KORG Module review: mobile quality for keyboard players


If you are a keyboard player and you are old enough to remember the days of tools like the Kurzweil Micropiano, hefty workstation keyboards and (finally) the first performances with an Apple PowerBook running some early VSTs, well, you will be thankful for modern goodies like the iPad and this new app from KORG, Module.
KORG Module is, in their own words “a high-quality sound module app for iPad that contains a sound library over 1 GB. If you have an external MIDI keyboard and an iPad, you can play studio-quality keyboard and grand piano sounds anywhere.”
The name says it all: this module is exactly what you expect it to be, an easy to use and great sounding collection of instruments, ready to play.
KORG Module boasts 5 sound engines (read ‘instrument categories’), that feature technology that was developed for KORG’s previous workstations and synthesizers: Acoustic Piano, Electric Piano, Clav, Organ, and Multi (synth patches).

The interface
The interface couldn’t be more straightforward than this. There’s no sequencer or other tech wizardries to take care of. Just an instrument to play, in the center of the screen (but you are going to use your MIDI keyboard, aren’t you?) and a few controls on the top (options, velocity, MIDI file player and a record button).
As in every quality sound module, the velocity parameter is particularly important to make the most out of your new friend, so you’d better spend a couple of minutes making sure to select the right setting for your keyboard.
The MIDI player allows you to play the default files (a classical music selection) and import your own files as well using iTunes (handy if you want to fool your neighbors or schmooze your date by the fireplace).

On the right, you have a double FX section, with modulation, filter and ambiance settings. It’s not anything advanced, but it does the job. And you can always turn it off if you have a fancier FX army in your setup.
On top of it, you’ll find a convenient set list function with a PDF/image score viewer. This function lets you recall the sounds in the ideal order, view music notation, or hear a practice song. If you always carry printed music scores with you, you’re going to love the chance to load and display an image or PDF file.
Also, you can play along with songs from your music library, using (nice bonus!) the convenient tempo change. This feature allows you to slooooow doooooown the tempo without changing the pitch.

Talking about features, it’s worth mentioning that Module supports Inter-App Audio, Audiobus, CoreMIDI, and Virtual MIDI. I’ve also tested its MIDI over Bluetooth option (using a MIDI keyboard plugged into a Mac), but that proved to be quite tricky to set up (I only got it to work using a routing app on the iPad, MIDI LE, and a simple old MIDI utility on the Mac, MIDIKeys). If some of you have found easier/better ways, please share your experience. It could spare me and other readers some headache next time…

The sounds
I was mostly interested in the acoustic and electric piano categories, and to me both sound very convincing and offer a solid amount of options. I’ve appreciated the dynamic range and the overall playability of the instruments. Being a sucker for warm, cinematic sounds, I’ve liked in particular the Dark Grand and the Cinema Piano. Most the presets are quite dry, but the reverb knob is just one tap away. You can modify the main parameters for each module category, and save your presets. If you are a serious piano player you’ll be happy to know that Module offers an extra piano library, Ivory, as In App Purchase. If you’re wondering, yes it’s THAT Ivory by Synthogy, just a new version optimized for iPad.
The electric pianos are definitely another welcome addition to my mobile setup. My fave Rhodes emulation is probably still the good old Scarbee 73 I have on Logic (and on the iPad, iLectric from IK Multimedia has been so far my reference point), but from now on Module’s Electric Piano is definitely a new contender. I’ve appreciated the amp switch option (I like slightly dirtier sounding Rhodes) and the variety of presets. Also, if you’re quick and get Module by tomorrow, you can download the extra Wurlitzer emulation for free! Run, don’t walk!

I’ve used a couple of Midi files in the video below, to show you some of the acoustic and electric pianos. It’s far from being an extensive demo, but it can give you an idea of the instruments.

The other categories, organ, clavinet and synths add value and options to the app, covering a wide range of sounds. Among the organs, the Perc Organ was probably my favorite. Needless to say, if you have the real deal (possibly with a Leslie) I wouldn’t touch any app or VST. That said, unless you’re recording a solo organ record, these organ patches will do the job and provide plenty of character and fun.

As for the clavinet, I’m not an expert, so I can’t really say how realistic this one sounds. The demos sound pretty good to me though. The synth section is a mix of bread and butter presets, with strings, brass and synth sounds. Solid choices for pads (the analog-like strings were my favorite) or background parts, nothing you haven’t heard before and definitely not something for synth geeks. I would have liked to see some Mellotron-sounding stuff among the strings, let’s hope in the next updates.


KORG Module is a godsend for those keyboard players looking for classic, quality sounds and a more streamlined (and why not, affordable) setup. It makes me want to go back in time and get rid of some of those bulky instruments I used to carry around. Considering its quality, I would say Module is fairly priced. Again, as we wrote in our KORG Gadget Review, this is not a toy or an average app. If you’re considering using your iPad in a more professional context, or you simply want to raise the quality of your mobile setup, Module is right now the best option available on the market for piano (and keyboard) players.
Last but not least, if you have KORG Gadget, buying Module you’ll get also 5 extra instruments -Salzburg, Montreal, Alexandria, Firenze, and Glasgow – added to your list of gadgets. So now you can add some nice piano riffs to your beats, without having to deal with any inter-app interaction. Yes, it will add an extra Gb of data to your iPad, but it’s definitely worth it. If storage is a concern, I have good news for your next Module In App Purchases (Ivory included): adding the ‘gadgetized’ version of extra Module libraries to Gadget won’t result in a double installation. Module and Gadget will basically be able to share the IAP data.


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