doing. Multiple ways of accessing the same things, for your convenience.

To conclude; I don't think Radias is a synth for a synthesist. A synthesist will get angry when he discovers some snags like the one that he cannot assign pitch modulation to each of 2 oscillators independently, or control the pwm of the squarewave after choosing certain routes. Nor is it a synth for the traditional synthesizer timbre worshippers and sculptors. It's a synth for the fun-seekrs. I can't have cross mod and waveform mod at the same time? Uhm, whatever, just look at those Mod Sequencers! Fun. Memorize that word: carefree, creative FUN.

Radias is a satisfactorily complex digital synth complementary to other analog (VA) synths that is worth checking out. It's NOT a shitty synth. It's not a fucking milestone either, but as I said, at least it's something different, something new after the MS2000 and it doesn't pretend to be anything that it isn't, like the GAIA "SH" or "JUPITER"-80. It has a nice, airy, soft, lucid sound. And this kind of sound is not as easy to find in synths as you would think.

A major piece of advice: if you love your MS2000, do not sell it with the thought of 'upgrading' to Radias. You're gonna feel like you've gained knobs, but lost something untangible yet valuable.



Watch the video demo part 1:


Watch the video demo part 2:


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