My First Synth

The Korg X5

My first synthesizer the Korg X5, was an important milestone.

Following my eureka moment where I realised I had to acquire a synthesizer, I bought a monthly copy of the Future Music magazine to find out about them. It was all very confusing to me, with terms like “workstations” and “patches”. I hadn’t a clue what a workstation was, all I knew was that they were too expensive! The Yamaha Sy-85 looked great but it was out of my price range.


One month there was an Roland XP-10 which I liked the look of, but it was a new keyboard the Korg X5 that caught my eye. I went along to Andertons music store and sheepishly asked the salesperson to demonstrate them to me (I certainly couldn’t). The X5 immediately impressed with its rich sounds and exotic effects. I knew at that moment this was the keyboard.

Synth School

Having acquired my dream synth I got to work learning everything I could about the X5. Late nights followed and my art and design college attendance suffered… I couldn’t stop playing with it. It was like finding something I’d been dreaming of but never knew. Editing a keyboard with a small LCD, a load of buttons and one slider with wasn’t an easy task. The phrase “painting the Sistine Chapel through the letterbox” describes it well.

I still have my X5 and it works like a charm. The buttons require some serious pressure to work, but the LCD works and it’s never had its battery replaced.

I was completely unaware that only a decade earlier, many synths came with knobs and sliders. What it did do though was force me to dig really deep into understanding the building blocks of sound generation, something which has stuck with me ever since.