introduction of the Korg M1 in 1988 was a watershed in synthesizer
history. While there were a few digital
synths-with-onboard-sequencers that preceded the M1, Korg took the
entire concept up a notch with their knockout combo of sampled
instruments, eight-way multi-timbral architecture, and integrated
effects. The M1 ushered in the era of the workstation.
the next eight years, Korg’s core technology behind the M1 spawned
numerous descendants: in chronological order, the T, O1/W, X series.
The essential sound common to all became ubiquitous in pop and dance
music, with a special place in the history of ’90s house music,
thanks to its bright tack pianos and jazzy organ presets.
Because of the resurgence of house music,
Korg’s Legacy Edition software version of the M1 has become a
mainstay in the EDM world, bringing its inimitable sound to a new
generation of synth fans. So the time was clearly right for Korg to
port the M1 to the iOS ecosystem.
The new iM1 for iPad is a note-perfect
reproduction of the original M1’s synth architecture, which is
blissfully straightforward to understand, even if you’re a synth
novice. Every patch is comprised of up to two sampled instruments,
each with its own independent non-resonant lowpass filter and amp
sections, which are a tad different than the usual fare. Each section
has its own dedicated five-stage envelope, sporting two decay stages
with individually adjustable breakpoints, for sounds that bounce
and/or swell. Both sections also include independent LFOs that offer
the standard compliment of sine, triangle, saw, square and random
waves. In addition, there are two insert effects per preset, with all
of the familiar delays, reverbs, and time-based modulations. It’s
edifying to realize that this sort of roster, which is essential by
today’s standards, was pioneered by Korg over 25 years ago.
Even more impressive than the spot-on
recreation of the synthesis engine is the fact that the iM1’s
sample ROM includes not only the original M1 collection, but also the
option of the T-series banks and every
sound card expansion Korg released
for it—an additional $10 in-app purchase. Fully loaded, that’s
around 3,300 sounds. Fortunately (and unlike the original hardware)
the iM1 includes a really elegant patch browser that can quickly
drill down to specific instrument categories and sonic
While the original M1 multi-timbral Combi
patches are present for massive layering and split keyboard duties,
the original’s sequencer is absent. That’s not a huge deal, since
Korg includes full support for Audiobus and Inter-app audio, so you
can use it with other sequencers, including GarageBand. Better still,
fans of Korg’s Gadget sequencer also enjoy full integration with
Fans of the M1 Legacy Edition can use iM1 on
the road, as Korg has included two-way compatibility with the preset
file format. So you can design a sound while you’re waiting for a
flight, and then transfer the results to your desktop when you get
back to the studio.
I’ve been a fan of the M1 since its
introduction and regularly use the M1 Legacy Edition in my current
house tracks. Having iM1 on my iPad means I can now whip up track
sketches in Gadget and export the results to Ableton Live without
missing a beat. For keyboardists with iPad based rigs, the iM1 is a
no-brainer when it comes to adding another essential synth to your
gigging collection. This app is truly worthy of a Key Buy. Don’t
recreation of the original M1. Seamless integration with Korg Gadget.
Audiobus and Inter-app audio. Presets are compatible with Korg’s
Legacy Edition soft synth.
with the original hardware, filters are non-resonant.
M1 in your backpack for thirty bucks.