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Ribbon Connectors, Build Quality and Software Design

 
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longeze



Joined: 11 Sep 2019
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2020 7:03 pm    Post subject: Ribbon Connectors, Build Quality and Software Design Reply with quote

I was at a loss for how the 4 conductor flex cable's for the displays / touchscreens are removed & inserted into the circuit board connectors. Since I never got an answer, for the benefit of others servicing their touchscreens or displays, those flex ribbons just push or pull into spring loaded connectors. The larger flex cable has a hinged tab that you lift/pivot up & away from the cable to release it. I hope this helps someone else.

BTW, the build quality of these synths is really poor - just say'n. If I had paid retail for this axe, I'd be really pissed. The software is enough to drive someone mad. Yes, you can work around it, but it's totally counterintuitive. Too many button pushes to get around. It's as though it was thrown together as an afterthought.

It has a remote monitor function that is buried so deep into the menu tree, that you could never get to it if your display failed on a gig. There should be a dedicated switch or at least a key on the 1st menu page to enable it.

The guitar & Epiano sounds are especially good though, as is the touchscreen(while it works) which has spoiled me to an extent that I could never be without one again. I bought a Yamaha at the same time as this Korg. It has buttons, but the menu and functions are totally intuitive - but no touchscreen. They both took a short 2ft fall. The Korg lost it's display backlight, even though it was physically visually unharmed. The Yamaha case shattered - unbelievable. Pick your poison, but my next axe won't be a Korg unless I get it super cheap - that's for sure. Korg, if you're reading this, you can & should do better for an instrument at this price point. Your build quality should match the quality of your sound.

EDIT: While posting about this in another thread, I realized that I should have given more detail here for the benefit of others with interest in this specific KB, so I'm moving it to this thread:

To the matter of build/engineering quality, the rats nest of ground wires in addition to multiple foil tabs speaks for itself. On the mechanical side of things, ~60 screws to hold the thing together is a bit much. While I understand that carrying the weight of 2 substantial speakers and limiting vibration are all a challenge, I have a plastic boom-box containing larger and more massive drivers, that's still holding up really well with no rattles, 30yrs after the date of manufacture, using only 8 fasteners to hold the case halves together. The PA900 uses 39 external screws, not counting an additional 28 external screws used to secure the 2 cover plates.

Then there's the matter of the software engineering. In working with the menu system, I encounter flaws in the user interface such as the multiple extraneous button presses required to accomplish simple file manipulation. Why not just load the file into the player when I press on the file name to highlight it, without making me press another button to execute that operation. Korg, are you listening???

Again, in the file handling menu's, even at the most basic level in the tree, where you select the storage device - eg either "disk" or "usb", you're forced to press and highlight that screen button saying"disk", then turn the dial to change to the USB drive. The intuitive function is to use sequential button presses to cycle through these choiices in a circular queue, not press the button then turn the wheel, then return to the screen to make another selection from that menu. It makes little sense.

How do can one explain or defend the logic behind the fact that Korg made the storage device selection non-retentive, even if only while remaining booted? Okay, I'm working with the USB drive, and have already selected it, but now every time I want to save or load to it, I have to continue to explicitly select it before every operation. WHY are the software engineers putting me through that nonsense. I don't have time to screw around going back and forth to the wheel and pressing buttons on the screen before I can even get to the file selection menues I need, when I'm on a gig and in between songs. Again, KORG - ARE YOU LISTENING??? you should be.

In some operations, you can't use the exit button to back out of the menu tree, instead you're forced to complete the change to a system parameter. What happens when I made a mistake in the value selection and didn't recall the prior setting? The system forces me to accept the change regardless. That's poor software design imho. All such parameter selection screens "should" either provide a "cancel" button, or allow you to push the "exit" button to leave without saving any changes. Some menu pages provide for this, but many don't.

Here's a question: Why do I need 16 buttons on the control panel, to select a style? Why not provide ONE, that provides a hot link in and out of a style selection page on the touchscreen? The buttons are so far away from the KB, that you have to remove a hand to press them anyway. So, we get 16 style buttons, but not 1 external monitor select button? I can think of so many other better uses for that control panel space and all those buttons. How often do you really need to change styles quickly during a song anyway? Use the control panel space for functions requiring immediacy! Generally that means giving the musician more control over the instrument to control the "sound" - in real time. Yes, I'm aware that the parameter controls I mentioned are available in the menu tree in the display, but the ability to tweak those function blocks directly from the panel quickly without changing screens while you play is a highly desirable feature. That's one of the things that's so great about analog synths.

All that panel space and all those buttons being dedicated to non-critical, non-realtime functions as they are, is just a silly marketing ploy, to make it appear as though this synth is feature rich. "Oooohhhh look, it can play "ballroom" or "world" music. That's what I need - I want THIS one!!!"

With some creative silk screening and very little software engineering, Korg could've assigned those buttons as direct inc/dec controls for primary functions like ADSR, Osc, LFO, Filter or DSP control in 8 dedicated pairs. For that matter, they could easily have allowed those buttons to be used for both sets of functions, Style OR env/osc/filter/dsp control, settable in the menu tree. That's the great thing about software. That sort of flexibility and utility are easily incorporated.

I'm not here to throw Korg or the PA900 under the bus. I'm saying that with very little real effort or cost, Korg could've raised the bar considerably from where they landed with this KB. When rudimentary functions like file handling are so cumbersome to use, it really takes away from the enjoyment and utility of the KB.

This Korg could've been a GREAT axe with very modest additional engineering effort and a little more consumer testing and feedback prior to release. Instead, in working with it, it feels like a toy, with a powerhouse buried inside that's difficult to work with and use. but puts out a huge sound!!! At the end of the day, maybe I'm just not their target market - anymore...
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