How to Set the Clock in a Korg Synthesizer

By Joshua Reed Stuart ; Updated September 15, 2017

When talking about synthesizers, the term “clock” refers to MIDI Clock, which is a system of MIDI messages that set the tempo and synchronization of MIDI events, program changes, or sound parameters.

Setting clock in a Korg synthesizer is simple and quick. We will use the Korg RADIAS and microKORG XL as examples for setting clock. Korg operating systems are similar in programming, so these general guidelines should apply to most of the recent Korg synthesizer product line.

microKORG XL

A microKORG XL is capable of four different types of clock: auto, internal, external USB, and external MIDI.

If using an external MIDI device to control the clock, connect it to the MIDI IN port on the back of the microKORG XL.

Turn the microKORG XL and any external MIDI devices on.

When using the microKORG XL as a standalone unit, adjust the “TEMPO” knob. This will set the microKORG XL's internal clock to whatever beats-per-minute (BPM) setting is desired.

If using the microKORG XL with external devices, go to the “MIDI” page in the parameters setting. Four options are available.

“Auto” will set the microKORG XL to respond to external MIDI messages. If there are no incoming clock messages, the synthesizer will maintain the “Tempo” setting.

“Internal” sets the microKORG XL to only respond to the “TEMPO” setting. It will ignore any incoming MIDI messages and will send the microKORG XL's clock messages to any external device connected to its MIDI OUT port.

“Ext USB” will set the synthesizer to respond to MIDI messages on the USB connection to a computer.

“Ext MIDI” will synchronize MIDI messages to whatever device is connected to the MIDI IN port on the back of the microKORG XL.

RADIAS

Connect the external MIDI device (sound module, sequencer, etc.) to the MIDI IN or MIDI OUT port on the back of the RADIAS. Connect to the MIDI IN port if the external device will control the RADIAS. Connect to the MIDI OUT port if the RADIAS will control an external device.

Turn power on to both units.

Much like the microKORG XL, the “TEMPO” knob sets the beats-per-minute of the internal clock.

Press the “GLOBAL” button on the RADIAS. This will take you into Global mode.

Go to page 4 of the parameter settings. This is the MIDI page.

“Internal” will set the RADIAS as the master clock unit and send any MIDI messages to the external device connected to the MIDI OUT port. “TEMPO” will adjust this clock speed up or down.

“Ext USB” and “Ext MIDI” will set the RADIAS to respond to incoming MIDI messages from either a computer or external sound module on the MIDI IN port or the USB port.

About the Author

Joshua Reed Stuart is a music and culture writer from Portland, Ore. Beginning his professional career in 2000, his work has appeared in "The Iowa Review," "Poetry International" and other domestic and international journals. Stuart also works as a tutor, musician and sound designer. He holds an M.F.A. in writing from Pacific University.