In early 2013, Korg announced their Volca line. KVgear was founded a couple of months later, introducing our first Volca stand at Knobcon 2013 and a daisy chain cable shortly afterward. Since then we've rolled out dozens of stands and power accessories for Volcas and other small synths. All of these can be shipped worldwide. We’ve compiled the following information as part of our long history of supporting the Volca community. Contact us if you’d like to suggest additional content.
Model Year Synthesis Output
Bass 2013 Analog Mono*
Beats 2013 Analog+PCM Mono*
Keys 2013 Analog Mono*
Sample 2014 PCM sample Stereo (panning of mono samples)
FM 2016 6 op FM Stereo (chorus on mono voice)
Kick 2016 Analog Mono*
Mix 2018 (none) Stereo
Drum 2019 Digital DSP Stereo (panning of drum parts)
nubass 2019 Analog Mono*
Modular 2019 Analog Mono*
Sample 2 2020 PCM Sample Stereo (panning of mono samples)
* Mono signal is duplicated in phase on left and right headphone channels
All Volcas except the Mix can be powered by 6 AA batteries or an external power adapter. The Mix can only be powered by an external power adapter.
By default, Volcas are set to use alkaline batteries. If you are using rechargeable nickel-metal hydride (NiMh) batteries, change the battery type setting in the global parameters for your Volca.
Daisy Chain Cable
Power adapters can be expensive and occupy a lot of space on AC power strips. Many people don’t want to purchase a separate power adapter for each Volca. Instead, they use a daisy chain cable (daisy chain splitter, power splitter cable, squid, multi-adapter, or multi-plug cable) to power several Volcas from a single power adapter.
If you’re looking for a daisy chain cable, we recommend, naturally, our KVgear DC-5.
Guitar Pedalboard Power Supply
Another option is to use a multi-port “power brick” with isolated 9 V power outputs. One example is the MXR M239 Mini Iso-Brick with 5 outputs. Because polarity is generally center negative on a pedalboard power supply, Volca owners must use an adapter cable that switches polarity and has the correct plugs on each end. The KVgear CBL-XV cable is made for this purpose.
Korg Volca Mix and KVgear Vixen Power Hubs
The Korg Mix and KVgear Vixen (discontinued) have daisy chain power hubs. Cables must have 4.75 x 1.7 plugs on each end. The KVgear CBL-VV cable is designed for this purpose and it's longer than the ones provided with the Mix.
Ground Loop Hum
Ground loop hum can sound like a faint train horn, a buzz, or slowly alternating random tones. It can occur any time multiple pieces of electronic music gear are connected by electrically conductive cables. All types of conductive cables can contribute to ground loop hum, including power, audio, MIDI, sync and USB. The cables do not generate noise. But they provide a pathway for different ground (or neutral) voltages to interact, resulting in audible noise being generated within one or more pieces of gear. USB cables tend to be among the worst offenders. Daisy chain power cables can also allow ground loop hum to occur.
In a Volca setup using a daisy chain power cable, the easiest solution is to place an audio isolator cable inline with the audio cable on whichever Volca is experiencing the noise. In our experience, if you are powering 3 to 5 Volcas on a daisy chain cable, you might need a single audio isolator cable, although it’s possible you could need 2; or you might need zero if you're lucky. There are many audio isolator cables on the market. We have used the PAC SNI-1/3.5 and Mpow Ground Loop Noise Isolator with great success. We have no connection with either of these companies. We're just recommending what we know will work at a reasonable price.
If you are using USB power or if you have an audio interface connected to your system, you might need to use a USB audio isolator. There are many on the market. If using USB power, make sure that the USB audio isolator can provide enough power for your devices. The pictures below show typical USB audio isolators.
Short answer -- Use any of the following:
3.5 mm stereo (TRS) to 3.5 mm stereo (TRS)
3.5 mm stereo (TRS) to 1/4" stereo (TRS)
3.5 mm stereo (TRS) to dual 1/4" mono (TS)
To minimize mechanical strain on the Volca headphone jack, it's recommended that you do not use a 1/4" cable plugged into a 3.5 mm adapter. Instead, use a 3.5 mm cable and plug it directly into the Volca headphone jack.
Korg recommends that only stereo (TRS) cables should be used for Volca audio output, even on mono Volcas. This applies even if you're plugging the stereo cable into a mono input on a mixer. There's no harm in this because a mono jack in a mixer does not make use of the duplicate mono signal on the other side of the stereo connection.
A 3.5 mm stereo (TRS) to dual 1/4" mono (TS) cable is a valid option. If used with a stereo Volca, both mono 1/4" plugs should be connected to inputs on a mixer or audio interface. If used with mono Volcas, the two 1/4" mono plugs will carry the same signal and you only need to plug in one of the 1/4" plugs; you can leave the other 1/4" mono plug hanging loose (not connected) or you can plug it into a different device (audio interface or an effects pedal).
A 3.5 mm stereo (TRS) to 1/4" mono (TS) adapter should NOT be used when plugging into an UNBALANCED input. However, this type of cable SHOULD be used if you are plugging into a BALANCED input. This is because balanced and unbalanced equipment have different electrical paths for the three signals coming out of a Volca (left, right, neutral). Be aware that connecting a Volca to a balanced input can sometimes cause problems with sync. If sync problems occur, carefully check all cables (audio and sync) to ensure that they are the correct type.
Short answer: Use 3.5 mm cables for sync. Mono (TS) is highly recommended, but stereo (TRS) can be used.*
*NOTE: Korg consistently states that sync cables must be 3.5 mm mono (TS) even though they shipped early Volcas and the Mix with TRS (stereo) sync cables. Some users report sync problems when using mono sync cables, especially when using mono audio cables (mono audio cables are NOT recommended). But this type of problem is not widespread. If you experience timing issues or glitches, make sure that your audio cables are stereo and then carefully go through the global parameters on all your Volcas to ensure that sync polarity is set up properly across all devices. If sync problems persist, remove all audio output cables and continue troubleshooting.
Volcas will share the same tempo if you connect them with sync cables. Plug one end of a sync cable into the OUT jack of a Volca and into the IN jack of another Volca. Continue to connect sync cables to the OUT and IN jacks on other Volcas. The first Volca in the chain will be in control of the tempo for all. You can start and stop the sequencers on each Volca independently, but they'll all be on the same beat.
There's a hack to allow all synced Volcas to receive a start signal at the same time. On the master Volca (the one at the start of the sync chain), plug one end of a sync cable into the IN jack and leave the other end of the cable unplugged. Press PLAY on each of the Volcas. When you pull out the extra sync cable from the master Volca, all Volcas will instantly start playing at the same time. All Volcas will stop at the same time when you plug the loose cable back into the IN jack on the master Volca. If any notes continue to play on any of the Volcas, hit the PLAY button on that Volca to stop the sound.
3.5 mm mono (TS) cables are easy to find at nearly any place that sells audio cables. If you're fond of rainbow colors, consider the Korg SQ-CABLE-6 sync cable (pack of 6).
All Volcas include a MIDI in port to allow you to control it with another synth, drum machine, sequencer or MIDI controller.
MIDI Out Mod
Although Volcas do not include built-in MIDI out jacks, Korg included the necessary contact points on the PCB, including markings to clearly indicate their purpose. You can add a MIDI out jack by following DIY instructions or by buying a kit. Most MIDI Out modifications require soldering, but there are some products that do not require any soldering. Be warned that if you modify your Volca you will most likely void your warranty with Korg.
Any standard MIDI cable can be used with Volcas.
MIDI Solutions Quadra Thru
Motu MIDI Timepiece
Caution: Users report mixed results (some bad, some good) with MIDI 4x4 USB MIDI hubs sold on Amazon
Patch Editor (via MIDI)
Unofficial software has been created by users to allow for adjustment of patch parameter over MIDI,
- Potential damage to Volcas due to impedance mismatch.
- Loss of volume
- Can cause sync problems, especially at high volume
- Loss of volume
- Can cause sync problems, especially at high volume
- Pros: 8 channels, mutes, panning, 2 aux sends, separate phones and main outs, power for 8 Volcas, battery powered, same size as Volca
- Cons: no longer available
- Pros: can power Volcas, same size as a Volca
- Cons: only 3 channels, not battery powered
- Pros: small, battery powered
- Cons: limited features
- Pros: inexpensive, pan controls
- Cons: limited features, noise
- Pros: 6 stereo inputs, per channel FX and EQ, global compression, MIDI sync, records onto microSD card
- Cons: expensive; menu diving
Large Format Mixer
Stands & Racks
Volca users are spoiled for choice when it comes to stands and racks. There are dozens of options ranging from 3D printed, to metal, to wood, to precision plastic. There are even clever DIY designs that use cardboard. But buyer beware! Quality, sturdiness, appearance and price vary widely. When shopping for a Volca stand, pay attention to the materials used, especially in the pieces that connect the side panels together. Is the stand designed to prevent structural failure? (Screwing into the edge of an MDF panel can easily lead to failure.) Is the stand freestanding (or does it squeeze the Volcas for stability)? Can it be assembled/disassembled without tools? Is the stand able to resist falling backwards or wobbling side-to-side when the Volcas are played? Is there room for cable routing? Can the stand be expanded or added to?
See below for professional quality Volca stands from KVgear that answer "yes" to all of the above questions.
- Boo-1, -2, -3 >>> sleek, solid, unobtrusive, staggered (stair step) tiers for touch strip access
- Volc 45-2, -3, -4 >>> sleek, solid, unobtrusive, economical
- Captive V2, V3, V4 >>> secure, flippable
- Bendit Tray >>> holds 2 Volcas, allowing them to fit on nearly any KVgear stand
- Volca Tray >>> holds 2 Volcas, allowing them to fit on nearly any KVgear stand
Euorack Mounting of Volcas
Cases & Covers
If your Volca appears to be malfunctioning or acting strangely, you can reflash the panel processor, which is done by holding REC and MEM while starting the Volca. (Thanks to Pajen for the tip!)
Volca groups on Facebook
Korg Volca Expert Guides by Tony Horgan
Volca Fan Art by Henry Kalenius