Synthesize then Visualize: KORG DSN-12 (3DS eShop Review)

Published on November 9th, 2014 by Dwi Krisdianto


Joining hands together with KORG and Procyon Studio, DETUNE has released two music tinkering software – recently our newest digital synthesizer KORG DSN-12. While his sister KORG M01D explores music sphere through ‘real’ instrument, KORG DSN-12 offers dubs and steps  of electronic music in your nightclub – packed all-in-one in your Nintendo 3DS handheld.

I am not a gamer x DJ person, but crossing the boundary between video game music and electronic music in general gives me the idea of tinkering such music in mind. KORG DSN-12 is not a kind lifesaver offering step-by-step tutorial, but serves as your music creation coach via experimentation. A rough one, yet fruitful experience.


First, you should know that KORG DSN-12 offers us 12 built-in monophonic synthesizer simulators performing sound edits in real-time. Tinkering with wide spectrum of electronic sounds is possible thanks to the available filters, time changes, and amplifiers. With sound tuned right, you can even keep tweaking your chiptune with a range of effects and reverbs.

Each 12 synthesizer simulators are provided with a maximum of 64 patterns of 64 steps. Composing – or rather, experimenting with  – a sample in a pattern is tricky. Putting notes in a keyboard is common, and then comes toying with patch cables. Kaoss Pad is my favorite way to create sample, as a free-hand sound creation tool taking advantage of Nintendo 3DS touch screen and stylus. Drawing imaginary lines and curves of nice sound while recording it, then I can edit it through notes editor.


When you have got your hands with your own spectrum of sounds, you may assign your samples into a certain order to play, or using touch pads to play patterns – including mute/soloing – in any order, mix your selection of music intuitively, just like DJ-ing. I myself experimented with Disco demo song in the first time to get ahold of myself before trying to create my own music. Though only using demo song carried in the synthesizer, once you understand the scheme, you will feel like a pro.

A major, kicking feature is what KORG introduces as the world’s first 3D oscilloscope screen. It feels old to see waves of green line and curve, yet it visualizes even the slightest change of sound into beauty. Turn on your 3D display to experience how your music creation evolves into stunning graphics, both in Wave and Lissajous form.


What is missing from KORG DSN-12 is the online sharing, a feature found in his sister KORG M01D. A local exchange is possible, yet I bet you would never find another KORG DSN-12 player to collaborate by knocking on the next door. Awesome sound it produces; unfortunately it hinders collective intelligence to proceed. You may purchase KORG DSN-12 for $37 in the Nintendo 3DS eShop.


About Dwi Krisdianto

Dwi always learns to fuse wordsmith and gaming experience together. Also a video game music and book enthusiast.