Korg Minilogue XD Review

Korg Minilogue XD

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The announcement of the arrival of the Minilogue XD at Namm 2019 raised a lot of eyebrows.

What could Korg offer in addition to the previous successes of the original Minilogue and Monologue?

It seemed like they had already reached the maximum potential of the mini analog synth.

What could the Minilogue XD version offer?

Well, imagine all of the best features from each of the Mini, Mono, and even the Prologue synths, and you are somewhere near close to what the Minilogue XD is capable of.

Korg listened to the feedback of the users over the last few years and created an all-in-one “super mini-synth”.

Welcome to the All-In-One Minilogue XD

The Korg Minilogue XD is a powerful, hybrid synth that packs a 4-voice analog architecture plus Korg’s very own digital multi-engine. The potential of this hybrid design is immense and you’re spoilt for choice with all of the great features on-board from the previous related designs.

If you’re looking for a synth keyboard that can comfortably dial in funky synth leads and gritty basslines then the XD will not disappoint. The beauty of its sound can be found when you experiment with atmospheric pads. The four-note polyphony is slightly limiting but there is plenty to play with.

The XD runs on two analog oscillators and they each offer three wave shapes in the form of triangle, square, and sawtooth. You can shape these in many different ways using the on-board effects. You’ll find features such as cross-mod, pitch for detuning, sync and ring mod switches.

The Multi-Engine is a Thing of Beauty

The oscillators have been further refined for even greater sonic appeal. One of the biggest additions by far is the digital multi-engine from the high-end Prologue. The multi-engine is equipped with three sound generation devices including a noise generator, a variable phase modulation (VMP/FM) generator, and a user oscillator, which allows you to load your own oscillator programs including custom wavetables via a free editor/librarian.

The two-pole, low-pass filter with enhanced sharpness adds drive with powerful distortion, as well as a key-track switch. Its sound covers almost every sonic possibility: fat basses, powerful leads, and the lush pads that you expect from a polyphonic synthesizer.

The digital multi-engine also offers user-defined waveforms which opens up a huge range of options. It does come with its own pre-loaded waveforms but there also 16 user-slots available for you to fill and download from the internet. The XD is full of surprises and doesn’t fall short on features.

The XD is widely inspired and has even improved on some of the features it has borrowed.  The three types (modulation effects, reverb, and delay) can be used simultaneously, letting you choose from an array of variations including chorus, ensemble, warm tape delay, and a variety of reverb.

Bigger Isn’t Always Better

The original Minilogue Synthesizer gives the XD its 4-voice polyphonic analog setup and the option of multiple voice modes. The two xd units on the four voice synth can each play four voices, for a maximum total of eight voices. The master unit takes priority for producing notes, and the fifth and subsequent voices are assigned to the slave unit.

Unison and Chord modes are available and the Arpeggiator (with latch function) can be used alongside the sequencer. All of which are designed to keep you entertained, inspired, and searching for infinite sounds.

The Monologue analog synthesizer provides inspiration with the inclusion of the brilliant motion step sequencer. Although now it’s even better with the a 16-step polyphonic sequencer with step, real-time, and motion recording, and a 32-bit digital effects engine, which provides three simultaneous effects including modulation, reverb, and delay. You can use the 16 step buttons to select a step directly, allowing quick editing to replace the pitch of a step or to mute it, or even improvisatory performances.

The Controls on the Minilogue are Superb

Motion sequence lets you record the movements of up to four knobs, adding time-varying change to the sound, and you can record not only smooth changes in value but also values that change precisely at each step. Plus, the re-voiced filter and overdrive features have also been included, letting you control the overdrive as it enters through the filter. The desktop module offers a keyboard mode, which allows you to use the 16 buttons to operate as a keyboard with more than an octave, providing a convenient way to check the sounds.

It’s great to see that Korg listens to their customers and it shows with the new filter. The original Minilogue filter was known to lose its low end as the resonance increased. The XD’s filter is now much more refined and capable of creating those popular squelches and growling tones.

In addition to all of this, you’ve got the standard ADSR envelope controls that will dial in all sorts of tones from lush pads to percussive drums. Plus, the LFO is very adaptable in modifying your sounds. A useful feature is that you can sync it to the BPM to get that perfect rhythm.

A Lifetime of Creative Potential

The Korg Minilogue XD module is feature-packed synth and we’ve already outlined the major features that you get with this nice hybrid synth. The price is slightly more than the previous Mini and Mono synths but when you take note of all of the features included, we think the price is more than justified.

The XD looks a lot like the original Minilogue. The front metal plate and the wooden panel on the back both look as stylish as ever. The minimalist interface with the black knobs and subtle texture on the switches makes the XD look as though it’s worth a lot more.

Looks only go so far, it’s the feel of the synth in your hands as you are playing that really counts. The Minilogue XD doesn’t let us down here either. This polyphonic synth feels sturdy and the switches and knobs are strong and true.

It reminds of us how synths are supposed to be constructed. Strong and reliable.

The Minilogue XD comes with a 37 slim-key layout and that does limit piano-style players. For most, however, it’s not too much of a burden and it’s part and parcel of a mini-sized synth. Korg does offer one of the better mini-sized key designs on the market so you’re in good hands.

The pitch slider has been replaced with a much more usable joystick. It’s a better design choice overall and the XD is a much more usable synth with it included. The lack of mod and pitch wheels will unsettle some users but overall the joystick is a welcome addition to the Minilogue XD.

The list of features on-board the Minilogue XD goes on and we still haven’t mentioned the excellent microtuning and oscilloscope display. The microtuning gives you that extra fine-tuning ability to adjust the pitch of individual keys. It comes with 23 preset tunings and banks to save your own.

Loaded with Options for the Modern User

The oscilloscope display was a fascinating feature of the previous models so it was always going to reappear in the XD version. It’s slightly larger and enables you to view the current waveform and changes in real-time. It gives a useful form of visual feedback for beginners.

In terms of output, the XD is loaded with a wide range of options to expand your studio setup and create. It comes with Sync In/Out that gives you connection to other Korg gear, plus devices like Volca modules and digital drum machines. There are also two CV In connections which can be used with external devices.

The introduction of stereo output was required due to the stereo effects brought in from the Prologue. You’ve also got a USB connection, MIDI In/Out (but no Thru option), a damper pedal jack, and a headphone jack. The XD is well prepared for future expansion and connectivity.

Aside from our rave review of this sensational product, there is tremendous brand loyalty and it looks like Korg will continue to sit on top of the analog mini-synth throne for the foreseeable future. Releasing the XD was a wise move and the sound potential backs up the reasoning to combine their previous models into one hybrid synth. Korg has done it again.

Conclusion

The Minilogue XD is a powerful hybrid synth. The design manages to open up a new area of sound design where the original Minilogue and Monologue were lacking. We weren’t really expecting this product from the iconic brand.

The Korg Minilogue XD release date was in August 2019, but this product still really feels fresh and brand new.

Taking the best bits of each and adding the powerful digital engine of the Prologue is a genius move in our eyes. The price tag sits in between the budget range of the Mini/Mono and the higher spec Prologue.

It might be hard to justify buying the Minilogue XD if you already have any of the synths in your collection. Perhaps a trade-in could be the answer? Based on our review, what is certain is that you won’t be disappointed if you do buy the XD.

It’s another top design from the team at Korg.

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