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Bottom line. Korg has not fully managed to blend all the NX5Rs various technologies and sound sets. In fact, trying to work out which sound set is being used and why can be downright confusing. In Korgs defense, though, even Yamaha makes a similar bolted-on attempt at blending a TG300 into its MU128.
As a dedicated GM unit, the NX5R definitely has a few shortcomings, but as a box of AI Synthesis sounds with an added level of GM capability, Korg gets full marks for trying. The NX5R is four quarts of cool sounds (and features) in a one-quart carton. Looks can be deceiving.
The Triton-Rack (see Fig. 3) is a monster of an instrument, and its no less impressive for offering at least a modicum of GM compatibility. Although the GM features work fine, Korg scarcely mentions General MIDI aside from displaying the logo.
GM sounds. Considering that only 256 sounds and nine drum kits are reserved for General MIDI (GM1 and GM2), the Triton-Rack performs extremely well. The sounds seem modeled on the instruments in the Roland ED Sound Canvas (and are none the worse for it). The keyboards are the best (especially the electric pianos and organs), but everything works as it should.
Playing Standard MIDI Files is easy once users figure out how to put the instrument into GM mode; a panel button would be helpful. As it is, you have to dive into the edit pages and initialize the instrument for GM. Once youre done, though, playback is a breeze, and it all works well.
Other sounds, features, and drums. To begin with, this is a sampler, synthesizer, arpeggiator, and effects processor, which, in spite of its daunting user interface and grainy screen, delivers the kind of juggernaut-sized modern sounds and grooves that people clearly want. The sound quality and sampling features set the Triton-Rack apart from the competition. Its a shame these couldnt have been provided in a more friendly setting.
Other noteworthy features include audition riffs for testing sounds, eight expansion slots, six outputs, and S/PDIF and ADAT Lightpipe outputs.
The nine GM drum kits are quite serviceable; the sounds are standard but definitely sharp. Outside of GM, though, are almost 150 more drum sounds with detailed editing possibilities and effects. At some point, more is less, and the Triton-Rack definitely passes that point. Not to take away from the outstanding quality of the drum sounds, but musicians have lives to lead!
Reprinted with permission from Magazine, February, 2001
© 2000, Intertec Publishing, A Primedia Company All Rights Reserved
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