Sampling Synthesizer

Korg DSS-1

Here is the Korg DSS-1, an 8-voice, 16-oscillator sampler/synthesizer from the mid-1980s.  This is an extremely deep machine - the editing capabilities are endless!

This was a very respectable sampler for the time, and utilized 3.5" double side/double density floppy disks - like many of its counterparts.

The internal memory of the DSS-1 can contain up to 32 patches at once, but there are four "Systems" named A, B, C and D (blocks of 32 patches each) on a disk, so one can save up to 128 patches on one diskette.

The DSS-1 features the typical Korg joystick, perfect for controlling pitch-bend, vibrato, filter modulation and other effects.

Keyboard controls include velocity, aftertouch, and key transpose - all programmable.  These features add a great level of expressivity to this instrument.

Like for the majority of samplers, it's possible to assign (and split, layer etc) several individual samples to the keyboard (multi-sampling).  The DSS-1 allows a maximum of 16 individual samples (although you can stretch it to 30 splitting the oscillators), and it's possible to use any sample, at any of the available frequencies, and/or mix and match with the created ones via additive/hand drawn.  Korg refers to this as a "multisound".  The DSS-1 can sample at four frequencies: 16kHz, 24kHz, 36kHz, and 48kHz.

Additionally, the DSS-1 can create new waveforms (one full cycle only - turning on the loop on/off parameter is needed to hear anything), in two ways:  Additive Synthesis, and "Hand Drawn" (moving slider A to shape the waveform).  There are many parameters to shape the newly created waveforms.  I am including a few audio examples from both the Additive and Hand-Drawn methods below in the review.

Once a sample/multisound is created, it's possible to edit many parameters, including very good-sounding VCF and VCA.

The effects include equalizer, and two DDLs (Digital Delay Lines).  These can be used in a variety of ways, often contributing greatly to the general sound of the DSS-1.


Korg DSS-1 audio demos

Additive Synthesis audio demos:






Hand Drawn audio demos:

Drawn 01

Drawn 02

Drawn 03

Drawn 04

Drawn 05

Check out the original Korg DSS-1 Sound Library page for more audio demos from this wonderful machine.


Korg DSS-1 specs
Year of release: 1986
Polyphony: 8
Sound generation method: sampling, additive synthesis, "hand drawn"
Preset memories 32 in memory, 128 on disk
MIDI: In, out, thru
Sound expansion capabilities: sampling; diskettes
Sequencer no
Arpeggiator no
Velocity yes
Aftertouch yes
Dimensions 1171 (W) x 436 (D) x 123 (H) mm
Weight 18.5kg
Keyboard 61-keys, with velocity and aftertouch



Korg DSS-1 photographs (click on thumbnails to enlarge)






Korg DSS-1 manual

available at



SITE Type of resource DESCRIPTION
  Manufacturer site home page

Korg DSS-1 review with audio demo - February __, 2009