Korg Volca Sample Hack: Unofficial Firmware Brings Polyphony, Probability Triggering & More

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Pajen has released a Korg Volca Sample Hack with which you can add polyphony, probability triggers, new MIDI CCs, reverbs and more at your own risk

First of all: this update is unofficial and a hack of the firmware. If there are problems, there is probably no support from Korg, so caution is advised. Pajen, a member of the Gearslutz forum, released today an unofficial firmware update for the Korg Volca Sample with many new features.

Highlights are polyphony, note triggering/pitch & sensitivity optional per part & pattern, new MIDI CC values (reverb, mutes, reverse…), 2 additional reverb programs, probability triggering (part/pattern), drone mode and more.

Volca Sample Hack

The developer did not develop this firmware to damage Korg but to show the potential of the device. His goals were:

  • keeping the original MIDI implementation for people that actually like it.
  • adding a “sequencer channel” – cramming all parts into one MIDI channel, including all standard CCs.
  • adding _true_ chromatic response to note in, none of that RK-002 out-of-tune misery.
  • adding velocity sensitivity on MIDI in.
  • making note triggering, pitch and velocity sensitivity optional per-part, per-pattern.
  • adding new CCs for changing patterns, reverb, mutes, reverse etc.
  • unlocking 2 new reverb programs.
  • Omni mode” – helping to connect a midi keyboard for live playing with a variety of features.
  • probability triggering for variety; per part, per pattern.
  • “bar filtering” – adding capability to tell parts to skip certain bars in a 4-bar sequence. Makes it possible to create patterns that are up to 4 bars, while keeping full motion seq resolution.
  • optional instant drone mode for noise friends.

This hack or unofficial firmware brings a lot of new MIDI CC data into the game with which you can work much more experimentally and creatively with the Korg Volca Sample. It includes CCs for sample 50, reverb level 51, reverb type 52, pattern 53, selected part 54, loop 55, reverse 56, reverb 57, mute 58 and solo 59.

New Firmware New Operation

If you install this unofficial firmware that is currently in beta, the Korg Volca Sample will of course also work differently than before. In the global settings, you can turn on/ off the original MIDI settings per example or with setting 10 you activate the Sequencer MIDI. Also new is the extended menu of the Volca Sample. It now comes with an Omni MIDI mode with which you can route all remaining MIDI channel inputs to the current selected part. Attention, this setting is global and is not remembered when powering off the device.

He explains further:

  • OFF: deactivated (default)
  • SEL: play in a standard way on a selected part
  • SAMP: maps sample 1-100 on to keys 1-100. Good to audition sounds etc.
  • PAtr: maps keys C-A to activate patterns 1-10
  • Py2, Py3, Py4: plays incoming notes on the selected part, and neighboring 1,2 or 3 parts for polyphony.
  • PROB: sets the probability that any given trig in a part will generate sound. Defaults to 100%. Remember you can use “<” and “>” or the part touch pads to select which part probability to edit. Stored together with the pattern.
  • BrFL: “Bar Filter”: Sets which bars in a 4-bar sequence that that part will sound. Makes it possible to sacrifice parts to get longer sequences. Remember you can use “<” and “>” or the part touch pads to select which part bar filter to edit. Values range from 0-15. Try changing it while running the pattern to see and hear the effect. Stored together with the pattern.
  • ntFL: “Note Filter”: Sets (per part) what incoming MIDI notes should influence. Default is “tnv” – trig, note and velocity. Any combination is possible. E.g. “-n-” will disregard velocity and trig, only changing note pitch – can be used to change a preprogrammed bass line pitch (M.sequencing off). “t–” is like the original – only using the trig, ignoring pitch and velocity. Remember you can use “<” and “>” or the part touch pads to select which part note filter to edit. Stored together with the pattern.
  • Rb.ty: Reverb type. Switch reverb program 0-2. “2” is the standard one. This setting is global and is not remembered when powering off.
  • dron: Insta-drone on or off. Insta-drone makes a decay setting of “127” infinite for looping parts. If it is off, it works like the original.

The firmware can be overwritten with any other FW files, e.g. the KORG official ones.

Pajen’s Korg Volca Sample hack (firmware) is available now as a download from the Gearslutz forum. Go to page 21 where you can find the file for the latest beta version.

More information here: Gearslutz 

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