I didn’t have the Korg DW-8000 for very long. I bought it off of eBay in early 2014. It came without a power cord (which I recall wasn’t the normal IEC cable, but instead a 2-prong cable), had a busted key, and was claimed to be “as-is”. I think it cost me about $125 USD, but eBay won’t tell me about what I spent beyond 2019. Luckily, after buying the power cable the synthesizer turned on with no real issue. Unfortunately I sold it not too long after I bought it.

The only video I ever made with it is below, after creating a template for the Novation Remote SL (which you can download here).

From what I recall, I really enjoyed the sound of it, but thought it sounded ‘dry.’ Now, I should clarify what that means because at the time I didn’t really take the use of external FX very seriously (despite owning the Eventide Space pedal at the time). I think if I owned it today I would appreciate it more (this will be a common theme with any device I’ve sold, as you may come to find later).

The Korg DW-8000 filter is gorgeous. I would put it up next to the SSM2044 from the Korg Polysix, which I also enjoy. The digital delay is obviously very good as well. Also, the arpeggiator was very simple to use and enjoyable. However, all of these things are basically the first thing you’d know by a quick google search, so I won’t belabor the point. It is a very good sounding synth.

So why did it leave my studio? At the time, I felt like I had too much gear (which is pretty laughable considering the amount of gear I currently own), I had just received the Radikal Technologies Accelerator and also had the Korg Radias. You see, the Radias and DW-8000 share the same DWGS (Digital Waveform Generator System) waveforms. I figured, “hey, these waves sound identical, what do I need the DW-8000 for?” Thus, ending my time with the DW-8000.

This was obviously an idiotic reason for parting with the DW because there is far more to a synthesizer than just the raw oscillator waveforms. The interaction of the filter and oscillators, the D/A converters, etc., all play a role in the sound of a synthesizer. In truth, the Radias doesn’t really sound quite as good, although it does have a lot of extra features. To add to that, my Radias has a few bad encoders, including the alpha wheel which is used for everything, while my DW-8000 which was 30 years older didn’t have any real issues at all.

Retroaktive makes a very nice physical programmer called the DW-8P (here), which if you own the DW-8000 (or DW-6000 or EX-8000), you should definitely consider it. I’ve never used it myself, but only because it didn’t exist when I owned my DW-8000. It adds a ton of features as well (including a patch generator).

Retroaktiv DW-8P Programmer for the Korg DW-8000

The worst part about the DW-8000? It has a super clacky keybed. I recall I didn’t care for it at all and with all the gear that’s gone in and out of my studio, I’d say it still ranks among the worst in that regard.

Overall, the Korg DW-8000 has a great sound, a so-so user interface, and a terrible keybed. The sound trumps everything else, but I’ve always felt like the user interface and build quality (including the keybed) are all part of the experience. While it shares some resemblance with the Roland D-50 (which I think is beautiful), it somehow manages to look worse. If you’ve ever seen Disney’s The Black Hole, it sort of reminds me of Reinhardt’s sentry robots.

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