Korg's $85 monotron analog synthesizer
Korg has been a big player in the democratization of music production in recent years, with the mini Kaoss Pad effects device, the Kaossilator phrase synthesizer and the incredibly affordable nanoSeries USB MIDI controllers finding their way into the kit bags of countless budding rockstars (and many actual rockstars). Its latest noise maker is the monotron, a dead simple analog synthesizer featuring a ribbon controller (essentially a touch panel instead of keys, which is incredibly "playable" even for amateurs) and the same filter used in the classic MS-10 and MS-20 analog synthesizers which are still some of the most sought-after vintage synths on the planet.
The monotron is about as simple as they come, with a single oscillator, a single filter, and a single low frequency oscillator (LFO), meaning it's unlikely to be used in the sound design for the next Transformers film, but that doesn't mean Korg won't shift millions of them.
The inclusion of an auxiliary port means you can run other audio sources through the monotron, and apply that classic MS-20 filter sound to whatever you can think of - a leg-wetting concept for musicians and producers who've been stuck in "virtual analog" land.
The monotron will be available some time in August with a ridiculously reasonable MSRP of $85, so we wouldn't be surprised to see street prices of well under $60. Not only would this be an incredible purchase (or gift) for someone who wants to learn the basics of synthesis through hands-on experimentation, but I guarantee you that sounds from the monotron will be appearing in music in the Beatport charts by the end of 2010.
About the Author
Tim originally came to Gizmag as a developer, much to the dismay of anyone who had to maintain, build on, or rewrite his code. After wearing every other hat that didn't have a head for it, he became CEO in 2010. Outside Gizmag, he trains Muay Thai and plays too much Destiny.
All articles by Tim Hanlon
Heh. A modernized Stylophone! http://www.thinkgeek.com/electronics/musical-instruments/aa64/
Or how about buying a used MIDI keyboard on eBay for even half that price, with more keys, sounds and programmability. Seriously. Junk like this is just more plastic to fill the trash heaps. \"Used\" can be so much more rewarding and fiscally responsible.
I\'m surprised you feel so strongly against this one Matthew. I haven\'t spoken to an electronic musician yet who isn\'t planning on picking at least one of these up - and this includes people who are already decked out with gorgeous analog gear like Moog Voyagers.
Everyone\'s got a MIDI keyboard, and virtual analog (VA) is just that - virtual. It\'s come a long way in the last 10 years, but there\'s just nothing like an analog oscillator and an analog filter for those bass frequencies.
I\'m thinking this is Korg\'s reaction to the Gakken SX-150. Guessing that this will inspire many a mod for CV/Gate, MIDI, and external inputs. The miracle about this is that it\'s got one of the best low pass filters out there to start with.
Of course, Korg\'s got the greatest filters in the world. If you, however, don\'t want to carry the Monotron around, there are some alternatives, such as iPhone apps. I especially like Noise Boxx, which offers almost the same options as the Monotron: http://bit.ly/hQmYlo
Luc van Donkersgoed
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