Review: Kenton MIDI kit for Korg Trident (Mk. II)
clark at andrews.edu
Wed Nov 19 02:59:45 CET 1997
Well I'm back from another round of soldering, drilling, and
frustration! This time I have installed the MIDI kit for the Korg
Trident Mk. II...
Let me put my disclaimer up...
WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING
This is a tough kit and should not be attempted by the
WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING
Okay, well, it wasn't as tough as the PS-3100, I'll say that up
front! Amazingly it CAN be installed by studying the installation
instructions that Kenton sends with it, but you'd best be paying
attention! I'd still recommend getting the schematics for it though
Again, as with the PS-3100, Korg does NOT have the schematics or
manuals for this machine. Very annoying. See my PS-3100 kit review
for wonderful tech. personnel comments on this matter.
Okay, well here's the scoop on the MIDI kit installation:
The first big step is to drill the holes on the backside of the synth
for mounting the MIDI sockets and setup button. I used a hole saw that
fits onto my drill to do the MIDI sockets. Other people might suggest a
panel punch. Certainly that would be a little cleaner because I had to
be careful not to get metal shavings all over the inside of the synth!
This was easily prevented by using paper towels. With the top of the
synth open, get the edges of a paper towel between the top panel hinge
and the wood underneath. Let the towel lay down on top of the voice
boards. Now all of the metal shavings will be caught by this.
Due to the way the back panel is arranged, I had to be extremely
careful where I drilled the holes. There is a circuit board (for the
cassette functions) that could have been damaged by careless placement.
As it ended up, the MIDI sockets and setup button sit directly underneath
this board with practically no space between!
The next big step is to get the digital board installed. This kit,
as was the case with the PS-3100, has two boards (digital and analog).
Both boards sit on a metal backplate which is mounted ABOVE the main
processor and voice board. In order to mount it thus, I had to install a
wood block on the inside of the left wood sideboard. Fortunately the
side wood pieces are really thick (1 1/2" or so) and can accomodate a
pretty long screw.
I suggest drilling the holes in the wood block as shown in the
installation instructions, but COUNTERSINK the holes for the screws that
mount the block to the side wood piece. This will allow the mounting
screws to pull into the wood far enough to give (me) piece of mind.
Unfortunately the digital board has to be removed from the metal
backplate in order to mount the backplate onto the wood block.
Next I had to attach two ribbon cables to existing cables that connect
to the main processor board. Note that the Trident actually has TWO
processor boards. One takes care of the various keyboard functions,
while the other takes care of the synth section memory functions. Wierd,
eh? But at least it isn't stressed out like some other synths we know!
In order to attach the ribbon cables to the two existing ones, I had
to do a little bit of tedious work. The existing cables have plastic
housings on them that attach to headers on the processor board. The best
way to attach the digital board cables to these is to remove each of the
female pin connectors in the headers one at a time and solder the correct
digital board wire on top of the existing wire connection to the female
pin connector. Then stuff the two wires (now attached to the female pin
connector) back into the header. Did that make sense?
After connecting the two cables to the main processor board, the next
step is to solder the ground wire from the digital MIDI board to pin 20
of the processor on the main processor board. Really I don't see why
this is necessary since the power connection to the digital board
supplies the same ground. But just in case...
Now the metal backplate can be mounted onto the wood block. Then the
digital board can be mounted back onto the backplate (watch that ground
lead). The two cables that were fitted into the main processor board can
be connected to the MIDI board.
The power cable can be soldered in next. The Mk. II has a different
power supply board (I think) than the Mk. I, so be careful where this
is attached. On the Mk. II the main power supply board has three outs
and this is where the cable should be attached.
Now the power cable can be attached to the digital MIDI board.
I then soldered the MIDI sockets and setup button to their cable and
plugged that cable into the MIDI board. At this point the unit can be
powered up and tested (keyboard MIDI only).
Next came the analog board. First mount the analog board onto the
metal backplate holding the digital board. The analog board has a number
of wires leading out from it and these get attached to various points on
the top panel. Some wires are cut from the jacks on the back panel and
new connections made, but don't worry, it all works out.
Once everything is connected, the installation is over!
How does it work?
Good. Fortunately the Trident has a 61-key keyboard, so I was right
at home on my master (DX-11) keyboard! Since the PS-3100 has only 48
keys, I'm left with some dead keys on the top and bottom of my master
The MIDI controls are pretty good. For starters, there are two
controllers that can be assigned to any MIDI controller that you want.
Unfortunately you can only let them control the VCF. Other fixed
controllers such as the aftertouch and velocity can control the VCF
(both), VCA (velocity), as well as modulation and pitch bend (aftertouch).
The kit can also respond to various MIDI messages such as "all notes
off" and "reset controllers".
MIDI setup is done by pressing the red setup button on the backside of
the synth and then pressing keys on the _master_ keyboard corresponding
to the various MIDI functions as shown on a chart that comes with the kit.
Takes a bit getting used to but is fairly quick once accustomed.
For those of you that read my PS-3100 kit review, its MIDI controls
are pretty much the same.
Well that wraps up this review. No doubt some of you are probably
wondering why I have bothered to write all this stuff about the kits.
>From where I stand, the guys at Kenton and Encore and etc. are providing
some invaluable services to the analog community by designing these
I know that I couldn't possibly HAVE my analog synths in my studio
unless they are retrofitted. That's just the way I've got to have it!
And so I want to share my knowledge of their MIDI products and the trials
and tribulations that go with it, so that anyone who has ever
contemplated buying one of these kits can have at least one reference
from someone who's actually done it.
Well enough from me...I guess I need to go buy me some more MIDI
I can't drive (my Moog) 55! |
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