Korg Kronos Review

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The Korg Kronos is an 88-key workstation keyboard and synthesizer. This model absolutely blew us away. From a stunningly realistic organ sound engine to full onboard music production features and a big touch screen, us saying we’re impressed is an understatement. The Korg Kronos also has 9 full sound engines, meaning you get 9 instruments in one. I can’t say enough good things about this model.

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The Korg Kronos is an 88-key workstation keyboard and synthesizer. This model absolutely blew us away. From a stunningly realistic organ sound engine to full onboard music production features and a big touch screen, us saying we’re impressed is an understatement. The Korg Kronos also has 9 full sound engines, meaning you get 9 instruments in one. I can’t say enough good things about this model.

Korg Kronos Overview

korg kronos review

The piano Korg Kronos made its first debut in 2011. But, even now in 2022, the Korg Kronos Workstation 88 is an extremely popular workstation/ synthesizer keyboard. 

Amazon provides us with the following product description: 

KRONOS restores the magic, the thrill, and the promise that only a visionary new instrument can provide. And KRONOS delivers on that promise. Every resources and technology of service to the modern musician has been refined, perfected, and integrated into a single instrument, and is available on demand. Multiple state-of-the-art sound generation techniques represent the pinnacle of software realization. Onboard effects open the door to processing any internal or external audio source with dazzling results” 

Is the uber-expensive Korg Kronos as dazzling as Amazon and the maker might suggest? Let’s find out by looking into the instrument’s features! 

Korg Kronos 88 Features

A Gorgeous Build

This instrument has an aluminum body and real wood inlays on the ends of the piano. This beauty is both sturdy and easy on the eyes. But enough about looks- How does the instrument sound, and what special effects does it have? 

On-Board Music Production 

One of the first things I learned about this instrument is that it has pretty much everything you need when it comes to getting starting with production. It has a 16-track sequencer, as well as 32 tracks inside its Creation Workstation. In addition to this, you can apply effects, or use samples from the Korg Sampling System, 

Effects

Speaking of effects, I was blown away when I learned that the over 200 effects on this instrument could be used simultaneously, up to 16 layers. Some of the effects on the instrument include Distortion, chorus, guitar amp, delay, and more. In addition to all of this, the instrument gives you 12 total insert effects. There’s a lot to look at here. This video by Korg describes the Kronos’s effects, and how to apply them.

Organ Sound Engine

Are you really picky about simulated organ sounds like I am? Well- I have good news for you. The Korg Kronos has its own organ sound engine. It is technically a tonewheel sound engine. It has vintage effects, rotary-speaker sound modeling, and an amazing warmth from simulated tube amps. While it is rare for me to rant and rave about organ sounds, I can’t get enough of this sound engine. 

Korg Kronos Sounds: PCM Sound Engine

The Korg Kronos sound engines are some of the best in the workstation/synth market today. This next type of sound engine we are about to dive into has been around for a while. 

PCM stands for pulse-code modulation. Basically, this engine can take analog signals and turn them into digital signals. This specific PCM engine is called the HD(high-definition)-1 Synthesizer Sound Engine. While it has a lot of the sounds from the older generations of PCM engines, the filters, and oscillators that have been added to it make it something new again. 

This instrument actually has a total of nine sound engines inside of it. While I’m not going to go into all of them in this review, know that the Kronos also boasts the following: 

  • SGX-2 Premium Piano Sound Engine
  • EP-1 MDS Electric Piano Sound Engine
  • MS-20 EX Analog Sound Engine
  • AL-1 Analog Synthesizer Modeling Sound Engine
  • MOD-7 Waveshaping VMP/FM Synthesis Sound Engine
  • STR-1 Strings Physical Model Sound Engine 

A Large Touch Screen

The touch screen on this iteration of the Kronos is huge. The bigger the screen the better, in my book. The 8-inch Touchview screen makes it look sleek, and, more importantly, it is extremely easy to use. 

Sequencing 

The Korg Kronos sequencing has a lot of features as well. In this video, music gives a short demo on how he sequences on the instrument.

I highly recommend you check out some videos of sequencing being done of the Korg Kronos. It’s like looper, but you can actually edit what you’ve already played, afterward on the touch screen. And, while I haven’t gotten the chance to try out this particular feature, the quantize button sounds like it works extremely well.

You can choose from straight, and swing, as well as exclude certain sections from being quantized at all. I particularly appreciate the latter feature, as, in Garage Band (Which I often use with my Yamaha DGX) Quantization is all or nothing when it comes to a full track. 

Set List Mode

The brand-new setlist mode allows you to save songs on the touchscreen. You can pre-save a specific sound or your own. These slots make it really easy for performing artists to save information for easy access during gigs. 

Multiple Size Options

If you are low on room in your living space or are planning on taking this instrument on the go, I have good news! The Korg Kronos comes in a 61, 73, and 88-key package, The price between these size options does vary quite a bit. If you don’t mind losing a little bit of range, you can size some money by choosing a short Kronos. 

Specifications

korg kronos 88

  • Weight: 53.13 pounds (88-key version) 
  • Dimensions:  5.83 x 56.42 x 14.61
  • Keyboard Type: Workstation synthesizer

Who Is The Korg Kronos Suitable For?

The Korg Kronos is suitable for many types of musicians. In fact, I can’t recommend the Kronos enough for keyboardists, composers, producers, and performers. 

Beginning musicians will likely find themselves overwhelmed with such a monster of an instrument. That isn’t at all a bad thing- I just wouldn’t recommend it for them. In short, I recommend the Korg Kronos for serious intermediate to professional instrumentalists. You won’t be disappointed by this one, musicians! 

The Korg Kronos in Action

This performance of the Korg Kronos (2) does a lovely job of showing what this model is capable of. The video shows everything from the Berlin Grand sound to the Smooth Synth Leads. 

Amazon Reviews

The Kronos was rated 4.4/ 5 stars on Amazon overall. 

Amazon customers liked the following about the Korg Kronos:

  • There is a lot to learn on this keyboard
  • It is like a ‘band in a box’! This customer described the instrument as amazing and was really happy about the extra memory
  • It is an outstanding instrument overall
  • This instrument will last for years to come because Korg sets the bar so high as a company
  • One customer liked having this digital workstation in addition to their acoustic grand
  • Another said that ‘Beethoven would approve”. Compliments don’t get much higher than that! 

Customers were unhappy about the Kronos for the following reasons: 

  • There are so many features on the Korg Kronos, that it is intimidating
  • Another buyer believed that the interface was outdated

Overall, there were very few complaints about this Korg Kronos. While I do agree with the one customer who said that the interface was modeled after the ’90s, I think that this was a purposeful and tasteful throwback. The sounds certainly don’t seem to be from the 1990’s- They are fresh as can be! 

Pros and Cons

korg kronos versions

Pros

  • It is a full-sized workstation keyboard and synth 
  • It comes in different size packages, so you can choose an instrument package that fits you
  • This instrument has 9 total sound engines: It is like a 9-in-one instrument
  • This model has more RAM than the older versions
  • It has a huge touch screen
  • There are a ton of effects, oscillators, and features

I love this instrument, all the way around. You could spend months learning and playing on the Korg Kronos, and still not know everything there is to know about the model. 

Cons

  • This instrument is quite pricey 
  • There are no internal onboard speakers
  • There aren’t any accessories included in the package

Most workstation keyboards do not have onboard speakers. Then again, musicians who are looking into getting a workstation instrument aren’t usually on a budget. In essence, you’re going to have to buy some monitors to go with the Kronos if you decide to get it. The only real con with this instrument is that it is costly- But trust me, it is worth it. 

Quick View 

Keys 61 to 88 
Touch sensitivity  Weighted Hammer Action
Sounds 9 Sound engines
Recording capabilities  Internal / USB to Host
Metronome Yes
Polyphony  Varies depending on the sound engine
Speakers No
Headphones Input: Yes
Accessories None
Price point  $2,800-$4,200

Comparable Instruments

The Korg Kronos has been compared to the following models:

  • Nautilus
  • Nord Stage 3
  • Yamaha Montage

The Nautilus is a workstation keyboard that is made by Korg. Like the Kronos, this workstation/ synth double has multiple key package options and a set of 16 effects processors. This instrument is most known for having new and powerful sound banks. It has a ton of unusual sounds, which both performing musicians and film score composers will covet. At $2,7999.99, this instrument is right up there in price (and quality) with the Korg Kronos. 

The Nord Stage 3 (which we previously reviewed here: ) is moreso a digital piano. While some of its effects will get by as a makeshift workstation keyboard, it simply isn’t what it is intended for. If you are looking for a high-end hammer action keyboard rather than a synth, check this model out. It runs about $4,699.99.

The Yamaha Montage is another instrument we reviewed previously (read more about it here!). It runs about $3,999.99 for the full-sized version.

The Montage is a synthesizer workstation that has made quite the name for itself. With a note capacity of over 130,000, she is nothing short of impressive. Of the instruments that are on this list, the Yamaha Montage is the Korg Kronos’ strongest competitor. Try them both out, and let us know which instrument is your favorite in the comments. 

Korg Kronos Versions

There is another version of the Korg Kronos, called the Korg Kronos LS. While we will go into more detail on this instrument in the full Korg Kronos LS review next week, I figured I would mention a few similarities and differences between the original Kronos, and its variations, in this article as well.

Korg Kronos 2

The Korg Kronos 2 is what we normally just call the Kronos now. It is referring to the third-gen. Of the Kronos instruments. Previous iterations of the instrument include The Korg Kronos (1), and Korg Kronos X. 

Korg Kronos LS 

The main selling point of the Korg Kronos LS is that it is much lighter than the original Korg Kronos. While the LS keeps the sought-after features such as being fully weighted and fully sized, it is almost 20 pounds lighter.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Korg Kronos is a synthesizer and workstation keyboard that blows us out of the water. While it’s certainly not the instrument for those with a low budget in mind, the third generation of Kronos instruments continues to impress us here at BestPianoKeyboards. I hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about the Kronos in this Korg Kronos review. Next week, we will dive into the world of Kronos yet again with the Korg Kronos LS. See you then! 

Music quote of the week: 

“What has keys but can’t listen to the beauty it unlocks? The piano.” 

-Jarod Kintz

Videos: Korg Kronos Review

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