Over the last few years, Korg has shown an interest not only in big flashy super-synths like to OASYS, but also in affordable musical instruments and effects that capture the imagination of musicians on a budget. The microKORG and new microSAMPLER are already proving popular among musicians and the toy-like KAOSSILATOR and KAOSS PAD mini-KP prove that even tools like the KOASS PAD can be edited into smaller, less-expensive devices.
The Korg Monotron takes a similar approach to the Kaossilator, providing an analogue synthesizer with an MS-20 inspired filter in an instrument roughly the size of a Stylophone. With the MS-20, Korg has distilled the bigger analogue synths of its past into an inexpensive, pocketable instrument. Measuring only 120mm x 28mm, the Monotron has just five knobs and one switch on the front-panel along with a volume knob on the rear panel. As well as the toy-like form that the Monotron shares with the Kaossilator, the synth takes an inspiration from the Koass Pad touch pad controller for the Monotron, which has a ribbon controller instead of a traditional keyboard. The ribbon keyboard enables users to slide their finger across the noes to achieve impressive slides and vibrato effects with easy control.
At the heart of the Monotron in an analogue voltage controlled oscillator going into a voltage controlled filter, which uses the same circuit as the classis MS-10 and MS-20 semi-modular synthesizers. The filter is controlled by only two knobs, cut-off and peak, with further optional control from a single LFO can be used to modulate either the VCO pitch or filter cut-off. Like the filter the LFO has two controls, rate and intensity. The LFO rate knob houses an embedded LED, which blinks in sync with the LFO rate providing instant visual feedback as you turn the knob.
Knowing that the filter on the Monotron would prove popular, Korg have included an AUX input, enabling you to patch any signal into the MS-20 inspired filter, treating the Monotron like an outboard effects unit. This provides a great means to add filtering to Korg’s other pocketable instruments, such as the Kaossilator.
Small-scale, big effects
With only these simple controls, the Monotron provides a hugely enjoyable synthesizer which is powered by two AAA batteries and includes a built-in speaker for true portability - alongside a headphone output, which can also be used to connect with the Monotron to a mixer for recording or amplifying the signal. With so many interesting small-scale instruments and effects coming from Korg, you could have a whole band in your pocket.
Take the Korg Monotron wherever you want to go. This pocketable instrument might look small, but it has a big analogue sound.