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Volca FM MIDI-out hack

The Volca FM from Korg is a slick little stand-alone synthesizer.

Among other features is the option to load it with patches meant for the DX7.

I’ve been using Dexed for this, but find the process clunky.

You can also program the Volca FM directly. This feels more intuitive, but Korg did not build-in a way to store-off programs as @syx@files.

The Volca FM has a MIDI-in jack, but no MIDI-out.

However, some enterprising people popped open their Volca and discovered that, readily exposed on the circuit board, are pins for MIDI-out transmission.

There are several different synths that are part of the Volca family, so the details for each may vary, but the core process is the same:

- Find the pins for gnd, tx, and vd
- Solder on wires to each
- Run those wires to either a 5-pin DIN jack or a 1/8-inch TRS (tip-ring-sleeve) stereo jack.

There is some discussion about this on Reddit.

That dicussion is quite handy, but possibly a bit unclear.

This post is meant to help clarify two details.

First, the correct wiring. I used a 1/8-inch jack, with this wiring:

VD to tip
TX to ring
gnd to sleeve

(See also this Korg forum post. )

By the way, if you are unsure what is what on a TRS jack, here’s the layout I used:

        GND-> Sleeve  
                |
                |
 VD -> Tip --- (o) --- Ring  <- TX
     

Second, I needed to buy the Korg Electribe, SQ1 Adaptor, 510470524680.

I tried using an existing adapter that came with an Akai MIDI controller but it did not work.

If you are attempting this Volca FM mod yourself and it is not working be sure you have clean soldering work, the correct wiring, and (if you use the TRS jack) a proper adapter.

With this mod I can now create programs on the Volca FM directly and export them back to Dexed. The Dexed “cartridge” can then be saved off as a custom syx file.

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