The Korg Monotron Analog Synthesizer

Musikmesse 2010: Here’s something you probably didn’t expect – a new analog synth from one of the major music manufacturers – the Korg Monotron.

The Korg Monotron is designed to deliver classic analog sound inexpensively, but has a limited control set and consumer-style build quality.

Korg Monotron Features:

  • Full-fledged, true analog synthesizer: VCO, VCF, LFO
  • Ribbon keyboard
  • Features the same classic analog filter found in the legendary Korg MS-10 & MS-20
  • Filter any external source using the audio input jack
  • LFO can modulate either pitch of filter cutoff
  • LFO Rate knob features LED visual indicator.
  • Battery operation and palmtop size
  • Internal speaker/headphone jack

The remains to be seen how well the Korg Monotron plays with others – and how hackable it is.

korg-monotron-synthesizer


    The Korg Monotron will be available August 2010 with an MSRP of $85.00.

    Check it out and let us know what you think!

    It’s surprisingly tiny!

    Korg Monotron Specifications:

    Audio Path:

    • VCO, VCF, LFO

    Knobs:

    • VCO Pitch; LFO Rate; LFO Intensity; VCF Cutoff; VCF Peak

    LFO Switch:

    • Assignable to Oscillator Pitch or Filter Cutoff

    Controller:

    • Ribbon Controller

    Volume:

    • Headphone Volume

    Aux Input:

    • 1/8″ Stereo Jack

    Headphone Output:

    • 1/8″ Stereo Jack

    Speaker:

    • Miniature internal; Disabled when headphones are in use.

    Power Supply:

    • AAA Alkalines (x2)

    Dimensions:

    • 120 mm (W) x 72 mm (D) x 28 mm (H) / 4.72″ (W) x 2.83″ (D) x 1.10″ (H)

    Weight:

    • 95g / 3.35 oz. (without batteries)

    Description:

    Powered by two alkaline AAA batteries, the compact monotron can be held in one hand. Although small enough to easily carry with you, the monotron is packed with KORGs legendary analog technology, generating thick and powerful sounds. Concentrating on the most important sound parameters, the controls have been streamlined as much as possible. The panel contains only five knobs and one switch. With this level of simplicity, now anyone can easily enjoy the world of analog synthesizers.

    Borrowing the enjoyment of performing with a simple touch from Korgs wildly popular KAOSS products, the monotrons ribbon controller keyboard takes this ease of use even farther. Simple finger gestures can produce expressive effects such as vibrato and glide. Used in a band, you can expand your possibilities by harmonizing with another instrument ? or taking center stage for a monotron solo!

    The monotrons circuit is radically simple: one voltage-controlled oscillator, one voltage-controlled filter, and one low frequency oscillator. Since each knob directly applies a specific change to the sound, the process of sound creation is intuitive, and instantly understandable. Simple is best. Gone are the deep lists of presetsand parameters typical of todays synthesizers. Instead, the monotron encourages exploration andexperimentation. The monotron provides the joy of sonic creativity that’s at the heart of analog synthesis, making it an ideal choice for someone who is new to synthesizers, or for musicians who wants to expandtheir sonic palette.

    The monotron uses the same highly acclaimed VCF circuit as KORGs classic MS-10 and MS-20 semi modular synthesizers. Originally released over 30 years ago, these instruments are still coveted today for their aggressive, dynamic filters. The VCF Cutoff knob sets the frequency or tone of the filter; the VCF Peak knob adds emphasis. A powerful filter is an essential aspect of any analog synthesizer, applying dramatic tonal changes to the sound, and projecting an intense personality that will stand out in any live performance.

    80 thoughts on “The Korg Monotron Analog Synthesizer

    1. for what seems to be a glorified Stylophone, I'd pay no more than $30. Considering I can get a MS VCF emulation in my DS-10 for the same price (plus sequencer and kaoss control).

    2. for what seems to be a glorified Stylophone, I'd pay no more than $30. Considering I can get a MS VCF emulation in my DS-10 for the same price (plus sequencer and kaoss control).

    3. I have the DS 10, and it's great fun for a sketch pad for coming up with patches and such, but obiously lacking in beefy-ness and the ability to filter external audio. This thing looks great and functional. I'd like to see midi ins and outs on it though – control it with sequencers/arpegiators, as well as use the ribbon controller to control other instruments. Still, at 50 euro, what's that now? 500 or so US dollars? Just kidding. It seems well worth the price. Definitely cooler than that stupid yellow idiot-proof kaosilator "synth".

    4. I have the DS 10, and it's great fun for a sketch pad for coming up with patches and such, but obiously lacking in beefy-ness and the ability to filter external audio. This thing looks great and functional. I'd like to see midi ins and outs on it though – control it with sequencers/arpegiators, as well as use the ribbon controller to control other instruments. Still, at 50 euro, what's that now? 500 or so US dollars? Just kidding. It seems well worth the price. Definitely cooler than that stupid yellow idiot-proof kaosilator "synth".

    5. Looks super cute but did it have to be THAT tiny? Why didn't they give it a real keyboard (say Akai LPK25 sized) with a few knobs and filters and sell it for say $150 or so? They could have still had a ribbon input. This is cool and I want one but it's too small and seems like just a sound-toy.

    6. Looks super cute but did it have to be THAT tiny? Why didn't they give it a real keyboard (say Akai LPK25 sized) with a few knobs and filters and sell it for say $150 or so? They could have still had a ribbon input. This is cool and I want one but it's too small and seems like just a sound-toy.

    7. i like the idea of something so small, with external input, that could function as an fx pedal as well as a standalone synth…i could see a place for this in my little analogue rig..

    8. And the moment you can process external audio through your emulation of a VCF, we'll all applaud you. In the mean time, a real VCF still beats an emulated VCF.

    9. And the moment you can process external audio through your emulation of a VCF, we'll all applaud you. In the mean time, a real VCF still beats an emulated VCF.

    10. the only real issue I see here is the fact that the ribbon controller is really a limited input source, and there is no mention of midi or cv/gate input to control this little thing with some external gear. This IMHO makes it rather pointless, degrading it to be just a musical toy…

    11. This may have some wider implications:

      This is the first product from a major synth manufacturer going BACK to analogue technology, after heavily investing in virtual analogue (I'm not counting Alesis with their Andromeda A6, since Alesis never made analogue synths in the first place). If Korg is willing to bring out an analogue product for their low end, perhaps they'll bring out a full blown analogue synth for their high end…

      Of course, no point counting the chickens before they're hatched, but could this be the start of an analogue renaissance from the big manufacturers?

    12. This may have some wider implications:

      This is the first product from a major synth manufacturer going BACK to analogue technology, after heavily investing in virtual analogue (I'm not counting Alesis with their Andromeda A6, since Alesis never made analogue synths in the first place). If Korg is willing to bring out an analogue product for their low end, perhaps they'll bring out a full blown analogue synth for their high end…

      Of course, no point counting the chickens before they're hatched, but could this be the start of an analogue renaissance from the big manufacturers?

    13. Consider this: if they can make a new analogue micro synth for <$100, how much would it cost for a new release of the MS-10 or MS-20?

    14. I hope this one will start cheap analog/digital synth revolution the way Asus did with ultraportable notebooks with their EEE PC brand.
      Id love to put my hands onto something with more controls, sequencer and sub 200$ price tag+ability to choose from ;)!

    15. Now this is something I'm interested in. Super cheap and super portable, with options for doing some really interesting things with it. The idea of super cheap technology really appeals to me.

    16. Now this is something I'm interested in. Super cheap and super portable, with options for doing some really interesting things with it. The idea of super cheap technology really appeals to me.

    17. one thing i have NOT seen in any videos yet…anyone playing MELODIES on this; seems the keys are too small to play 'normally' (LOL). or…??

    18. one thing i have NOT seen in any videos yet…anyone playing MELODIES on this; seems the keys are too small to play 'normally' (LOL). or…??

    19. finally! one of the big 3 japanese manufacturers has released a REAL ANALOG synth
      after more than 30 years..
      real analog is nice, but monotron too small.
      why not release a full size real analog synth that is playable for regular musicians..

      i hope roland and yamaha and korg finally go back to making real analog full size synths.
      i hope this will start a trend

      then Roland will finally re-release a brand new TB-303!

    20. Of course if the big 3 synth manufacturers did all start making new analogue synths it would put all the small synth-makers out of business….. and then they could go back to making ROMplers that no-one wants again…

    21. Korg, you _idiots_! You came so close on this, it's a real analog synth with a real, famous analog filter, but:

      * IT HAS NO MIDI 🙁
      * It has a ribbon controller. While that's fun, just like the KO1 it's useless to sequence or produce anything with accurate notes, which you could easily work around with… dun dun duuuuUUnnnn… MIDI!

      I would happily pay $10-$15 more for a MIDI version. Otherwise, I have enough novelty toys already.

    22. Korg, you _idiots_! You came so close on this, it's a real analog synth with a real, famous analog filter, but:

      * IT HAS NO MIDI 🙁
      * It has a ribbon controller. While that's fun, just like the KO1 it's useless to sequence or produce anything with accurate notes, which you could easily work around with… dun dun duuuuUUnnnn… MIDI!

      I would happily pay $10-$15 more for a MIDI version. Otherwise, I have enough novelty toys already.

    23. Because analog sounds better. There's a lot of aliasing/crunch/noise in VAs, and real analog thanks to its quirks can sound richer/fatter. Yes, VSTs are more convenient and in many cases good enough, but sometimes you want the real deal.

      Also, most people won't say analog was better in every regard. Obviously VSTs are reliable, easily sequenced/automated, have relatively unlimited polyphony, etc. But analog synths have personality and they're fun. I own both btw and wouldn't trade either. If you don't see value in analog that's fine, but you'll never convince those that do that there is none.

      This Monotron would be awesome but with just a ribbon controller it misses the mark for me. At least they're heading in the right direction.

    24. Another masterpiece from Korg…
      What the hell are they playing at?
      Is this piece of bullshit supposed to be 'cutting edge'?
      Still, there are enough newbies who read Computer Music every month, who hark back to the days of 'analog' synths, as if somehow it was better back then. What a joke.
      Why would anybody use this piece of crud, instead of VSTs?

    25. Another masterpiece from Korg…
      What the hell are they playing at?
      Is this piece of bullshit supposed to be 'cutting edge'?
      Still, there are enough newbies who read Computer Music every month, who hark back to the days of 'analog' synths, as if somehow it was better back then. What a joke.
      Why would anybody use this piece of crud, instead of VSTs?

    26. Because analog sounds better. There's a lot of aliasing/crunch/noise in VAs, and real analog thanks to its quirks can sound richer/fatter. Yes, VSTs are more convenient and in many cases good enough, but sometimes you want the real deal.

      Also, most people won't say analog was better in every regard. Obviously VSTs are reliable, easily sequenced/automated, have relatively unlimited polyphony, etc. But analog synths have personality and they're fun. I own both btw and wouldn't trade either. If you don't see value in analog that's fine, but you'll never convince those that do that there is none.

      This Monotron would be awesome but with just a ribbon controller it misses the mark for me. At least they're heading in the right direction.

    27. Because analog sounds better. There's a lot of aliasing/crunch/noise in VAs, and real analog thanks to its quirks can sound richer/fatter. Yes, VSTs are more convenient and in many cases good enough, but sometimes you want the real deal.

      Also, most people won't say analog was better in every regard. Obviously VSTs are reliable, easily sequenced/automated, have relatively unlimited polyphony, etc. But analog synths have personality and they're fun. I own both btw and wouldn't trade either. If you don't see value in analog that's fine, but you'll never convince those that do that there is none.

      This Monotron would be awesome but with just a ribbon controller it misses the mark for me. At least they're heading in the right direction.

    28. because VST's are a Joke. Not that the Monotron is something to drool about, and analog synths are notorious for there instability, but at least they have character, something VST's are lacking. I understand the convenience of VST's (space, spaghetti, cash, etc.) but once you put a real synth and a VST side by side on a PA (even if it's a virtual analog synth) the difference is just too great to ignore. Don't get me wrong, there are some great VST's out there (I particularly like Arturia's Moog Modular V), but even a Micro Moog will blow that thing sky-high.

    29. because VST's are a Joke. Not that the Monotron is something to drool about, and analog synths are notorious for there instability, but at least they have character, something VST's are lacking. I understand the convenience of VST's (space, spaghetti, cash, etc.) but once you put a real synth and a VST side by side on a PA (even if it's a virtual analog synth) the difference is just too great to ignore. Don't get me wrong, there are some great VST's out there (I particularly like Arturia's Moog Modular V), but even a Micro Moog will blow that thing sky-high.

    30. Because the people that buy these and Kaossilators generally dont have plans to be producers, they just buy them because they are cool toys that make funny noises….Monotron will sell in huge numbers.

    31. I was just thinking along the same lines… Korg MS-20/MS-10 filter in an analog micro synth released in 2010 (now there IS something about those numbers…). Maybe they are just testing/preparing the market with this gadget. If they have put the MS filter in this tiny box, imagine what they could do if they decided to go all the way… A new consumer priced MS based synth with modern routing features (as implemented on the microKORG etc), patch memory, arpeggio/sequencer and a 100% analog signal path – should be well within reach. They've got the technology. I know I'll be saving up for mine.

    32. I was just thinking along the same lines… Korg MS-20/MS-10 filter in an analog micro synth released in 2010 (now there IS something about those numbers…). Maybe they are just testing/preparing the market with this gadget. If they have put the MS filter in this tiny box, imagine what they could do if they decided to go all the way… A new consumer priced MS based synth with modern routing features (as implemented on the microKORG etc), patch memory, arpeggio/sequencer and a 100% analog signal path – should be well within reach. They've got the technology. I know I'll be saving up for mine.

    33. It's a toy, and Korg knows this because of the $85 MSRP. I just bought mine today. I hope to use it for a project, but if I don't or can't I won't feel cheated. I love the ribbon… if this thing had a keyboard I'd have no interest at all.

    34. I often cannot follow how infantile some people are. You put a label like "hi, I'm analog" onto some toy and those serious and respectable musicians get tears in the eyes and slobber on the lips. OMG, how easy are we technocrats are seduceable with gadgets like this. Yeah, this Koishi track above on youtube IS quite impressive, but NOT intuitive or spontaneously but rather well planned and professionally executed – four-track, or even six-track ? I wonder how much time he spent to fabricate this song around the monotron's lacks of sociality with other equipment. I always hated fighting against lacks. So, I recommend, if anyone needs something to pay,play and forget about, buy a NDS with DS-10, it's more fun than this crap…

    35. It is a different spirit.

      You can say too : buy a Mac laptop with Ableton

      Or an iPad with an audio app…

      This is an oranges and apples comparison.

      Because this is not numeric, because there is an audio in, because you can turn real buttons, because…

    36. This is super cool for the price. A stylophone doesnt even come close.

      Those who are commenting saying its being a useless toy, dont have one.

      People are charging twice this for little homemade synth boxes that dont even have controllable pitch. No, you not going to “produce” a whole album with it silly. Its not made to play like a piano, think theremin with way more control , and again youd be hard pressed to find a very cheaply made theremin, again with out pitch control, for that price. There are already analog synths with midi, buy one(for $500+) if thats what u need.I also see huge potential for using this with ipod/ipad synths and sequencers. I got my yamaha QY-10 goin into mine witch is also 1/8 so no adaptor needed, smallest synth set-up ever.

    37. There are lots of background noises when you have tgis in front of youself, even without playing it, just having it switched on… Thats what i’ve been told by users who use and sell this kind of stuff as there business

    38. This whole analog vs. digital discussion is useless. I´ll probably buy one just for toying around but I´m not expecting it to make miracles… especially for that price.
      There are no good or bad machines – there are only good or bad ways to use them. Period!

    39. It has an excellent sounding filter! Great for processing external sounds. The unrefined discrete analog VCO is also a big plus. This is definitely on my list.

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