KORG Volca Beats MIDI Out Mod

September 19th, 2013 § 96 Comments

MIDI Out Installed

After seeing this little box, I had to have it, and after acquiring it, I couldn’t stop thinking how it could be modded. Following the Monotron tradition, the manufacturer has made it easy for you and even left labels to the appropriate solder points. I started with a fairly easy one, adding a MIDI Out Port


The actions described in this post will void your warranty and can damage your equipment. I take no responsibility for your actions.


Most of the details about what can be done with Volca Beats can be found in here. They mention that there is a possibility of adding a MIDI Out port, but don’t really get into any details. The solution was found in the comments of a youtube video. It is as easy as soldering three wires from the PCB to the connector. Let’s get into some more details.
This mod also works with the Volca Keys, Bass and Sample (and probably most of the Volca line)

The Connection

On the PCB you can clearly see three solder points, clearly labeled as VC, GND and TX. These are the points we must connect. Check the third image in order to see what must be connected where.



PCB Solder Points Closeup

PCB Solder Points Closeup

MIDI Connector

MIDI Connector



MIDI Out Installed

MIDI Out Installed


After this mod, you get a 16 step sequencer, which can trigger 10 sounds over MIDI, with adjustable tempo. What you don’t get is any functionality provided by the knobs like Stutter, PCM Speed or the various Pitches, Volumes and Decays. Still a very easy and cheap mod (only a MIDI connector and the wires are needed) that can add some functionality to your box. It was done in about an hour with most of the time consumed in where to position the port.
This is the official user’s manual and check this to see which MIDI signals it recognizes.


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§ 96 Responses to KORG Volca Beats MIDI Out Mod

  • Sean T. says:

    Loving this post!

    Anyway you could add more detail? Like a detailed step by step.

    In other words, make this mod possible for a pure beginner.

    • nizz says:

      There’s not much more to document. It’s a fairly simple mod, everyone can do it with a minimum (or even no) soldering experience. You just have to connect the Solder Points on the PCB to the corresponding pins on the connector. The only thing left to do is to find out where to drill the hole for the connector.

  • shiftr says:

    Thanks for publishing this mod.
    Does it also output midi clock?
    Does it also work as a midi thru?

    • nizz says:

      Hi, sorry for the delay but I get a ton load of spam and was forced to disable auto publishing and go through them one by one. On the question now… yes it does and in fact, I use it as the master clock on ableton live when jamming. About MIDI through, I haven’t tried it (and there’s no setting in the box, though it does let you choose which channel it responds to, maybe it will let the others through. I’ll try and update the post)

  • ffffizz says:

    Hi, thanks for the well documented post. I just implemented this mod hoping that i’d be able to use the volcabeats to pilot a small hardware monosynth (midi in). Only the LFO on the latter seems to sync. The monosynth’s audio out is plugged into an amp but for some reason the sound of the volcabeats comes out through its internal speaker. I double checked my connections they correspond to what you indicate. any clue as to what’s wrong? thanks for the read and hope you can help.

    • nizz says:

      Hi. Check that the monosynth can recognize the MIDI messages sent by the Volca Beats (check it’s manual to see what messages it can recognize and if you can map different messages to certain functions). They are listed on the PDF file linked at the bottom of the post (well, the messages it can recognize are listed, but they are the same as the ones being sent). Please mind that the Volca Beats sends messages every time a sound is triggered (or some of the knobs are being turned) but will not sent the stutters for example.
      About the sound, you just need to turn down the master volume of the unit. The MIDI messages will still be sent.

  • Lento says:

    I’m being a little lazy and presenting this idea/question to you rather than going through the leg work. Anyway…
    From what you saw in there, how difficult do you think it would be to disconnect/cut the TX trace for the stock midi-in jack and wire it up to a 3 position DPTT switch so the one jack can be midi-in, midi-out or off(if you are playing the bass or keys with external keyboard then want to quickly separate them without yanking the midi cable)?

    • nizz says:

      I see a few drawbacks for this operation, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be done. First of all, the stock MIDI In jack is mounted directly on the PCB, which means that it would have to be desoldered and remounted. Then, the existing jack won’t be able to be mounted anywhere, since there are no mounting holes, only the pins soldered on the PCB. This means that you will have to use a standard jack like the one I used in order to mount it on the enclosure. The spacing between the enclosure and the PCB is not that spacious. I chose that spot for 3 reasons.. a. Looks, b. There was a mounting thing that I reused for on of the screws and last and most important c. It was maybe the only spot that the pins wouldn’t touch any components soldered on the PCB, and even then I had to bend the used pins 90 degrees and cut the others. I guess since you will have to remove the MIDI In jack there will be some space, but I don’t remember how crowded the spot was, I will have to open the enclosure to see and I don’t have it with me.
      To tell you the truth, I wouldn’t go into all this trouble. I like having both a MIDI In and Out. Keep in mind that you can program the Volca Beats to respond (and thus send) MIDI messages to a certain channel, so for you example I would just configure the MIDI channel on each Volca and just change the channel on the keyboard according to which one I would like to use.

  • josh hoffman says:

    Sick work nizz. I love seeing people mod and improve everything! Can’t wait to get my hands on one to try this out!

  • Damon Black says:

    Amazing work! Do you know if this would work for the Volca Keys and if it would output MIDI Clock as well?

    • ffffizz says:

      They all have the solder pads for adding a midi out. In the Volca keys it’s below the wires connecting the two circuits together. I did the mod and then removed it: sure you can play it with your keyboard but I actually find that having th little slider keyboard lends itself to different ways of playing. Pity there aren’t any cv connections: gate pitch out or in?

  • Keston says:

    I love that Korg has made these sorts of mods possible in the Volcas and on the Monotribe. Congrats on making it happen! This particular mod has the potential to solve a major headache for me. I want to sync the Volca Keys and Novation Bass Station 2 for an upcoming project, but as the firmware stands on the BSII there’s no MIDI clock on the out port. To get around this I have had to have a third device provide the MIDI clock to a thru box. This creates a mess of what should be unnecessary cables and power supplies. If the VK mod sends MIDI clock then it’s problem solved. I will give this a try soon, but do you know off hand if the VK mod will send MIDI clock as well at the Beats? Thanks!

    • nizz says:

      Hi, I haven’t tried this (yet) with the keys, but I’m pretty sure that they share the same sync mechanism. Just a side note here, the clock coming out of the Beats wasn’t exactly stable, and when using it with recorded audio on Ableton Live, it caused slight glitches in the sound (due to the recorded parts constantly stretching and compacting), though I believe that the variation is so small, that in your case it’s not going to make a difference (it’s maybe even going to make it feel more natural)

      Nice site btw…

  • […] add MIDI out one simply needs to attach a MIDI jack with three leads to clearly labeled solder points on the […]

  • VolcaRock says:

    Hi and thanks for documentary,
    I also added Midi-Out after reading your blog,

    Rock on,

  • Philip Cleary says:

    Excellent post, I’ve been lusting after the volca range for a while and this mod makes the range even better, awesome! πŸ™‚

  • Vesa says:

    Hey! Thanks a million for the instructions, i did the mod today, the work part took me like 1,5h and my soldering iron was cold for like 6 years. It works! Crazy, props to Korg and especially to you!

    The thing is now that i tried it in action i’d actually need only midi clock out from the beats and no notes. Could you tell me which wire that would be? Or is the clock layered within the note data? From other sources it seems pin 3 carries clock, here 3 is empty.

  • riezz1973 says:

    hi there… i did read VD on the pcb board pictures instead of VC mentioned in your text… “The Connection
    On the PCB you can clearly see three solder points, clearly labeled as VC, GND and TX. These are the points we must connect. Check the third image in order to see what must be connected where.”

    sooo i asume it was/is a mistype?

  • riezz1973 says:

    btw,.. anyone know how i can send tempochanges TO the Volca Beat by midi? or do i need this mod… the Midi OUT thingy
    i want to use my Yamaha AN1x (with stepseq and arpegiator) to control the tempo (BPM) of the Volca Beat…. sofar it seems it only would work within a DAW (with very terrible syncing in Ableton…. im kinda disappointed about that part of the Volca`s)ο»Ώ

    • nizz says:

      I’ve only tried to sync it with Ableton through MIDI In, and it works good enough (with slight drifts). Are you sure the AN1x sends out MIDI clock? In a quick search I did, I came up with this (http://www.synthforum.nl/forums/showthread.php?t=114686) where it says that it can only receive MIDI clock. So (if this is true) if you want to sync them by MIDI, you either have to make this mod or have an other MIDI clock source feed them both

      • riezz1973 says:

        hi there.. thnks.. and yeah.. i found the same thread so :(.. my beloved AN1x doesnt have MIDI Clock Out :(.. so i think i will go for a MIDI OUT mod in the future.. first the other 2 volca`s and then maybe some modding.. (never done it before so i have to think over about it)

        about your comment about Ableton.. it seems no-one can synch the beats and ableton as easy,… how did you compensate the Beats? External Instrument and then MIDI Clock delay settings or?

        thnks for any help btw πŸ™‚

        • nizz says:

          What I’ve realized is that when pressing play in Ableton (and I guess anywhere else), the beats starts at it’s last set tempo until it receives the second clock signal and starts playing at Ableton’s tempo, giving you the feel that it has some delay. When you press stop, after a while it resets to the previous tempo. If you set the tempo to the tempo used on Ableton, no “delay” will occur.
          Setting a delay on an external instrument isn’t the best solution because a. the delay depends on the song’s tempo and the last tempo set on the beats and b. you will have a minor shift until the second clock signal comes.

          • riezz1973 says:

            hmmm thats a good reason to look for.. i will try twhat u mentioned as soon as possible..
            if its that simple.. well.. i can live with it then πŸ™‚
            but as you told it, it makes indeed some sense how it works..

            thnks.. again!

  • Roads says:

    hi, i want to biuld a midi out on my volca beats to, i’ve been looking for a detailed manual or a “how to do” to do that, but i could’t find one – does anyone have a link for me?

    • nizz says:

      I don’t think there’s anything more to see… You just have to connect the solder pads to the connector… What do you think is missing? maybe I could add it to this walkthrough.

  • […] add MIDI out one simply needs to attach a MIDI jack with three leads to clearly labeled solder points on the […]

  • Eric says:

    Done the mod to use it as a sequencer. Is this really possible (if yes how)? I mean I want to drive a monophonic synthesizer with it. So far I did not succeed.

    • nizz says:

      Hmmm… first of all it depends on the synth, but yes, it can be done. On the other hand, the Volca Beats output specific note values (not serial), so it doesn’t really makes sense to drive a synth with it. You can try this mod on a Bass or Keys, so that the note layout you see on your Volca corresponds with the same layout on your synth. Also make sure that the synth and the Volca talk to the same channel.

  • Tiax says:

    Hi, thanks for this guide!

    As a total noob, may I ask you what kind of cable you used to connect the DIN connector to the Volca’s PCB ? I’m not sure of what I should use.

    Thanks a lot!

  • Nexus says:

    Hello, I’m trying to clock my modular from my volca beats. Are the points for clock outs on the individual sounds or a general clock out?

  • jp says:

    hi will this mod able me to sync the volca to other hardware like an mpc?

  • FRICOCO says:

    Def no midi thru on this. I’m working on that now though. going to see if I can do it without desoldering the midi in jack.

    • Vartan Aivazian says:

      That would be a nice project, although it’s a little cramped in the case… I’m taking a different approach, building a MIDI Thru Box.

  • DJM says:

    Dumb question here, but if I want to hook up all three of the Volcas to receive MIDI clock signals (and other parameters, like those found in the J74 Fabrizio’s M4L software) do I need to have three separate MIDI-OUTS from my Focusrite (I have the 2i4 with one MIDI-OUT) or can I just use a four port MIDI-Thru box, connecting one MIDI-OUT from my Focusrite to each of the MIDI-IN’s of the Volcas? Thanks in advance!

    • Vartan Aivazian says:

      Theoretically you should be OK with a MIDI Thru box… It’s supposed to replicate the input signal to the outputs, so if it receives a clock signal, it would pass it to all outputs. And since the clock signal is channel independent it should work on all devices connected to it, no matter what channel they respond to.
      I’ve build a MIDI Thru box, but hadn’t got the opportunity to test it in real conditions yet. When I do, I’ll update the blog.

  • Peter says:

    Hi, I’ve never modified any equipment before, but I really want midi-out on my volca beats. I just ordered a female 5 pin connector and 3 pin cable. I have a soldering iron. Do I need something coming out of the pins? This is the part I am confused about. Can cut and strip the wire down to what I need, or is the little assembly piece on the end necessary when I solder? If you can understand my question and give me any I help it is much appreciated.

    • Vartan Aivazian says:

      If I understand correctly you are asking about the header I’ve added to the solder pads. No, it isn’t necessary… I just added it so that the port can be easily removed… You can solder the wires directly to the pads.

  • cooptrol says:

    Hi just wanted to show this very easy MIDI out mod I did, you don’t need to drill the case and you dont need a DIN connector:




  • Zen says:

    FYI korg has an app called SyncKontrol that sends pulses from an iOS device to stereo out. This can be used to send the master clock to the sync in of the volca via a stereo cable. With the Volca’s I measured a pulse on the tip and about 400 mV on the ring. (Current leakage?).

    Are these the connection you made? If so I think that means sync in clock would work with your mod!

    1. DIN PIN 5 and TX (on pcb)
    2. DIN PIN 2 and GND (on pcb)
    3. DIN PIN 4 and VD (on pcb)


  • Zach says:

    Awesome. Thank you for posting this!

  • Jason Miller says:

    So I tried this mod on my Volca Keys and now the startup sequence where the lights blink goes forever and I can’t use it anymore. Bummer.

    • Vartan Aivazian says:

      Are you sure you haven’t sorted something or removed some connector that you forgot to put back? If you placed the connector where I did, it could be touching the PCB.

  • JF says:

    Hi. What kind of wire should I use to wire the midi jack to the solder points? I don’t know anything about wire so can someone be very specific?? Thanks!

    • Vartan Aivazian says:

      I just ripped an old IDE ribbon cable I had laying around, but you can use virtually anything (as long as it’s not too thick).

      • JF says:

        Thanks! I don’t know what that means though. Can I just go to radio shack and say that I need some wire and they’ll know what I need?

  • Din jack works? says:

    Hi will this DIN jack work? The guy at the shop said it wouldn’t, that din and midi jacks are different.

    • Vartan Aivazian says:

      Most MIDI devices use DIN5 connectors. If you look at the MIDI Out port you’ll see that it’s in fact a DIN 5 connector.

  • AUTOMAN says:

    i just finish mine!!!! it work like a charm!!! thanks a lot men!!! now i can use my volca beats as a midi master clock to sinc my volca keys (obviously) + microKorg + microbrute + akai mpx8!!!!!! all whitout using no midihubs, no midi interfaces and zero computers!!! ο»Ώ

  • leviathant says:

    I just watched a video of a Boss DR-110 driving a Volca, and the thought occurred to me – if you’re driving a Volca’s internal clock from the analog sync input, will it convert/output MIDI clock signal from the MIDI output? Not having a Volca myself, I have no good way to test this, so I figure I’d try my luck in your blog comments. Thanks!

  • […] is synced to the DS, but it doesn’t end there. Korg have been generous in making the Volcas extremely easy to hack- so I added a MIDI output (god, more MIDI???), in a quick-and-dirty […]

  • ehouais says:

    Would it be possible to use the Midi IN DIN socket (I don’t plan to use MIDI IN anyway) for the MIDI OUT mod ?

    • Vartan Aivazian says:

      It’s tricky but it can be done. The port is PCB mounted, which doesn’t leave you with too much space to work, and you would have to disconnect the MIDI in line and connect the MIDI Out. I would recommend not disabling the MIDI In though, because in the future you might want to use it with a DAW or an external sequencer to get past the 16 step limitation and/or sync it with other equipment, without having to use the Volca Beats as the master clock.

  • frank says:

    maybe you can just break the traces on the pcb that the midi in is connected to and rewire from there

  • Gavin says:

    Yo man! You think this could be applied to the Micrbrute? Adding a midi out connector? if so, how do I go about this. Fully aware of voiding my warranty

  • Gavin says:

    Yo man! You think this could be applied to the Micrbrute? Adding a midi out connector?

  • Vartan Aivazian says:

    I don’t own a microbrute yet, so I can’t really answer your question

  • Spaker says:

    Two main questions and then I get wordy. It’s a bad habit, but I try to explain fully and this is what happens. Looking into a 12 step group for Internet “over share-ers”


    -What is the best place to get the female DIN socket?

    -Can you put a link to “the one” best for this project?

    Now my life story.

    I am going to install MIDI out all four of the Volcas and probably, at some point, put MIDI in AND out on my Korg Monotribe. So I am looking for a good one, something well made, but not a rip off. I had this one fro mouser all picked out, lost the link somehow and for the life of me, no matter what search parameters I use, I can’t find the same 60 cent female 5 pin DIN socket for the life of me.

    Help me out?

    Thanks! This blog post, among some other folks I have found on message boards and YouTube have me inspired to make everything Analog I have slide right into Ableton, My Goal here. *


    *Yes, I know Ableton is really good at converting WAV files into pretty much perfect MIDI representation. I want to have the flexibility to bring the units to a friend’s house, try out other DAWs in the future, etc.

    • Vartan Aivazian says:

      Thanks for your kind words sir, very much appreciated πŸ™‚

      Now about the DIN sockets… Actually I just bought mine in a local electronics store, so I can’t really recommend a store. Of course, they are far from perfect, if I did order them online I would have picked some with a lower profile, in order for them to fit better inside the case. On the other hand, if I was to mod the Beats today, I would go for the 3,5mm jack option, and use a converter cable. I have an Akai MPX8 with these things from the factory and they are great if you are working with limited space, plus you wouldn’t have to drill the aluminum plate. There is enough space to place it on the back of the box, I have added 3,5mm connectors on the back for separate outputs for kick, snare, hats, toms, pcm, white noise and there is still space for a couple more.

  • Raphael Jozsa says:


    Sorry – bot i couldn’t open the last two links in the End of your discription (the Manual)
    Korg show an error website…
    Wehre Else can i find a manual/ a Plan to Build a midi Out for my volca’s on my own ?

    • Vartan Aivazian says:

      You’re right, they seem to have updated their website. I’ll try to find a new link and update the post. Thanks for the feedback.

      UPDATE: The links now work πŸ™‚

  • Spaker says:

    So…. after a good long wait, I dove in this afternoon. Life gets in the way of hobbies- which is to be expected, but I know I was totally ENGROSSED in the details of this projects two months ago and now half of my research is -poof- no longer upstairs.

    So. What I did accomplish is to put a MIDI OUT on the volca Keys. If I had it to do over again, I would do it differently. Oh wait! I still have the Beats, Bass and Sample to go. Not to mention the Monotribe and the three different Monotrons I’d like to “MIDI-ize” one day, and I have started an enclosure for all the smaller gear, like the Monotrons, inside of one of those black tacticle weatherproof / crush proof cases. Some people call them by a popular brtand of the cases- Pelican. I have a bunch with foam inside that can be cut out to fit whatever object I’d like to live (and in this case wire) into the case. I am going to hook up power and if I like the feel of performing on them while seated in these cases, I will put the MIDI jacks on the outside of the case, run wires under the foam, and use the hard, durable case to transport the small rig. Anywhere. If I did do that, the cases wouldn’t technically be waterproof and pressurized any more, so I wouldn’t feel too bad about adding a three prong PC style power jack with toggle switch (that I own a couple dozen of).

    So now I am at the point where I want to play with it. And I don’t have any experience with MIDI and Ableton!! Almost none! I feel ridiculous! Between the time I decided I wanted to do this, the MIDI DINS got ordred and today, when I completed wiring and reassembling one of the FOUR I plan to do from the Volca line. I need to read up and watch some videos. What a moron I am.

  • ruben says:

    hi there,
    does any one know if you can control parameters of an access virus A by tweaking the knobs of my volca keys with midi out mod?

  • ruben says:

    it would be really nice …

  • ADH82 says:

    Really need someones help ASAP.
    i tired this mod and while soldering the TX solder point trace came off πŸ™ is there anywhere else on the PCB to solder to?????

    • Vartan Aivazian says:

      You probably heated it too much… I don’t remember if there is another point where you can solder it, but you can probably apply some solder to the solder point and be able to use it again… just be more careful with it.

  • ADH82 says:

    the problem is i can get the solder to stick and the trace is so fine i can get any wire to solder on.
    is there a spot on the component side maybe?

  • ADH82 says:

    wow that doesn’t make sense.

    The problem is i can’t get the solder to stick and the trace is so fine i can’t get any wire to solder on.
    is there a spot on the component side maybe?

  • Nguyen Do Minh Quan says:

    I haven’t try to mod my volca bass but have look inside it already, seems like if anyone want a midi out socket have to remove the battery case n just only use the power for that. I also see VCO, VCA n Saw 1 2 3 square 1 2 3 out have anyone try to mod it out?

  • Felipe Trujillo says:

    what is the names of the cables i need???

  • Grag says:

    Hi! I have already done it! I followed your tips and everything is okay! My friend did the same but he damaged everything! Do you have any tutorials how to solder iron the connector. I have this connector http://hardware.be/wieland/93-733-3953-0.html and I need to think how to do it carefully. Any ideas?

  • billy b says:

    ive done this mod ..by your instruction … and get no midi data … it only passes the sound through like a speaker out – the effects …. ??? did i do something wrong or ..is is just the synths im attempting to operate …. tried it on a Roland Gaia sh101 and a KP3 kaoss pad

  • Zoe says:


    Do you know perhaps whether the same be done with Korg Volca Sample?
    Many thanks!

  • Wiliam says:

    I’ve added MIDI in/outs (where appropriate) to both a a Volca beats and Bass. First off, thanks to all of the pioneers who made this task easy for the rest of us! They both work great.
    However, I have run into something I can’t find info on regarding MIDI through on them. I’m going to try out my solution and report back my results, but until I can, I’ll see if anyone else has ideas.
    I got a Beatstep Pro. I decided it would be pretty sweet if i could sequence both Volcas from it. Well, Volca midi through didn’t seem to pass anything but clock and note messages from whichever Volca was first in the chain.
    What I’m going to try is using a 1/8″ y-style splitter as a crude through by connecting it to the 1/8″ midi jack on the Beatstep Pro.

  • Wiliam says:

    This, I hope, will stop the Volcas from filtering each others channels, as well as provide better clocking than a daisy-chain configuration.
    I’d have waited to post this, but I don’t have access to my gear right now, and figured I should share the idea in case I forget to report back.

  • Wiliam says:

    Vartan, is there a way I can message you with the rest of what I am figuring out? I don’t want to clutter these comments with stuff that might look like product ads.
    I think I’ll be able to solve this when I am back in the same town as my bench. I managed to get to my gear and produce some results. I think I can get access to a meter today.basically, it looks like the cable pinouts on the BSP midi dongle are different

  • Wiliam says:

    …from x product made by (manufacturer name).
    There just doesn’t seem to be much info online right now about the actual functionality of Volca throughs. Also, Im going to look like a real turkey if I’m missing something obvious.

  • hagbart says:

    hi there

    i moded my korg also for european users here u get a nice connector that will fit nicely with enough spacing underneath it without bending the leads – Lumberg 0107 05 – http://www.conrad.com/ce/en/product/733403/DIN-connector-Sleeve-socket-straight-pins-Number-of-pins-5-Silver-Lumberg-0107-05-1-1-pcs
    hf moding your korg

  • Rene says:

    What kind of wires should I use to do this? Thank you.

  • Stefan says:

    I really like the volca bass sequencer, great mod! So, volca bass has 3 VCOs and each of them can play it’s own sequence (VCO group mode 1). The number of steps of each of that sequences can differ, so you can make polyrhythms. My questions:
    – Does the midi out mod send the notes of all 3 VCOs or maybe just the first one or so?
    – If it’s all notes, is it all through the same midi channel? Or is there a way to get the sequences on seperate channels?
    Thanks a lot!

  • Anna says:

    Hello! Total noob here. I have two questions.

    1-I really know nothing about midi. just trying to start learning, so I’m not sure when I look in the manual which are the ‘midi messages’ that the volca beats can send/receive. I’m looking to sync to my voicelive 3.

    2-I already use the sync out of the volca beats to my gameboy, will trying to send clock through the midi affect that in any way?


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