As long-time SOS readers will know, Korg created a keyboard called the OASYS (Open Architecture Synthesis System) in the mid-'90s, and the work done on it was used in many subsequent products, such as the Prophecy, Trinity, Z1 physical modelling synth and the Triton workstation. The OASYS keyboard itself was never released, although plans to do so were sufficiently advanced that it was previewed at the Winter NAMM show in January 1995 (an event covered by SOS that March — see www.soundonsound.com/sos/1995_articles/mar95/korgoasys.html). In early 2000, some of the synthesis technology designed for the original OASYS was released as a computer-dependent PCI card called the OASYS PCI, but this achieved much less success than other OASYS-derived products. In part this was thanks to the demands that the card's super-high-quality synthesis algorithms put on the DSP chips of the day, which reduced the polyphony of the synth engine to just a few notes.
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Photos: Mr. Bonzai
At the 2005 Winter NAMM show in Anaheim, California, Korg finally launched a keyboard bearing the OASYS name. Despite this, the new OASYS is rather different from both of its forerunners, and the acronym now stands for Open Architecture Synthesis Studio. Korg have released products incorporating some of the technologies in the new OASYS before, causing some to speculate that this would be a 'Greatest Hits' synth that simply threw together all of the successful products Korg had made in the past. This is not the case — everything in the OASYS, even the bits which seem familiar, has been developed afresh during the five years it's taken this particular version of the instrument to come together. Korg describe it as a new attempt to implement the same ideas that were at the core of previous OASYS projects. As a prominent member of the US part of the OASYS development team, Jerry Kovarsky, said at the workstation's launch: "The spirit of the original OASYS project was the combining of different technologies for making sound with an open system for expanding that palette of resources. With today's technologies, we're finally able to realise that dream in ways we never imagined back in the '90s."