Review: KORG DS-10 Synthesizer

KorgDS10.jpg Let’s get one thing straight right away. KORG DS-10 is NOT a game! It is a complex and powerful music creation tool; nothing more, nothing less. There are no trippy visualizers, colorful fonts and menus, wacky dancing characters, or anything else you’d typically find in a music game. KORG DS-10 is actually based on the real-life KORG MS-10 synthesizer, and that’s exactly what you get for your $40 investment: a full-featured, professional-grade synthesizer.

KORG DS-10 is perfect for anyone with an interest in creating and composing music, regardless of skill, experience or know-how on the subject. The harsh black-and-white interface and sheer volume of buttons, knobs and other doohickeys you have to play with is intimidating at first (something I wish the developers would’ve combated with some tutorials, at least introducing the software’s basic functionality), but eventually works out to be quite accessible through its intuitive touch-screen controls.

I enjoy listening to music, but other than one year in band class way back in middle school I have absolutely no past experience with playing or composing music. Even still, after working through a small learning curve I’ve been able to create some fun electronic tunes without issue, and I think that goes to show how open this software is to users of all ages and skill levels.

As for the actual features and functionality of KORG DS-10, it’s equipped with everything you could ask for from a digital synthesizer. It’s got a four-part drum kit, fully functional keyboard, something called a KAOSS pad which is just a flat black screen you can drag the stylus on in various patterns to create different sounds, a six-track/16-step sequencer, a track mixer, and all sorts of dials and buttons for adjusting volume, tone, pitch and other settings for each of your tracks. This is one robust application!

The audio quality is also surprisingly high. The DS isn’t a device anyone associates with having the greatest of speakers or being capable of producing the most impressive of sound effects, but even with the hardware’s obvious limitations the developers were able to produce the highest quality audio possible.

However, there are certain other limitations that disappointed me some, specifically regarding the wireless functionality. KORG DS-10 provides phenomenal support for local wireless play enabling up to eight DSs to connect, play simultaneously, and even share tracks with each other, which is unbelievably cool. Problem is, I highly doubt many people have enough nearby friends with DSs who also own this software to take advantage of this (I sure as hell don’t!), and sadly there is no support for online connectivity, not even for uploading/downloading the musical creations of other users.

I like to think of KORG DS-10 as almost a modern-day Casio Keyboard. I remember when I was growing up getting a Casio that you could remix your own songs on was the coolest thing, and a popular gift around the Christmas season. Obviously KORG is far more capable and complex than some off-the-shelf keyboard, but the concept of providing such a versatile instrument in such an accessible way is very similar, I think. Whether you’re an experienced composer, budding musician, or casual dabbler in the musical arts, KORG DS-10 is an application you should not be without. Play with it just once and I guarantee it’ll become an indispensable asset in your DS library.

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Pros:
+ Solid audio quality
+ Robust music creation capabilities
+ Very intuitive and accessible after the initial intimidation wears off
+ Fantastic local wireless multiplayer features (if you actually have the means to take advantage of them)

Cons:
– Intimidating to use at first
– No support for online interaction

Game Info:
Platform: DS
Publisher: XSEED Games
Developer: AQ Interactive
Release Date: 11/4/08
Genre: Music Creator
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Players: 1-8

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!