Korg DW-8000


The DW-8000 was released in 1985 by Korg and is a hybrid keyboard synthesizer. While the two digital oscillators and final effects sections are digital, the middle parts of the DW-8000 circuit are fully analog. The DW-8000 was only produced for two years and is not quite as popular as other synths of its time, but it has a great sound and set of features that don’t justify its lack of classic status.

The surface of the keyboard uses a few sliders and lots of buttons - no knobs at all. The two digital oscillators create sounds using single cycles of samples (1985 storage capacity was very limited). Select from 16 spectral waveforms (which are drawn on the top panel) as well as usual waveforms like sine, sawtooth, and squares, or even a handful of sampled live instruments piano, clavinet, sax, violin, guitar, and more. The oscillators can be played in two different 8 voice polyphonic modes or in two monophonic modes where the second oscillator is detuned to give a wider sound.

After the oscillators, the signal hits the analog 24 dB resonant lowpass filter, three different envelope generators, and VCA. The main EG goes beyond just ADSR and also includes break point and slope parameters for more complex shaping. The DW-8000 also has an LFO, arpegiattor, and 12-bit digital delay effects section capable of delay, chorus, and flanging effects. While the effects section is stereo, the rest of the DW-8000 is technically mono, and if you use stereo cabling on the output with no effects, you simply get the inverted phase of one channel on the other.

The DW-8000 came with 64 reprogrammable presets, and several expansion boards exist on the market. The keyboard has 61 keys with aftertouch. Korg made a rack unit called the EX-8000 that lacks the arpeggiator, and a handful of software editors make programming possible on PC and Mac. For under $1000, the DW-8000 stands as a powerful hybrid synthesizer that can be acquired for much less than other more famous synths of it’s day.

Technical Specifications

Year of release: 1985 Polyphony: 8
Oscillators: 2 DCOs Multitimbral Parts: 1
Filter: 24 dB Lowpass VCF VCA: VCA
Format: Hybrid Synthesizer Keys: 61
Effects: Digital Delay Control: MIDI


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Korg DW-8000