Korg DS-10 Plus Review
Korg DS-10 Plus box art
System: DS Review Rating Legend
Dev: Cavia / AQ Interactive 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Xseed 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Feb. 16, 2010 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-8 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Nothing Equals the Plus
by Cole Smith

The name, Korg DS-10 Plus, does not do justice to this software. You will note that I didn't call it a game, as it's not a game; it's an extremely powerful musical creation tool. Korg DS-10 Plus, as a title, hardly foreshadows the content that lies inside the box. Even ancient keyboard wizards from the late seventies would be hard-pressed to recognize that DS-10 actually refers to the vintage Korg MS-10 synthesizer. Yes it's an actual synthesizer, but it's more than that. The first version was released in 2008 to great acclaim. Using the word "Plus" in the title to describe it makes it sound like an expansion pack when in fact this version is literally twice the package of the original.

Korg DS-10 Plus screenshot

As I mentioned this is not a game. There are no arrows to line up, no colors to hit in synch to the beat, and no pads to dance on. The Korg DS-10 Plus is essentially an electronica recording studio featuring the authentic sounds of the Korg MS-10 synthesizer. These sounds have been heard on many old-school, new wave hits including bands such as Flock of Seagulls, OMD, and Kraftwerk. The original MS-10 was monophonic, meaning that it only played one note at a time. It's an analogue synthesizer coveted for its fat, warm tones. A polyphonic model would set you back thousands and thousands of dollars back in the day. Welcome to the future. The DS-10 lets you play 12 notes simultaneously, in addition to drum sounds, song patterns, loops, effects, KAOSS pad, a six-track sequencer, mixer, real-time tone manipulation, and the ability to link eight machines. This software will turn your DSi into a one-stop, techno-pop machine. Word. And most importantly, it sounds like the real thing.

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Everything that you love about the original DS-10 is here, but doubled. The Plus allows up to 12 notes at a time. There are two drum tracks, four synthesizer tracks, two effect layers, and a ton of presets. Even the songs can be twice as long as before. It's like having two DS-10s in one. The dual screen display separates elements, and can be switched and swapped easily once you learn the program. You can input notes and beats in real time or step time using the sequencer. An onscreen keyboard allows you to select individual notes with the stylus, similar to playing a piano by striking the appropriate keys. You can create patterns with drums, bass, accompaniment, and melody complete with harmony, and string them together to create a song. You can also use stock loops and layer sounds on top. This software is very flexible, but first you've got to learn how to use it.

Korg DS-10 Plus screenshot

If you're the impatient type, then take a deep breath and change your attitude because this isn't Pac-Man. But don't get discouraged because this is the real thing, and it's worth the effort. There's a huge manual to read, and there's no tutorial, but you can find a lot of helpful hints on YouTube. Don't try to learn everything in a few hours, get some instructions and play around for a while. Experimenting is the heart of creativity, so go nuts but don't overlook all this software has to offer. Learn something new each time you play with it and in no time you'll be an expert. I should also note, you don't have to be a musician to create songs. There are plenty of presets to edit.

There are an infinite amount of sounds that you can conjure from this program. For each and every note that you generate, there are a series of filters that will shape its tone. All of these tone manipulating effects can be used in real time, allowing you to instantly hear the changes you make when applying vibrato, portamento, distortion, chorus, delay, sweep filters, sine waves, and arpeggios. The DS-10 Plus does an amazing job of replicating the tones of the MS-10. It doesn't sample the original sounds but uses complex algorithms so that each filter and control affects the source signal in exactly the same manner as the original synthesizer.

Korg DS-10 Plus screenshot

Screenshots / Images
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