Gakken Korg DS-10+ Book, Revisited

I reviewed the Korg DS-10+ Perfect Guide back in March. Since then, I’ve mostly been playing other video games, reading manga and messing with the Japanino mod for the Gakken flip clock. But, occasionally, I’d sit down with the Korg DS-10+ and plug in a few of the suggested patches from the Perfect Guide. There’s 100 voices and combinations in the book, and I often find myself spending an hour making tweaks to see what the results will be, so I might only go through 10 voices in one night.

(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)

The DS-10+ has an amazing amount of power and complexity for something that runs on the Gameboy DS. Not only are there 2 synthesizers that run simultaneously, but there’s also the drum synth, special effects for all three, a mixer, sequencers for all three, a keyboard entry method, a Kaoss pad entry method, and settings screens to automate various Kaoss pad parameters in conjunction with the sequencers. The sequences are only 4 bars long, so loops are too short to stand on their own. Instead, what works fairly well is to run the sequencer and then change the Edit or Patch settings interactively. The only real drawback to doing this on the DS is that you can only change one knob at a time (as opposed to a real hardware synth where you can modify as many knobs simultaneously as you have hands). Also, as I mentioned in the previous review, the touch screen doesn’t always recognize the stylus, so I sometimes have to tap the screen several times to get a note to play from the keyboard, or to get a knob to change.

Regarding the voices from the Perfect Guide – the DS-10+ game controls present a lot of variation in effects with just small changes in knob position. What this means is that if the Perfect Guide says that the voice is for a trumpet, what you get may not even sound close. And that’s because the settings you use on the DS aren’t exactly the same as in the pictures in the book. There’s a lot of tweaking involved to make the voices sound right. It’s a great way to really understand what each of the controls do, but it is frustrating if you just want to focus on song writing.

The Perfect Guide patches break up into several broad categories – basics, lead, backing instruments, drum and special effects. There are a couple short sections between chapters that demonstrate how to change Kaoss pad sequencer settings, or how to pick different kinds of musical keys. Many of the patches seem to have been lifted from other Korg synths, such as the Tom Tom and the helicopter voices. There are also some patches to mimic Perfume’s Polyrhythm album. I’m not really sure how many patches could be said to be unique to the DS-10+ for this book.

And that’s one thing about synthesizers. A basic ADSR synth is going to have pretty much the same features no matter who designs it. There will be 1 or 2 audio frequency oscillators, each with 3-4 waveforms (squarewave, triangle, sawtooth, reverse sawtooth), cutoff, peak resonance, the ADSR generator, a low frequency oscillator (LFO) with another 3-4 waveforms, and a patch panel to connect the LFO to pitch in, OSC2 pitch in, cutoff in, and VCA in (volume control). Other synths may have a few more oscillator waveforms, one or two more oscillators, and additions to the ADSR (attack 2, sustain 2, release 2, invert) but they don’t let you create all-new unique sounds. Meaning that once you get a particular voice for one synth, you can pretty much duplicate it on every other synth on the market that has the same features. That is, you’re not going to find patches in the DS-10+ Perfect Guide that are one-of-a-kind. There’s a feeling that most of the sounds are lifted from other products. This is good in that you can now make these sounds yourself on the DS-10+, but since the only way to get music out of the DS and onto a CD is via the headphone jack, if you’re a professional musician you may find yourself asking whether you shouldn’t be investing $400-$800 on a commercial hardware synth specifically designed to be part of a studio system.

Voice Creator Category
Strings Ensemble Denji Sano
Guitar-like Solo Michio Okayama
M-Lead Yasunori Mitsuda
Electrobass Tomoaki Kanamori Perfume
Kira Kira Arpeggio Tomoaki Kanamori Perfume
Polyrhythm Vocal Tomoaki Kanamori Perfume
Gorgeous Synth Pad Tomoaki Kanamori Perfume
CTO Erepi (Electric Piano) Polymoog
Sitar 高橋信之 (Nobuyuki Takahashi) Sound Basics
Agogo 高橋信之 (Nobuyuki Takahashi) Sound Basics
Mouth Flute 高橋信之 (Nobuyuki Takahashi) Lead
Trumpet 高橋信之 (Nobuyuki Takahashi) Lead
Tenor Sax mryat Lead
Distortion Cutting mryat Lead
Noisy Ethnic Lead L-eye Lead
Trans Lead Suttoko-Dokkoy Lead
Bottle Attack Lead Koishistyle Lead
Ethnic PM Voice ヨナオケイシ (Yonao Keishi) Lead
Tibet Khoomii Cardiac Trance Lead
Funk Brass Lead Koishistyle Lead
Legend Technopop Lead Gospely Lead
Ethnic Glass Lead natto21 Lead
Wao Lead 夜間 (Yakan) Lead
Modulation Bass mryat Lead
Percussive Electro Bass Denkitribe Lead
Wood Bass ガリバトコビッツ (Gulliver Toko Beats) Lead
Glide Bass TuKuRu Lead
Double Attack Base Gospely Lead
Acid Bass Cardiac Trance Lead
Distorted Bass Drum ヨナオケイシ (Yonao Keishi) Lead
Infinite Organ 高橋信之 (Nobuyuki Takahashi) Lead
FM Clavinet 高橋信之 (Nobuyuki Takahashi) Back
Harpsicord 高橋信之 (Nobuyuki Takahashi) Back
Strings 高橋信之 (Nobuyuki Takahashi) Back
Analog AOR Horn 高橋信之 (Nobuyuki Takahashi) Back
Resonate LFO Sequence Suttoko-Dokkoy Back
Distortion Guitar Cord ヨナオケイシ (Yonao Keishi) Back
Unbent Horn 夜間 (Yakan) Back
MS Sequence 夜間 (Yakan) Back
Synth Glass Cardiac Trance Back
Percussive Sequence Cardiac Trance Back
Loud Noise Sequence 怖音 (Scary Sounds) Back
Chip Tune Sequence Koishistyle Back
Distortion Sweep Pad Denkitribe Back
Carimba-style Sequence Denkitribe Back
Modulation Sequence Denkitribe Back
Brass Strings Pad TuKuRu Back
Synth Strings TuKuRu Back
Chime Sequence TuKuRu Back
Marimba 高橋信之 (Nobuyuki Takahashi) Back
Sawtooth Pad TuKuRu Back
Banjo ガリバトコビッツ (Gulliver Toko Beats) Back
Sweep Sequence Gospely Back
Chord Tone 高橋信之 (Nobuyuki Takahashi) Back
Tight Kick Suttoko-Dokkoy Drums
Gaba Kick Suttoko-Dokkoy Drums
Pop Keyboard Kick Denkitribe Drums
Fat Kick 無限軌道 (Flat track Caterpillar) Drums
Hard Snare 夜間 (Yakan) Drums
Fat Snare ガリバトコビッツ (Gulliver Toko Beats) Drums
Piccolo Snare Koishistyle Drums
Gun Shot Snare Koishistyle Drums
Technopop Tight Snare natto21 Drums
Pop Keyboard Snare Denkitribe Drums
MS Synth Snare Denkitribe Drums
32HH (High Hat?) 夜間 (Yakan) Drums
808HH Koishistyle Drums
KRPHH Denkitribe Drums
Pop Keyboard HH Denkitribe Drums
Real High Hat 無限軌道 (Flat track Caterpillar) Drums
Steel Pan 夜間 (Yakan) Drums
FC Clap Suttoko-Dokkoy Drums
Noisy Percussion ヨナオケイシ (Yonao Keishi) Drums
Djenbe (African drum) Cardiac Trance Drums
Wooden Clappers natto21 Drums
80’s Electric Drum natto21 Drums
Noisy Clap TuKuRu Drums
808 Tom Denkitribe Drums
3-way Percussion L-eye Drums
Snare / High Hat 孫娘 (Granddaughter) Drums
Kick / Rimshot 孫娘 (Granddaughter) Drums
Papipupe Voice 高橋信之 (Nobuyuki Takahashi) Drums
Horse Hooves 高橋信之 (Nobuyuki Takahashi) Sound Effects
Boiling Soup 高橋信之 (Nobuyuki Takahashi) Sound Effects
Like a Cold Wintry Wind 高橋信之 (Nobuyuki Takahashi) Sound Effects
Helicopter 高橋信之 (Nobuyuki Takahashi) Sound Effects
Thunder mryat Sound Effects
Explosion Suttoko-Dokkoy Sound Effects
Heartbeat Cardiac Trance Sound Effects
Ground Rumbling 怖音 (Scary Sounds) Sound Effects
Cosmic SE Koishistyle Sound Effects
Electronic Computer Room natto21 Sound Effects
Chime natto21 Sound Effects
Kitty Voice TuKuRu Sound Effects
Ambient Noise 無限軌道 (Flat track Caterpillar) Sound Effects
Drone L-eye Sound Effects
Live Oak Hit ヨナオケイシ (Yonao Keishi) Sound Effects
Jingle Gospely Sound Effects
Robot Scramble OIE Sound Effects
8-bit Race Game Tac03 Sound Effects

A few of the voice creators are well-known, successful musicians. I’ll include the links to their pages in the next post. Not all of the creators come up in a google search.

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