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In its six-year production period, an estimated 250,000 Korg M1 synthesizers were sold, making the M1 Korg's most successful synthesizer until the release of the Korg Triton. The volume of M1's sales allowed Korg executives to buy back Yamaha's share of the company, a deal which had originated in the mid-1980s (though Yamaha kept making keyboard assemblies for Korg, the entire keybed is the same in M1, DX7 and several other Korg and Yamaha synths). The M1 was so popular that it was produced until the end of 1995, long after its successor T-series (the more advanced T1/T2/T3 workstations) was discontinued.
The huge success of the M1 lies primarily in the quality of its sounds. Korg expanded on the Sample & Synthesis idea, formally implemented on Korg DSS-1 in 1986: instead of classic analog subtractive synthesis where simple analog waveforms (square, triangle, saw, etc.) are produced by tone generators (oscillators) it uses overtone-rich complex digital samples of actual acoustic instruments and classic synths of the past, and applies full subtractive synthesis processing: filters, LFOs, envelope generators, digital effects, etc. The resulting sounds were rich, colorful and natural. The ability to layer up to 8 different tones (sounds) on top of each other, split them over the keyboard in any combination, and instant realtime access to crucial parameters such as attack, release, filter cutoff, LFO timing, etc., made the M1 easy to use.
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