The Korg Triton is a music workstation synthesizer, featuring digital sampling and sequencing, released in 1999. It uses Korg's HI Synthesis tone generator and was eventually available in several model variants with numerous upgrade options. The Triton became renowned as a benchmark of keyboard technology, and has been widely featured in music videos and live concerts. At the NAMM 2007, Korg announced the Korg M3 as its successor.
History and pedigree
The Korg Triton line is considered the direct descendant of the earlier Korg Trinity line of workstations. The two ranges are aesthetically and functionally very similar. The Triton "Classic" followed the Trinity's naming conventions of the Pro and Pro X being designated to models featuring 76 and 88 keys respectively (that system actually started with previous 01/w series, also available with 61 (base and -FD models), 01/wPro (76) and 01/wProX (88).
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 journalists, 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, a crucial evaluation element of expensive synths and music workstations, were the subject of even greater criticism; arguably, the integrated sample RAM could compensate for this. With successive models, some of these shortcomings were rectified, such as the digital connectivity, and improvement of the piano samples. The sample-based synthesis filter section, however, was never 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, allowing 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. Whilst less robust in function and practice, in-track sampling did mitigate for the lack of full audio recording in the Triton Extreme.
The original Triton was released in 1999 and as subsequent models were released became known as the "Classic". The options available to buyers included a MOSS board, SCSI interface, two EXB-PCM expansion boards and 64MB RAM. It had a 61-key keyboard.
Pro and Pro X
The Pro was a 76-key workstation, while the Pro X was an 88-key workstation with weighted keys.
The Triton Rack was the rackmount version of the Triton. Since 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. The oversized touchscreen was replaced with a smaller, more conventional graphic LCD. Though not equipped with a keyboard, it had the advantage of storage of up to eight EXB boards containing additional sounds, and featured a built-in S/PDIF digital output. It also supported the EXB-DI "Digital Interface" board providing ADAT output and Word Clock, or EXB-mLAN option featuring mLAN output.
The Korg KARMA, released in 2001, featured 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. It uses a smaller non-touch screen similar to the TRITON-RACK. Rack The ribbon controller and floppy disk drive were omitted but a Smartmedia slot was instead included. A lighter and cheaper key bed than those used on the Trinity/original Triton range was installed, and the effects bus was downscaled from five insert effects to one. The MOSS, a Z1-based board, can not be fitted on the Le. The functionality of the original sequencer and arpeggiator was retained, though. It was possible to load samples via the Smartmedia slot into the onboard sample RAM without requiring the sampling board to be fitted.
Marketed at a much lower price than the original Triton range, the Le was a commercial success.
A special edition of Le was released featuring a black body, visually similar but functionally different to the later 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, included the features of the "Classic" with the addition of S/PDIF input and output, as well as the EXB08 expansion board offering a much higher quality piano sound. The instrument also had space for seven expansion modules and could be fitted with an optional hard drive, CD-RW drive, EXB-DI expansion board with an ADAT interface or EXB-mLAN expansion board with mLAN interface.
In 2004, Korg released the Triton Extreme, with 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 most popular sounds from the Dance Extreme, Studio Essentials, and Pianos/Classic Keyboards collections. PCM data not available on any other Triton models was also included such as improved pianos and acoustic guitars. The 34MB ROM of the "Classic" was upgraded to 160MB.
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 was included, and proved especially useful for pad and organ sounds, as well as adding depth and realism to acoustic sounds, such as piano. Unlike previous Tritons, which were a white-silver color, the Extreme was finished in dark blue.
Like the Triton "Classic" and Studio, the Triton Extreme included a touch screen interface, along with the knob and button controls. A USB interface enabled connectivity with a PC, facilitating exchange of samples, sound programs, sequences, and other Triton-compatible files. CompactFlash and microdrive cards up to 8 GB were supported, negating the need to sample directly to RAM. The USB port also allowed control of software synths and host applications via MIDI. However, unlike the "Classic", Studio, and Rack versions, the Extreme could not be fitted with sample expansion boards due to the expansion ROMs having been pre-installed. It was compatible, though, with the MOSS board and up to 96 MB of sample RAM. No SCSI, mLAN or ADAT interfaces were included but optical stereo S/PDIF inputs and outputs were installed.
Another USB Type A connector can be used to connect a hard drive or CD writer drive for making music CDs and loading AKAI format sample libraries. The sequencer was upgraded to facilitate in-track sampling.
Released in 2006, the TR was similar to the Triton Le but included expanded ROM and additional programs and combinations. It also features a USB cable for data connection with a PC. The TR also features an SD card slot. The piano quality was also improved compared to the "Classic" and Le keyboards.
X50 and MicroX
The X50 and MicroX, released in 2007, were oriented towards the lower end of the market and were consequently less physically robust and included fewer features. They contained the same HI synthesis engine found on the TR with the basic Triton and extended ROM: the X50 maintains the same extended ROM as the TR, while the MicroX extended ROM focused more on drum and percussion samples. Neither had the sequencing or expansion capability of the TR. USB connection was available for high-speed MIDI control (and use with the included plug-in editor), but incompatibilities with the other Tritons hampered the use of libraries for those keyboards. The main difference between the two keyboards was in scale and control layout: the X50 was a 61-key keyboard with pitch and modulation wheels, while the MicroX had only 25 keys with the Triton joystick. Neither had the aftertouch functionality of the TR keyboard. Both included patch editor and librarian software as well as a plug-in for DAW control, allowing the import and export of Triton-compatible files. Similarly to the LE and TR, only one insert effect and two master effects could be assigned.
A USB-powered controller with the 512 programs from the original factory bank of the Classic, the Triton Taktile is offered in 25- and 49-key versions, with the same semi-weighted (though without aftertouch) keyboard used on the KROME. It includes a touch pad inherited from the Kaossilator that lets you play melodies using just a single finger, velocity-sensitive trigger pads (16 on the 49-key, 8 on the 25-key) that let you generate chords in the key and scale of your choice, an arpeggiator, ribbon controller, sliders and switches. Audio output is a stereo 1/8'' mini headphone jack. The onboard sounds can't be edited, layered or split, and playback is mono‑timbral.
All models, except the Triton Rack, X50, Micro-X, KARMA and Taktile were available in 61, 76 and 88-key configurations. They could also be upgraded with increased sample EDO RAM and expansion boards for additional sounds. Only the Triton Le did not provide this feature. The Triton "Classic", Extreme, and Studio were controlled by a touchscreen. The KARMA, Le and Rack, however, featured a more conventional display.
|Model||Year of release||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 (using 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|
Except for the Triton Taktile, all models of the Korg Triton model range have been discontinued by the manufacturer. Today, the Best Of Triton Soundbanks can be found on Korg's website as downloadable programs for the Korg Krome workstation as well as an in app purchasable soundbank for the full version of the korg sound module for iOS.
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This list represents a wide (but not complete) range of artists who have used Korg Tritons.
- David Bowie
- Children of Bodom
- Judy Collins
- Bruce Johnston
- Phil Collins
- 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
- Aloe Blacc
- Herman Mallory
- 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
- Andy Qunta
- Trent Reznor
- Tommy Rogers
- Jordan Rudess
- Jun Senoue
- Erna Siikavirta
- Derek Sherinian
- Mike Shinoda
- Andy Stott
- Swizz Beats
- Serj Tankian
- Devin Townsend
- Amit Trivedi
- Rick Wakeman
- Richard West
- Per Wiberg
- Janne Wirman
- Wesley Willis
- Joe Zawinul
- Charlie Puth
- Korg Trinity
- Korg KARMA
- Korg OASYS
- Alesis Fusion
- Roland Fantom-X
- Roland Juno-G
- Yamaha Motif
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- author. "TRITON taktile - USB CONTROLLER KEYBOARD/SYNTHESIZER | KORG (USA)". KORG Global. Retrieved 2017-03-07.
- author. "Korg Triton Taktile reviewed". KORG Global. Retrieved 2017-03-07.
- "Korg Taktile 25 & 49". www.soundonsound.com. Retrieved 2017-03-07.
- "Triton LE". Korg UK. Archived from the original on 2011-07-17.
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" (PDF). KORG. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-05-15.
- "Triton LE". Korg UK. Archived from the original on 2008-11-13.
This product has now been discontinued in the UK and information supplied here is for reference only.
- Sokol, Zach. "Andy Stott Decodes the Mad Science Behind His Latest Sonic Experiments". THUMP. Retrieved 1 May 2016.