Korg Monotribe Review & Audio Demo – Are You Going To Buy One?

The Korg Monotribe was one of the hits of Musikmesse 2011 – but the teasers from the show left us with a lot of questions.

Here’s a video review of the Korg Monotribe that answers a lot of these questions, and offers a lot of great audio previews of the analog groovebox. Nick at Sonic State runs the Monotribe through its paces, testing out all the basic features, but also testing out some more bizarre things that you’ll have to watch the video to appreciate.

Are You Going To Buy A Monotribe?

The big question in my mind is still whether Synthtopia readers are going to snap these things up.

The Monotribe can make some pretty wicked sounds, but it occupies an unusual middle ground. It’s not really a music toy, but it also doesn’t have some key features that a lot of synth freaks want from a synth.

I expect that just about every Synthtopia reader is going to look at the Monotribe and wish it had just one more feature, whether that’s 16 steps for the sequencer, a better keyboard, MIDI support, CV inputs, individual outputs or control options for the drum voices. Some of these may be options throughΒ Monotribe mods or hacking.

Korg may have been smart, though, to avoid a ‘kitchen sink’ design with the Monotribe.

A lot of great music has been made with an 8-step sequencer and an analog synth and limitations can force you to get creative. And adding a bunch of ‘pro’ features might have pushed the Monotribe into a price range where Korg simply couldn’t efectively market the device.

What do you think? Are you interested in getting a Monotribe?

60 thoughts on “Korg Monotribe Review & Audio Demo – Are You Going To Buy One?

  1. Looks pretty good. Definitely looking forward to seeing a few hacks for it. Not sure if I'm picking one up at this point yet though.

  2. Sure, I like some of the sounds of the KORG Monotribe. It's kind of an interesting little box.

    I'd expect to see the major US retailers selling this box for under $200 very soon. I'd check one out for that, and hope that it would be a keeper.

    What's up with the battery power, though? Not one of the "demo" videos anywhere online shows the Monotribe being powered with anything other than batteries. Where's the AC Adapter for this thing KORG?

  3. I was excited when I heard about it….but after seeing countless videos I can say that I'd probably take one of your hands for $50 and still feel like I was getting ripped a bit. Its a novelty. Unlike it "predecessor" the EMX-1. Which is a beast.

  4. I'm still on the fence. Midi obviously would have made it a no brainer, or if it was $50 cheaper. I am anticipating some will make use of it in very unexpected ways. A very experienced friend of mine w/ connections to Korg ordered 2 the day it was announced, so it is certainly attractive to some.

  5. Price is too high. I'm kind of over it. For me if I get any analog gear it'll still be the Mopho. This thing was cool when I thought it was 150 dollars analog toy but at 300 bucks, well i can just save up a little more and get a "real" synth.

  6. I like the thing. I think setting up a sync pulse in a DAW is a bit too much of a work around. This is one of those things you'd hit record on your DAW fool around for an hour & chop out the best riffs and use 'em as samples. Seems a bit pricey, but definitely more bang for your buck than that godawful Beat Thang turd.

    1. You mean to sequence from a DAW? Or to sync? It'll sync to a DAW with any audio pulse as he shows. But to want to program it with MIDI (I feel) is missing the point. This thing is more immediate and fun to program than any DAW could ever be…and believe it or not I actually find the limitations kind of refreshing.

      Plus it seems highly likely that MIDI control can be added later as a mod.

      ie. http://www.midimplant.com/

      Go ahead world, buy your monotribes and weep…then sell them to me cheap!

    2. You mean to sequence from a DAW? Or to sync? It'll sync to a DAW with any audio pulse as he shows. But to want to program it with MIDI (I feel) is missing the point. This thing is more immediate and fun to program than any DAW could ever be…and believe it or not I actually find the limitations kind of refreshing.

      Plus it seems highly likely that MIDI control can be added later as a mod.

      ie. http://www.midimplant.com/

      Go ahead world, buy your monotribes and weep…then sell them to me cheap!

    3. You mean to sequence from a DAW? Or to sync? It'll sync to a DAW with any audio pulse as he shows. But to want to program it with MIDI (I feel) is missing the point. This thing is more immediate and fun to program than any DAW could ever be…and believe it or not I actually find the limitations kind of refreshing.

      Plus it seems highly likely that MIDI control can be added later as a mod.

      ie. http://www.midimplant.com/

      Go ahead world, buy your monotribes and weep…then sell them to me cheap!

    4. You mean to sequence from a DAW? Or to sync? It'll sync to a DAW with any audio pulse as he shows. But to want to program it with MIDI (I feel) is missing the point. This thing is more immediate and fun to program than any DAW could ever be…and believe it or not I actually find the limitations kind of refreshing.

      Plus it seems highly likely that MIDI control can be added later as a mod.

      ie. http://www.midimplant.com/

      Go ahead world, buy your monotribes and weep…then sell them to me cheap!

    5. You mean to sequence from a DAW? Or to sync? It'll sync to a DAW with any audio pulse as he shows. But to want to program it with MIDI (I feel) is missing the point. This thing is more immediate and fun to program than any DAW could ever be…and believe it or not I actually find the limitations kind of refreshing.

      Plus it seems highly likely that MIDI control can be added later as a mod.

      ie. http://www.midimplant.com/

      Go ahead world, buy your monotribes and weep…then sell them to me cheap!

    6. You mean to sequence from a DAW? Or to sync? It'll sync to a DAW with any audio pulse as he shows. But to want to program it with MIDI (I feel) is missing the point. This thing is more immediate and fun to program than any DAW could ever be…and believe it or not I actually find the limitations kind of refreshing.

      Plus it seems highly likely that MIDI control can be added later as a mod.

      ie. http://www.midimplant.com/

      Go ahead world, buy your monotribes and weep…then sell them to me cheap!

  7. mopho is more of a synth and this is more of a portable analog sequencer/drum machine. Very different instruments and price ranges. The Mopho is real nice though.

  8. It sounds pretty versatile, especially the filters. The drum machine as people have mentioned is limiting but still very nice to have because you can always sequence some beats and pass them through other filters or pedals to beef them up. I agree with Nick at Sonic State, the ribbon keyboard is really poorly designed and difficult to play which is to me the biggest weak point. I think the design is cool but would hope to see some additional colored models or will spray paint my own.

  9. cymatics –

    Thanks for sharing that. Very interesting. It's very simple, but that's a good thing. This opens up a lot of options.

  10. I really want one. I see it as a little box to generate some great new tones with, being able to "play" it while recording into my DAW, and chopping up the bits I want. I think it's priced too high though, which turns it from a "buy now" into a "wait for a sale" purchase. Korg has clearly added a monotribe popularity tax to this unit!

  11. If you think it costs too much for what it is then please provide an example of something that has it's capability and filters in the price range you prefer.

  12. I think they priced it beautifully. Less than KP3 and more than monotron. Definitely the cheapest most versatile analog synth on market. How can that be too much? I am surprised so many people think it's too much. I challenge you to find a cheaper analog synth with percussion, and a build in sequencer. If you find it let me know and I will jump on it.

  13. Why doesn't Korg create something higher end like an Analog/Hybrid Radias? Or better, a Prophecy MK2 with analog VCO's and Filter,

  14. Cheapest for sure… except for the monotron. But what is so versatile about this thing? The canned beats? The limited envelope? No FM input? You do get what you pay for.

  15. A to you Q, yep, im going to buy one , just to say "i have one" , if i actually use it or not is another matter πŸ™‚ … hardly a match for my Little Phaty or my beloved mopho! .. still, all good fun!

    Del from http://technobleep.com/

  16. A to you Q, yep, im going to buy one , just to say "i have one" , if i actually use it or not is another matter πŸ™‚ … hardly a match for my Little Phaty or my beloved mopho! .. still, all good fun!

    Del from http://technobleep.com/

  17. A to you Q, yep, im going to buy one , just to say "i have one" , if i actually use it or not is another matter πŸ™‚ … hardly a match for my Little Phaty or my beloved mopho! .. still, all good fun!

    Del from http://technobleep.com/

  18. A to you Q, yep, im going to buy one , just to say "i have one" , if i actually use it or not is another matter πŸ™‚ … hardly a match for my Little Phaty or my beloved mopho! .. still, all good fun!

    Del from http://technobleep.com/

  19. A to you Q, yep, im going to buy one , just to say "i have one" , if i actually use it or not is another matter πŸ™‚ … hardly a match for my Little Phaty or my beloved mopho! .. still, all good fun!

    Del from http://technobleep.com/

  20. A to you Q, yep, im going to buy one , just to say "i have one" , if i actually use it or not is another matter πŸ™‚ … hardly a match for my Little Phaty or my beloved mopho! .. still, all good fun!

    Del from http://technobleep.com/

  21. The hype is wearing off – I was convinced I was going to buy one, but the early reviews and deeper analysis of the limitations have turned me off at the current price point. I think lots of early adopters will feel the same, and unless KORG makes this a limited run and turns the MT into a collectors item I suspect many will want to ditch. It's like the Wavedrum mini – looked good at Musikmesse, but do you reallly want to spend $400 when the big daddy Wavedrum is going for less than that in some music shops?

  22. Question In the video he hooks it up to his MS-20. I have the KLC IC MS-20 USB controller.it came with the Korg Analog Collection. I use it to control IMS -20.
    The Korg Controller has 1/8 inch patch cords. Do you think it can be used in the same way as the MS-20. I use a powered USB hub. I would like to use the 1/8" patch cord input/ output to the Monotribe. Thankxs

  23. They will if there's a market for it.

    I fully expect a polyphonic analog revival within the next few years. It's got to happen.

  24. so many people around here with no imagination… BOOHOO it doesnt have midi, BOOHOO it doesnt have this it doesnt have that, creativity is what makes GOOD music, not the number of filter types you’ve got…. JEEZ

    you guys are like the folks who said the tb303 was crap, look what happened there

    limits force creativity

  25. Interesting piece of gear with a glaring omission (MIDI)…I would surmise that Korg is creating a new generation of analog synth demand by selling inexpensive "training" instruments designed to groom a user base for a new generation of more advanced analog products. If anything….the monotribe and monotron represent a mini-modular synth for the young non-keyboard synth people. Korg is actually clever to create a market for future products….that build upon on another…

    The Micro Korg analog modeling synth introduced a entire generation to synths…and I would expect Korg to soon produce a analog synth (desktop and key) with the useability and success of the Micro that is a combo of the monotribe and monotron….that are already familiar to users…

  26. Hey, you guys need to read the manual — it's a 16-step sequencer! It only displays 8, but you can edit half-steps. I'm not clear if you can only turn the 8 on and off or if the active step control will let you take out half beats (I'd love some 13-step sequences).

    I own a monotron and use it all the time (the filter is incredible and it pumps out some serious sub bass). It's been fantastic for working on film soundtracks — very indy but one or two should show at next year's Wisconsin Film Festival. I want a monotribe pretty badly — I don't have a 16-step sequencer and I'm down to this or a Gameboy with Nanoloop. I imagine it would be perfect for hip-hop. Can anyone establish a lowest price (below MAP) for us bargain hunters? I'd be willing to pay around $200, but the lowest I saw was $230.

  27. Isn't that limited to basically playing 2 16th notes instead of an 8th on the drum tracks? Not really the same as a 16-step sequencer.

  28. The manual implies (but doesn't actually state I don't think) that you have note control over each up and down beat of the 8 steps. I think it couts as a 16-step. Though maybe not if you can only turn off any of the 8 instead of the 16 (again, no idea which is the case). I guess it depends what features define a 16-step sequencer.

  29. Question: WHAT IS THE MONOTRIBE POWER SUPPLY?

    Answer: KORG KA350 KA-350

    fracken hell… that was NOT an easy question to find an answer too.

    if you just put that part number in on Ebay it will pop right up.

    I was given the number by a dealer who ran out of PSUs.

    Hope this helps peeps out searching…

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