Monday, November 14, 2011

Korg DL-50 "Delta Dawn" ad, Keyboard, 1980

Korg DL-50 "Delta Dawn" synthesizer 1-page advertisement from page 49 in  Keyboard Magazine February 1981.

It's Thursday November 10 as I begin writing this - the start of my extra-long weekend here in Canada since tomorrow (Friday) is the Remembrance Day holiday for most of the country. I took off the Thursday hoping to get a four-day holiday out of it and spend some time watching some quality movies I've been PVR-ing. But work keeps catching up to me, so instead of keeping this blog post short so I can hide out in bed watching some gratuitous violence, I'm keeping it short because I'm doing work stuff. Boo me.

This Korg Delta advertisement looks to have made its first appearance on the back-inside cover of the  December 1980 issue of Keyboard. It then appeared three more times in 1981 exactly four months apart starting in February, then June and finally October.

Why so much time between ad runs? Probably because Korg was on year three of their multi-advertisement blitz that started ramping up back in late 1978 with promotions for the MS-10 and MS-20 synthesizers and VC-10 vocoder. When this ad came into the rotation, Korg was also promoting the CX-3, ES-50 Lambda synthesizer and KR-55 drum machine. Korg was playing musical chairs with their ads - there were only so many they could have in one issue.

Besides the really clean layout of the front panel, one of the things I love most about the Delta is the name. I think the Delta was the third keyboard from Korg to use a cool symbol-like title - there was also the Sigma from back in 1979, and the Lambda that began its advertising in early 1980. I really dig cool names for synthesizers rather than just boring model numbers. Sure, some synths speak for themselves. But really... MS-10 - boring. KR-55 - blah. But Delta and Trident have a lot more pop to 'em. And if you look at today's synths, names like Virus, Mopho or Revolution are what catch my eye. Hee hee... especially Mopho.   :)

I have had no experience with the Delta. None. So, of course to learn a little bit more I turned to YouTube. One of the most watched demo videos is by YouTube user Abertronic, and it does a pretty good job at showing off the best of the Delta.

Another video that came up in a YouTube search was from Brainstormer2302. Looks like it was made as part of an eBay auction and not surprisingly has a bit more of a sell-job associated with it. But it is still an okay demo. There is a Part 2 as well.

But even in today's connected world of YouTube synth demos, I still find original synth reviews helpful to dig up and read through. The problem is that even when you considering the vast amounts of advertising Korg did in Keyboard during this time period, reviews of Korg instruments were quite rare. Luckily, a review of the Korg Delta was published in the December 1980 issue and looks to be only the second or third Korg review *ever*.

Domonic Milano introduced the two-page review by immediately setting expectations. He points out the low price and the Delta's limitations. I like my reviews honest and to the point.
"This month we'll be looking at the Korg Delta, a relatively low-cost keyboard ($1,160.00 list price) that offers both string machine and polyphonic synthesizer sounds. The Delta has some limitations - it's not one of those it'll-do-everything-and-the-laundry-too instruments - but it's not designed to compete in that market. It's designed to provide the player on a limited budget with a reasonably good string sound and some polyphonic synthesizer effects."
He then describes each of the sections separately - keyboard, joystick controller, tuning controls, synthesizer section, string section, output section and back panel - before ending on a high note by calling the machine versatile and useful, and he found that "you could get quite a few different effects and some real nice sounds out of the instrument". Domonic never let's ya down!

Before I end this post, I just have to point one thing out. I don't know about you but this ad really reminds me of an1980s action movies. I tried using Google Images to pin down some movie in particular, but just couldn't find anything similar to it. In fact, most of the action movies that even remotely look like this ad came out later in the 80s, so a connection with action movies was obviously not the designer's intent.

For example, Chuck Norris' 1986 movie Delta Force didn't look anything like it. And movies like Rambo II (go Rambo!) had orange cloud/smoke theme, but it came out in 1985.  The only movie I could find that came out before this ad appeared and that triggered any connection in my head was Dawn of the Dead - and that was really just the movie title that looks similar.

[Update: Friend of the blog Micke found an Apocalyse Now movie poster that includes a similar image. That must have been where my mind was... I've included the image Micke found below. See his comment below the blog post for more information about the movie]

Oh well, it was a hoot looking through old action movies, and gave me an opportunity to discover some cinematic gratuitous violence I hadn't seen yet.

Work is done, so time to make popcorn and tuck myself in. Go Rambo!


Micke said...

Hi Retro,

The background of this ad with the glowing sun/orange sky theme somewhat reminds me of the Apocalypse Now movie poster:

This film - which has a great synthesizer score by Carmine Coppola - premiered in aug 1979, over a year before the Delta ad appeared in Keyboard.

RetroSynthAds said...

Awesome. That has to be it. Good work! :)

Post a Comment