Korg M1

ModelKorg M1
SynthesisAI synthesis (digital waveforms)
Quantity250 000
Our Serial021145
Polyphony16 Voices
Oscillators144 Multi Sampled Waveforms (4Mb)
FiltersVDF: Variable Digital Lowpass Filter
(non resonance)
Memory100 Patches
Keyboard61 Keys, Velocity, Aftertouch, Multi,
Layer & Split modes
SoundDigital, harsh, but also some nice ambient sounds
Good forHouse & Rave Sounds, Ambient
Less good forAcoustic instruments, regular warm synth sounds
MiscellaneousWe have 3 Cards: MPC-01, MPC-03, Valhalla RAM 

Korg M1


Facebook - Sound Of MusicThe 80s was dominated by three milestone synthesizers: First the Yamaha DX7, then the Roland D-50 and last came Korg M1. The M1, with clean and slick panel that was typical for the 80s digital synths, was unique in one way compared to all other synths before: It was a Music Workstation - containing synth sounds, digital sequencer, effects and all one  needed to make a complete synth track/production in the box. Even if it was not the first workstation it was the first workstation targeting common musicians. It became a main synthesizer for the dance music during the 90s.

There was also a rack model of the M1, the M1R. 

Korg M1 demo of some sounds, by alphacode909


The sounds were allocated by two categories:

- Programs
- Combinations (of programs)

The first program that one met when trying out the M1 or M1R was a knock out: "Universe" - an ambient sound that still today is a legend synth sound.

Up to 100 programs and 100 combinations could be stored in the internal memory or on an optional RAM cartridge. The memory was also shared with the sequencer - the more sounds stored the less space for sequenses and vice versa.

Detail from the panel

Detail from the panel



M1 Cards, extracted to SysEx files. The easiest way to load the sounds to the M1 is to load the data files by a freeware SysEx program, such SysEx Librian (OS X) or the Windows Media Player (Windows).

Make right settings to enable transfer of the patches from the computer to the Korg M1:

- Global / Page + until Memory Protect. Set it to Off
- Global / Page + until MIDI Filtering. Set all options to Enable

Korg M1 Cards

Korg Xpansion Cards

The Korg M1 Factory Sounds

* Korg M1 Factory Sounds
* Korg M1 Factory Sounds content PDF

The Korg M1 16 Expansion Card Data

* MPC-01 - ROM Card
* MPC-02 - Synth 1
* MPC-03 - Drums 1
* MPC-04 - Orchestra 1
* MPC-05 - Piano
* MPC-06 - Fretted Insts 1
* MPC-07 - Synth 2
* MPC-08 - Percussion
* MPC-09 - Organ
* MPC-10 - Ethnic 1
* MPC-11 - Brass
* MPC-12 - Synth 3
* MPC-13 - Ethnic 2
* MPC-14 - Sound Effects
* MPC-15 - Drums 2
* MPC-16 - Environment

The Korg M1 Valhala International Gold Series Cards

* B101 - Textures/Atmospheric
* B102 - Euro Techno-Pop/House/Film 
* B103 - British Influenced, Tech-Pop

The Korg M1 Valhala Studio Series Cards

* M101 - Top 40 
* M102 - Classic 
* M103 - New Age 
* M104 - Rock 


When the M1´s battery dies, all the sounds stored in the internal memory are lost. A standard CR2032 battery is what's needed and can be purchased for some few $ at Ebay, Radio Shack etc. Avoid cheap "no-name" batteries if you don't want to replace the battery soon again.

  1. Unplug the power cord. If a card is present in the card holder, remove it.
  2. Release the screws at the bottom plate and remove it. 
  3. The battery is at the flip side of the largest board. Unscrew it

  4. Korg M1 Battery Replacement               Korg M1 Battery Replacement
    The large board when released the bottom plate                                                                                       The 5V cable (marked CN9) is easy to remove

  5. You might need to release a cable to easier flip the card, for instance the 5V cable (marked CN9) located to the left of the large board
  6. Carefully flip the board. The main part of the cables don't need to be released. Push the battery backwards and release. Notice what side is up and what side is down.
  7. Korg M1 Battery Replacement               Korg M1 Battery Replacement
    The battery exposed at the flip side of the board                                                                                  Pull the battery backwards to release it

  8. Replace the old battery with the new battery (don't mix them up - if you do, you'll find out when you check the M1 and need to redo it)
  9. Mount the board and connect any cables released
  10. Before attach all screws at the button plate, check that the M1 is working properly. If not, connect all cables properly - a cable could accidentally been pulled or be intermittent attached.
  11. When everything is working, attach all screws at the bottom plate again
  12. Transfer the sound to the M1 (described above)


The optional RAM Card requires battery power to preserve data in memory. If the RAM Card not is working (blank) the battery must be replaced by a new CR2016 battery that can be purchased for some few $ at Ebay, Radio Shack etc. Please use not cheap non-brand batteries - they will not last for long. How to replace the RAM Card battery is described in the Owners Manual, page 136.

Korg M1 with a clean and slick panel that was typical for the 80s digital synths

Korg M1 with a clean and slick panel that was typical for the 80s digital synths


The M1 was discontinued long time ago. There are two options to still experience the M1: A second hand M1 or the Korg M1 Legacy that is a software M1 manufactured by Korg. It can read System Exclusive (SysEx) files from the original M1 and it has something that the M1 did not have, resonance to the filter.

* Korg M1 Legacy Review by Sound On Sound, February 06

Korg M1 Legacy

Korg M1 Legacy


Listen and compare some factory presets of the M1 hardware and the M1 Legacy Software:

M1 Hardware         M1 Legacy Software
00 Universe00 Universe
01 Piano1601 Piano16
20 DreamPad20 DreamPad