When Korg introduced the Triton as successor to the acclaimed Trinity synthesizer lineup in 1999, the company once again positioned itself as the undisputed champion in the workstation wars — a lopsided battle in a category that Korg entered with the introduction of its best-selling M1 model in the late 1980s. The Triton series has quickly become a production and performance staple in much the same fashion. It's a mandatory item on any serious studio's in-house gear list, and it's easily spotted gracing the stage of practically every act that uses keys — and sometimes even those that don't — just because it looks so damn cool up there!
In a few short years, the Triton has matured considerably, undergoing significant OS enhancements to all lines, from the original Triton (now dubbed the Classic) all the way to the newly appointed flagship of the series, the Studio. The subsequent introduction of the entry-level Triton Le fueled even greater interest in the series, vastly expanding its user base and making it a must-have for new producers and budding DJs looking to tap into the legendary lineage.
I recently spoke with James Bernard, Bobby Nelson, Victor J. Palagano and Chris Petti — all product specialists at Korg USA — for their hottest Triton tips and tricks. Although this tutorial aims to offer helpful hints to owners of all Triton models, it is assumed that you've either purchased a model with a sampler built in or have upgraded an Le model with the EXB-SMPL sampler expansion board option. Combining the sampler option with Triton's powerful synthesis and effects engines makes it a powerful production tool and a huge time-saver. (I like to call it my little “chop shop.”) A vast majority of the tips herein are for the sampling option.
Similarly, I'll assume that you've upgraded your unit with the latest operating system. Triton Studio owners should pay special attention and upgrade to the latest Studio OS 2.0 (it differs from the Classic OS 2.5) in order to take advantage of a couple of these tips. All operating systems are freely available on Korg's Website (www.korg.com/downloads).
GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR SEQUENCES
Thickening bass lines. So you've sequenced what should have been the ideal bass part, but when played back with the other tracks, it feels lackluster. Throwing more volume and more effects at it doesn't solve its placement, so try this simple fix: In SEQ mode, press the Menu key and select the Track Edit page. Press the upper-right pop-up, and select Shift/Erase Note. Set your From Measure and To Measure values. Highlight the value after Shift Note, and dial or type in — 12; then, press the “radio button” next to Create rather than Replace (Le: Select Create from Mode). Press OK to execute. Now, play your sequence and behold the fat bottom!
Using a drum pattern to drive the Vocoder (not available on Le). Often overlooked, the Vocoder effect can be used with a drum pattern as the modulator in SEQ mode. Here's a quick way to create bouncing rhythmic synths: Make sure that you have the drum track (modulator) panned to the right and the waveform or sound that will be heard (carrier) track panned to the left. Now, try adding one of the master effects set to St. BPM Delay. Set the left delay base note to a 16th note; set the right delay base note to an eighth note, and add a fair amount of feedback on both channels. Use edgy and full synth sounds for a more intelligible result.
Manipulating effects with real-time controls. The Triton series includes a number of controllers that allow you to adjust not only synth parameters but also effect parameters in real time. Here are two examples: In SEQ mode, set one of the master effects to reverb or delay. Select MFX1 for the edit page of the effect, and set the wet/dry balance to dry. Highlight Src (source) and select JS-Y; set the intensity to 50. The effect will not be applied to the tracks until you pull the joystick toward you (in the — y position).
The Stereo Modulation Delay effect is another cool feature that you can modulate in real time using the assignable knobs. Start by assigning the Stereo Modulation Delay to one of the two master effects. Set the Modulation Mode to D-mod, and set knob 1 as the Src; set the response to 10. (Be sure that Knob1-B is set to KnobMod, not one of the many other parameters for which it can be used.) This is set on the Controller tab in Program, Combi, Song or Song Play modes. Set both the L Depth and R Depth to about 140 each. Set the L Feedback and R Feedback to about +60. Set the L Delay Time to .1 ms and the R Delay Time to .2 ms.
This effect works best with drums or vocal samples. When the sound is playing, twist knob 1 to get some wacky electrolike sounds. It's ideal for applying effect changes, such as fills, at specific times in your sequence.
Sending arpeggiator notes via MIDI. The Triton can transmit its arpeggiator data via MIDI but only if the Local control is set to On. That is the key. When you want to record a cool Triton arpeggio to your computer sequencer, be sure to set Triton's Local control to On and turn off MIDI echo on your record track. When you're done, revert to your regular settings (Local Off; host sequencer MIDI echo On).
To record one of the more complex Combis that has multiple arps and sounds into your computer, use the Setup to Record feature. To do this, hold Enter+Rec while on a Combi of your choice, and the system will automatically copy everything over to the sequencer, adjusting the MIDI-channel setup so that it can be captured by the external sequencer. It will have armed the internal sequencer for Multi Rec, so just press the Rec key again to turn that off; then, go to the Track Param (P2) screen/MIDI channel Tab (press Menu), and set the timbres that are needed from INT to BTH. Now, you can set up your sequencing software for multichannel recording, and away you go!
TRITON SAMPLER TIPS
Using Event Edit to fit a sample. Musicians are always working under tight deadlines. Here's an idea that eliminates the time and tedium involved in truncating a sample to make it fit a sequence track. “If you've used the Triton's choice of amplitude threshold to trigger the sampling process, you will have a sample that has no dead air at its beginning,” Nelson says. “So there is no need to truncate its start. But if you're cautious, you probably have a little more of the sample's tail than you need.”
On the main Sequencer page, set Reso (resolution) to the nearest quarter note. This broad prequantizing will be akin to “snapping” audio to start at a downbeat location. Next, press the Sequencer (Rec/Write) key; then, press the Sequencer (Start/Stop) key, and record the key to which the sample is assigned at the necessary location. Hold the key down for the full duration that you intended. Again, to be cautious, you'll probably hold down the key for a little longer than necessary. Press the Start/Stop key again to finish recording.
Next, press the Menu key, and select the Track Edit page. Now, select Event Edit. Filter out everything except notes by removing the checks from the boxes and then press OK. Find the note event that you recorded: The L column shows its length in beats. Select this value, and type the whole number of beats that you intended; press the .10's/Hold key, then 0; finally, press Enter.
“For instance, if your sample was intended to play over two full measures in 4/4 time, type 8.0 and Enter,” Nelson says. “Your sample now fills its entire intended length, without anything extra.”
The sample now plays precisely at the beginning of its measures for exactly as long as you need, and there's no fussing with minute adjustments in the sample editor and no worries about overlapping loops. Finally, use the Copy and Insert boxes to paste this note wherever needed, or press Done and use the Copy Measure command to copy the entire range of measures where needed. This is also a cool way to get that “not-quite-right-loop-point” sound if you change the pitch of the sample just a minute amount, because your end point is hard-set in the event list.
Using Grid to convert loops into time-locked patterns. It's time to throw your mix some ant-Acid medicine, Triton slice-'n'-dice style. Read on to learn the “accurate” way to chop up a loop or tempo-locked musical phrase in Triton by using Grid.
“The first thing you have do is, obviously, sample a short loop — preferably a drum loop — and select this sample in the Loop Edit page,” Petti says. The waveform will show up on the lower portion of the screen. Press the upper-right pop-up menu, select Grid, and set it to On; leave the default setting of quarter notes alone, then press OK.
“You will see a set of vertical dotted lines through the waveform,” Petti says. “At the bottom right of the screen, you will see the bpm displayed. Change the bpm value to the tempo of the loop that you have sampled. The dotted lines will now line up with quarter-note divisions for the sample, and this information will be displayed on the waveform.
“Count off the first four dotted lines through the waveform,” he continues. “At the bottom-left corner of the screen, you will see numbers for Start, Loop Start and End. Highlight the number for End. Turning the value wheel counterclockwise, move the end point to the fourth dotted line that goes through the waveform. Use the zoom arrow commands at the bottom-right-hand corner of the screen to zoom in until the end point is exactly on the fourth dotted line.”
Check the box for Loop in the lower portion of the screen. Your sample will now loop perfectly! But you're not done yet: From the available Loop Edit commands (press the upper-right pop-up), select Truncate, check the box for Overwrite, and press OK. Next, from the available Loop Edit commands, select Time Slice, and adjust the sensitivity to 30 or so. A higher sensitivity will yield more slices.
Select Save, and the Saving Options screen will appear. Here is the trick: Save the information as a Pattern in a new song. “When you go to the song that you sent it to, the pattern can now be triggered from the C#2 key,” Petti says. “It will loop perfectly and follow along with the tempo of the new song. You can also trigger individual hits from the loop in order to create fills and breaks.”
Creating groovy new material using Time Slice and the arpeggiator. Palagano likes to use the potent Time Slice feature to prepare his sample loops for some arpeggiated madness. I tried this technique and had a lot of fun with it — and, definitely, the stranger the material, the better. “Personally, I like to get old '50s music or '60s bebop CDs,” Palagano says. “But you can use whatever you like. Grab some sections or phrases of the songs — I sometimes grab vocals, as well — Time Slice it as fine as you wish, and save it as a Program. Assign the Program to a sequencer track, and apply the arpeggiator to that track.”
Palagano recommends trying some different arpeggiator patterns and seeing what you get: “Sometimes, you'll get garbage; sometimes, you'll get some cool stuff to add to your tracks, or it may be the inspiring funkiness you need to write your next hit song. You can also manually trigger the slices by key note and make up your own new loops.”
Making drum mapping quick. Just when you thought you'd run out of things to do with Time Slice, here is a combo computer-Triton trick that will let you map out large volumes of drum samples in a fraction of the time. It's somewhat rough, but it's the fastest way to get tons of individual hits into the Triton sampler.
To get started, you need to have all of the samples loaded into a PC or Mac equipped with audio-editing software. Next, collect all of the samples in a folder on your computer, making special note of the order in which you'd like them to be key-mapped. Open the first sample in the audio-editor software. Insert the next sample tightly behind the end point of the first. Repeat this for all drum samples, one after another. (Most editors will allow you to multiselect samples to append, so this can all be done as one step.) Now, you have one long WAV file with all of your drum samples lined up. Save this file, and transfer it to your Triton as you typically would (HD, Zip, CD-R and so forth).
On the Triton, load your new WAV file into the sampler, and Time Slice it so that you can play each drum hit individually across the keyboard. Fiddle with the Threshold setting, and if necessary, divide your slices to fine-tune. Once you have everything just so, save the slices, and a new multisample will be automatically created with each drum sound assigned to its own key. This saves you the trouble of creating indexes and mapping all of those samples! Finally, create a program using this new multisample, and remember to delete the original long sample to regain your sample RAM.
TRITON STUDIO — ONLY TIPS
Turning your Triton Studio into a handy multitrack recorder. Using the two built-in tracks of audio recording in the Triton Studio can be fun in itself, but you can record loads of audio by using the in-track sampling. How many tracks you can work with depends on the amount of RAM installed. “I have 96 MB installed and have done seven tracks including the two HD audio tracks,” Palagano says. “Of course, it will also depend on your song length.”
Start at the Sequence screen, and press the Sampling HD Audio tab. Press the upper-right pop-up, and select AutoSampling/HD Audio Setup. Select HD Audio Track Rec, and record an audio track. Next, press Disk, and locate the WAV file that you just recorded; press the Edit Wave tab. Press the upper-right pop-up, and select Transfer Wave to Track. Make the appropriate settings here for song, tempo and program, and press OK. Now, you can record another audio track and repeat the process.
Recording SysEx, effects changes and more as overdubs. One of the coolest features to be incorporated into the newly released OS 2.0 for the Triton Studio is the ability to record every parameter in the sequencer as SysEx. Say you want to change something simple, like effect levels and pans, or something more advanced, like the track's actual effect routing — well, now you can! Another cool (and obvious) example would be tweaking a program in real time and having those changes automate back. The possibilities go on and on, especially when you consider just how many parameters are available within the Sequencer pages.
To get your sounds moving, start at the Global menu, and select both the P1: MIDI page and Enable Exclusive in the MIDI Filter. From the Sequence menu, press the Preferences tab, then Recording Setup, and select Over Dub. Then, start recording your moves and parameter changes.
In other words, all you need to do is set the record mode to overdub and record. From there, you can jump freely from screen to screen, tweaking all parameters to your liking. If the changes that you wish to make are at the beginning of the song or come up quickly, you can prepare yourself by going to the page you want (for example, the Effects page) prior to pressing Start in the transport. Furthermore, all SysEx events can be viewed in Event Edit to move, copy or delete them as needed.
Controlling audio loops on the fly. This is a cool tip for users wanting to use the Studio live, as in a DJ-style rig. First, grab some audio drum loops. Next, use the Time Slice function to chop them up. Press the Menu key; select P2: Loop Edit. In the upper-right pop-up, select Time Slice. When saving, select Save with Program and Seq. Event as a pattern and check the RPPR box. Save them as RPPRs, and in the sequencer, you can play each loop by pressing a note on the keyboard. You can even control the tempo by using the tap-tempo control on the Enter key or using the Tempo knob. Now, you can trigger your loops in time and at any tempo on the fly, by hand or with a MIDI trigger!
Special thanks to Leslie Buttonow and Jerry Kovarsky at Korg USA for their assistance in compiling this tutorial.
Have you been thinking of selling your Triton Classic as part of an elaborate scheme to upgrade to the coveted Studio but aren't quite sold yet? Well, perhaps you just haven't taken a close-enough look at what the Studio has that the legacy line does not. The following is a nonexhaustive laundry list of its severe superiority complex:
120-note polyphony (rather than 62)
48 MB of waveform memory (rather than 32 MB)
7 slots of PCM expansion (112 MB for a total of 160 MB versus 64 MB on the Classic)
More user locations and drum kits (2,176 programs/2,176 combinations versus 640 programs/512 combinations on the Classic)
96 MB of maximum sample RAM (rather than 64 MB) SCSI interface
2-track hard-drive audio recording
Sample to hard drive
5GB internal hard drive
Proper Akai sample importing
SysEx recording in sequencer
Powerful new Tone Adjust parameters for tweaking sounds in SEQ mode
ROOM FOR EXPANSION
If you're looking to expand your sonic palette, Korg has a wide variety of PCM expansion cards, a sample upgrade card for Triton Le models and the delectable six-voice MOSS synthesis card (think Prophecy and Z1) for all models except the Triton Le. And, of course, extra sampling RAM is always a great expansion idea. The complete line of expansion cards includes the following:
EXB-PCM01 Pianos and Classic Keys
EXB-PCM02 Studio Essentials
EXB-PCM03 Future Loop Construction
EXB-PCM04 Dance Extreme
EXB-PCM05 Vintage Archives
EXB-PCM06/07 Orchestral Collection (two-card set)
EXB-PCM08 Concert Grand Piano
EXB-PCM09 Trance Attack
EXB-SMPL sampling board for Triton Le
EXB-MOSS six-voice MOSS synth