Korg M1


The Korg M1 is the best selling synthesizer of all time. It was produced from 1988 until 1995 and uses digitally sampled PCM waveforms to generate it’s sounds. There’s also 44 drum sounds in the M1 (which is the first sample-based synth to include drums). The M1 is still heavily used today, and some of the classic sounds it is known for include the piano patch used on many 90s house classics and the slap bass motifs from the show Seinfeld.

A pair of oscillators can work either alone or in tandem to generate sounds from 86 different 16-bit sampled waveforms. Whereas earlier Korg offerings included differents sounds depending on the country where a synthesizer was sold, with the M1 Korg included all of the same sounds for all units. As a result, this was one of the first instruments available in the West to include realistic patches simulating sitar, wind chimes, kalimba, and other exotic acoustic instruments. Each oscillator has its own non-resonant low pass filter. Two LFOs are here, one for filter modulation and another for a vibrato effect. The M1 also includes quite a few effects and the ability to program ‘combinations’, or patches where different parts of the keyboard make different sounds. The 61-key keyboard has all the bells and whistles - velocity sensitivity, aftertouch, and a joystick for mod and pitch bend. Korg also included an eight track sequencer.

Over 250,000 Korg M1 units have been produced and sold, so tracking one down for your collection shouldn’t be too difficult. For a lower price, the sounds of the M1 can also be had by considering the M1R rack unit or the even more budget-friendly and stripped back M3R. Korg has also digitally reproduced the M1 as a plugin.

Technical Specifications

Year of release: 1988 Polyphony: 16
Oscillators: 16 bit PCM waveform synthesis Multitimbral Parts: 8
Patch Memory: 100 + 100 combinations Filter: Lowpass VDF
Format: Keyboard Keys: 61
Effects: Reverb, Delay, Flanger, Phaser, Chorus, EQ, Overdrive, Exciter, Rotary, Ensemble Control: MIDI


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Korg M1