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KORG Pa50 (Music synthesizer)

I use Amiga computers since year 1993. The excellent audio and music capabilities of the Amiga, introduced my interest in electronic music, audio sequencing, synthesizing, tracking, mixing, arranging and composing. Since I love listening to various genres of music, I always wanted to have professional equipment for composing and producing music at home.


After listening countless hours to Amiga modules, SID songs, XM tunes and Atari YM compositions, in July 2011 I decided to make one step further in my music career and started to look for professional synthesizer to listen, replay and eventually compose music. After reviewing various offers by Yamaha, Roland and Casio, I headed for the KORG brand, that have excellent name among the eastern musicians, who also produce folk, ethno and oriental songs. I purchased a second hand KORG Pa50 professional arranger for a price of 1000 BGN. For 50 BGN I bought a stand for the synthesizer, so I can place it everywhere in my office, without the need of extra table. Together with the synthesizer, I received a 244 pages manual in English, black bag for easy transport and music notes stand.


KORG Pa 50 music synthesizer - view from above. The KORG Pa50 music synthesizer have dimensions of 104 cm x 39 cm x 15 cm and weights 12.10 KG without the power adapter. On the front of the synthesizer is the 61 key arranger keyboard. On the left of keyboard is the Joystick used for various music effects and controls. Above the keyboard is the control panel where the keys for music arrangement are placed. On the center of the control panel is the black and white screen, while on the left and the right sides of the control panel are the built-in speakers of the synthesizer. On the rear of the synthesizer are the AC Power adapter connector, the Power switch, the MIDI interface with ports for IN, OUT and THRU, and the connectors for the assignable Pedal/Footswitch, Damper, Outputs, Input 1 & 2 and for Phones. In front of the machine, under the keyboard on the right is situated the 3.5 inch floppy drive. The synthesizer is not very easy to move and transport, but it is professional music instrument, that can be used alone for public performances and parties.


KORG Pa 50 music synthesizer - close view. After pressing the Power button, the synthesizer starts to load the operating system - version 1.04 from 6th of April 2006 in my KORG Pa50. It takes around twenty seconds to initialize the synthesizer and boot in fully usable form. For fast solo performances, the keyboard can be used immediately in split mode. For full keyboard usage the button for full upper Keyboard mode, situated on the upper-right part on the control panel, must be pressed. Thanks to the Joystick, countless real time effects are possible, during live performances, hard to reproduce with music software. By pressing the style keys on the left I easily select my preferred background sound, while on the right I have a huge selection of built-in and user generated instruments to choose. The tempo can be changed in real time slowly by using UP and DOWN keys on the right of the display or much faster by using the TEMPO/VALUE DIAL. The keys are not always very easy to press, but once the music performer is used to them, it shall be no problem to make amazing live music compositions and reproductions. Main important features of the KORG Pa50 Professional Arranger, outlined in the 244 pages manual are:

  • Powerful HI (Hyper Integrated) KORG sound generation system.
  • OPOS (Objective Portable Operating System) multitasking operating system that can load data while playing instruments.
  • Possibility to update the Operating System and load new features from floppy disks.
  • Solid State Disk (SSD) for system updates.
  • Direct Style access from floppy disk.
  • Compatible with General MIDI Level 2 Sounds.
  • Over 660 Sound Programs.
  • 4 multieffect processor, with 89 effect types for each.
  • For fast setting of sounds and effects - 160 Performances and 1,216 Single Touch Settings (STS).
  • 304 Styles.
  • XDS Double Sequencer with Crossfader.
  • Possibility for Style Record and Edit.
  • Fully-featured sequencer.
  • Built-in speakers.
  • Black and white Wide Custom Display.
Most of the functions, the selections and the settings are easy to do and intuitive. Only after some hours of usage, I was able do remixes, change styles, select tempo and include effects into my amateur music performances. I found the KORG Pa50 very nice and easy to use even for non professional musicians like me. Mastering music instrument can take many years. Although I play and test the synthesizer frequently, I have yet to learn all the functions and possibilities of the KORG Pa50. The instruction manual, also available online from the KORG website helps a lot, but for live performances, experience is the most important.

Input and Output

Main way to import and export data to and from the music synthesizer is by using the 3.5 inch floppy drive located in the front part. Back in 1999 when I bought my Amiga 600 with Hard Drive and connected CD-ROM drive to it, I was more than happy to kiss goodbye to my old floppy disks, after transferring and recording most of data on the disks to optical media. After using floppy disks for several years, I always looked at them as unreliable way to move or store any data. Unfortunately, in the year 2011 I had to use floppy disks again, for the Sensi Days (Sensible Soccer) tournament in Varna and now for the KORG Pa50 synthesizer. Neither my AmigaOne machine with AmigaOS 4, nor the Dell Inspiron N5010 have floppy disk drives. Fortunately, I have NEC External USB Floppy disk drive, that moderately works with Windows 7, so I was able to backup the styles and the operating system of the KORG Pa50 and save it on my laptop and later transfer it to my Amiga as well. The KORG Pa50 supports 720 KB and 1,44 MB capacity disks, so it will be possible to transfer data to it with old Amigas by using the CrossDOS utility software. I copied several MIDI files to a floppy disk and was amazed by the excellent audio replay of the built-in speakers. After turning the volume to the max, the music can be heard in moderately noisy environment in up to fifty meters, without any problem. The synthesizer can replay two MIDI songs at once or mix them, thanks to the slider control on the center under the display. There are also several real time effects that can be performed on the MIDI songs. I was happy to hear my favourite Amiga songs replayed on the synthesizer with excellent quality - soundtracks from the games Turrican, Jim Power, Lemmings, Lotus 3, Shadow Of The Beast, Super Frog, Agony, Simon The Sorcerer and many others. The KORG Pa50 replayed also MIDI remakes of Kraftwerk and Queen songs and even newer compositions like The Beginning from The Black Eyed Peas. Additionally to the two replayed songs at once, the keyboard is fully usable for replay of any instrument, that makes the synthesizer amazingly powerful for even complex compositions. Unfortunately, only after some hours of MIDI songs replays, I had to remember why I never liked the floppy disks. When replaying MIDI songs, the synthesizer does not load the whole song at once, but loads part of it while replaying. When replaying two songs at the same time, the disk loading is more than obvious. If for some reason the data can not be loaded - a disk error for example, the replay stops, that can ruin a live performance. The powerful disk utilities menu, built-in the Operating System, can not help in such embarrassing situations. As I see the KORG Pa50 floppy disk model is now obsolete and only the version with SD Card is available for sale on the KORG website, surely this is not without a reason. I saw modifications for my model, making it to be able to work with memory cards, that will enhance its capabilities and make it more secure of floppy disk faults. Additionally to the MIDI songs, the KORG Pa50 can also load lyrics for display on the screen and Jukebox files for replay without maintenance by the musician.
KORG Pa 50 music synthesizer - view of the ports. On the rear panel of the synthesizer are the MIDI ports and the ports for Assignable Pedal/Footswitch and Damper pedal. With my KORG Pa50 I did not receive any Pedal, that must be bought additionally, so I was not able to test how it will work. List of the MIDI Control Change messages, that affect the Pa50 functions are listed in the manual. They can be used for more sophisticated controls and music experiments. For performances in front of more people or bigger halls, connection to external hi-fi systems is recommended. The KORG Pa-50 have stereo outputs for Left and Right, but also can do mono output by connecting a jack only to the left output connector. Up to two musical instruments or audio replayers can be connected to the synthesizer, that will act as a mixer of the several audio inputs. For people who don't want to disturb the environment with their music compositions, the phones connector is located near the center on the rear part of the synthesizer. The phones connector can be used for recording the produced music as well.


The KORG Pa50 performed excellent with all the genres I tried on it, including oriental music, pop-folk (Chalga), Horo, Rap, Rave and Dance. By pressing the STYLE PLAY and the SONG PLAY buttons at once, various demo songs in different genres, performed with the synthesizer are available for listening, that can also be used when the musician wants to rest from a long performance. It is excellent professional equipment that will be nice addition for background music when shooting my YouTube movies. I am glad to have it and will continue to improve my skills on it.

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