I have had a Korg Wavestation since, oh, I believe 1991. I love it dearly but one thing has always nagged me. Half a year after I bought it, Korg came out with an upgraded version of it, the Wavestation EX, which added lots of waveforms (an additional 2MB, doubling the original’s waveform ROM) including some sorely missed piano samples. Yes I know that the Wavestation is a synthesizer and not a ROMpler, and it’s great for that, but it was also my only keyboard for a while and sometimes you just need some piano sounds. Korg even offered an upgrade set for a while but I remember it to be rather expensive, and I was a poor student… I made do with the piano PCM card set but that was always a bit of a hack.
Nowadays, I could buy the EX upgrade but of course since the Wavestation was discontinued in 1994 (twenty years ago! ZOMG!), none of these are available anymore.
But recently I found out that a site called Wavestation Revival has been collecting data on that fabled EX upgrade (and other things) for a while, and very successfully I might add. They have files for OS EPROMs available that can be used to upgrade the WS to the newest OS version (3.19), and also offer some details on installing EPROMs containing the remaining waveforms. Good times! After I had obtained the OS software and the waveform EPROM data, I was ready to upgrade.
While I was at it, I also replaced the failing battery. It’s a regular CR2032 available at many stores from many vendors.
The ICs were obtained at buyicnow.com, who not only sell them for pretty cheap but also offer a burning service for those who (like me) do not have an EPROM burner. I am sure you can buy them at many places that offer the same service but this was the one I used and they did a flawless job.
The first thing to do is opening the box, of course. I unscrewed all screws on the Wavestation’s bottom except the ones in the rubber feet. Those do not do anything except, well, hold the rubber feet…
After all those screws were gone, I could remove the bottom cover. All the chips that need to be changed are located on the logic board (the green one).
The first thing I did is carefully lift out the socketed EPROMs containing the operating system and replace them with the new ones.
So this worked out great. The next step, installing the wave ROM chips, was a bit more involved. Wavestation Revival very sensibly recommends installing IC sockets instead of soldering the ROM chips directly to the logic board. Also, every IC gets a buffering ceramic capacitor of 100nF. To do this installation, the board needs to be removed from the Wavestation. My WS’s logic board had a lot of the holes for the new IC sockets clogged with some black stuff that I believe was solder resist. I had to remove that first; I just used a bit of wire which I pushed through each hole in turn using some needle-nosed pliers. Afterwards I could install the caps and the IC sockets.
After pushing the ICs into their sockets, I turned over the WS and powered it up. Checking the waves revealed…
Success! I now have a Wavestation EX. Parts cost was about 30€ for EPROMs and shipping. I am very very content indeed!
I still have some upgrades to do. The inverter powering the display backlight (EL foil) kind of hums in a pretty annoying way. I plan to replace the display with an LED-backlit one as described in this article. While I am at it, I will replace the felt strip that buffers the keyboard keys when they go up, hopefully quieting the otherwise excellent keyboard.
After those two upgrades, the Wavestation will again be my dream keyboard.
If you have any questions on the upgrade please feel free to contact me. I also have one more set of OS and wave EPROMs available (because I wanted to make sure I had a replacement if I screwed anything up) which I am willing to part with.