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Korg Minilogue XD

Polyphonic Synthesizer
By Gordon Reid

Korg Minilogue XD

Taking the design of the original Minilogue and features from the Prologue, does the XD offer the ideal balance between function and price?

The XD looks and feels like an enhanced Minilogue. It shares the same design, the same four-voice polyphony, a similar control panel, and the same velocity-sensitive mini-keyboard. But when you delve beneath its surface, it becomes clear that the XD has far more in common with the Prologue than is immediately apparent. The addition of the digital Multi Engine in the oscillator section is the largest indicator that the XD is a close relative of the Prologue, but there are others. In fact, the voice structures of the XD and the Prologue appear to be almost identical except for the fact that the output from the XD's voice mixer is a single channel of audio, whereas each voice on the Prologue can be panned in a stereo field. But while much of the technology inside the XD appears to make it a Prologue wolf in a Minilogue sheep's clothing, spending time with it showed that this can be misleading too.

The Technology

Like the Prologue, the XD is a true hybrid, offering analogue and digital oscillators, analogue filters and amplifiers, but digital LFOs, contour generators and effects. The VCOs offer the traditional three waveforms — sawtooth, triangle and square — and a range of footages from 16' to 2' which, together with the ±2 octave performance switch, allow you to program everything ranging from deep, grumbling basses to the highest pitched whistles, the latter with an admirable absence of aliasing. Add waveshaping, cross-modulation and sync, and you're not going to run short of analogue timbres. Alongside these, the digital Multi Engine offers three additional sound‑generation capabilities, including 16 variations of 2-op FM synthesis that can generate a range of tones that would be impossible to obtain from the analogue oscillators. There are also four digitally generated noise algorithms, and 16 slots for user-programmed digital oscillators.

There are several other changes in the XD's oscillator section when compared with the original Minilogue's. For example, you can now modulate the pitch or waveshape of oscillators individually, allowing you to create chorused sounds and other effects that were not possible on the earlier synth. In addition, the issue with the discontinuity in sync sweeps is gone, although this is a side-effect of a change in the contour architecture (which we'll address shortly) rather than any obvious differences in the oscillators themselves. But perhaps the weirdest change is the way in which the oscillators are pitched. On the original Minilogue, the sawtooth wave sat an octave above the square and triangle waves unless you applied waveshaping, at which point it dropped to the same octave. On the XD, it sits at the same octave unless you apply waveshaping, at which point it's an octave lower.

More changes can be found in the filter section. Unlike the original Minilogue (which offered both 12dB/oct and 24dB/oct low-pass filter options) and the Prologue (which combined a 12dB/oct low-pass filter with a simple high-pass filter), the XD offers just a low-pass filter that, although not advertised as such, I suspect is a 12dB/oct design similar to the Prologue's. It sounds good, and its two levels of overdrive allow you to craft a wide range of timbres from it. What's more, it passes low frequencies faithfully at high resonance, and it tracks the keyboard almost perfectly so you can use it as a fourth oscillator or to create the kind of breathy 'tuned noise' patches that I enjoy. Apart from key-tracking of 0, 50 or 100 percent, you can adjust its cutoff frequency in five ways: manually, using...

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Published June 2019