Korg DS-10 synthesizer and sequencer for Nintendo DS first look (Verdict: Looking good!)

BBG reader/sex object Downpressor got his Korg DS-10 cartridge in the mail today, bestowing upon his Nintendo DS the power of synthesized, sequenced bloopage and bleeperts. He likes it:
This isnt a serious synth, maybe less than the Kaossilator, but its got alot to enjoy. You get six digital simulations of analog synth engines, four devoted to drums, along with a step sequencer to build patterns and chain em into songs. Theres a mixer function with 3 effects, delay, flanger and chorus. Theres a basic mixer for syn1 syn2 and drum sounds 1-4. Swing and BPM are global variables which can not be changed by pattern or within a pattern. There is no sequencing or automation for the mixer but there are pan, mute and solo controls so you could do a real time mix down to your favorite recorder At first its not obvious how to sequence the "analog" aspects, the syn1/2 kaoss function can control 26 different sound aspects for both the X and Y movements. If you go into the syn1/2 seq page and click the "circle arrow" icon in the upper left a few times, you get to the kaoss x/y pages where you can sequence the sound aspects. The drums and effects are not controllable by the kaoss function though. If you load drum preset into the syn1 and 2 sounds, you can setup the kaoss controls and sequencing for those tracks, build up a few patterns, chain them to a song and feed it into your favorite multi track recorder. This isnt an all in one production tool, but I think its going to be a nice sketch pad to catch some quick beats, bass lines or melodies that come to mind on the go. Nuff respect to Korg once again!
Mine's in the mail. Can't wait.
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21 Responses to Korg DS-10 synthesizer and sequencer for Nintendo DS first look (Verdict: Looking good!)

  1. Not a Doktor says:

    wait so is this official nintendo, and official korg?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Quick point. I read an interview with one of the creators of DS-10. Apparently the drum sounds ARE samples, but they are created by the synth engine first. Hence you can create them and hear them in the drum editor, but once you put them in your track you can’t fiddle in real time like you can with the two real-time synths.

  3. Downpressor says:


    The drums are not samples, they are individual synth patches. You can verify this by going into SYN1/2 EDIT, then clicking on the preset name box in the top left corner, the LOAD menu will come up, select bank C and you will see a choice of 8 drum sounds. Pick any one and when you are back in the SYN1/2 EDIT screen you will see that you can modify the sounds.

    If you have used the SYN1/2 KAOSS sequencing function at all for one of the controls on the SYN 1/2 EDIT screen you will see the “knobs” moving as you play back your pattern.

    Not A Doktor,

    Yep its official. see http://www.aqi.co.jp/product/ds10/en/index.html or just google Korg DS-10.

  4. starpause says:

    thanks for the tip! that helps a lot. patterns greater than 16steps would still be a godsend. i’m still amazed with the sound quality and i can tell there’s enough to this toy to keep me up for weeks on end.

    the solo-ed drum synthesis has got me more bugged out than anything else, maybe i can work around it by synthesizing my drum parts on SYN2, saving the patch, loading it in the drum part.

  5. rachthegoat says:

    As a musician who still has to work a day job, this would be a fantastic tool for fleshing out ideas on my lunch break…
    Alright, I know what I’m saving up for next…

  6. xian says:

    Hey Joel, you should check out BeatMaker on the iPhone. It’s the best $20 I’ve spent in awhile.

  7. Jaycatt says:

    Looks fantastic! Will it work with any DS? Where can I purchase one?

  8. starpause says:

    i’m a gameboy musician who has spent years with littlesounddj on classic gameboys and recently picked up a DS to play around with proteinDS (an instantly gratifying scratch tool) and glitchDS (an abstract generative music tool). saw the ds10 and had to give it a whirl.

    first i’ll get my gripes out of the way:

    – knob control is wonky: you have to hit a specific point along the edge of the knob to get close to the desired value. it’s much nicer to click on a knob and drag up/down to increase/decrease value. did the dev team learn nothing from VST interfaces over the years?

    – the virtual piano keys in the KBD screen are too small and difficult to hit (i’m spoiled by the huge pads on my stylophone). it’s too bad because this is one of the most fun aspects of the ds10.

    – can’t edit syn params in song mode, switching to the syn1 edit screen drops you back into pattern playback. this means you’re stuck listening to 16 steps (or less) while editing synths (can get a bit on my nerves).

    – drum sounds can’t be tweaked on the fly. when you go to edit the drum sounds all sequencer playback stops and ds10 triggers just the drum sound you’re editing at regular intervals. this also means you can’t hear any other sounds in your pattern when crafting your new drum sound.

    – no accent in the drums sequencer.

    – pattern screen gives you something like lsdj’s live mode for performance (with mute/solo) but you can’t queue a pattern to play after the current one finishes. instead, the pattern playback changes immediately. this wouldn’t be so bad if the sequencer didn’t restart at step 0 of the new pattern you selected, but as it is performing patterns requires some tightly timed tapping.

    then the good:

    – impressive features and feeling for a first-of-it’s kind commercial product! stylus navigation between screens is easy after a few minutes and the sound engine is lush.

    – cute pixel-art interface reminiscent of rebirth/hammerhead/fruityloops/reason.

    overall? if you’re an electronic music nerd and already have a nintendo ds this cart is too fun to ignore =) but if you’re looking to pick up a handheld music studio look elsewhere (lsdj, pspseq3, bhaji loops, lgpt, etc).

    all the same, huge props to the dev team for getting this product official and shipped. i hope it’s a huge success and that the developers look for feedback from their users, incorporating changes into their next product (dsSynthi anyone?)! or that ds10 has raised the bar and similar soft synths are released for ds by homebrew developers (who can respond to user input thanks to a more agile development and distribution methods).

  9. toypiano says:

    mine arrived today and i love it.
    thanks nintendo & korg!

    if you click the “Lock”-button on pattern screen the last pattern will finish playing, before the next one begins

  10. frankiez says:

    This is GREAT! Maybe my Japanese is not so good and I missed something while trying the DS10 so thanks for the correction!
    (Downpressor, are you based in Tokyo? Are you on mixi? http://mixi.jp/show_friend.pl?id=57578 )

    This card is GREAT and I hope Nintendo Europe will start the distribution soon!

  11. starpause says:

    @Harrkev all text is in english, import is fully playble on a USA ds

  12. frankiez says:

    I meet SanoDG (the producer of DS-10) few weeks ago for an interview so I played with DS 10 and I can confirm that it’s a great card but I’m still waiting mine trough Play Asia http://www.play-asia.com/paOS-13-71-9g-49-en-70-2nlo.html (code inside)!
    It will be on sale from tomorrow in Japan (trought AMAZON only) and after summer it will be on sale in Europe thanks to Nintendo Europe.
    Actually I feel this is a “only in one tool” with the obvious limits of a Nintendo DS. it just takes sometime to understand the DRUM and SONG sequences. ACtually the DRUMS patterns can be anything since the drum is just a sampled synth loop (first you create a sound and then you sample it so it can be a drum or any sound…)

  13. toypiano says:

    yes, it will work.
    the ds is region free :)

  14. Downpressor says:


    Your gripes about the drum sounds might not bother you if you think about how the thing works. Its not a drum machine plus two synths, its six synths, four of which are dedicated to drum sounds. I think its a design decision not to allow changing parameters on the fly for those sounds. “Accents” would also be a parameter, but expressed under the volume control for the synth voices. As you have seen, if you want to do any parameter changes with the drum sounds, you can load them into the synth channels.

  15. frankiez says:

    Ops, I forgot some interesting details:
    to create a melody sequence/loop is possible to use the touch screen keyboard (not multi touch) or the “kaos” function. Also it’s possible to link several DS with Korg DS10 cards and use one DS as MASTER and other DSs as SALVES just like SYNC with the old Roland 303 and 606 boxes… so no Midi.
    It’s possible to use 4 beats (samples created with the DS10) + 2 voices (controllable realtime). The effects are Delay, Flanger and Chorus.
    It’s possibi1e to create one SONG with 16 patterns and one card can stock 18 different saves.

  16. frankiez says:

    @ starpause

    I love homebrew but I cna’t understand how can you compare LSDJ to DS10. Calling the LSDJ an “handheld music studio” let me think that you are a chiptune head who probably forget that there is more than chiptune out there… You point to a non existent problem in the PATTER MODE and this let me think that you tried the card for 5 minutes before posting your “review” (without even tring to learn the basic functions) just to be able to point out to the DS10 supposed weakpoints…

    I love LSDJ and chiptune to, but KORG DS10 is on a totally different LEVEL! Maybe not perfect but still GREAT!

  17. Harrkev says:

    Can anybody tell me: is any text in Japanese, or is the entire “game” in English?

    I was just wondering if I should want one now, or wait for a translation.

    Not sure if I need one. I just got a 2nd-hand Korg X5D.

  18. Clay says:

    I still can’t get over how cool it is that this is not one of those instant music toys, but a real, lilliputian, production tool, improbably inhabiting a DS. Two synth tracks and a four-voice drum machine may not exactly be a Reason setup, but a creative musician can do a lot with just these few things.

  19. A New Challenger says:

    XSEED is bringing this to the States, they made the announcement at E3. They’re also bringing over GameCenter CX as “Retro Game Challenge.”

  20. Anonymous says:

    i just bought one ds-10 at ebay from japan. i will get it next week. will it work on my nintendo bought in germany.
    thanks billkini

  21. mdhatter says:

    I always pick on my nephew for never putting his DS down. He’s highly musical, and his birthday is very soon. THANK YOU BB GADGETS. I hate to shop.

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