|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: AQ Interactive / Cavia||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Xceed Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 4, 2008||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|
Making sounds on the DS-10 is easy and fun. There's nothing you can do that will in any way damage the software, although you might damage some eardrums if you have the system connected to a loud stereo system or musical amplifier. If you really want to revel in the rich sonic goodness this instrument emits, I highly recommend plugging it into an alternate sound source. A signal buffer is recommended to boost the volume level due to the low output of the DS. Headphones are a good alternative, but forget the DS's built-in speakers.
A virtual onscreen keyboard lets you input the notes, but it's very small, which will make it really difficult for live performances. Or you can place notes individually on a grid using the stylus. This is a form of sequencing known as step-time, since you do it one step at a time. There's really no other way to input such data unless the system was capable of utilizing an external peripheral such as PC keyboard or an actual musical keyboard. Fortunately, with the various sequencers available, you're going to be more concerned with composing and arranging than playing live and improvising. To keep things interesting, various parameters can be adjusted on the fly, which aren't necessarily musical but they "massage" and "distort" the audio signal to make it breathe. These are essentially effects such as echo, delay, distortion, chorus, flanging, and a variety of other sonic tweaks that can shape the timber, not necessarily the tone, which will affect the melody.
Up to four DS systems can be linked together via the DS's wireless feature. This would ultimately give you access to eight keyboards and 16 drum tracks. That's a lot of sounds to handle. This would be useful for more symphonic productions. Each DS will require a single copy of the software, with one unit acting as the master. It's similar to MIDI; what digital keyboards and outboard gear use to link and sync up together. These units can be manned by individual players who can tweak the various parameters during the performance. Compositions can be sent to other systems but only locally. You can't share songs online. Although the multiplayer mode accommodates eight units, it's rather limited and not entirely useful.
So, who is likely to get the most out of this software? Keyboard players and independent music producers can use it to add various flavors to their sonic arsenal. Other musicians can use it as a portable composer to capture their inspiration wherever and whenever it strikes. Employing the Kaos Pad, DJs will be able to supplement their mixes and live performances with a variety of textures, tones, and techno beats. You don't have to be a musician to play with the Korg DS-10, but there's a chance that it might interest you enough to want to become one.
CCC Senior Writer