I’ve been lusting after this miniature marvel ever since Korg announced it and today it was duly couriered to my doorstep. The Youtube videos and numerous images on the web are quite misleading about its size – this thing is small !! In fact it is only slightly larger than my HTC Desire mobile – have a look….

It may be small in stature, but it is certainly mighty in sound. Consider that this is the same analog voltage controlled filter used on the legendary Korg MS20 and MS10 of the late 1970’s. The circuitry is all analog, yes ANALOG! I suspect, or rather hope, that Korg are testing the water with this product and may develop a full size analog synth at an affordable price in the near future.

The unit is all plastic and does admittedly look and feel like a toy. Most people compare it to a Stylophone, but it is far more capable than that. It runs off two 1.5v AAA size batteries (supplied with the unit), has a ribbon keyboard and a built-in speaker. On the rear of the unit there is a headphone socket which can be used as an output to connect it to your mixer or audio interface for recording. In addition you will also find a volume slider, keyboard range adjustment screw and aux input on the rear.  Although monophonic you can achieve legato style sweeps and glide using the ribbon keyboard and it is possible to get an almost duophonic layered  sound with some judicious VCO LFO and VCF tweaking.  While small, the keyboard is perfectly useable unless you have large fingers, in which case a stylus will come in handy.  Most demo videos will show people producing god awful high pitched screeching noises from the Monotron, but if you take the time to make careful and slow adjustments to the knobs you will get some great sounds including analog drums, bass drones and notes, leads, fx, classic sci-fi sounds reminiscent of the Radiophonic Workshop and, yes, even nasty high pitched screeches and warbles 🙂

The great advantage for sound designers is that the Monotron  has an auxiliary input so that external instruments can be routed through its filter for some real sound mangling – oh yess!

If you want to see it in action in the hands of someone creative I can do no better than refer you to this excellent Youtube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zn4D79Jgn_4  Stick with it – about 25 seconds in it gets really interesting !

Oh and if you are looking for some Monotron samples grab 10.5mb of sounds resulting from 10 minutes of knob twiddling at the Waveformless blog here http://waveformless.blogspot.com/2010/08/free-sample-friday-korg-monotron.html

I’m looking forward to including Monotron sounds in some tracks and will keep you posted on the results.

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