If you're considering purchasing a second-hand Korg Kronos synthesizer, it's important to be well-informed to make a wise investment. The Korg Kronos is a powerful and versatile workstation that offers a wide range of features for musicians and producers and is still the king of the hill in spite of newer offerings from other manufacturers. Here is an outlined buyer's guide to help you navigate the second-hand market and find the right Kronos for you:
Research Kronos Models:
Before diving into the second-hand market, take the time to research and familiarize yourself with the Korg Kronos. Understand its different versions, specifications, and features. This knowledge will help you identify the specific model that suits your needs. Determine which model and generation you prefer based on their features and improvements. Consider the age of the unit as well, as older models may not have the latest updates and enhancements.
Kronos 61,73,88(Original Kronos, Kronos 1, 2011 Model, K1) 2011-2012
Official Introduction Video
Launch Event Video
The Original Kronos shipped with a 32 GB SSD and 2GB RAM and ran version 1.1x operating system. The 61 key version was first to ship followed by the 73 and 88 key versions which were slightly delayed due to a component shortage caused by the Japan Tsunami of 2011. Some users encountered issues with the RH-3 73 and 88 key keybeds where the notes would double strike or cutoff. Korg addressed this with a hardware fix that replaced the rubber key contacts. The replacement contacts were light blue in color replacing the pink rubber contacts for the Kronos 73 and 88. My personal take, a secondhand 73 or 88 with blue contacts would be more desirable than the standard pink. As of this writing, a Kronos 1 would at least be a 12 year old instrument. The factory program sounds in a Kronos 1 go from program banks I-A to U-F with initilialized slots in U-G. Although it shipped with only 2GB of RAM and a 32GB SSD, users are able to install more memory and a second SSD with unlimited capacity. All Kronoses feature a universal power supply 100v-240v from K1 to the final production K2.
Kronos X-61,73,88 (KX) 2012-2014
The Kronos X was introduced later in 2012 along with the version 2 OS update which allowed for users to take advantage of the HD sample streaming functionality previously only available for internal factory PCM. This model included maxed out with an extra GB of RAM from the standard Kronos 1 plus has a double capacity SSD from 32 to 60 GB. This also increased the number of program banks with 7 additional banks from U-AA to U-GG. The Kronos X shipped with demo versions of their sample libraries that were preloaded in banks U-AA to U-DD which could be authorized by purchasing the codes from the Korg online store. If purchasing a second hand Kronos X, check whether these expansions have already been authorized for you to use. If not, either purchase the codes from the Korg Store or overwrite these banks with your own sounds as they are unplayable in their demo state. The sound order of a Kronos 1 and Kronos X are different from a Kronos 2. A Kronos X expanded with the Berlin Grand and EXS18 will not have the same order as a Kronos 2.
Kronos 2-61,73,88 (New Kronos, 2015 Model) 2015-2021
The Kronos 2 was introduced as the NEW Kronos in late 2014 and shipped in early 2015. This was both a cosmetic and component upgrade from the K1 and KX. Slightly lighter than the previous models, it features a 64GB SSD, 3.4 GB RAM (one 4GB SDRAM), gold plated I/O jacks, perforated ventilation grill, wooden sides, new logo and font for the logo (Interstate Bold), breathing light in the R of the Korg logo, Fan speed control, auto-shut off power switch, U-AA-GG label beside the program buttons, larger TouchView display plastic enclosure. A second hand K2 can be between 8 years to a year old.
Kronos Platinum 88 2016
Not to be confused with the newer Titanium Model, the Platinum is silver and has black wooden sides while the Titanium is of a darker silver color with light brown maple colored wooden sides . This came as an 88 model only and functionally identical to the Kronos 2.
Kronos LS 88 2017-2021
The Kronos LS features a light spring action similar to a waterfall keybed, this is an 88 key only model. The weight reduction of the Kronos LS makes it more portable and easier to transport, which can be advantageous for gigging musicians or those who frequently need to move their instrument. Watch out for second-hand units with sunken keys which is a result of a displaced spring in the key or a broken key assembly. The LS is functionally the same as a Kronos 2.
Kronos Gold 88 2017
Korg Kronos Gold and 3.1 Operating System NAMM Video
Metallic gold color with sunburst colored wooden sides. This is a limited edition unit with only 100 units worldwide and was only available as an 88 key model.
Kronos SE Red 61, 73, 88 2019
KORG KRONOS SE - Loaded with the new Italian Grand Piano and KApro Showcase Video
The differences from the standard Kronos 2 includes the black and red burst color over brushed aluminum, black wooden sides, grey over black logo and lettering behind the unit and a red breathing LED light in the R of the Korg logo. This shipped with 2 extra sample libraries, the Italian Grand SGX2 Piano and the KApro Showcase, preloaded in the U-CC and U-DD banks. Expect to pay around what the unit retailed for brand new.
Kronos SE Titanium 61, 73, 88 2020
Not to be confused with the Kronos Platinum with a silver color and black sides as some sellers inadvertently or falsely advertise as the Titanium model. The Titanium features a darker shade of silver and light brown maple colored wooden sides. Like the Red SE, this shipped with 2 extra sample libraries, the Italian Grand SGX2 Piano and the KApro Showcase, preloaded in the U-CC and U-DD banks.
Carefully assess the physical condition of the Kronos unit. Look for any signs of wear and tear, such as scratches, dents, or missing buttons. Check that all the knobs, sliders, buttons, and keys are fully functional. If possible, try the unit in person or request detailed photos from the seller.
Things to watch out for:
-Body Damage, Scratches, and Faded Text labels
Especially take note of the TouchView Label beside the bottom right of the screen. Right-handed users will rest their hand in this area when using the touch screen along with scratches or color fading off. Heavy scratching or fading of upper right hand corner of the touchscreen plastic border piece can indicate that the unit was heavily used. Watch out for deep scratches on the side panels or the body of the instrument as well.
-Keys and the Keybed
Noisy, loose, stuck or sunken keys may indicate worn felt underneath the keybed, ribbon connectors in the key’s travel or damaged key assemblies. With 88 and 73 key models, it could just be the front railing coming in contact with the keys and is an easy adjustment.
-Vector Joystick (VJS)
The aluminum piece on the VJS can be loose or missing in some units. Ensure that this piece is present and cannot be easily pulled off. The joystick itself should remain in place after it is moved. There are cases of excessively loose VJS’s that cause issues with volume or pitch during a performance.
-Non OGM Knobs or Sliders
Adding third party knobs and sliders are a common modification made on the Kronos. Sometimes Hammond organ-style cap covers are used as a replacement for factory slider caps. Ask for the original black knobs and slider caps when purchasing second-hand.
-Damaged USB Connectors
Check that these are not damaged or frayed as this is the main means to update and load operating systems and expansion data.
This could be a tell-tale sign that the Pitch/Modulation Joystick can be damaged and needs replacement. It could also be a faulty ribbon under the joystick.
-Faulty Touch Screen
Dead pixels, intermittent lines or discoloration in the display and an unresponsive touchscreen may mean that those assemblies need to be replaced. Ensure that what you touch on screen corresponds to the function that the Kronos performs, another common issue with the touch display is a misalignment of the touch sensor with the actual display.
-Any Error Messages or Failure to Boot
Unless a Kronos is advertised with these issues and you’re getting a Kronos for spare parts, walk away from the transaction. Some of these errors could be caused by a faulty motherboard which is difficult and costly to repair. My advice, keep looking for a unit without these issues. It is simply not worth the time and trouble if you’re after a Kronos to enjoy immediately and you’ll just end up buying the previous owner’s headaches.
Find out if the Kronos unit has received operating system firmware updates. Korg periodically releases updates that add new features, fix bugs, and improve performance. Updated units are desirable as they ensure you have the latest software improvements and usually indicates that the previous owner cared for the unit. Firmware updates are performed by connecting the Kronos to a computer while operating system updates involve downloading a file and installing on the instrument via a USB Drive.
The last Kronos operating system is OSv3.1.4, this is compatible and can be installed on ALL Kronos models mentioned above.
Standard accessories includes a power cable and the quick start guide. Consider keyboard stands, pedals cables and amplifiers as bonuses to a second-hand purchase. The Korg pedal polarity standard is (-). It can be changed to accommodate positive polarity sustain pedals and switches. Note that positive polarity pedals with a TRS tip such as the Yamaha FC3 and the like are not compatible with the Kronos.
In some cases, the Kronos Korg hard-case came free with the original purchase, some sellers might use this a bargaining chip to add on to the final price or sell the hard case separately. Korg Kronos hard cases have form fitted foam inside which makes for a perfectly snug fit for the instrument. K1, KLS and K2 cases are not interchangeable and have to be for the specific models they’re made for.
Purchase from reputable sources to ensure a smooth and reliable transaction. Consider buying from authorized dealers, established music stores, or well-reviewed online platforms. Private sellers can also be an option, but exercise caution and thoroughly evaluate their credibility.
Service History and Warranty:
If possible, inquire about the service history of the Kronos unit. Ask if it has undergone any repairs or maintenance. Some sellers might offer a warranty, so be sure to understand its terms and duration. A unit with a well-documented service history or an active warranty can provide peace of mind.
Research the current market value of used Korg Kronos units to ensure you're getting a fair deal. Check multiple sources, including online marketplaces, forums, and music gear websites. Be cautious of suspiciously low prices that may indicate a potential scam or hidden issues.
Return Policy and Inspection Period:
Before finalizing the purchase, clarify the seller's return policy and ask for an inspection period. This will allow you to thoroughly test the unit and ensure its functionality matches the seller's description. A reasonable return policy gives you recourse in case any issues arise after purchase.
Test and Evaluate:
Once you receive the Kronos unit, test all its features, buttons, knobs, and inputs/outputs as mentioned above. Check the sound quality, screen visibility, and overall performance. Verify that all software features, such as sampling, effects, and sequencing, are functioning correctly.
Transfer of Ownership and Documentation:
Ensure that the necessary transfer of ownership documents, such as receipts or proof of purchase, are provided by the seller. Ask the seller if the unit has been registered with korg.com and request that this be de-registered under the seller’s account. Register the Kronos under your name at Korg ID
Search for Second Hand Kronos at Reverb.