Korg KROME 61 Review – Best Value Keyboard on the Market?

Korg Krome 61Welcome to my Korg KROME 61 review. The Korg Krome is a music workstation keyboard that features a huge 3.8GB of sample memory, covering 640 programs and 288 combinations. For every piano and drum sound, every note uses a full unlooped sample. It is ideal for any style of piano playing, offering high-quality acoustic and electric piano sounds.

At the touch of a button, it will play realistic drum backing tracks, which can be mixed separately. It has a 7-inch touchscreen display for controlling the parameters of the sounds and mix. You can connect it to your computer using the USB connection, and it also has an SD card slot for storage. There is also the KROME editor software for editing the sounds via your computer.


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Contents


PROS & CONS

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Easy sound editing with the software
  • Superb sounds, especially piano
  • Sound combinations are great
  • Velocity sensitivity changes sound samples as well as volume
  • Great sound control knobs for filter cutoff, etc.
  • Wide variety of drum sounds
  • Nice touch screen
  • Excellent drum patterns
  • Great built-in sequencer
  • Good arpeggiator
  • Nice button layout
  • Lightweight – ideal for gigging
  • Quick and easy to record in combi mode
  • Can easily be expanded via web downloads
  • 120-note polyphony
  • 3 pedal inputs for various pedal controls.

Cons:

  • No aftertouch
  • Only 2 output jacks
  • Cheaply made plastic feeling
  • Keys are not as good as the 88-note version
  • Bit of a learning curve to use menus
  • Slow boot-up time
  • Screen layout is cramped

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Video Review

This keyboard clearly has some great things going for it. It is very easy to use, with superb sounds, particularly with the pianos. Sound combinations and backing tracks make it really quick and easy to record your song ideas or perform live with backing. They keys are velocity-sensitive, and each of the notes has 8 separate samples for the different levels of velocity, so you get a change in sound as well as volume. Unfortunately, there is no aftertouch, though, and the keys on the 61-note are not as good as on the 88-note version.

The touchscreen is nice and a great way of editing the sounds, but one user comments that the screen layout is a bit cramped and that there is a bit of a learning curve. For musicians who like synth sounds, this can deliver on that front too, with the 4 control knobs being useful for manipulating synth parameters on-the-fly. There is a wide range of drum sounds, covering all different styles, and with the drum sounds able to be mixed separately.


Who is the Korg KROME 61 Designed For?

I would say that the KROME is ideally suited to someone who wants a great all-round keyboard for emulating acoustic instruments extremely well. Musicians who want to perform live with professional quality backing tracks will not be disappointed. It would also be very useful in the studio, due to the high-quality sounds available. It can also be used as a MIDI keyboard to control other synths or software. Piano players who are used to standard weighted keys may be a little disappointed with the action of the keys on the KROME 61, in which case the 88-note version would be more suitable.


FEATURES

Korg KROSS 61 touchscreen

TouchView™ Screen

The 800 x 480-pixel color displays screen is great for displaying settings and editing parameters. You can move sliders and knobs by moving your finger over the screen, although for accuracy you should probably use your fingernail or a stylus. You can also edit notes in the piano roll editor by touching on the screen. You can even edit numerical values using an on-screen calculator-style keypad.

Enhanced Definition Synthesis

This is the beating musical heart of this synthesizer workstation. Each voice can use two stereo oscillators, two amp sections, four filters, five low-frequency oscillators, and five envelope generators.

Connectivity & Storage

Korg KROSS 61 softwareAs is standard on all digital keyboards these days, there is a USB port for you to connect it up to your computer. This means you can use it to work with software on your computer, such as the Korg sound editing software or your favoring DAW. There are also MIDI ports for connecting to other digital synthesizers and/or sequencer. There are 3 pedal inputs for controlling various parameters via pedal. For storage, you can save to SD memory cards via the SD card slot.

Bundled Software

You can edit any of the Krome’s sound parameters using the KROME Editor software. It also comes with KROME Plug-in Editor software, which allows you to do something quite special. You can make the KROME act as a VST plug-in within your Digital Audio Workstation. This gives you maximum flexibility when it comes to making music on your computer using the KROME.


PROS & CONS IN DEPTH

Easy to use

Of course, it has to be said, nobody wants a synthesizer or workstation that is difficult to use, but clearly some are easier to use than others. If you want a solid, reliable all-round keyboard for doing live performances, you don’t want to be having to think about complicated settings all the time. You want to just be able to switch it on and start playing.

Nice touch screen

This is probably essential for a workstation keyboard these days. If you are going to be laying down various tracks in the sequencer, you need easy access to the different tracks and the sound settings. These days, people are used to the idea of touching a screen to edit things, so using the touchscreen on the Krome will probably come as second nature.

Computer software sound editor makes it easier to edit sounds

Although the touchscreen is very useful, some people may prefer to have access to a full-size computer screen. That’s where the editing software comes in very useful. But it also comes with VST software, which means that the KROME can be plugged into any DAW that accepts VST plugins. So then you can use it just as you would any software synthesizer within your DAW. It means that you can fully integrate the KROME into your computer-based music creation setup.

Superb sounds, especially piano

It’s no wonder really that the sounds on the KROME are so realistic because it has nearly 4GB of sound samples. Each note is a separate, long, non-looped sample, and for the drum and piano sounds, each note actually has 8 separate samples for 8 different levels of velocity. This means that as you hit the note louder or softer you get a change in sound, not just a change in volume. Somebody also mentioned the cello sound on the KROME is absolutely superb and totally realistic.

Sound combinations are great

Of course, the classic sound layering combination is piano and strings, and the KROME certainly does that extremely well. But there are so many other ways you can layer sounds and split the keyboard into different sections.

Great sound control knobs for filter cutoff, etc.

This can come in very useful if you want to change synth sound parameters when performing live. I suppose the only down-side here is that they only have 4 knobs, so it’s not going to be quite like having an analog synthesizer with a full array of knobs to play with. But for most musicians 4 will probably be enough because you can control the main parameters like cutoff and resonance.

Wide variety of drum sounds and patterns

This covers everything from classic electronic drum machines of the past, all the way up through very realistic sounding acoustic drum sets. Choose whatever drum sounds best suit the music you want to play, and then you’re off. You can even set it so that the backing track starts as soon as you start playing your part on the keyboard.

Great built-in sequencer, arpeggiator, and recording functions

The 16-track sequencer means that you can compose whole songs on the KROME. This is ideal for songwriters who want to easily get down their ideas. You can also record your ideas quickly for playing back later. It even records the action you perform on the parameter knobs.

Lightweight

This is something that really makes a big difference if you are a performing musician. You have to imagine, if you are going to have to carry a keyboard around with you all the time from gig to gig, you don’t want it to be too heavy. The KROME is actually lighter than most people expect it to be for its size.

Can easily be expanded via web downloads

Long gone are the days of being limited by the sounds that come with your keyboard. Now you can use the web to expand the sounds on your KROME. And keep in mind, this is on top of the existing wonderful sounds that are already on the KROME.

120-note polyphony

Polyphony makes a big difference to what you can do with a keyboard workstation. However, one thing to keep in mind is that if you are using both oscillators for a sound, that counts as using up 2 notes of the polyphony. Also, as you layer up several sounds and sequence multiple sounds into one piece, you may use up quite a lot of that polyphony.

3 pedal inputs for various pedal controls

I’ve never personally used pedal controls because I’m not a performing musician, I’m more of a composer/producer. But I can imagine that having 3 different pedal control inputs could come in very useful. You can use one for controlling volume, another one for changing through the sounds, and the third one for controlling the filter cutoff, for example.

No aftertouch

Unfortunately, there is no aftertouch on the KROME. Aftertouch is when you can get an additional effect by pressing harder on the key after you have already pressed it. However, it is perhaps a bit of a gimmick, and most keyboard players won’t need to use it. It certainly doesn’t apply to piano sounds. As for synth sounds, you can probably get the same effects by tweaking the filter cutoff and resonance parameters using the knobs.

Only 2 output jacks

Most people will probably only need two output jacks if they are just going to play the KROME through a speaker system. However, some people may miss having multiple outputs if they wanted to take each instrument sound out to a different channel in a mixer, for example for recording and mixing a whole song.

Cheaply made plastic feel?

It’s a shame that one user noted that they felt like it had a bit of a cheap plastic feel to it. On the plus side, perhaps that’s why it is so light? So you can’t have it both ways really. Also, the 61-key version does not have the same quality of keys as the 88-note version. I’m not sure why they did that. Why didn’t they just have the same type of keys across all versions of the KROME?

Bit of a learning curve to use menus?

One user said that it can take a while to learn how to access all the settings via the display screen, which they also said was a bit cramped. On the plus side, if you edit the sounds on the computer using the software, this will probably avoid these issues.

Slow boot-up time

It must be because there is so much going on within its own software, but if you are impatient then you might get frustrated waiting for it to start up. I suppose this is the side effect of our always-on instant-gratification culture of the 21st century. If anything is even slightly slow then it can annoy us.


Conclusion

This is a great keyboard synthesizer workstation for performing musicians looking for realistic acoustic instrument sounds, especially pianos. The drums will also delight those wanting to perform with professional-sounding backing. There are a few minor flaws with this keyboard, but not a lot. Mainly, you get superb sounds and performance features which mean that this can serve as a great all-in-one keyboard to provide all your musical needs in one instrument. For those with less money to spend, it’s also worth taking a look at the Korg KROSS 61, which is quite similar in terms of features.

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I hope you found my Korg KROME 61 review helpful, but if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comments section below and I will reply as soon as I can.

All the best,
Marcus.

6 Comments

  1. HipStar

    Thank you for going into such detail on this keyboard.

    I noticed that is has backing drum tracks pre-programmed, but how easy is it to program my own or even create individual drum sounds and loop them myself on the Korg Krome 61?

    I’m interested in the capability, but never really trusted pre-programmed backing tracks for original compositions.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Marcus (Post author)

      That’s a great question actually, and to be totally honest I’m not entirely sure. You are right, though, that if it does only allow for pre-programmed drum sequences then that is rather limiting creatively.

      Reply
  2. Daniel Lara

    Hey, Marcus! How would you compare the Krome’s internal piano sounds to just using it as a MIDI controller for a sample library? I am trying to find out whether it would be better to get a better built MIDI controller rather than a more complete workstation such as the Korg Krome.

    Last question: do you know whether using the USB port instead of the MIDI adds any extra latency?

    Reply
    1. Marcus (Post author)

      Well, if you are thinking of going down the route of using a MIDI keyboard along with sounds on your computer, that does open up many more possibilities than using a keyboard such as the KROME 61. Some sounds will not be as good as the KROME 61, but some will be better. It all depends on the particular sound samples your are using, as well as the particular music software. Theoretically, though, any sounds that the KROME 61 has would be accessible on your computer, if you could find the right sounds. Ultimately, my advice would be to get a MIDI keyboard and then use music software such Propellerhead Reason.

      Regarding your question about USB latency: yes, there is some latency, but if you get you settings properly configured it won’t be too noticable.

      Reply
  3. Jenny

    The Korg Krome sounds like a really good keyboard. I was thinking of buying a keyboard for one of my sons for Christmas as he really enjoys music. He has a little keyboard at the moment but could do with something better, i will have to have a look into this nearer the time. But he might be too young for this one yet

    Reply
    1. Marcus (Post author)

      Thank you, Jenny. Yes, this is more for adults.

      Reply

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