Analogue Meets Digital 2: The Microkorg and the Volca Keys

The Volca Keys we all know and love (it is still my favourite Volca) can play up to 3 voices in POLY mode… It’s not true polyphony, because it shares the same filter and envelope, but it is still useful for playing chords. However, the envelope generator of the Keys is rather limited and playing good pads on the instrument can be very frustrating. In this video I explore the Microkorg-Volca Keys hybrid (analogue/digital) system. During this process you may hear a handful of interesting pad sounds.

The Microkorg and the Volca Keys are connected the same way I used with the Volca Bass a few days ago: the Microkorg is the centre of the system, sending MIDI data to the Volca, and receiving the audio output of the latter through its Line In for further processing. One thing I didn’t mentioned in the video is that I start from an initialized patch on the Microkorg. The final adjustments are displayed on the video, although there was some going back and forth. Some might prefer just a tutorial showing how to program a specific sound, but the fun of having a synthesizer is to explore the sound, listen to new ideas and then make your own re-interpretation of it… at least that’s what I think.

One issue I had right at the beginning was the fact that the Volca Keys can be somewhat inconsistent when the notes of a chord are sent with different velocity values: sometimes it sounds loud, other times very low. This is possibly a result of having the velocity linked to either the SustainĀ  level of the Envelope, or to the final amplification gain. Fortunately we can opt-out of the velocity curve of the Microkorg, and send all notes with the same velocity value.

At the end of it, I feel like I achieved some nice sounding, mostly analogue, pad sounds that I can use in other projects. Of course the polyphony is still limited to the 3 notes of the Keys, and it is mostly used for chords (no fancy polyphony here). But still, an useful new set of sounds in my toolbox.