Korg Dss1
Korg Dss1

Dss1, Campionatore from Korg.

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content in English
FP User 01/11/2008

Korg Dss1 : Recensione di FP User (content in English)


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Used as a polysynth and not as a "sampler", this beast holds its own next to all the great analog polysynths. You've got one of the best resonant analog filters that Korg ever put in a synth - very creamy and musical. The synth architecture is somewhat similar to that of Korg's previous flagship DW-8000, however the DSS-1 gives you the opportunity to use any waveform or sample you desire; plus, you get these extras: oscillator sync, bit crushing, advanced unison detune, a second LFO, and a second Digital Delay line!! The velocity and aftertouch parameters are also more refined. Most parameters have at least double the resolution from the DW-8000. Some deficiencies of the DSS-1: no variety of modulation waveforms (only a sine wave for each LFO). No portamento. No sequencer or arpeggiator.

Price paid: $250 USD


Of course there are some flies in the ointment. As all synths from the mid-80s, there is not a lot of realtime control. It's from the "knobless" era of synthesizers, so you're left with some buttons and a couple of data sliders to edit the sound. However, the DSS-1 does offer a very sensitive and useful aftertouch which can be applied to LFO vibrato or VCF cutoff. And of course you have Korg's ever present "nasty, waggly joystick" for the usual round of performance modulation duties. A data slider (set to the parameter of your choice) can be used as a third realtime controller. The MIDI implementation on the DSS-1 allows you to control the parameters via a MIDI knob/slider box. I have successfully programmed a Kenton Control Freak to work with the DSS-1. This makes programming an easier chore, but beware: when you hold a key down and move a slider on the MIDI knob box, you will hear digital "stuttering" noise from the outputs, making the knob box quite useful as a programmer but not so useful as a realtime performance controller. (Side note: the DW-8000 had no problem in realtime performance mode with the Control Freak.) Oh well, you can't have it all.


The Korg DSS-1 is something of a "dark horse" in the synthesizer world today. Back in 1986, people bought this keyboard for the sampler section (samplers were a big thing back then), completely overlooking the powerful synthesizer within. However, nowadays its paltry 256k internal memory, 12-bit sampling rate, and incredibly slow floppy drive make the sampler section something of a joke, and totally obsolete for producing realistic type sounds (pianos, EP's, orchestral instruments, etc.). The DSS-1 is now revered for its analog synthesizer section. You see, under the hood of this beast lies a full-blown analog polysynth section, with real VCFs (resonant) and VCAs. In fact the DSS-1 is pretty much an analog polysynth with the VCOs ripped out and replaced by a 12-bit sampler. If the sampling section is used simply to store analog-type waveforms (saw, pulse, square, tri, sine, etc.), then the DSS-1 comes into its own as a powerful and fat analog polysynth, with digital waveforms that are infinitely expandable. For instance, you can sample the raw, unfiltered oscillators from a Prophet-5 or OBXa, or you can use one of the data sliders on the DSS-1 to "draw" your own waveforms, just like on a Fairlight! The DSS-1 is capable of big fat synth-brass and synth-strings that will compete head-to-head with Prophets, Oberheims, and Jupiters. All kinds of weird textural sweeps are possible by taking samples and applying oscillator sync to them (it's a sample-mangler!). Basses can be very punchy and in-your-face. Yet: the most gentle, ethereal, swirling pads are possible as well. And if that isn't enough, you've got two built-in digital delays which can be run in parallel or in serial mode. This enables you to get all kinds of chorused, flanged, or ping-pong type effects which can radically alter the character of your sound. It's a very capable synthesizer!


The DSS-1 is built like a tank. You could launch this thing at Baghdad and it would still be in one piece when it landed! It was built to take a beating as Korg's flagship synth in 1986. In fact, I think the DSS-1 marks a new era in build quality for Korg, following a long line of budget synths from the Poly-61 (1982) to the DW-8000 (1985). The DSS-1, retailing at $2,600 in 1986, put Korg back on the map as a producer of big-sounding, rugged, fine quality synthesizers. This scope and durability come at a price, however: the DSS-1 weighs in at a hefty 41 lbs., and is actually larger in size than a Roland JD-800! In my opinion the DSS-1 is the best Korg synthesizer since the Trident (1980), and it's also the last Korg synthesizer with an analog filter and signal path (their final hybrid synth).

I love my DSS-1!! I still manage to program new sounds on this beast that totally surprise me. I'll never sell it, especially considering the measly $150 or so that I would get for it (it goes for dirt cheap these days!). I get far more use out of it than this small amount of money. It will remain in my studio for the forseeable future.

Originally posted on FutureProducers.com
Posted by: ChipCurtis ( 4-, 2006)