The Korg Volca Bass was probably one of the most eagerly awaited analog boxes since its announcement. This was probably to do with the fact that it’s not a million miles away from the Roland TB303 Bassline. It looks a bit like it and it can certainly go some of the way to recreating the famous acid machines sound, but this device offers a bit more in terms of versatility and musicality.
First off, the Korg Volca Bass is the same small size as the other two devices in the Volca range, that’s 193 x 115 x 46mm and weighing 377g without batteries. You can run it on batteries and it takes 6 AA’s which are included, but like my advice with the others I would get an AC Adapter.
There’s a very familiar looking silver front panel and some slightly larger control knobs, again with a familiar look to them. Below this panel are the gold and black keys, again much more playable and positive than the Korg Monotribe range. In keeping with the other Volca’s there are plenty of LEDs to impress anyone watching you perform on these units, and again it features the transparent control knobs with LED’s below to light the whole thing up. It’s really quite impressive.
Another similarity to the Roland TB303 is the fact that the oscillators produce square and sawtooth waveforms. A big difference though is the fact that with the Korg Volca Bass you get three of them, all individually de-tuneable, as much as an octave up or down, so you get plenty of options with what you can do with them, like subtle detunes or octave sub basses. Another thing worth noting is that even though it’s predominantly a bass machine the octave switch can take the oscillators up six octaves so you can do other forms of melodic sequencing with this unit.
The voice architecture is pretty standard with the three oscillators being fed into a filter and envelope generator, which is shared with modulation tasks, and a low frequency oscillator for modulating pitch and filter cut-off.
The filter is similar to the one in the Volca Keys and is like the one from the classic Korg 700s .It is a 12dB low pass design with a resonance control and a larger filter cut-off control. The increase in size certainly makes tweaking it easier and more controllable and of course you get the normal ability of the envelope generator to modulate it. On listening to the Volca Bass, the filter can sound quite like the one on the Roland TB303 Bassline but I hasten to add it’s not a TB303 sound-alike. It has a sound of its own and one that you will probably love. The thing with the TB303 is that its sound wasn’t instantly likable. After it was released it was considered a bit of a flop. I think that the Korg Volca Keys will prove to be a better device due to its more elaborate sound palate and the fact that’s its more controllable.
Programming the sequencer on the Volca Bass is certainly more intuitive than it ever was on the Roland TB303 and sequencing wise you will pick it up a lot quicker and in next to no time you will be producing fantastic sequencing and screaming bass line squeals. You can input notes in real time or step time and you can have separate lines for the three different oscillators! Even having different step numbers if you want to produce something off the wall. You can mute and unmute steps in real time which can produce some really musical varied effects that seem to stimulate your ideas into different directions enabling you to come up with stuff you wouldn’t have otherwise.
That is one of the massive strengths of all of the new Korg kit, once you play around with them you tend to come up with ideas you wouldn’t have with your existing kit, they cry out to be tweaked and you can’t leave the controls alone for a second.
You get MIDI input and sync in and out so interfacing between the whole range and indeed other equipment is made as easy as it can be. When you look at the price of the Korg Volca Bass which is about £120 it is pretty amazing what you get for your money and what you can do with the device, even more so when you see the three Volca’s linked up and running together and think what the whole setup costs for three separate, different but complementing devices. It really is a case of the whole adding up to more than the sum of the individuals.
This is a compatible AC adapter for the Korg Volca Bass but cheaper than the Korg one.
If you need to charge you Volca Bass up in the car.