Korg has already made several announcements ahead of NAMM 2024, and now the company’s back with a refresh of its popular Opsix FM synthesizer. The Opsix mk II still offers an approachable entryway into the world of FM synthesis, and it’s even based on the original’s “Altered FM” digital sound engine. However, this is anything but a minor refresh.
The big news is a massive boost in polyphony. The original had 32 voices, which is still plenty, but the mk II offers 64 voices of pure polyphonal goodness. This should allow for some truly complex and multi-layered sounds, or just a burst of cacophony as you try to press every key at once.
The six-operator FM engine is, more or less, unchanged, but it can be kitted out with all kinds of new “sound components” that can drastically change the signal. You can route it through up to 30 effects, including a 3-band EQ, chorus, phaser, flanger, distortion, compressor, delay, reverb, grain shifter and many more. The signal paths can also be rerouted internally for semi-modular synthesis.
Of course, there are a number of analog-style filters, including filters modeled on the Korg MS-20 and Korg PolySix, along with resonant two- or four-pole low-pass, high-pass, band-pass and band-reject filters. You won’t struggle to create unique sounds here, as any parameter can be modulated using a dedicated matrix equipped with three envelope generators and three LFOs.
Korg's particular take FM includes subtractive-style filters, a semi-modular routing system, waveshaping and plenty of hands-on controls. That delivers everything from additive synth sound and analog-esque tones, in addition to classic FM synthesis.
For those worried that this refresh would fundamentally change the vibe of the original Opsix, the mk II is fully compatible with the sounds and samples from the original and it integrates with the company’s dedicated software suite, offering full access to numerous sound libraries. So you can just load up sounds from the original, if that’s your bag.
The 37-note keyboard is velocity-sensitive and release velocity-sensitive, with a programmable step sequencer that offers up to 16 steps per pattern and six notes per step. There's also an onboard arpeggiator with seven preset patterns. Just like the original, the mk II boasts a bright front-facing screen and numerous backlit faders and knobs for making adjustments. As for connections, there’s a headphone out, a stereo line out, MIDI in/out, a USB-B port and a jack for a damper pedal. The Korg Opsix mk II hits store shelves this March and will cost $700, which is $200 less than the price of the original back when it launched.
Korg has a massive presence at NAMM this year, as the company also teased a desktop module of the Opsix, along with desktop modules for the Modwave and Wavestate synths. There’s also a little synth called the MicroKORG 2, which is likely to sell like the hottest of hotcakes.