Earlier this year, leading synth maker Korg unveiled a surprising update to their game-changing Minilogue synth. Since it's introduction in 2013, the highly coveted instrument, seen as the synth that helped spark the new golden era of affordable analog synths, has been used by many of the leading producers and bands in all genres. It's pricing, along with ease of use, size, and instantly gratifying sounds cemented its place in history. It was also the first entry into Korg's "logue" series and was followed by the Monologue and Prologue. Each new entry built off the previous, adding innovative features while mostly keeping the price accessible to anyone. It can be seen in countless live setups around the world. But, in this modern age, what is innovative today, is archaic tomorrow, let alone 3 years. Thus, the XD was born. In this review, we'll be taking a look at the powerful synth and why it's a worthy addition to the Minilogue's lineage.
Please note that this is for the keyboard version. Everything still applies, however, the module only version has a switch that changes the sequencer to a playable keyboard.
What is it?
The Minilogue XD is a 4-voice polyphonic analog/digital hybrid synth that can be best described as the big brother of the Minilogue, instead of a replacement. It takes everything that made the original so successful, and adds new features taken from the Prologue and Monologue, including the same circuitry and micro-tuning abilities with the new sequencer, but adds the most effects processing on any of Korg’s analog synths, and the innovative MULTIdigital oscillator. Basically, it's the best of Korg in a Minilogue sized package.
Being built off the foundations means that all of the kinks of its predecessors have been ironed out and polished. As mentioned earlier, it takes their best features and puts them into a slick black metal frame. Looks-wise, it's similar to the original Minilogue but features many new additions to the interface that you might recognize from the other synths in the family. At first glance, you'll notice the assignable joystick, new 16-step sequencer, and additional knobs and switches. If you've ever played any of the other synths, the layout will feel familiar. One of the big carryovers from the Prologue is the digital oscillator, which can be used to create seriously next level sounds and textures. Korg improved the display, and the waveforms are much sharper and crisper than before. The new multi-effect section allows you to stack 3 different effects together, such as reverb, delay, chorus, ensemble, phaser, and flanger, allowing you to create lush and wide sounds with lots of movement. The effects themselves sound fantastic, and there is a handful of different reverbs and delays for you to choose from.
For a full and more in-depth list of features, click here.
What do I think?
Truth be told, I've never actually played with the original Minilogue. I have, however, played with and wrote loads of tunes with the Mono and Prologues. When we first broke the announcement ahead of NAMM, it was one of the key things I wanted to check out. I spent about 20-30 minutes with it and instantly knew that it was something that would become a key piece in my studio. Something I wanted to test was how quickly I could create a really great sound from scratch. It was something like less than a minute if I remember correctly. As I've mentioned many times, one of my key review points is how easy something is to use. I can truthfully say that the XD is one of the easiest instruments to program. Not only that, but your results are extremely high quality, which is another critical point for me.
Over the past year and a half, I've made a transition to a mostly fully hardware, but always felt I was lacking that certain lushness that you get from a nice polysynth. I do have an Elektron Digitone, which I love to death, but I still wanted something like u-he's Diva in a real hardware synth. I'm not sure if something of that caliber will ever be possible due to various reasons, but this thing comes pretty damn close. Especially with that digital oscillator. You can add a touch of texture, or a sever and noisy harshness, depending on what you're looking for. Honestly, I don't even know if there is another synth like this, at least in this price range, that even exists. Obviously there are some incredible synths that can do similar things, but they will cost you at least double. And also probably be twice the size, which was yet another thing I love about this synth. Build wise, it's rugged and ready for battle, and I'd have no worries about taking it on the road.
I usually try to keep an unbiased voice in my reviews, but when you've got something this good, it's hard not to be. Out of the three keyboards I've reviewed from Korg, this wipes the floor with the rest. As much fun as they were to play, they feel dull in comparison to the XD.
Based on what you've read so far, I'd imagine it's pretty obvious I'm all about this synth. It's powerful, compact, and expertly made. It checks all of my hardware desire boxes in that it sounds amazing, it's easy to program but offers a deeper connection if you want it, and it is extremely fun to use.
Should you buy one?
If you are looking for a well-built, versatile, and easy to use synth with warm analog sound and modern technology, then I say, absolutely yes.
Price: $549 (desktop), $649