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Korg NTS-1

Synthesizer By Robin Vincent

Korg NTS-1

There's more to Korg's dinky kit synth than meets the eye. Much more...

The NTS‑1 is a programmable digital synthesizer kit that's the first in a forthcoming line of Nu:Tekt 'DIY-Focused' products from Korg. They've squeezed a powerful customisable synth and multi-effects engine into a tiny box and all you've got to do is put it together. And then there's the small matter that the oscillator can load the same 'logue-SDK'-compatible custom oscillator and effects firmware as the Minilogue XD and Prologue synthesizers...

First Impressions

The NTS‑1 is a DIY kit, but the build is not really any more bother than grappling with some seriously small screws. The only scary bit is the snapping of the boards as they all come as a single piece. But it's fine, just apply some pressure and they break along the predetermined lines.

To turn it on you need to plug in the supplied micro-USB cable to either a computer, USB power pack or socket — it doesn't take batteries. It all lights up, volume roller on the back, built-in speaker and off you go. The little speaker is surprisingly chunky and tempts you to play for more than a few seconds before rooting around for some headphones.

First impressions go along the lines of feeling it's pretty weeny and then not caring because it sounds so good. The mini touch-strip keyboard is as challenging to play as it appears but that's quickly bypassed by enabling the Arp, and is immediately followed by the relief of discovering that if you hold the Arp button down for half a second it latches, so you no longer have to keep your fudgy fat fingers in play.

Some assembly is required... but not much.Some assembly is required... but not much.

The simple control system of tapping a button and then using one knob to switch between different types of whatever it is you've selected and the other two to control two parameters works perfectly well up to a point. The four-digit display keeps you updated on what you're doing with creative shortenings and they don't need much guesswork or explanation. You move around adjusting and tweaking, back and forth between the modes and parameters. Having everything laid out with individual knobs like a 'proper synth' would be awesome, but in this tiny format it's enough.

You do run into the problem of parameter lurch when moving between modes. These are not encoders and so their value is wherever you left it last. So, you might have turned up the Shape on the oscillator and then move to the filter to find that it leaps all the way open as soon as you touch the knob. This is the curse of a multi-function interface.

Going Deeper

The NTS‑1...

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Published May 2020