It follows the LE tradition of keeping performance controls to a minimum, so all you have is two programmable switches along with four assignable knobs and the four-way joystick. In addition, the TR has a x64 pixel LCD screen that features adjustable contrast for improved viewing. What this means is that when moving towards the higher notes on the keyboard, the key resistance becomes progressively lighter. In addition, there are the usual MIDI In, Out and Thru along with the external power connector, two individual outputs, stereo audio outputs and assignable pedal connectors. The headphone socket for this synth can be found at the front instead of the rear.
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Each model seems to progress logically from the previous one, cramming in playable, classy sounds and nailing the right blend of features and price. The LE offered fewer effects and no touchscreen; it dropped the internal power supply and omitted both the PCM and MOSS expansion options; finally, it relegated sampling to being an optional extra.
The end result was a reduced-spec workstation that performed well without breaking the bank. Big Box On unpacking, I was struck by the more traditional appearance of the TR when compared to the futuristic silver of earlier models.
RH2 is designed to simulate the feel of a grand piano, so key resistance becomes progressively lighter as higher notes are played. I have always found the action of my Pro X to be a little sluggish, so I quickly warmed to the improved feel of the TR If I had one wish, it would be that the lighter action of the upper keys could be employed across the whole keyboard. At 21kg, the TR88 is far more transportable than my model, but still no lightweight.
As per the LE, performance controls are thin on the ground with just a four-way joystick, two programmable switches and four assignable knobs to go at. Indeed, other than the colour change, the only visible enhancements are seen when you look at the rear panel.
Secondly, an SD card slot is provided, capable of addressing cards of up to 1GB. The headphone socket is at the front of the synth, sensibly enough. Dual arpeggiators. One stereo insert effect plus two master effects and a three-band master equaliser. SD card storage.
The memory is packed with usable material — no less than multisamples and drum samples. There are 44 multisamples in the EX area although almost half of these duplicate percussion samples found elsewhere. Highlights include the stereo Bosendorfer piano samples previously seen on the PCM08 concert grand expansion board. This spacious, velocity-switched piano has served me well since it was released and remains perfectly playable and responsive to this day.
All are absolutely fine although hardly adventurous. The EX wave area also contains single drum samples, with a heavy emphasis on dance, especially kicks, snares and hi-hats; these are ably demonstrated in some of the new drum kits. As per the LE series, maximum polyphony is 62 notes, and if stereo samples are used this figure is reduced by half.
You then process this source via 24dB or 12dB low- or high-pass filters and modulate the result with envelopes, LFOs, joysticks and so on. The Combinations are arranged in three banks and filled with reminders of why the Triton has remained popular for so long. Expect lush pads, pianos and ethereal voices, along with highly creative uses of the dual arpeggiator — whether recreating strummed guitars, orchestral flourishes, driving basses or thumpy percussion.
They sound great, are full of sounds that most of us can use, are never too deep or complex and rarely have many wasted features. I have no doubt that the TR series will provide sufficient warm strings, breathy voices, pianos, drums and trumpets for many musicians — especially those who prefer sticking with what they know. However, comparing the TRs with recent workstation gems such as the Alesis Fusion, makes me wonder whether Korg have taken their eye off the ball.
Pros Twice the wave memory of the Triton LE. Fairly slim and compact for a weighted keyboard. Cons Recycling the LE series fails to get the blood pumping. Summary The TR88 is a capable workstation with a playable keyboard, classy piano samples and a fine selection of effects.
Korg TR music workstation Operation Manual
Korg TR88 Service Manual