Korg 01/W


An image of a Korg 01/Wfd
Manufacturer Korg
Dates 1991
Technical specifications
Polyphony 32
Oscillator 2
Synthesis type Digital Sample-based Subtractive
Effects 2x47
Keyboard 61-key Aftertouch, Velocity
Left-hand control Joystick
External control MIDI

The Korg 01/W was a workstation synthesizer, released in 1991, and was intended to replace the M1 and T series. The workstation/ROMpler was based on AI², an improved version of the AI (Advanced Integrated) Synthesis technology found in the M1. The success of the AI² architecture ensured it was used in the majority of subsequent Korg synths of the 1990s.


There was also a subsequent 05R/W, which was based on the Korg X5.

Improvements over the M1

Key differences

The 01/W only had a few of the M1's samples. Particularly missing were the M1 Acoustic Piano, and some of the M1 Electric Piano sounds. These were replaced by more realistic versions (the Acoustic Piano in the 01/W was radically different and sounded more oriented for classical music). The 01/Wpro even went a step further and added another even more realistic Acoustic Piano.

The M1's piano was so bright and metallic sounding that it found its niche in Dance/Electronica and some Latin Music where it could cut through the mix easily. Korg acknowledged this fact by integrating their M1 piano back on later incarnations of the X range, such as in the X5D synth and N264/364 workstations.

The 01/W also added more electric piano sounds, having at least 5 times as many, therefore becoming one of the standard keyboards used in smooth jazz, which often uses electric piano sounds.

The 01/W introduced a feature called "Waveshaping". Basically it was a crude variation of Additive Synthesis. One could select a sample from the ROM Wavetable, and process it with one of 59 waveshapes. The feature would add a specific set of harmonics to the sound depending on which type of waveshape one would select, from for instance, names like "Rezzy", "Parabola" & "Comb". The waveshaping feature could make some very interesting sonic textures as it would literally reshape the sound to fit that specific waveshape. However, the feature was discontinued on subsequent models. Original sounds were achievable but required significant experimentation, as using waveshaping on stock samples often only seemed to add distortion.

The 0 series took a step backward from the T series in one area: the 1-megabyte sample RAM, on which users could load their own multisamples, was removed. More current workstations almost invariably have integrated samplers or user sample playback features.

Sonic character

The 01/W is also known for its "warmth". It has been suggested the 01/W sounded richer than the Korg synths that came afterward. The two most probable reasons for that are:

The fact that the 01/W's samples were recorded at a slightly lower sampling rate, therefore reducing sample size, plus the advantage of having more ROM memory meant that longer samples could be stored, possibly adding more realism to sustained sounds and so forth. The 32 kHz frequency might give the illusion of a more acoustic instrument, because it might be perceived as reducing the amount of high frequencies, which tend to be attenuated in physical/analogue instruments when compared to digital ones.


Name origin

Reportedly, the 01/W was originally intended to be named the M10, but the marketing department read the name upside down.


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