Step into the sonic time machine as we journey back to 1990, the year that witnessed the birth of the iconic Korg Wavestation. Released in 1990 the Korg Wavestation is unique digital synth that combines PCM samples, vector synthesis and wave sequencing.

Its origins come from the Sequential ProphetVS. When Sequential ceased operations in 1989 Yamaha purchased the company, Korg was part owned by Yamaha at that point and Dave Smith the founder of Sequential and much of his team moved to Korg where they worked on the Wavestation Rather than being a music workstation which were becoming popular at the time, like the M1 and Roland D20 it was a pure synth. So there is no sequencer but it’s a very rich synth that can produce rich pad sounds and rhythmic sequences. Fueling its sonic capabilities are two distinct forms of synthesis: Wave Sequencing and vector synthesis.

There were a few different models of Wavestation. There was the original 1990 version with a 2MB sound set with 2 card slots, which there were 6 cards available.

In 1991 there was the Wavestion EX which had 4mb of ROM with the example samples being made up of many traditional waves like piano and drums (at the request of users who wanted a synth that could complete multiple rolls).

In 1991 there was also the Wavestation A/D which was a rackmount version with also had audio input so you could process external sounds, you could even use external sounds in the wave sequence.

In 1992 there was the Wavestation SR which is smaller rack version without the A/D inputs. It included many of the expansion cards and was very difficlut to program with the small display.

In 2004 Korg released the virtual version of the Wavestation which includes all the expansion cards and that has been updated many times and what I am using now.

There’s more to the Wavestation legacy than its hardware incarnation. Korg has expanded its reach into the digital realm with an iOS version. Furthermore, the evolution of Wave Sequencing continues with the WaveState, introducing Wave Sequencing 2.0 alongside the samples from the Wavestation. The Korg Modwave, while lacking Wave Sequencing, inherits the essence with samples and waveforms from its predecessor. The Motion Sequencer within the Modwave ingeniously emulates many effects reminiscent of the Wavestation.

The Wavestation’s influence extends beyond its technical prowess. Renowned musicians in the early ’90s, including Jan Hammer, Enigma, Depeche Mode, and Tony Banks of Genesis, embraced its capabilities. For instance, the closing track “Fading Lights” from Genesis’s “We Can’t Dance” album prominently features the Warm Strings pad and the Mini Lead sound.

In my video, I take a deep dive into the Wavestation’s rich history, exploring vector synthesis, wave sequencing, and showcasing some of its finest sounds. Additionally, if you’re an owner of the Korg Modwave, you can enhance your sonic palette by downloading my free Korg Wavestation sound set tailored for the Modwave.

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