Review: Korg Monotron

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Since I have the Monotron it is my ultimate source of noise and fun. I’m able to make people scream in 6 seconds with it. It is the Gameboy for synthesizer fiends. Let’s see what the Monotron can and can’t do for $59.

When I first saw the Monotron I instantly knew I have to get one for myself. I thought it will be a nice addition to my gear. The device is well built and it’s also very light while the knobs and buttons don’t have a cheap feel to them. There are five of them in total: VCO pitch, LFO rate, LFO intensity, Filter cutoff and Filter peak. Additionally there’s a button for turning the Monotron on and off and selecting where you want to assign the LFO to (pitch or cutoff). Volume control, in/outputs are on the back side and the speaker on the front right. There is no power supply connector – the Monotron runs from 2 AAA batteries.The synthesizer boasts a voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO), a voltage-controlled filter (VCF from the legendary Korg MS-10) and a low frequency oscillator (LFO). This might not seem much but the sound capability of this little beast is enormous. It’s very easy (and fun) to create great synth sounds literally on the go. The thing fits in to my pocket and has a speaker; when I’m bored I plug in my ear buds and get lost in the sonic fun. The LFO blinks with the speed you set it to which is good for creating patterns for yourself that you forget instantly since there is nothing to record it with. The filter sounds as amazing as it should.

Now the bad stuff. Outputs and inputs are 1/8″ stereo jacks. That’s not good news in terms of basic band-gear compatibility. So, yes, you can plug in your earphones without trouble but why not include a single 1/4 jack? Korg states that the Monotron is “patchable”. With what exactly? All the gear I have 1/4 outputs. This is a bad move against power users. The ribbon controller is fun but it’s so small that hitting a single note is trouble for me – and I have relatively small fingers. No midi in/out makes the device even less capable. These small missing features make all the difference for me. Please include a 1/4″ in and out, midi out, arpeggiator and a bigger ribbon controller and I pay double.The Korg Monotron is a great fun device with a huge value to anyone little interested in it. With a retail price of $59 I would definitely buy it. However due to all the missing features it will never be more than a toy.

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