Korg M3: Configuring the M3 to play General MIDI files


You want to use your M3 as a General Midi (2) sound console and also play General Midi files. You want to get the most out of the sound by using suitable preset effects and audio routings. You will also need the tracks on the M3 to be set to GM mode with the appropriate GM banks preselected. This article provides a ready-made GM Combi STudio Standard and shows you how to set-up your M3 in GM2 mode, and recognize all the GM2 commands like reverb, chorus, pan, volume etc.

Procedure (Using M3 as a General Midi sound console)

  1. Load the combi that is attached to this wiki article into the M3.
    1. Either click the Files button at the bottom of this article or else click here to download the file.
    2. Unzip the downloaded file.
    3. Use the M3 Editor to put the unzipped GM Combi STudio Standard.M31combi into a specific combi bank slot on your M3.
      1. Start the M3 Editor, then select Utility > Receive All to copy all the current contents of your M3 into the Editor.
      2. In the M3 Editor, select an empty combi bank slot. Combi bank I-G is a good choice because it's mirror program bank I-G is used for GM programs, so it's easy to remember that combis suitable for playing GM files are loaded in combi bank I-G.
      3. Select Utility > Load, then in the Enable field select Combi (*.M31combi), then select GM Combi STudio Standard.M31combi, then click Open. This loads the combi into both the M3 Editor and the M3 itself at the same time.
  2. Configure the M3's MIDI routing to disable combi changes and set the M3's Bank Map to GM(2).
    1. In GLOBAL mode, go to the P1:MIDI page, then to the MIDI Routing tab.
    2. In the MIDI Filter section, clear the Bank Change and Combination Change checkboxes.
    3. Go to the P0:Basic Setup page, then to the System Pref. tab.
    4. In the Bank Map field, touch > and choose GM (2).
  3. (optional) Now that you have a good combi for playing GM files on the M3 and your global settings are accordingly configured for GM playback, it can be helpful to save all this as a PCG file. One way to do this is to save only combi bank I-G and the GLOBAL SETTING in the PCG file. Then put this PCG file in the same folder on your USB stick as the .MID files you play to play through the M3. Then you can just load that PCG file every time you want to play with GM .MID files.
  4. On the M3, select the combi that you loaded in step 1.
  5. If you're using the M3 as a sound module and are playing back the GM file from an external sequencer, you can stop here. The M3 is a multi-timbral sound device when in COMBI mode. (Don't forget to turn Local OFF on the M3 if you're driving it from an external sequencer.)

Procedure (Using M3 to load and play back MIDI files)

  1. Complete the above procedure (Using M3 as a General Midi sound console) first.
  2. In COMBI mode, select the combi GM Combi STudio Standard.
  3. Press ENTER + REC/WRITE to load this combi into the internal sequencer.
  4. The M3 switches to SEQ mode and is armed for recording, so press START/STOP once and then quickly press it again to stop the recording countdown. Make note of the song number into which you loaded the combi.
  5. Ensure that the .MID file that you want to play has been moved to your USB stick (or other external media) plugged into the M3, and has been renamed with an .SMF extension. (The M3 does not recognize the .MID file extension.) Note: For best results with the combi attached to this article, the MIDI file should have its bass line on channel 02.
  6. In MEDIA mode, on the Load tab, select the .SMF file and touch Load.
  7. In the Song field, touch > and choose the song number into which you loaded the combi.
  8. Make sure the Exclusive checkbox is cleared. Sometimes SysEx messages in the MIDI file will have unpredictable results on the M3. You can experiment with selecting this checkbox to load the file's SysEx data too, but if things sound bad or the M3 stops, etc., you'll need to load the file without its SysEx data.
  9. Go back to SEQ mode and press START/STOP to hear the song.


  • The attached combi is just one possible way to set up a combi for playing General MIDI files. You can experiment with different programs for each timbre in the combi (each channel in the GM file). Note that you do not have to use programs from the GM banks in I-G. For example, the drum timbre in the attached combi is the standard I-A018 Studio Standard Kit. (But note that as with all of the normal M3 drum kits, you must transpose them by +12 semitones to have the GM notes map correctly to the notes in the drum kit.)
  • The author of the attached combi offers these following tips:
    • Note that FX levels (CC91 and CC93) on MIDI channel 10 sets the FX's on drums BUT FX levels (CC91 and CC93) on MIDI channel 16 sets FX levels on Kickdrum and Toms. (I couldn't dissable this, there is no "off" position) SO if there is too much reverb on the kickdrum, check CC91 and CC93 on MIDI channel 16.
    • MIDI channel 10, drums, have CCs filtered to avoid unnecessary reverb and chorus.

The original thread that was the basis of this article is here.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License