KARMA 2: Comparison of KARMA 1 in Korg Karma vs KARMA 2 in Korg Kronos/Oasys/M3

The main differences between KARMA in the Korg Karma and KARMA in the Korg Kronos, OASYS and M3 can be broken down into 3 main areas:

  • Separate Control Surface layers for each of the 4 KARMA Modules (in Combi and Sequencer Mode), in addition to the Master Layer.
  • Standardization of GE RT Parameters, and the way they are assigned to the Control Surface.
  • New features: KARMA Wave-Sequencing, Note Remapping
Comparison KARMA features in Korg Karma (v1) versus Korg Kronos, OASYS and M3 (v2)
Number of Factory GEs 1190 2048
Number of GE RTP (Real-Time Parameters per GE) 16 32
Number of Scenes per Program 2 8
Number of Scenes per Combi/Seq 2 8*5=40
Number of "Control Layers" in Combi/Seq 1 5
Standardization of GEs no yes
Number of RTC Models n/a 13
Automatic Assignment of Real-Time Controls no yes
Number of KARMA associated physical controllers (knobs, sliders etc.) 14 29
Chord Triggers (pads) 4 8
Stores Velocity per pad per note

Separate Control Surface layers for each of the 4 KARMA Modules (in Combi and Sequencer Mode), in addition to the Master Layer.

In the Korg Karma, there only existed a single control surface layer. In other words, the 8 knobs and 2 switches of the Karma section was assigned to a single Module in Program Mode, and spread out among up to 4 Modules in a Combi. For example, in a Combi, you might have 2 knobs on the bass, and 1 knob on the drums, and 2 other knobs on a third KARMA Module, etc. And this would be different from Combi to Combi, with no standardization. In one Combi, you might be able to vary the drums quite a bit with real-time control; in a second Combi, none of the controls would be hooked up to the drums.

In the Kronos/OASYS/M3, each Module has been given its own layer of the Control Surface, so that all 16 real-time controls (8 sliders and 8 switches) are fully assigned to just that single Module. Switch to the drum layer, all 16 controls are hooked up to the drum groove GE; switch to the bass layer, all 16 controls are hooked up to the bass GE.

Furthermore, there is still a Master layer, which is similar to what was available in the Korg Karma- it can control any parameters from any Module, in addition to Performance Parameters such as muting and unmuting Modules, changing their transpositions, etc.

This is done with the MODULE CONTROL button in the KARMA section.

In addition, each of the Module Layers has its own 8 scenes - in other words, there are 8 scenes for the drum GE, 8 scenes for the bass GE, and so on, each of which store the settings of the 16 RT Controls for that Module only. The Master Layer sits on top of these 4 x 8 = 32 scenes, with its own 8 scenes, that also tell each Module Layer which scene to choose, in addition to storing the settings of the Master Layer assignments. In effect, this means there is a Scene Matrix of 40 scenes inside each Combi or Sequencer setup! When you select Master Scene 1, this could select Module A Scene 2, Module B Scene 4, Module C Scene 1, and Module D Scene 7. This ability to mix and match scenes among the 4 Modules exponentially increases the number of variations that can be achieved from each Combi.

In fact, a cool thing to try with just about any Combi is to go to the Scene Matrix page, and start selecting different combinations of scenes between the Module A, B, C and D rows.

  • On the Korg Kronos/OASYS, this is located in page P:7-5d KARMA > GE RTP > Scene Matrix,
  • On the Korg M3, this is located in page P:7-1 KARMA GE Setup > Scene Matrix.

Standardization of GE RT Parameters, and the way they are assigned to the Control Surface.

Some comments have been made about the difficulty of using KARMA in the Korg Karma, and part of that was due to the completely different way each GE was assigned to the controls. Karma-Lab has gone a long way to improving that in the Kronos/OASYS/M3 and making it more standardized.

For KARMA 2 in the Kronos/OASYS/M3, the concept of a Real-Time Control Model (RTC Model) was introduced. This is essentially a specification for how a particular type of GE is hooked up to the 8 sliders and 8 switches inside its individual Control Layer. All the GEs have been categorized into 13 different RTC Model Types. This standardization means that the 16 RT Controls are hooked up to the GEs within a particular type in virtually identical fashion, so Slider 2 is always Rhythm Complexity or a Rhythmic variation, Slider 3 always affects Duration, Slider 4 always affects Velocity, etc. There are now twice as many GE RT Parameters available for each GE (32 instead of 16), and this has also been standardized, making it easier to get comfortable with KARMA Programming. Now, when you learn to get cool effects out of one GE, you can apply that knowledge to other GEs because they're all set up in similar fashion.

Furthermore, and this is a big improvement from the Korg Karma, when you select a GE, it can come in fully mapped and connected to all the sliders and switches of the Control Surface, thanks to the RTC Model. And depending how you set the Load GE Options at the top of certain pages, if you change to a GE of the same RTC Model type (i.e. Drum GE to Drum GE, you can keep your current settings and have them applied to the new GE. In other words, set up some Repeat settings and Bend settings, then choose a new GE but have it keep those settings.

  • On the Korg Kronos/OASYS, this is located in pages P:0-6 or P:7-1 (O Parameter Guide Page 6).
  • On the Korg M3, this is located in pages P:0 on the KARMA GE tab or P:7-1 on tabs Setup A through Setup D

New features: KARMA Wave-Sequencing, Note Remapping

A new feature that Stephen KayStephen Kay is very excited about personally is KARMA Wave-Sequencing. He always loved the Korg WaveStation kind of wave-sequencing effects, so he wanted to come up with a way to apply this to the KARMA world.

As you know, in its simplest incarnation, the basic concept of wave-sequencing is to change the PCM waveforms in a sequential manner over time, so it's basically a "sequence of waves" playing a rhythm, or morphing between waveforms. In other words, a string of 16th notes where every 16th a different percussion or drum waveform is played for the space of a 16th note (one example).

KARMA Wave-Sequencing (KWS) takes this concept and applies it to the KARMA world. As you know, KARMA generates notes. In a simple example, lets take a 16th note arpeggio, where KARMA is generating a different note at each 16th step. KWS enables you specify in the GE a waveform selection for each step of a pattern grid, so that each of the notes generated in this sequence can be played with a different PCM Waveform. The first note might be a cymbal, the second note might be a piano, the third note might be a trumpet, etc. The notes can all be one pitch, or the pitches of an arpeggio, or a randomly generated phrase, or clusters of notes (polyphonic chords)…

The main differences between the two types of wave-sequencing are that KWS is note oriented - a note is played, with a particular waveform. You cannot morph gradually between two waveforms over time with a cross-fade while sustaining a note, like you can do in regular wave-sequencing. On the other hand, KWS allows random pools of waveform choices to be constructed, and any of KARMA's rhythm patterns, duration patterns, velocity patterns, cluster patterns etc. all run in conjunction with the wavesequence pattern, influencing its results. And in regular wave-sequencing, while you can specify pitch offsets for various steps of the pattern, it cannot intelligently generate new pitches according to the chords you are playing, the way KARMA can. And finally, KWS has all of the real-time control of KARMA attached to it, so you can change which waveforms are being used in the pattern in real-time, and the rhythm of the pattern, and the velocities, etc.

The way this is accessed in the Kronos/OASYS/M3 is through a Wave-Sequence type GE, or a GE that has Wave-Sequencing parameters as part of the GE Real-Time Parameters. In a Wave-Sequence Type GE, a number of the GE RTP (Real-Time Parameters) are assigned to make waveform choices on the waveform pattern grid, so you can specify your own waveforms for what the GE is doing.

Another new feature is Note Remapping, which provides a powerful way to transform drum grooves into different variations, such as turning the snare and hi-hats into a sidestick and rides, or instantly substituting one of the thousands of other available drum sounds for any other one. It can also be used to melodically transform the notes being generated by KARMA, such as changing all major sixths to major ninths.

In summary, KARMA has become about 5 times as powerful, and way easier to use, due to the design of the RTC Models, and also due to the ergonomics of the large display and the excellent integration with the Control Surface.

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