Electronic music icon Korg makes music with Raspberry Pi

When you think of synth music, racks of keyboards, or massive DJ rigs, Korg probably comes to mind. And if those thoughts are accompanied by memories of handfuls of glowsticks and whistles as necklaces, we can be friends.

The iconic instrument makers have being going since the 1960s and were responsible for Japan’s first synthesizer. As electronic music got bigger in later decades, so did Korg, and they’re still at the forefront of music-making with the help of Raspberry Pi.

Built on Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3

Korg’s new line of more accessible digital synthesizers includes several that are built on Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3. A lot of horsepower is required to deliver the kind of professional-quality audio we’ve come to expect, but Korg R&D didn’t want to exclude buyers with exorbitant price tags. 1988’s iconic M1 keyboard sold for $2,749, which would be about $6,800 in today’s money. The goal with these newer designs was to come in at a sub-$1000 price point.

Using Compute Module 3 meant that there was no need to lay out a board, build, and test it – Raspberry Pi had already done that for them. So they could focus on other design aspects like the physical keyboard and audio hardware, knowing that the CPU, RAM, and storage were already taken care of.

Korg’s history and their future with Raspberry Pi

We talked for ages with Korg R&D to learn more about where they came from, how they’ve changed, and why they turned to Raspberry Pi for their next phase. They feature as one of our Success Stories highlighting how Raspberry Pi is used in lots of different industries. Give it a read.

Raspberry Pi 400 synth

One of our own design engineers, Simon Martin, is also big into synths. He’s the designer of Raspberry Pi 400 and our High Quality Camera, and spends his free time tinkering with electronic music. He created his own instrument called Synth6581 from a Raspberry Pi 400 combined with a Commodore 64.

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I’ve had Korgs since the mid 70s; just recently started with Raspberries. I have two 4s, one desktop setup and the other in a Zynthian. Also running Debian 11 on my old laptop–it’s a nice change after years of Microsoft and Apple.

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