E308: DS Fanboy hands-on with Korg DS-10


The Korg DS-10 is an incredibly interesting thing. It's not really a game, and it's not really a full-fledged synthesizer. Instead, it's like a perfect middle ground of both. And, it's also something that looked incredibly daunting when first loaded up.

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The thing about the Korg DS-10 is that it allows you to do a ridiculous amount of stuff with it. Seriously, when the rep demoing the title for me started talking about how many save files the thing could load (16 total), as well as how many patterns could be introduced into each save file (themselves even able to be broken down more), my head spun right off my shoulders and onto the floor, banging into the feet of a couple people passing by.

Now, as daunting and feature-rich as the application is, it's actually fairly simple to use. Obviously, the package is geared toward a set of people who know what they're doing before even picking the thing up and loading it into their DS. But, for myself, who does enjoy teh musak, yet has no knowledge of how to operate a synthesizer effectively, it didn't take that long for me to develop some sounds that could be called music. I'm sure most normal folk wouldn't call what I come up with as music, though.

For creating your own tunes, you can either just dive in and record whatever you play on a variety of interfaces (piano keys or Chaos Board) on the fly, or you can get incredibly in-depth and utilize the step-like system that utilizes a grid. Here, you break down each beat into a variety of steps, inputting sounds whenever and wherever to create a loop. It's way more technical than I have any business discussing, yet looks like it's fairly intuitive, should you have more than 10 minutes on a loud show floor to mess around with it.

Another interesting aspect of the title that was shown was the ability to patch things. Apparently, back in the good old days before you could get a comprehensive synthesizer experience on your DS, musicians had to manually patch sounds by plugging in cables, on the fly. You can do that here in Korg DS-10, which won't morph the sounds in any different way than just augmenting them in another interface available, but provides yet another option in a title that is overflowing with them.

Finally, we have the Chaos Board. Once you've actually made a decent loop, you can go here and distort the sound in real-time, using nothing more than your stylus and the handheld's touch-screen. Dividing the touch-screen into hemispheres, you can control the pitch and tone of the track, as well as a variety of other things. You can even record your on-the-fly remixing, in case you want to dissect it later.

Even though the title lacks the exporting that a full-fledged synthesizer possesses, you can still do single line-out, which means that your tracks won't forever be confined to the DS title. For those who crave the ability to create music, the Korg DS-10 is a no-brainer. Pick it up. For those that find themselves curious, I also suggest you pick it up. There's enough stuff to do here that you won't find yourself stopping until the battery on your DS runs out.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.