This is a guide for beginners on Korg PA series arrangers who come from Yamaha arranger experience.
The operations on a Korg PA series arranger would be confusing initially for users coming from other arranger experience. Each brand has its own operating which would be different from others.
The first thing to remember is to treat the Korg arranger as a different system. There would be more better and easier ways to achieve the same features which is in Yamaha. This is a guide to find the features of Yamaha arrangers in Korg PA series.
This list of features covered
- Registration Memory
- Freeze function
- One touch setting
- OTS link
- Style play controls
- Fill selection
- Direct access
- Expansion packs
- Song play
- File system
- Some new features which are not in Yamaha
- Some features you will miss in Korg
This is one of the most confusing features for Yamaha users with Korg. The registration memory buttons will not be there on the panel of a Korg arranger. But there is registration memory in Korg arrangers. It is named differently and there are different ways to use it.
The registration memory in Korg is named as “Performance” or “Keyboard Set”. In the latest models like PA 700, PA 1000, PA 4x, it is called “Keyboard Set”. The previous models like PA 900, PA 600, PA 3x, PA 500 etc, it is named as “Performance”.
They store the sounds selections for the left and right tracks, their settings and effects etc. Performances store the style selection as well. But keyboard sets don’t. Read more about Registration Memory in Korg.
Freeze on the Yamaha arrangers are used to stop changing the style along with the registration memory selection. In Korg arrangers, there is no freeze button. But there is a style change button in the older models of PA keyboards like PA 900, PA 600, PA 500 etc where there is “Performances” instead of “Keyboard sets”. This button works the same as the freeze option in Yamaha arrangers. Read more about it here.
How to change style and sound with a single button press
There are many options to do this. The Style Change button with performances, Set list, the Style Up and Style Down option on the assignable switch, Auto Select on style library buttons etc are some of the options for this. Read more about it here.
One Touch Setting
This feature is there on the Korg arrangers as well. Each style has 4 one touch settings. The name is different. In the older models, it is called STS, and in the newer models it is called Keyboard Set.
This feature can be activated on the Korg arranger with the “STS Mode” button in the older models and “STYLE TO KBD SET” button in the newer models. This button has three states. “On”, “OFF” and “Blinking”. If it is in “Blinking” state, the OTS link feature is enabled. If it is in “ON” state, the first STS will be selected when the style is selected. If it is in “OFF” state, the STS will not be selected on style change or variation change.
Style play controls
The style play controls are almost the same as in Yamaha arrangers. One difference is pressing the “START STOP” button while playing the style will NOT turn off the syncro start button.
Fill selection has different options on Korg arrangers. Some models have dedicated fill buttons for fills. Those keyboards have the options to specify which variation to play after each fill is played.
There are three different options to choose the fill automatically when changing variations. (Only in the latest models)
- Current variation: This will play the fill corresponding to the current variation number. For example fill 1 for variation 1 and fill 3 for variation 3.
- Target variation: This will play the corresponding fill of the new variation selected.
- Smart: This will automatically select the fill based on the current and new variations. If changing from variation 1 to variation 4, fill 3 would be played.
You can assign these options in Global > Mode preferences > Style 1 page
Direct access in Korg arrangers are done using the “Shift” button. Keep the “Shift” button pressed and press the desired feature button. It will take you to the respective page directly.
There is no expansion packs for Korg arrangers. But you can load third party set files to the keyboard to get additional sounds and styles . These files can contain, user sounds, samples, user styles, user performances/keyboard sets, user multi pads, user song book data etc. You can also choose to load each item or bank individually. When there are styles or Performances/Keyboard sets which use sounds from the user banks, the sounds should be loaded to the right location in the user memory. Otherwise they will not sound correct.
There are localized sets available on SD card from Korg.
Song play is a separate mode in Korg arrangers. There are two song players. You can select a song in the other player while a song is playing in the other one. Most of the keyboards support mp3 files as well. You can transpose and adjust the tempo of mp3 files.
There are dedicated libraries in Korg arrangers specific for each items like sound, Style, Performance/Keyboard set, Pad, Song book etc. There will be sections for factory, user etc in each of these libraries. Each section has a set of banks. Inside the banks, there will be several pages. Each page has 8 locations to store the items in it.
Unlike in Yamaha, the items can be stored only in these preset banks and locations in them. The number of sections, banks and pages in each banks are preset in the operating system. It cannot be changed by the user.
Some features in Korg which are not available in Yamaha
These are some features which are not in Yamaha arrangers.
Advanced Sound Editing
The sound creator on Korg arrangers are very advanced. There are so many options available in it. You can layer multiple oscillators, set them to play with a velocity range or when an assignable switch is pressed, set LFO, AMP, Filter etc, etc, etc……
Create user drum kits
You can create user drum kits and store them into the library from the onboard sound editor. In Yamaha, you can do it with the Expansion Manager with samples. Yamaha has an onboard drum kit creator but it is within the style creator and sequencer mode.
One of the grate features of Korg arrangers is the Guitar Mode. You can create realistic guitar strumming patterns with it in the styles and songs.
Split the right tracks
Apart from the normal split point which separates the left and right parts, you can split the 3 right tracks sound into multiple ranges on the keyboard. This will make it easy for you to have different sounds ready on the key board without changing the sounds.
To set this, press the menu from the man page and go to Keyboard/Ensemble > Range/Velocity. Set the top and bottom key for the track to set the range for the track.
There is also an option to set the velocity range for the tracks. This will be useful to have different sounds on different velocity levels on the keyboard.
Advanced style creator
The style creator is very advanced with a lot of features in it. You can create separate patterns for specific chord or group of chord within in the same element.
Some of the other features in the style creator:
- Step record
- Midi import and export
- Auto quantize (Resolution)
- Cue mode
- Undo option
- Copy feature
- Range wrap settings
- Bulk note edit
Step backing sequencer
This is a very convenient feature in sequencer mode. It is another version of the step record option. But here you would select a style, its element, chord, tempo etc for each beat/measure to create a song’s backing section easily without playing the keyboard. You can edit these values later as well.
This feature is used to store the initial settings which are recalled when the keyboard starts. The style, sound, assignable switch functions, effects etc can be assigned to it and they will be automatically selected on starting the keyboard.
Dual song player
Korg arrangers have two song players with dedicated player controls and a cross fader to control the mix.
All the korg PA series arrangers except the first models like the PA 80, PA 60 and PA 50 have a touch screen. It makes it very easy to use. The number of panel buttons are very less when there is touch screen.
The Yamaha Genos and SX series arrangers have touch screen now.
Some features you will miss in Korg
Here are some features which are not in Korg arrangers but available in Yamaha arrangers
Playing song and styles together
Yamaha allows to play a style while a midi song is being played. This will replace the 8 rhythm tracks from the song and use those from the style. But in Korg, the Style play and Song play are two different modes. So they both cannot be played together.
Limitless storage location
Yamaha’s file system allows you to create your own folders and add items like style, sound etc to it as long as the memory capacity allows it. But in Korg, there are dedicated libraries for each item and fixed number of storage locations in them. You cannot increase the number of locations in them.
Panel Sustain button
There is no sustain button on Korg arrangers. For getting the same effect, you need to add release to the track from “Sound edit” tab in “Track controls” page from the Menu.
Starting with a Korg arranger has a learning curve initially. But once you are familiar with the interface, things would be easier. Korg provides a lot of options to customize the keyboard to use it in different ways which are convenient to the user.
Instead of finding the exact replacement of the features from Yamaha arrangers, learn the different ways to use those features on Korg. In addition to that there are lot of new features in Korg PAs which you will not find in Yamaha arrangers.
One major difference between Yamaha and Korg arrangers is that Yamaha has lot of ready to use sounds and styles onboard where as with Korg, there needs some customization to them to suit the needs of the user. But there are a lot of customization options in Korg.
This might be one of the major reasons why people find Korg arrangers difficult initially. But use the customization options, play with the sound editor, style creator, sequencer, Fx, Sampling etc. You will be able to make better sounds and styles with it.
I wish you all the best with your new Korg PA.