SoundFoundation Producer Series Gold Card No.1
for the Korg Wavestation
I like the Korg Wavestation. More than any other modern keyboard, it embodies the essence of that which I find exciting in synthesis - sounds that you can get your teeth (ears?) into. However, the Wavestation is not the easiest beast to program (sure - you can get some stupendous but useless sounds very quickly) so the availability of sound cards with a selection preprogrammed 'masterpieces' is an important factor in the Korg's appeal.
Those of you with long memories will remember that the Valhala Gold Cards for the D50 and M1 were highly praised - and very popular - so it was with a sense of anticipation that I recently received this SoundFoundation Producer Series Gold Card for review. Why? Because SoundFoundation originally wrote the Valhala cards and have since set up as an independent company.
Was my anticipation justified? Well, yes and no. Yes, in that many of the voices are good, strong, useable sounds. No, because the card doesn't use all the facilities available, and the Wavey is such an excellent synth that it deserves to be pushed to the limit. For example, a ROM card will hold 32 user-programmed wavesequences, 35 patches built from them, and 50 new performances built from the patches. Gold card No.1 offers just 18 new wavesequences, and draws heavily upon the Wavestation's internal ROM for other waves which are then used to construct the sounds you hear.
But what of the sounds themselves? Well, performances vary from chunky analogues (Touch Synth, Pulse String, Gold Brass, Live Brass) floaty digitals (SoundTracker, Digitable, Hold It, New Planet, Deep Synthesis, Aftermath, Robin of Sherwood) wave sequences (Axxess '90, Sync It J-M J, Acton Art '90, and my favourite, Hold This EP) and grungy distortions (Wild Thing, Low Note Rezo). There are also some neat tricks played on the waves using the modulation wheel. The names chosen are fairly descriptive of the voices, so you often don't have to hear a performance to know roughly how it will sound.
On the down side, I wasn't overly impressed by the imitative sounds (Baritone Sax, Clarinet and bass guitars), but then I'm not a fan of these anyway. I reckon that if this is the sort of voice you want, you'd have bought a U-220. Inevitably, there are also a small selection of bombs and other silly things that go whizz in the night. OK if you like that sort of thing, I suppose...
Delving deeper I found that messing around in the 'Edit Performance' page enabled me to create some even more powerful and usable Performances (it ain't 'ard.) Unfortunately, I then discovered that the patches I was using were largely based upon the internal ROM wavesequences, not the new ones.
So where does this leave us? I reckon that the SoundFoundation Gold Card scores an encouraging 7 out of 10. Better than many other cards that have passed through my hands, but not quite good enough for a gold star.
SoundFoundation Producer Series Gold Card No.1 for the Korg Wavestation
Price: £50 inc. VAT and delivery
More From: AMG. (Contact Details)
Review by Gordon Reid
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