What is the Korg Volca series?

Korg Volca is a line-up of affordable, powerful and fun-to-use synthesizers for producing electronic music. Each Volca is equipped with sequencing and recording capabilities, and multiple Volcas can be used in sync - either standalone "on the run" battery operated, or in the studio with your favourite DAW software & other gear via MIDI.

korg volca models

Korg Volca Drum

drum

Digital Percussion Synth

Unique percussion machine with a wide range of digital sound variation and rich resonances

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Korg Volca Modular

modular

Semi-modular Analog Synth

Create new sounds that don’t exist in the outside world with an accessible and understandable modular synthesizer

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Korg Volca Mix

mix

Analogue Performance Mixer

Four-channel analogue performance mixer that lets you construct a live setup combining multiple volca units

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Korg Volca Beats

beats

Analog/PCM Drum Machine

Huge true-analog drum sounds for generating rhythms - six analog parts and four PCM parts

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Korg Volca Bass

bass

Analog Bass Machine

Fat sounds for a wide range of bass lines that support the rhythm and generate a groove

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Korg Volca Keys

keys

Analog Lead Synthesizer

Three note polyphony for creating versatile & powerful lead synth sounds

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Korg Volca Kick

kick

Analog Kick Generator

Synth dedicated for one of the critical elements of electronic dance music - the kick drum

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Korg Volca Sample

sampleoriginal
edition

Digital Sample Player

Trigger and sequence sample sounds. Add vocals and ambient sounds, or utilize as a sample-based drum machine

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Korg Volca FM

fm

Digital FM Synthesizer

Reproduces the sound engine of a classic FM synthesizer, great for 80s style punchy bass and crisp electric piano sounds

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frequently asked volca questions

General

How do you connect the audio of multiple Volcas?

You'll need a mixer to combine, process and route the audio from multiple Volcas to your headphones or speakers.

The most important feature is the amount of channels - the more channels the mixer has the more equipment you can hook up to it. Figure out how many you’ll need and keep future expansion in mind.

Other beneficial features to look for is at least basic equalization capabilities (allowing you to adjust the tone of each channel by boosting and cutting lows, mids and highs and thus better "glue" the sound of your Volcas together) and aux sends/returns (for applying audio effects like reverb or delay to multiple channels with effects pedals).

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Audio splitters - like the Belkin Rockstar - are not recommended. These are for splitting signal into two, not for mixing two signals into one. They generally don't incorporate any resistors so you are literally connecting the outputs of every Volca together. Each output tries to drive the very low impedance of the other, forcing both outputs into current-limit and possible damage. If you need the smallest possible mixer, check out the passive RK-003 mixer from Retrokits.

Which audio cables to use with Volca?

The correct cables for connecting your Volcas to a mixer are 3.5mm stereo (TRS) → 1/4″ dual mono jack (TS)

All the Volcas output a mono signal that's doubled to both stereo channels (except Volca Sample which is true stereo, and Volca FM which outputs stereo when the chorus effect is enabled). This means that you’ll only need to connect one of the two mono jacks on the mixer side. The other can be left unconnected (or used for other purposes, for example running through an effects pedal for a wet/dry mix)

You might be tempted to go with a 3.5mm stereo → single 1/4″ mono jack cable but this is the wrong choice* You should never tie two audio outputs directly together. These cables will cause problems like audible distortion and sync problems between Volca units, and over time could even cause damage to your equipment.

* unless you are able to find a proper stereo-to-mono summing cable with resistors to prevent the outputs from back-feeding into each other.

3.5mm stereo (TRS) → 1/4″ dual mono jack (TS) audio cable
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What is the best way to power up the Volcas?

The easiest & most cost-effective way to power up multiple Volcas is with a power splitter/daisy chain cable.

The Volcas come with a set of batteries included, but the power supply is a separate purchase (Korg KA-350, powers a single Volca). The Volcas require an uncommon plug size, 1.7mm (DC 9V, center positive) - so it's unlikely you will have a suitable power adapter lying around.

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How do I update the Korg Volca firmware?

All you need for the update process are an audio player or computer capable of audio playback, and a stereo mini-jack audio cable.

Updating the firmware is often beneficial, new versions can provide fixes for known issues or enhance the functionality and features of the Volcas. You can check the current firmware version by turning on the power while pressing & holding the REC button. Current version will be displayed on screen.

  1. Begin by downloading the latest firmware version from the links provided below. Unzip the file and transfer the firmware file (.wav file extension) to your audio player.
  2. Connect the audio output of your playback device to the SYNC IN connector on your Volca using the stereo mini-jack audio cable.
  3. Power up the Volca while pressing & holding the FUNC and PLAY buttons (UPdt should be displayed on the screen).
  4. Start the playback of the firmware .wav file.
  5. End will be displayed on the screen once the update process is completed succesfully.

If the process fails, try adjusting the playback volume up or down, and check that there are no equalization settings affecting the sound. Also make sure that you are using new or fully charged batteries, or a power supply.

The latest Korg Volca firmware updates

Do not playback the system update file on any speaker or headphone system as this could lead to damage to equipment and/or hearing loss.

Model specific

How do I load custom samples to the Volca Sample?

The samples are transferred to the Volca Sample using syrostream, the audio signal format that the Volca Sample understands.

There are multiple free apps that can generate this signal from your samples. The data is then transferred by connecting the audio output from your computer or phone to the SYNC IN port on the Volca Sample via stereo audio cable.

The volca sample can hold up to 4 MB, and 65 seconds of samples. This limit can be stretched by pitching the samples up in an audio editor, consequently making them shorter - and then pitching them down to the original pitch on the Volca. The downside of this is that the higher frequencies of the sample get cut - the more you pitch up, the more the quality deteriorates. See video for more details

Troubleshooting

If you have issues while transferring the samples, see this list of possible issues and error messages:

  • Check that you are using the correct stereo cable
  • Make sure that the audio output level is high enough
  • Disable all audio equalization, effects or optimizers from the sound source
  • Close other programs that might disrupt the transfer with their sound effects (e.g. Facebook Messenger alerts)
  • tyPE: Update to the latest firmware
  • FuLL: Memory full, free memory by deleting samples
  • btLo: Battery low, change batteries or use a power adapter

Interested in building your own Volca Sample tool? Check out the Volca Sample SDK

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Where and how do I get new patches for the Volca FM?

The Korg Volca FM uses sysex messages for patch loading, which allows downloading patches and transferring them to your Volca FM via MIDI.

Jacques Prestreau has done an amazing job gathering & going through all the freely available 6-OP FM patches on the web, removing thousands of duplicates and sorting everything by author.

Listed below are a couple of good options for getting the patches to your Volca FM. Hook up your Volca FM to your audio interface via MIDI-IN, load up one of the patch banks' from the Dexed Cart 1.0 collection and hit send. Remember to save your patch on the FM once received. The Volca FM can hold 32 patches.

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Got ideas for new questions or recommended products? E-mail korg@volcafaq.com