Mellotron M4000D Mini Performance

This video, via Reverb.com, captures a Mellotron M4000D performance by Lisa Bella Donna.

The Mellotron M4000D is a sample-playback keyboard that features classic Mellotron and Chamberlin sounds.

Bella Donna plays an original piece, Chapters from the Book of Mariabronn, using the Mellotron and Earthquaker Devices Effects.

27 thoughts on “Mellotron M4000D Mini Performance

    1. I guess I took this as a fun performance by a talented individual. Last thing I was thinking about was complaining about the price. To each their own, I guess.

    2. Performers who want something that plugs in and works and don’t have the time or inclination to bother with finding the perfect samples.

  1. many of us love the Mellotron because of the interface, and I have the big brother. The fact many people buy and use the M4000D professionally, on tour, on recordings, and for playability is the main reason “people would pay for it.” It’s like asking why buy a piano vs buying a USB keyboard and piano sample library. For those who actually want to play, compose and perform vs manipulating loops or clips, it’s a wonderful instrument.

  2. Is it really digital/rompler or do they still use the tape? I thought the appeal of this instrument was the tape.

  3. This is a digital sample player. The keyboard has polyphonic aftertouch and “depth sensitivity”– whatever that means. No mention of velocity, so perhaps not.

    It is probably best to think of the keyboard itself as like a free Kontakt Player, and you are buying the convenient access to these particular sounds– which are unique and kind of wonderful.

    However, there is no way on earth I’d buy a rig like this. I’d much prefer a bad-ass sampling workstation and try to find a nice complete collection of mellotron sounds, should I need them.

    Now, all that said, this was a very nice performance.

  4. Without the true wow,flutter and quirks of tape….this is,indeed, just a ROMpler.
    It’s like a digital midi guitar sampling a vintage Gibson. Who wants that?
    The high pricing is to give it prestige…that it is a ‘rare’ instrument. You might as well use cheap parts and sell it cheap. It’s like a $50 000 KIA car because it’s outfitted with expensive accessories. It’s the engine that matters…and this isn’t tape.
    I would LOVE if they used todays technology to make more tape based machines….something with all the perks of better mechanical builds in a more effecient sytem. THAT I would shell out for. As it stands…I hope one day to buy a beaten, out of tune, half working REAL mellotron, as at least I could afford the $2000ish they (speculatively) would be asking for it. It would be worth it. This? This is just selling something to prog heads with money to burn…

    1. What a blowhard comment!

      “This keyboard is stupid and expensive because it’s digital, so let’s spend $2,000 on broken keyboards that are authentic!”

      Did you even notice that this piece would be impossible with a traditional Mellotron?

  5. Sad that people get so hung up by their misconceptions about a piece of gear that they can’t even hear a piece of music!

    There’s a reason that Mellotron makes these and that people buy them – and it’s actually NOT that they’re all idiots.

    1. Yes…they make it because a lot of prog heads (myself included) can’t afford or get the real thing. They aren’t idiots…but they they COULD be kidding themselves.
      If you are asking me to hear a piece of music is one thing…but if you are touting it as a substitute for a Mellotron, I am going to have ‘those’ ears on.
      It’s like a digital Moog Model D that Moog releases for $3000. Less than an original…but c’mmooonnnn…who cares how ‘nice’ the pots are.

    2. But then this place is not really about music as much as it is about gear, ain’t it? Complaining about missing features and high prices is a big part of it.

  6. As far as I know, without been and expert at all, a Mellotron was a sampler that only could sample once (in the factory) and, given its artifacts while reproducing the samples, achieved a sonic signature. This is a ROMpler of an “imperfect” sampler. How about if this could add more, let’s say digital, artifacts?
    If it can’t, this is on the line of a Waldorf Zarenbourg. Equally expensive also.

    Cool performance

  7. When you are a talented composer and also a skilled musician, as Lisa Bella Donna seems to be, you don’t want to lose time setting up a sampler, hardware or software, searching for the right library, making connections, equalising, and so on… You want to turn power on and let your creativity and immagination flow directly from your brain to the machine you’re using, almost immediatly, with all the right controllers ready to use.
    IMO that’s why these kind of musical instruments are so expensive, also considering that vintage mellotrons, sadly, are too much unreliable.
    If you spend 2000 euros for an instrument (not mentioning the cost of the external effects she uses), then you really want to make the best out of it. I think this is a good way to spend your money. And Bella Donna performance is the perfect demostration of it.

  8. I’m assuming too that the D/A converter in this thing is going to give a unique quality to the output that our Streetly samples running through our DAW’s can’t do. As an old prog rock guy I find this thing very appealing, and would welcome it into the studio with open arms should some kind heart buy it for us, but I could never justify purchasing it with my income bracket. I saw a vid with Wakeman using it the other day, looked very cool up there with his 2 Minimoogs.

  9. I appreciated the performance but I was actually more interested in what effects pedals she was using more than I was the keyboard. Anybody know what the four pedals were?

    1. From left to right, Avalanche Run (delay/reverb), Space Spiral (reverb), Grand Orbiter (phaser), Arpanoid (arpeggiator). EQD makes awesome stuff, I have all but the space spiral.

      Arpanoid paired with theremini is my secret weapon.

  10. Aside from the great performance no-one’s mentioned that even though yes, the 4000D is effectively a romper, it is a beautifully executed bit of design with a fantastic user interface for what it does. I played one at Messe a few years ago and it’s one of those machines you just wanna play even though it isn’t cheap.

  11. Grab a decent controller and one of the many mellotron emulator VSTs and you can get this for quarter of the price?!?

    1. A quarter? More like a tenth…
      I can understand when camera manufacturers made the jump to digital…and all the same manufacturers now make digital cameras. But mellotron?!? It’s ALL about the tape. This is like Kodak trying to sell us digital film.
      You can emulate many things…from analog… Tape and plate verb isn’t one of them. To say it ‘sounds good’ is pretty silly. Sure it sounds good….like $100 good…not $2000 good.
      Sticking to the digital camera analogy…this is like when ‘hasselblad’ first entered the digital age. They rebranded a Sony camera…stuck an ugly wood handle on it…and charged five times the price. Thats what this is…
      http://www.cultofmac.com/236570/hasselblad-fails-to-learn-lesson-rebrands-another-sony-camera-with-hideous-wooden-handles/

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