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The Korg Triton is a music workstation synthesizer featuring digital sampling and sequencing first released in 1999. The Triton uses Korg's HI Synthesis tone generator, and is available in several models with various upgrade options. The Triton is world famous among many musicians for being a benchmark of keyboard technology, and is widely featured in music videos and live concerts. In the NAMM Show 2007, Korg announced the Triton successor: the Korg M3.
The Korg Triton line may be seen as the direct descendants of the previous Korg Trinity line of workstations. They are aesthetically and functionally very similar. The Trinity had similar naming conventions with the Triton Classic, with Pro and Pro X being designated to models featuring 76 and 88 keys respectively.
The original Triton introduced many improvements over the Trinity, like 62-note polyphony, arpeggiator, onboard sampler, faster operating system and more realtime controllers. However, to much surprise of musicians and magazines, it lost the sequencer audio tracks, digital input and output, and the digital filter section was downgraded, thus limiting sample-based synthesis. The original piano samples, which are a crucial element of evaluation on expensive synths and music workstations, were even more criticized; although the integrated sample RAM could compensate for this. As time passed, some of these shortcomings were fixed, like the digital connectivity, and better piano samples were shipped with newer models; however, the sample-based synthesis filter section was not improved. Some limited 2-track audio recording was added to later revisions of the Triton Studio, while the Triton Extreme added in-track sampling support, which allows stereo samples to be recorded in context with a MIDI sequence and automatic triggering of the samples at their proper locations in the sequence during playback. While less robust in function and usage, in-track sampling did mitigate the lack of full audio recording in the Triton Extreme.
Ex-Dream Theater keyboardist Derek Sherinian in collaboration with KORG sound designer Jack Hotop created Sherinian's signature guitar lead sound on the KORG Trinity in 1996, and expanded it to the Triton in 2000 .
All Tritons are based on the so-called "Classic" Triton released in 1999. Available options were MOSS, SCSI, multiple EXB-PCM expansion boards and 64 MB RAM. It is a 61-key keyboard.
Pro and Pro X
"Pro" is a 76-key workstation, while "ProX" is an 88-key workstation.
The Triton Rack was the rackmount version of the Triton. As musicians would use it as a sound module rather than a complete workstation, requiring a separate keyboard to control it via MIDI, it was designed with different abilities. Although it has no keyboard, it has the advantage of being able to store up to eight EXB boards containing additional sounds, and features a built-in S/PDIF digital output. It also supports the EXB-DI "Digital Interface" board providing ADAT output and Word Clock, or EXB-mLAN option featuring mLAN output.
The Korg KARMA was released in 2001 with the Triton synthesis technology with 2 PCM slots and MOSS slot but without the sampling functionality. It instead included the more specialised KARMA music system. It was only available in a 61-key version (with a lesser quality keyboard than the Triton).
The Triton Le, released in 2002, was a stripped-down, streamlined version of the original Triton (released in 1999). It replaced the oversize touchscreen by a more conventional, smaller, graphic LCD. The ribbon controller and floppy disk drive were omitted in the transition. A Smartmedia slot was offered instead. Other changes were the key bed (lighter and cheaper than those used in the Trinity/Triton range), and the effects section. Taking a step back from the powerful effects sections found on the Trinity/Triton series, the Le's section was downgraded from five insert FX to just one. The MOSS, a Z1-based board, can't be fitted on the Le. The sequencer and arpeggiator remained as powerful as on the original Triton, though.
At a much lower price than the original Tritons, the Le was nevertheless a commercial success. The on-board sample RAM can load samples from the Smartmedia slot, without the sampling board fitted.
A special edition of Le was released featuring a black body, which is not to be confused with the later Korg TR.
Three versions of "Le" are available :
Triton Le 61 – 61 keys
Triton Le 76 – 76 keys
Triton Le 88 – 88 keys (RH2 Real Weighted Hammer action)
The Triton Studio, released in 2002, had all of the features of the "Classic" and added built-in S/PDIF input and output. Also included was the EXB 08 - Concert grand piano sample which offered a much higher quality piano sound than the previous models as well as having space for seven more expansion boards (because number 8 is hard wired). It could be fitted with an optional hard drive, CD-R/W drive, EXB-DI with ADAT or EXB-mLAN with mLAN.
In 2004, Korg released the Triton Extreme, which has many of the features of the Studio (such as the entire PCM ROM from the Studio model) plus the entire sample sets from Korg's best-selling Trance Attack, Orchestral Collection, and Vintage Archives expansion boards, as well as the "best of" Korg's Dance Extreme, Studio Essentials, and Pianos/Classic Keyboards collections. It also has new PCM data that is not available on any other Triton models including improved pianos and acoustic guitars giving it a broad range of sound, 160 MB total compared to the 32 MB ROM of the classic Triton. Also featured in the Triton Extreme is Valve Force circuitry, using a vacuum tube and an analog ultra gain transistor to allow for warmer, guitar amp-like sounds for more extreme analog overdrive/distortion sounds, and is especially useful for warm luscious pads and organs, and adding depth and realism to acoustic sounds, especially piano. Unlike the previous Tritons, which were white-silver, the Extreme boasts a deep blue color. Like the Triton "Classic" and Studio, the Triton Extreme includes a touch screen interface, along with the usual knobs and buttons. It can use a USB cable to interface with a PC, allowing exchange of samples, sound programs, sequences, and other Triton-compatible files through an installable CompactFlash card. CompactFlash and microdrive cards up to 8 GB are supported, negating the need to sample directly to RAM. The USB port also allows control over software synths and host applications over MIDI. However, unlike the Classic, Studio, and Rack versions, the Extreme can not be fitted with sample expansion boards due to the expansion ROMs having been pre-installed. However, it is compatible with the MOSS board, as is up to 96 MB of sample RAM. Also missing are SCSI and mLAN. Also, the ADAT option was not available, but there were optical stereo S/PDIF ins and outs, although it is impossible to use the Valve Force Tube with them. Also, there is another USB Type A connector, which can be used to connect a USB hard drive or a CD-R drive for making music CDs and loading AKAI format sample libraries. The sequencer was upgraded with in-track sampling.
Released in 2006, the TR is similar to the Triton Le but has expanded ROM and additional programs and combinations. It also uses a USB cable for data connection with a PC. The TR also replaces the SmartMedia card slot found in the Le with an SD card slot. Although it is similar, it is not simply the black Le, which was released as a limited series. Features improved piano quality.
X50 and MicroX
Released in 2007, these keyboards are oriented towards the lower end of the market and correspondingly are built lighter, with fewer features. They contain the same HI synthesis engine found on the TR with the basic Triton ROM plus the extended ROM: the X50 maintains the same extended ROM as the TR, while the MicroX extended ROM focuses more on drum and percussion samples. Neither has the sequencing or expansion capability of the TR. USB connection remains available for high-speed MIDI control (and use with the included plug-in editor), but incompatibilities with the other Tritons hamper use of libraries for those keyboards. The difference between the two keyboards is in scale and control layout: the X50 is a 61-key keyboard with pitch and modulation wheels, while the MicroX is only 25 keys but maintains the Triton joystick. They also lose aftertouch found in the TR keyboard. The X50 and MicroX include a patch editor/librarian software and plug-in for DAW control (VST), which allows import and export of Triton-compatible files. As with the LE and TR, the MicroX and X50 have one insert effect (IFX) and two master effects (MFX), unlike the other Tritons that have five IFX and two MFX.
All models, except the Triton Rack, X50, Micro-X and KARMA are available in 61, 76 and 88-key configurations. They can also be upgraded with increased sample EDO RAM as well as Triton expansion boards for additional sounds (the Triton Le is the only member of the family that does not provide this feature, and therefore should be considered as the 'closed box'). The Triton "Classic", Extreme, and Studio boasted touch screen capabilities. The KARMA, Le, and Rack, however, used a more conventional display.
Almost all models of the Korg Triton model range have already been discontinued.
|Model||Entry year||Wave ROM size, MB||Features||Polyphony||Number of keys|
|Triton Le||2002||32||Sequencer 16 tracks MIDI, sampler (optional)||62||61/76|
|Triton Le 88||2002 ||32 + 16 (piano bank)||Sequencer 16 tracks MIDI, sampler (optional)||62||88|
|Triton Studio||2002||32 + 16 (piano bank)||Sequencer, S/PDIF, CD-ROM, HDD option||60 × 2 banks||61/76/88|
|Triton Extreme||2004 ||160||Sequencer, Valve Force circuitry (uses a 12AU7 "Russian Bullet" tube), USB MIDI link, CF card slot, sampler with in-track sampling||60 × 2 banks||61/76/88|
|TR 61/76/88||2006-07||64||Sequencer, USB MIDI link, SD card slot, 64Mb PCM, sampler (optional)||62||61/76/88|
|MicroX||2007||64||USB MIDI link, 64Mb PCM: 32Mb Triton Classic + 32Mb unique, Editor Program Librarian software and Plugin (VST)||62||25|
|X50||2007||64||USB MIDI link, 64Mb PCM: same as TR, Editor Program Librarian software and Plugin (VST)||62||61|
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (October 2011)|
This list represents a wide (but not complete) range of artists who have used Korg Tritons.
- The Art Of Sound
- David Bowie
- Children of Bodom
- The Cooper Temple Clause
- Bryan Michael Cox
- Jae Deal
- Craig David
- Paul Davis
- Jeremy Dawson
- Drumma Boy
- Spike Edney
- Brian Eno
- Eloy Fritsch
- Peter Gabriel
- Lady Gaga
- Jim Gilmour
- Delinquent Habits
- Jan Hammer
- Utada Hikaru
- Tuomas Holopainen
- Roger Hodgson
- Maynard James Keenan
- Rodney Jerkins
- Ronald Jenkees
- Steinar Sverd Johnsen
- Bradley Joseph
- Yuki Kajiura
- Bob Katsionis
- Kirmes Musikanten
- Henrik Klingenberg
- Vitalij Kuprij
- Ryan Leslie
- Linkin Park
- Chris Lowe
- Miguel Mateos
- Lyle Mays
- Milk Inc
- Ming Freeman
- The Neptunes
- Paul Oakenfold
- Ryo Okumoto
- David Paich
- Marta Peterson
- Greg Phillinganes
- Tuomas Planman
- Vadim Pruzhanov
- Trent Reznor
- Tommy Rogers
- Jordan Rudess
- Jun Senoue
- Erna Siikavirta
- Derek Sherinian
- Mike Shinoda
- Swizz Beats
- Serj Tankian
- Devin Townsend
- Amit Trivedi
- Rick Wakeman
- Richard West
- Per Wiberg
- Janne Wirman
- Wesley Willis
- Joe Zawinul
- Korg Trinity
- Korg KARMA
- Korg OASYS
- Alesis Fusion
- Roland Fantom-X
- Roland Juno-G
- Yamaha Motif
- "Triton LE". Korg UK. "This product has now been discontinued in the UK and information supplied here is for reference only."
- "Triton LE". Korg UK. "The TRITON Le 88 was introduced at the NAMM Show in July, 2002."
- a weird arrangement that provides up to 120 notes of polyphony, depending on the source bank of the sounds played. However, the 16 MB "PCM expansion boards" always give the Triton Studio 120 notes of polyphony, whatever sound is selected
- "NAMM - Korg Triton Extreme". 2004 Summer NAMM. synthtopia. July 27, 2004.
- a weird arrangement that provides up to 120 notes of polyphony, depending on the source bank of the sounds played. "KORG Triton Extreme Parameter Guide". KORG.
- Korg official site — video and audio samples
- official Korg Triton Studio documentation — user guides (PDF)
- TritonHaven — unofficial community of Korg Triton users
- Korg forums
- Triton Classic review
- Trion Le review
- Triton TR review
- Triton Series Tutorials - Triton Series DVD Tutorials and demos