Korg RK-100S 2 Review – Better Than Its Predecessor?

2 RK-100 S 2 Keytars

The Korg RK-100 S 2 was just recently announced at NAMM 2020 and it is the newest release to the keytar family. While this is a very niche market, there are some keyboard enthusiasts like myself who really enjoy keytars.

This keytar is the successor to the Korg RK-100S and it has been long-awaited in the keyboard community.

One of the knocks on keytars for many years has been that they have dated sounds that just aren’t very usable. Well, with the introduction of MIDI, keytars have made a strong push.

The Korg RK-100 S 2 has some surprisingly nice sounding synths as well as MIDI capability.

One of the things that really grabs my attention is the aesthetic of the RK-100 S 2. Korg chose to use real wood for exterior of the keytar and I think it looks and feels great.

My opinion of the Korg RK-100 S 2 is that it is one of the best options for keytarists who want internal synth sounds. With this being said, if you’re looking to run it as a MIDI controller, you may want to check out the AX-edge or the Vortex 2.

Pros

  • Pretty good sounding internal sounds
  • MIDI out to run it as a controller
  • Light-weight
  • Great bundled software
  • Included soft case
  • 2 ribbon controllers
  • Can be powered 6x AA batteries
  • Vocoder

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No Bluetooth

Korg RK-100 S 2 Overview

Black & Red Rk100 S 2

The Korg RK-100 S 2 is available in both red & black, with both models having a wooden hybrid exterior. Overall, the keytar is quite light, weighing in at 6 pounds.

The keytar has gotten a lot of negative energy towards it over the years, and I really don’t understand it. While the sounds have always been kinda sub-par, I do believe the recent releases, including the RK-100 S 2 have made major improvements.

You can also run the RK-100 S2 as a MIDI controller in case you just are really not digging the sounds. One thing I was really surprised about this keytar is that the sounds are definitely a step up from its predecessor.

Included Software

The bundled software with the RK-100 S 2 is a really great offer from Korg. All in all, there are 11 different software included with your purchase.

  • Korg Gadget LE 2
  • Korg Module
  • Korg Collection M1 Le
  • UVI Digital
  • AAS Ultra Analog Session
  • AAS Strum
  • AAS Lounge Lizard
  • Propellerhead Reason Lite (Free DAW)
  • Skoove
  • Izotope Izone

I am surprised by the amount of good software that Korg has been offering lately, all for free.

One of my favorite ones on this list is the AAS Lounge Lizard electric piano VST. This is currently one of the best electric pianos that you can possibly find and it’s great to see it offered for free.

Skoove is a nice resource for pianists who are just getting started. Another of my favorites is the UVI pack. UVI makes some incredible VSTs and it’s awesome to see this offered for free as well.

Vocoder

The vocoder on this keytar is a nice little function. The only other keytar that I know of with a vocoder is the Vocaloid by Yamaha. The problem there is that it’s not currently offered in the USA.

There is a monaural mini-input jack which allows you to connect a mic to access the vocoder functionality. I’ve always enjoyed messing around with vocoders as I just find them fun.

Internal Sounds Of The Korg RK-100 S 2

This is really where this instrument shines. In the past, keytars have had a horrible reputation when it comes to their internal sounds. I’ve even thought that they sounded downright cringy in the past.

All of the lead synth sounds have been upgraded and they sound a million times better than their predecessor’s sounds.

There are 200 presets that are all taken from some of the most popular sounds in music today.

I like how Korg did their layout, as you can access your favorite sounds directly on the front of your instrument with a single click.

If you find a sound that you really enjoy, say a bass sound: you can then choose to arpeggiate it with the built-in arpeggiator.

If you’re looking for a keytar solely for internal sounds, this is definitely one of the best options available. You will find a bunch of different pre-sets that you will most likely enjoy.

VS The AX-Edge

The Ax-Edge is currently a beast of an instrument. The Korg comes up short in sounds, as it has 200 and the Roland has 500.

Another department that Roland wins is in the technology of Bluetooth. You can use the AX-Edge as a BlueTooth MIDI controller. This feature isn’t going to be super important to everyone, but for some, it definitely will be.

I play an Alesis Vortex 2 live and I love the Bluetooth technology. It allows me to cover the stage without having a cord attached.

With this being said, the sounds on the RK-100 S 2 are not to be overlooked. I don’t think it’s fair to say they’re better than the Roland, but they definitely are comparable.

One thing to state is that the Korg keytar is $200 cheaper than the Roland.

The RK- 100 S 2 is an 8-note polyphonic synth with 2 oscillators that helps you unlock a world of creativity.

Live Or Studio Use

You can get a lot of great work out of the RK-100 S 2 whether it’s in the studio or playing gigs. I’ve always thought keytars were awesome to see live as they free the keyboardist.

Overall

Overall, Korg definitely made a better product with the RK-100 S 2. I think that this has everything that you need in a keytar, I would’ve just liked to see Bluetooth for my own preference.

It’s nice to see keytars becoming a little bit more relevant and I definitely think this keytar will continue to help with this.

What are your thoughts so far on the RK-100 S 2? Let me know below!

6 comments
  1. Why is it better than the RK-100S? Updated sounds? Yawn. If it has a usable sound editor, doesn’t really matter. IMO. Just like this “article” is your opinion.
    In the end, isn’t it still a microkorg XL or XL plus? At least Roland’s AX-Edge has a new synth engine, too bad it’s too big (49 full size keys, wtf), weighs more than a Les Paul or most basses, and looks like something from an anime in a bad way. IMO
    Hopefully, it will have an editor like the RK-100S, which is the only software that matters to me, I have two Alesis Vortex Wireless 2 (red and black), and still have my original Vortex Wireless for software instruments.
    Looks are a preference, I prefer the look of the RK-100S, high gloss. It makes a bolder statement than something that looks like the finish of grandma’s dining room. Again IMO.
    That said, it’s about the best new keytar with internal sounds for my needs. More voices would be nice, and more finish options too. I’ll probably end up painting mine to look like a RK-100S in a high gloss white, because the flat wood finish is my least favorite for a keytar.
    Why is it “better” than it’s predecessor?

  2. The ergonomics of the RK are hard to beat. It’s because its so ‘fit for purpose’; that I’ve always been impressed with it. You can have technical power houses like the Edge; but part of me wonders if the appeal of Keytar wasn’t totally lost on Roland during its design. Strapping a fully featured 49 key (full size!) on your back, well that’s nothing much short of someone my size trying to walk around carrying my Korg Kronos in the end is it. Practical? Hell no.

    I would agree that they have enhanced the sounds and general relatability. But that was going to be necessary for the entry level market who aren’t going to readily be in tune with programming and doing everything themselves. Its not much of a selling point to veterans who will do ‘nothing but’ their own work – but thats beside the point. As a product it needs to sell to a variety of users. Not just those capable of fully harnessing it.

    For those who can harness the potential; its a return to form with subjective aesthetics but most importantly; ‘availability’. A discontinued product that wasn’t available to purchase for those who missed the window all those years back. It’s been a long time. And in countless encounters with mine people have asked, where can I get mine?

    Well now you can. With a new coat of paint and in a modern twist and sound. It’s not a giant new leap; and it doesn’t have to be. Keyboardist naysayers who claim it isn’t competing with the Nord/Korg primary workstations need to have a word. It’s a mobile/synth platform, endlessly expressive and great for its specific role. Besides that its incredibly fun and smooth to play.

    ,Harnessing the ideas of ‘less can be more’ and ‘what are you really using it for?’ could lead you to ask, what more could you want? And honestly the answer is not much. For me this is the premier Keytar. Thank you Korg. As always, I am a proud life long customer.

  3. Personally I think this is the best sized keytar available today, its 1984 predecessor had a great look and feel to it but the size was just ‘too big’, this new incarnation is just right. Yes, there will be those that bemoan the smaller keys but I think Korg has got the balance just right. Speaking of balance the weight is just right too. For electric guitarists as well this won’t feel out of place as the weight difference between your guitar and this keytar is perfect, it doesn’t feel like you are strapping on a piece of lighweight plastic by comparison and that’s really important as this keytar has the same ‘heft’ to it that your electric guitar does. The weight is a direct function of the wooden body and it is beautifully finished, which make this a quality instrument. It really feels like you have purchased something that’s serious. Moreover, keytars over Midi (amazing for its longevity). allow you to access the sonic power you may already own in rack, desktop or keyboard form already and controlling such devices with the RK opens up a whole range of new things. Add to the sheer quality of two ribbon controllers and the performance package is complete.

  4. I really wanted this keytar for a long time! I’ve been considering just buying a micro korg xl plus instead but I honestly want a keytar. I’ve had some concerns with this model though.

    I really love changing the cuttof freq and dynamically changing the reverb and other delay to patches. I’m not sure how easily this model can do these things. At MINIMUM if I can play with cutoff I’d be happy. Also I was concerned that it didn’t have MIDI IN. I in theory would have liked to attatch some controller with extra knobs to be able to manipulate parameters on the fly. The more I wait for this keytar to EXIST the more I think the micro korg would be a better fit. (same engine right?)

    Anywyas has Korg said anything about this product? I’ve been waiting since 2019!

    1. Hi there,

      I haven’t heard anything on Korg’s end yet and I am surprised myself that there hasn’t been any information yet.

      As soon as I hear some updated info on this keytar, I will post it!

      Chris

  5. It’s quite difficult to tell if there are differences between RK-100S and its successor, also checking the relevant specs.
    As far as I can see, there are only 17.63 Oz less in RK-100S 2 and a bounch of new presets.
    Will serious keyboard players take into account these insignificant differences to justify the purchase of the new model?
    By the way, loding the new patches will make it.

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