Korg DW8000 Synth Review

Korg DW8000At this time (October 2015) Korg have released a reasonable number of new analogue synthesizers and while some are simply rereleases of older synths, others bring something new to the scene. Back in 1985 Korg released the DW8000 which had a couple of things which were new at that time. Most noticeable, and extremely useful, was the addition of a delay effect. Today we are accustomed to many effects on synths but back then any sort of studio effects were very expensive, so, for a poor musician, inclusion of a useful delay was extremely welcome. While the Poly800s had been unusual synths, in that there was only one filter for all of the notes, the DW8000 had an analogue filter for each of its 8 voices. While the filter was not amazing it was certainly useful and, with some careful editing, the synth was able to produce some amazing sounds and, thanks to the single cycle waveforms, there were some realistic sounds (for the day) too. The waveforms were digital in nature and were called DWGS, or Digital Waveform Generatpr System and there were 16 available. While this may seem a very small number by todays standards you may be surprised to learn that those 16 waveforms are still used today on one of Korgs most popular synths (the microKORG).



More About The Korg DW8000
Korg DW8000 Specifications
Notes About The Korg DW8000
Famous Korg DW8000 Users
Korg DW8000 Samples


More About The Korg DW8000

While many would say that the DW8000 did not really stand out as a breakthrough product I would argue that it was a success, maybe not as successful as the Roland D50 (which arrived about two years later) or Korgs own M1 Workstation, but it proved that a collection of only 16 single cycle waveforms could produce a vaste array of timbres when coupled with a filter. This has been proven by the fact that the DWGS was used in the MS2000 and is still used in the microKORG.

Today musicians often overlook the DW8000 because it is considered a digital synth. I reality it is a digital hybrid synthesizer because it uses digital waveforms and analogue filters and amplifier. There is a wide selection of other synths which also use this technology (although it is not called DWGS) and this includes two synths you may consider to be analogue, the JEN SX1000 and the EDP Wasp. Also to be included is the amaznig Waldorf Microwave I and the KAWAI K3 & K3M.

There are a number of things that let the DW8000 down, primarily the synth is monotimbral (it only plays one sound at a time and can not layered), secondly, the are no patch names. While being limited to numers for a patch name may not seem to be a major downfall it can be a serious problem when performing live as having to recall which patch you need to dial up after several drinks can be something of a gamble.

What the DW8000 is great at is strings, well I like them, especially if you add lush reverb. Many use the synth for bass and while there are plenty of synths out there that will fulfil that role the DW8000 can produce respectable bottom end. Many use the synth for lead sounds but I find that the sounds are okay but not amazing (Sound on Sound magazine described them as "a kind of 'oboe on acid' for want of a better description") and I find the keyboard diffiuclt to play fast (when playing live), I would rather use one of my other synths for that purpose.


Korg DW8000 Specifications

  • Polyphony: 8 voices.
  • Oscillators: 2 digital oscillators (DWGS with 16 waves).
  • Osc Waveforms: Sine only.
  • LFO: 1 LFO.
  • Filter: 1 analogue 24db low pass filter for each voice.
  • Effects: Digital delay capable of chorus and flanging..
  • Control: Midi
  • Envelopes: 2 six-stage (ADBSSR) Digital Envelope Generators
  • Other: 64 note arpeggiator.
    Patch Memory:
    64 sounds (8 banks of 8).
    Keyboard: 61 notes featuring velocity and aftertouch.
  • Manufactured 1985


Korg DW8000 Notes

1. The filter is capable of self oscillation so take care to have a compressor or limiter and take extra care when using headphones..

2. The Keys themselves are not fantastic and sound "clunky" but the aftertouch is a welcome inclusion.

3. When buying make sure that you pay special attention to the joystick which was often damaged during transit.


Korg DW8000 Famous Users

We were surprised to discover that it was difficult to find information on who actually used this synth, although, we are sure that there were many more than those listed below:

Depeche Mode, Dream Theater, Joe Zawinul, Juno Reactor, Keith Emerson and the Pat Metheny Group.


Korg DW8000 Samples

To be 100% honest I love some of the sounds of this synth but I do not find the filter sweeps very inspiring and, at high resonance settings, the filter is not fantastic. Saying that the DW8000 is capable of some incredible sounds and when used in a decent salpler (hardware or software) such as Kontakt, or one of the E-MU samplers, the filters really do come alive and the sounds of the DW8000 make excellent sample fodder. We spent, what seemed a lifetime, sampling this synth to fill up 10 DVDs of great sounds. Each one of these sounds can be used to create 100 more. For a more complete description of the samples please take a look at our Korg DW8000 sample collection page where you can buy each one singularly or as a complete 10 DVD sample set which is considerably discounted.


Korg DW8000 SAMPLE PACK (10 DVDs, over 40GB)

Korg DW8000  

Kontakt, EXS24 + WAV


Contains 683 Korg DW8000 sound patches at 24-Bit (nearly 24,000 samples)

PRICE: £44.99

P&P: £9.99 (UK ONLY)

TOTAL: £54.98