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Industry Close-up: Korg EK-50 Entertainer Keyboard
Korg has recently introduced EK-50 Entertainer Keyboard with built-in automatic backing capability, a refined model of Pa series keyboards, which provides inexperienced players with rich musical expression producing bass chords by one single left hand finger. Satisfying the needs of mobile musicians, the Pa series has already established itself in European markets.
Toshiya Nishida, Product Planning Dept. of Korg says, “Pa series deserves the name of Professional Arranger Keyboard. That’s why they have won reputation largely from professional and semi-professional players. On the other hand, the cost-efficient EK-50 provides more value than price, and is designed with entry-level customers in mind to further explore keyboard market.” (photo: Toshiya Nishida, left and Hideaki Aoki.)
While Pa series comes at relatively expensive price range, EK-50 is an affordable instrument self-containing a keyboard with full-size keys and speakers. Recognizing market potential for the keyboards with built-in automatic backing capability, Korg expects that EK-50 can meet the demands among senior users having organ and piano experience. These days, increasing number of cafe is providing casual style live musical performances in Japan. Soon it may become a common scene that more professionals and semi professionals perform at restaurants and private homes carrying out own music and sound gears with them like their counterparts in Europe. (photo above: The control panel is meticulously designed for intuitive and simple edit works.)
Upgraded automatic backing styles
In designing EK-50, Korg developed original sound generators and 280 pre-programed automatic backing styles borrowed from Pa series models as well as new trend styles favored by EDM performers. They allow musician to select from two types each of Intro, Fill-in, and Ending patterns as well as different performance patterns depending on major or minor chord. All these ideas are outcome of accumulated database for Pa series.
EK-50 has a total of 64 music styles, which provide player with impromptu and user original musical sequences simply by selecting favorite style names good for in-store demo.
Remarkable features on live stage
Since EK-50 is designed to provide gorgeous backings just pressing chords matched to rhythms and jam along to melody, even player with little musical experience can enjoy performing a whole tune after practicing 15 minutes a day for 1 week or two.
Other features appreciated for live stage include key split and line out functions, two USB output ports and compatibility with WAV, MP3 and MIDI files. Speaker EQ button can instantly adjust tonal quality matched to living room, studio and live house. An elaborate joystick controller of Pa series is standard to EK-50. It allows intuitive control of choking and vibrato effects at the same time easier than maneuvering two wheel controllers simultaneously.
Hideaki Aoki, PK Group Manager of Product Development Dept. says, “EK-50 provides user with a pleasure of music playing instantly, but it also gives him a sense of accomplishment as performance improves little by little. It’s a great advantage of EK-50. Also, it has outstanding performance ability in this price range, which can even satisfy needs of professionals.”
To help boost sales of retailers, Korg is now developing matched stylish legs and a digital signage to be placed on the music rack and demo videos as well as optional downloadable music styles for individual local markets.