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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great value
This is a great little item.

First of all, it's just a lot of fun to use. It very well might be the funnest and most carefree synth of I've ever used. Second, for the size and features, it's just a great value--the filter is awesome, and the type of sound you can get out of this little thing is very surprising.

Now, the onboard speaker output can...
Published on August 28, 2010 by KBSoundSmith

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Cool sounds, very poor build quality...
Usually a BIG Korg fan. Not this time. The Monotron makes a popping or crackling noise when you hit the ribbon. This also happens on the MonoTron Duo. The headphone jack broke inside right after purchase. It came loose from the PCB board. It cannot be re soldered, it is surface mounted. Who surface mounts a headphone jack without securing it somehow ? STRIKE ONE ! Korg
Published 1 month ago by lemodus


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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great value, August 28, 2010
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This review is from: Korg Monotron Analogue Ribbon Synthesizer (Electronics)
This is a great little item.

First of all, it's just a lot of fun to use. It very well might be the funnest and most carefree synth of I've ever used. Second, for the size and features, it's just a great value--the filter is awesome, and the type of sound you can get out of this little thing is very surprising.

Now, the onboard speaker output can be a bit noisy; however, it isn't bad, and it's very easy to get around that and keep a good quality sound by using aux. input and output with an audio interface (I'm using the Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 DSP), just make sure you get the proper cables and adapters and use it as a line input. The aux. input is a great feature, letting you route audio into the unit to make use of the filter--I imagine this is what many people will use this for. Also, the unit is great for circuit bending (see youtube...) and is quite an adaptable machine (and at this price, you can afford to make a mistake during a hack, although with how quickly they sell, it may be a bit before you can get a replacement...).

Now, since it is a ribbon controller, it's best suited for glissandos and fx, not really for melody--however, it can be great for a bass part. Add external fx processing (delay lines, reverb, and granular synthesis are especially fun) and you start to see what a little beast this thing is.

Get one. And then a second.
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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scares the cats, May 14, 2011
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This review is from: Korg Monotron Analogue Ribbon Synthesizer (Electronics)
My cats take off whenever I turn it on. I can play wiht it for hours. Poor cats.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It is what it is, but its definitely more than meets the eye, January 10, 2011
This review is from: Korg Monotron Analogue Ribbon Synthesizer (Electronics)
First off let me say that Korg always makes good products and cool innovations. That said, the monotron definitely lives up to the Korg reputation, albeit a few minor flaws.

The best feature about this, I would say, would be the ability to channel in audio via a 3.5mm jack and assign modulation and a filter. Its really cool to sequence something on a DAW or keyboard/synth, and then push it thru the monotron and experiment with the settings. Surprisingly, there are quite a number of effects you can get from the mere 5 knobs on the device. This leads me to my main point: The Monotron is an absolutely fantastic device, used in conjunction with other instruments/effects. As a standalone instrument, however, it does suffer from a few minor issues:
-limited range of keys (16) and of which are slightly off tune (though you can adjust this manually with a screwdriver...also, apparently ribbon synths are subject to change with temperature)
-output is unbalanced, so expect noise
-the input and outputs are positioned almost too close together, to the point where you really can't plug in two cables with adaptors on them.

But, when it comes down to it, is it worth the price? Definitely. Its well worth having if you're looking for an effect that can be precisely and manually controlled. If you're creative, you can most certainly come up with some very creative applications for this device. It has a real lot of potential, and it makes me feel like Korg would do well to create a slightly more upscale version.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Korg MONOTRON 16-key Synthesizer, April 24, 2011
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This review is from: Korg Monotron Analogue Ribbon Synthesizer (Electronics)
Listening to albums from the 70s and early 80s, I used to hear analog synths by Korg and Moog on albums. By the time the 90s came around, I gained a new awareness of these beautiful dinosaurs, through ambient records, and taking another listen to old Pink Floyd albums.

Of course, when I decided, "I'd like to have this sound", I would price these synthesizers. They were used and WAY too expensive! Through digital modeling technology, new models sporting similar tone and control to analog synths was available, but STILL not the same.

Which brings me to the KORG MONOTRON! What you have seen is what you get! A true analog synthesizer for around 50 bucks!

I got my MONOTRON in the mail, and opened the package. I dug through the box, and though, "were is it?!" I found it, and my first impression was "THIS IS small!". It fits in the palm of my hand. Yeah, I have big hands, sort of. But, it is about 1/3 smaller than the STYLOPHONE.

(As you can tell, I am getting the negative out of the way first), the volume is much lower than a STYLOPHONE too. The battery cover is feeble, and it sports 2 AAA batteries. The housing is a thin plastic. The ribbon keyboard is not too hard to control, however it could be easier. it is sort of inconsistent. Hold one finger down on a note, then press another note. Now, use one finger on the same note, then use that same finger and press the same note as before, you will hear DIFFERENT notes. Of course, some see/hear imperfections as endearing qualities! The input and output 1/4" jacks are too close together, which makes it hard to use both at the same time, especially if you have to adapt a guitar cable down.

(Now the GOOD STUFF!) What you have in the MONOTRON is the 3 basic building blocks of a synth. A VCO (voltage controlled oscillator), a VCF (lowpass voltarve controlled filter) and an LFO (low frequency oscillator) to modulate the VCF. The LFO modulates either the pitch or the cutoff of the filter.

Those classic synthtones....BABY! The pitch control covers a wide spectrum of tones. Those down and dirty lows to the higher lead synth tones, you have them all at your fingertips!

Using the Cutoff of the VCF and the rate of the LFO, you can create a pulsating, beat, or a synth drum sound! Set the cutoff at 10:00 and the peak (resonance) all the way up, the pitch and rate low, and you will have that BZZZZZ sound similar to what is hear in the beginning of Rush's Tom Sawyer! ;-)

Plug any instument, a guitar, a stylophone, a drum machine into the VCF and filtar anything but the kitchen sink!

So,the proverbial bottom line is, you can now get a REAL ANALOG synth at an affordable price!

The circuit benders and hardware hackers will love voiding their warranties, since the circuit board is actually labeled! And the schematic drawing is available to the public! How will I hack mine? Well, eventually, I plan to build mine in to a bigger box, spread the controls apart into a comfortable layout, and hook up a REAL keyboard with fullsize keys! And, create a patchbay for the VCF and LFO out and replace the tiny jacks with more practical 1/4" jacks!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to put down!, January 3, 2011
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This review is from: Korg Monotron Analogue Ribbon Synthesizer (Electronics)
If you don't yet own an analog synth but have always wanted one, this is a fun and relatively cheap way to get started. But be forewarned: you'll have trouble letting go of it once you start.
My only (trivial) quibble with the Monotron is that the "keys" are smaller than the width of my finger, which makes playing melodies or bass lines a bit challenging. Granted, the keyboard markings are only meant as a general guide, but with or without the markings it's just a very small playing space to try and play an octave's range of notes. But it still definitely gets the job done.
I love this thing. I will be recording with it every chance I get.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DAMN THIS THING IS FUN!!!!, February 28, 2011
This review is from: Korg Monotron Analogue Ribbon Synthesizer (Electronics)
Didn't know what to expect but after a few minutes I was diggin it! I've used a nord and Kurzweil and soft synths from Reason to Logic, and though they can sound great, there's something dirty and beautiful about this little beasty. If those aforementioned synths are like the prim and proper girls with great jobs and a future, this thing is the cool, simple cute punk rock chic that makes you wanna act bad and wake up late for work. With so limited functions, it definitely reminds me of using knobs and faders on a dj mixer...and I love that feeling!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Noisy Toy or Sensitive Musical Instrument?? You decide!, June 26, 2012
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This review is from: Korg Monotron Analogue Ribbon Synthesizer (Electronics)
After watching countless videos of people playing the Monotron, I was too excited about this tiny synthesizer not to buy one. While the blasting-off-spaceship-esque effects certainly held a pull on me, I mostly wanted the answer to one question. "Why is nobody using this thing to play melodies!?" I found out soon after opening the box and inserting the two included AAA batteries. It is very easy to make lots of crazy analog sounds with the Monotron, which is fantastic for anybody who doesn't already have a full-sized analog synth. It seemed next to impossible to just choose a sound and then play anything coherent, though. I pictured myself writing a snarky review in which I told the world, "My two-year-old loves this synth... but the keys are too small for his fingers!" While this is true, (he's more used to the VL-TONE) I found that melodies are NOT impossible to play. You simply need to treat the Monotron as a new instrument to master, instead of a stupidly small version of a keyboard. Since you can tune the VCO to any note, I transposed all of my songs to C and then tuned C to the correct note. You can create wonderful theremin-like vibrato with small, careful finger movements. The ribbon controller offers near limitless control, but like a fretless guitar, you need to know where your fingers are landing in order to make sure it sounds good.

In short, if you don't know how to circuit-bend or don't have another analog synth, you can have hours of fun making awful sounds with the Monotron! Or, if you have the ambition to re-apply your knowledge of the keyboard into learning the pocket-synth, you can have hours of fun playing real songs anywhere you want!

Also, I found the auxiliary input so sensitive that it processes cable noise, rendering it very annoying for filtering external instruments. I didn't think the output was as noisy as people had made it sound, though.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Korg Monotron, January 18, 2011
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This review is from: Korg Monotron Analogue Ribbon Synthesizer (Electronics)
This product looks like a toy. It's not.

You will want to know that the ribbon keyboard is crude. It doesn't tune well to the correct range, but the pitch is easy enough to set. If you try to play melody it will sound like a toy, or more precisely the inexact notes of a Theremin.

The knobs will produce all those distinctive effects you've heard from The Who and Pink Floyd. Listen to "On the Run," that's what a gentle hand can create!

Consider getting some male-to-male audio cords if you want to use the audio-in and audio-out ports, plus a splitter if you want to have audio out to both headphones and a recording device.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Be Fooled., April 7, 2013
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This review is from: Korg Monotron Analogue Ribbon Synthesizer (Electronics)
I bought this because it seemed fun to play with, and because I wanted to learn more about the very basic features of an analog synthesizer. It delivered on both accounts and then-some. The filter is great (featuring both cutoff and peak controls), and the dual use of the LFO (for the pitch and filter cutoff) allows for a wide variety of sounds. I love this thing. See following rant for details.

Best features (so far):

-Auxiliary input: based on the circuit layout, the aux input comes in after the VCO, so whatever sounds you put through it can be manipulated by the filter; moreover, the VCO can still produce sounds even if you have an external input (though the filter will apply to both of them). In practice, this means you can run a beat through it AND play a melody at the same time, and both will go to the same speaker. Or, you could hook-up a computer mic and filter your singing voice while playing a song. Pretty fun.

-This damn thing produces surprisingly rich low-frequency tones. The internal speaker won't pick them up, but better speakers (or subs) will if you connect them to the head-phone port. I was playing with them for hours at work because I couldn't believe how rich they were. (FYI, drop the pitch, turn the cutoff down fairly low, crank the peak, and it produces some rich bass tones--mix with the LFO, and you have some nice bass lines and/or bass drum rhythms, depending on how high or low the interval of the LFO is set at when it is modulating the cutoff).

-Many people have noted the quality of the filter, which is fair, because it is nice. However, the LFO is similarly versatile--just move it a bit more carefully and you'll fine that you can control much more of the modulation than it first appears.

-*Update*: I thought the "click" sound that you hear when you place your finger on the ribbon to play a note was only avoidable by keeping one finger on it (just time it right when playing), but there is a way around it. If you have another unit (Monotron, Delay, or Duo), run the sound of one through the other, and the "click" is gone! I am sure there are other ways around it, but this is definitely one.

Downside(s):

-Like I said, it is kind of small, and I am worried that its plastic body may eventually break, but I suppose that just means I have to be somewhat careful.

-The ribbon keyboard is fun for sliding around the scale, but it makes playing individual notes difficult--its small, and the boundaries between notes are not always spatially clear.

-The internal speaker makes it seem cheaper than it really is--DON'T BE FOOLED! This synth produces richer and a wider range of sounds than its internal speaker lets on.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Korg Monotron, May 11, 2011
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This review is from: Korg Monotron Analogue Ribbon Synthesizer (Electronics)
The Monotron has a limited feature set and user interface but delivers a rich, fat analog sound that modeling synths could only hope to match. Its single oscillator and LFO are both saw waveforms. The low-pass filter is amazing, providing everything from subtle tonal control to wild, screeching feedback. The ribbon controller is not ideal for playing melodies, although a quick YouTube search will reveal that several users have mastered the ribbon, achieving impressive theramin-like performances. I ran the Monotron through a line input on my audio interface and made myself a library of samples which I fine-tuned, edited and loaded into Reason's NM-19 sampler, effectively making a polyphonic, usable Monotron instrument. Otherwise, it's a great sound effect generator, and you can run a guitar or synth through its input, tapping into the powerful and versatile filter. I find this gadget hard to put down, and every time I play with it, I achieve a new sound or wacky effect, so if I were rating it solely on the fun factor, it's five stars. I would recommend this product, and I'm looking forward to seeing more true analog gear from Korg in the future.
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Korg Monotron Analogue Ribbon Synthesizer
$90.00 $54.95
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