Korg Kronos Sequence Tips

For a number of reasons, I continue to be attracted to the Kronos sequencer. Over the past few years, I have eschewed computer-based sequencing options, despite their perceived power, over what many believe to be a less powerful alternative in the Kronos.

So why do I continue to use the Kronos sequencer when I have the likes of Cubase, Studio One and Logic at my disposal? Theres a few reasons (excluding masochism):

  • Timing accuracy and latency: I find MIDI latency and jitter with modern PC-based solutions to be extremely variable. Manufactur- ers have come up with all kinds of clever ways to try and improve MIDI timing on modern machines (e.g. MIDI Time Stamp- ing), but these often only work well with particular combinations of hardware and software. Additionally, theyre not very well documented. The jitters and latency on the Kronos are both extremely low. At the end of the day, most modern pre-emp- tive multi-tasking operating systems do not place a priority on timing accuracy.
  • Ergonomics: This might sound like a strange reason, but every- thing is right there in front of you: control surface, touch screen, keyboard. Ive never found a good solution ergonomically for using a controller with a computer. Also, I simply find myself being more productive with the tactile nature of the Kro- nos, rather than transitioning between keyboard, PC keyboard and mouse. Now, I know you can customise most sequencers to work well with a controller keyboard, but as a programmer I inevitably end up down a rabbit-hole of writing macros to get everything to talk to one another, rather than making music.
  • Integration: Everything is nicely integrated into one, cohesive package.
  • Simplicity: Sometimes, less is more - not having 4,000 different ways to quantise a take can actually be a blessing.
  • Stability: This thing, especially on the latest firmware, is pretty much rock-solid. I can count the number of crashes on it in seven years with one hand.

So is the Kronos sequencer perfect? Far from it! And this is what I like about it. I spend less time installing updates in the hope of a minor workflow improvement (at the risk of breaking everything else), and more time learning to work within its limitations. Cer- tainly there are features I would love to see added, but I accept it for what it is.

Theres also a stack of things you can do on the Kronos that are simply impossible on most PC-based sequencers, which can help miti- gate some of the other limitations.

What I wanted to go through are a few of the tricks and techniques Ive learned over the years to help you get the most out of the sequencer in the Kronos. Some of these may be really obvious, par- ticularly if youve used the sequencer extensively before. But hopefully there might be something in here thats useful to you if youre just starting out on the Kronos, or if youre giving the sequencer another try. Would love to hear your tips and tricks too!

The Kronos is not a PC sequencer. It is not designed to be used with a mouse. Trying to edit visually on the Kronos in the same way you would on a PC is an exercise in frustration. Instead, get into the habit of using the keyboard and control surface to make edits.

The other key difference with the Kronos compared to PC sequences is that almost everything you can adjust on the Kronos generates Sysex - and Sysex can be recorded. This means that effects rout- ings, transposition settings etc can all be adjusted whilst recording, and the adjustments can be played back as part of a sequence.

Global Setup: When using the internal sequencer, make sure the fol- lowing options are set in Global. These are based on my own experiences and preferences:

  • Global -> MIDI: Song Track = For Master
  • KARMA External Routing: Make sure both of these are selected. (See tip #38 below.)
  • Param Edit: Controller.
  • Controllers/Scales -> Controllers: Make sure that there are no MIDI Continuous Controllers assigned to any of the KARMA func- tions - you can do this via the page menu. Having CCs assigned here will cause all sorts of funky behaviour if youre suing KARMA with the sequencer. Enable Sysex: Off (Enable only as required - see below).


Most operations on the Kronos generate and receive associated Sys- tem Exclusive (SysEx) commands, which allows virtually all parameter changes to be recorded and automated - even if you dont want them to be! This can be particularly problematic because SysEx messages arent channelized - that is, they dont have a particular channel assigned to them and will be recorded to a track even if the parameter youre changing is completely unrelated to that track.

For example, I often find that if I adjust the volume for an audio input whilst recording a MIDI track, the change is recorded as part of my sequence - often not what I want.

Fortunately, the solution is simple: in Global -> MIDI, turn Off Enable Exclusive. This will prevent SysEx from being recorded into the sequencer. It wont affect the recording of audio automation, nor continuous controllers. It also wont affect the recording of MIDI volume and Pan changes if youve changed the Param Edit option on the same page to Controller. It will however prevent changes made in the Tone Adjust page being recorded, so keep that in mind. Of course, it can be enabled as required but its generally advis- able to leave this turned off.

In Sequencer -> Control Surface theres an option to Link KBD/Rec Track to Control Surface. Use it (its off by default). It allows you to change the currently selected track that youre recording to/playing/editing by using the 8 switches on the control surface.

Learn to use the Page Menu shortcuts. For those unaware, you can hold ENTER and [0-9] on the numeric keypad to quickly access that item in the page menu (for example, clearing a track, quantising a track etc). Combined with Tip #3 and the hardware transport but- tons, this can actually make common editing tasks really quick.

You can set the time location that the Locate button seeks to at any time, simply by pressing [ENTER] and [Locate]

The Tone Adjust page of the Control Surface isnt just for configur- ing the control surface: it can be used to make fairly detailed edits to an underlying program as part of the sequencer, without having to actually edit the underlying program. You can actually modify the vast majority of a programs parameters using this method - and modulate them as part of a sequence.

(Here’s a cool one - you can change the multisample assigned to a HD1 program and record this as part of your sequence for some really interesting effects …)

You can use the [Pause] button in the transport section even when a sequence isnt playing. This is really useful to navigate around your song using the transport keys [<<] / [>>] without playing it back. When youre finished, just press Start/Stop.

You can record tempo changes whilst youre song is recording. to do this just set Tempo Mode to REC in the MIDI Prog/Mixer page. The secret here is to select this when recording is armed, but before pressing [Play/Stop]

You can record tempo changes using the tempo knob, or even the [Tap Tempo] button.

If you just want to record tempo change sin an existing song, just select on empty track first before commenting recording (the Kronos will insist that you record something other than just the Master Track).

The currently selected track, along with the From Measure and To Measure settings in Track Edit, will be used to set the editing range when using any of the functions in Track Edit. This actually makes it quite quick and easy to perform edits:

Select the track you want to edit, using the eight buttons on the control surface (See tip #3) Set the From Measure / To Measure visually in the track edit page. You can also use Tip #7 to cue up this point audibly. Press [Enter] and [0-9] to select the edit operation you want to perform. Here are some common ones:

                [Enter] - [2]: MIDI Step  Recording  [Enter]  -  [3]:  MIDI
Event  Edit  [Enter] - [5]: Clear Track / Pattern [Enter] -
[8]: Erase Measure [Enter] - [9]: Delete Measure


When recording and arranging, I find it useful to stay on the Track Edit page predominantly, even though its not the default. This gives you a visual overview tf your song whilst youre recording and allows you to quickly perform edits such as clearing a take (Bad take? Just hit [Enter] - [5] to clear the track and start again)


Sometimes, you want to have a note that is held for the complete duration of the track. Obviously recording a note of that duration is tedious, so there are two main ways to deal with this.

One is to use the Hold function of the underlying program - but you dont need to edit the underlying program to achieve this! You can do this through Tone Adjust and set one of the controllers to tog- gle Hold on or off. The cool thing about this approach is that you can record changes to this parameter, so you can toggle it on or off as part of your sequence.

The second way is to use MIDI Event Edit to alter the duration of a recorded or inserted note. Again, theres a trick that makes this slightly counter-intuitive. The length of each track is independent and is determined by the last note that was recorded there. If you try and create a long note on a virgin track using MIDI Event Edit, it will only let you se the duration to a maximum of one bar. the trick is to go to the measure you want to end at, record any random thing on that track there, then go back to MIDI Event Edit and change the duration of the note you want held. Obviously you can then delete the random note too.

KARMA only ever receives input from the Keyboard or MIDI inputs - it never receives input from a track. The output of MARMA can obvi- ously be recorded to a track, or even an RPPR.

The same applies to RPPR and Chord Pads - it can only be triggered from the keyboard or from external MIDI, and the resulting note sequence can be recorded to a track.

There are no marker tracks in order to keep track of different events in your song. I tend to either just write down the measure numbers and a description in a notebook. Alternatively, you can sacrifice a MIDI track for the same purpose (e.g. MIDI Track 16). Simply use the Create Control Data page menu command in Track Edit to create some control data (doesnt matter what) at the bar you want to note. this will create a green block in Track Edit that you can use as a visual marker.

You can change the Record resolution whilst recording. This is really helpful when used in conjunction with loop recording, as you can lay down a quarter-note bass drum for example, then change the record resolution on the next pass for say, hi hats.

The limit of sixteen MIDI tracks isnt as bad as it might seem - think of it more as a limit sixteen simultaneous MIDI tracks. Unlike a PC sequencer, you can easily completely change the selected program / timbre and all effects routings halfway through a track without having to have a dedicated track for each.

In-track sampling is really cool. At first I wrote it off as being a hold-over from the Triton series which was made redundant with the addition of multitrack audio recording. However it is so easy and easy to use, and gives much greater flexibility with editing and effects than the hard disk recorder gives (at the expense of polyphony).

One of the nice things about using in-track sampling is that you have access to ADSR envelopes, which makes crossfading and repeat- ing audio loops much easier than using the hard disk recorder.

Note that to use In-Track sampling, the sequencer only needs to be playing, not recording.

When recording Sysex with Multi Record enabled, the Sysex is always recorded to the first record-enable track. Im not sure this is doc- umented anywhere.

Audio Automation is always recorded to the corresponding audio track - unless no audio track is enabled for recording in which case it is recorded to the first record-enabled MIDI track as Sysex. This has caught me out a few times!

Many of the RPPR parameters - such as transpose - can be adjusted whilst the pattern is playing. This is really useful for creating drum fills or otherwise finding new variations.

KARMA can be recorded to RPPR.

Its not only notes and continuous controllers can be recorded to an RPPR pattern - SysEx can also be recorded. This is particu- larly;arly useful for recording macros” that can be used across multiple tracks - e.g a Fade Out macro, or a modulated sustain pedal, Tone Adjust, mixer adjustments etc are all fair game. I have an RPPR setup and assigned to a key to mute and unmute the external audio inputs, for example.

The time signature of an RPPR pattern is independent of the time sequence of the sequence. This is great for creating polyrythms etc.

Theres no Track Edit command to move events around by fractions of a measure. There is a workaround though in the form of the Quantise command. Just make sure that Resolution is set to Hi, Swing is at 0% and adjust the Shift parameter accordingly. +240 is equivalent to moving events by half a measure, -240 back by half a measure etc. This is great for changing the feel of a track, creating ghost drum parts etc. Combined with the Track Bounce and Track Copy options, its possible to do some pretty cool things.

Many of the track edit operations dont allow a range to be speci- fied in part bars. For example, its not possible to repeat half a measure. There are a few ways to work around this:

The easiest method Ive found for repeating one or two beats of a measure is to use RPPR. The workflow is essentially to create a pattern with a time signature half or a quarter of the projects time signature. Use Copy from Track to take the first one or two beats of the measure into the pattern. Then, use RPPR to play the pattern back into the track.

If the portion you wish to repeat is at the end of a measure, you can use the Quantise function as described in Tip 22 to shift the events of interest to the start of the measure.

As for deleting part of a bar, frankly the easiest way Ive found is to use the MIDI Event Edit page and manually delete the events.

With a few minor exceptions, changes to almost all MIDI Track Parameters - such as transpose, delay, portamento, wave sequencer swing and scale - can all be recorded in realtime for some pretty cool effects. Make sure Enable Sysex is enabled in Global.

The Kronos doesnt have a native mechanism for creating crescendo and diminuendos whilst retaining relative velocities. If you use the Modify Velocity command in Track Edit to do this, there will potentially be an abrupt jump between the section you applied the operation and the remainder of the track. However, there is a work- around.

First, using the Modify Velocity command, get your crescendo / diminuendo sounding as you want it, paying particular attention to the strength and start or end velocity. Then execute the same com- mand on the rest of the track. However this time, ensure the start and end settings are both the same and match the settings used in the first step. This will ensure a smooth transition between the two sections.

When using In-Track sampling, the normal options regarding when to trigger sampling still apply: when the sequencer is started, when a note is played, when [Sampling Start / Stop] is pressed and thresh- old. This makes it really easy, for example, to sample a few bars that have been recorded and edited in the sequencer. Using the Threshold mode also makes it easy to capture an external source at just the right time and automatically create the corresponding event.

Be aware that I have however experienced a possible bug once or twice with this where In-Track sampling has always started as soon as [Sampling Start/Stop] is pressed regardless of the setting above. However this has been very rare and after playing with many settings, so it may be operator error.

When the Sampler recording trigger is set to Sequencer Start/Stop, this works in the Pattern/RPPR -> Pattern Edit mode as well. This makes it really easy to record a short pattern (either for an internal synth part or an external MIDI instrument), arm the sam- pler and hit Sequencer Play/Record. This will sample the loop without having to assign the RPPR to a key or edit any of the sequencer tracks, essentially making it a great scratchpad for cre- ating audio loops.

When using In-Track sampling, its often helpful to make sure the metronome is set to Play & Rec to give a time reference. If sam- pling from an internal source, make sure to use the Record Busses to prevent the metronome being recorded into your loop.

Whilst RPPR is great for creating MIDI loops and assigning them to keys, Ive found using the sampler really fun for creating audio loops and assigning them to different keys.

A full multi-sample set can be built up really easily by succes- sively pressing Sample Start/Stop.

Rather than painstakingly loop each sample, Ive found it easier to create RPPR patterns to re-trigger each sample at the appropriate time. For example, if you have an audio loop that should be four measures long on C2, just create an RPPR pattern that triggers C2 for four bars. This ensures your loop stays nicely in sync, whereas looping the actual sample can cause sync issues over time if theyre not exactly in sync. You can also then use the ADSR envelope of the sample to ensure a nice smooth crossfade.

It sounds more complex than it is, but once you get the hang of it, it can be really fast and lead to great results.

Creating a custom drum kit isnt just for drum sounds - its really great for multisamples youve created of various audio loops. There are a couple of key advantages to using drum kits for loops and effects:

You can use Exclusive Groups in conjunction with the Hold option in the HD1 engine to define loops that should stop when another starts playing. You can give each sample (key) unique parameters for fil- ter cutoff etc.

Like everything else, any adjustments to the Audio in settings can be recorded directly into the sequencer, essentially making the Kronos a 6 in, 6 out digital mixer with automation! I use this reg- ularly in sequences where i have external audio sources connected and wish to automate volume changes, but dont necessarily wish to record them to the hard disk recorder yet. Another use case might be having house music playing over USB from iTunes and have it automatically fade up by assigning a sequence to a set list slot that does that.

When performing loop recording, either in Pattern Edit or in the main sequencer with Loop All Tracks enabled, you can hold [Sequencer Rec/Write] to delete the currently playing events. Really useful for fixing mistakes without starting and stopping recording.

When performing loop recording, either in Pattern Edit or in the main sequencer with Loop All Tracks enabled, you can use the Erase Data checkbox to delete specific notes. When this box is checked, whichever keys are played on the keyboard will be erased from that part of the pattern or track. This is an easier way to remove bum notes than using Event Edit (IMHO), and its also great for working with drum patterns as it makes it easy to remove a specific part.

When performing Step Recording, you can set the note velocity to be the same as played by selecting Note Velocity (which will be 64 by default) and scrolling all the way up past 127 until its set to Key.

In Step Record mode its possible to enter chords one note at a time - just keep holding the first note of the chord down whilst you add the additional notes, making it possible to create some pretty com- plex chords.

In Step Record mode, notes of a chord can have different lengths - experiment with holding different notes of the chord and using the Tie button. The chord will be completed once all notes are released.

It’s possible to export a Kronos Sequence as a SMF (MIDI File), load it into a PC based DAW for advanced editing, re-export it as a MIDI and load it back into the existing song on the Kronos. If you load a MIDI file into an existing song, all the parameters remain unchanged - it’s only the track data that changes. IFX routings, tone adjust settings, track names etc all remain unaffected.

Coupled with the inbuilt FTP server, this makes it quite easy to perform the odd advanced editing operation on the PC without break- ing your workflow too much.

There appears to be what I suspect is a bug, or at least undocu- mented behaviour, regarding the interaction between KARMA, the Global Channel and External MIDI. If “Enable MIDI In to KARMA Mod- ule” is disabled in “Global” -> “MIDI”, there may be issues receiving external MIDI on the Global Channel if the Global Channel also coincides with one of the source channels in “KARMA” -> “MIDI IO”. This applies even if KARMA is turned off.

This behaviour has led to many long nights of trying to diagnose MIDI routing issues!

For this reason I tend to leave both options enabled when “Local Control” is on, even though the manual selects only having one of the two options enabled. Your mileage may vary depending on you particular configuration though.