The first thing that strikes me about the Korg Monotribe is how well made it is. It really is beautifully put together and has a nice look and feel to it.
Secondly despite its size this is a true analog synthesiser. It won’t ever suffer from tuning problems though as it auto tunes, apparently to concert pitch at all times and you get a switch to cover six octaves. You also get sawtooth, square and triangle waveform outputs as well as white noise.
The filter sounds wonderful and according to Korg it’s the MS20 filter, a 12db beast of an electronic giant slayer, complete with controls for cut-off and resonance so you can tweak and twiddle to your heart’s content.
One thing you don’t get though is a fully functional envelope generator. At this size some things have just had to go. What you do get instead are a few pre-set attack decay settings though to be fair if anything was compromised this is the area I would go for.
One nice feature that I like is the battery and speaker combination which means you can use it on its own where ever you may be, hotel room etc. it’s pretty small and light, only 735g and 25.4 x 17.5 x 8.6cm and because of the sequencer and drum machine combination it can make a lot of sound, but don’t let the fact that it has batteries and a built in speaker fool you into thinking it’s just a toy or gimmick. You can use a mains adapter and put it through a proper system and you’ll appreciate the power that you can create. You can make some serious music with one of these.
You get three drum parts, again analog, with bass drum, snare and hi-hats. Its enough to get you through and you won’t waste time agonising over which snare drum to use, you just get on with what you have.
The Sequencer works as a standard 8 step sequencer but adds a flux control enabling you to put together some brilliant parts that you wouldn’t ordinarily have thought of. The way that it has been implemented and its simplicity means you can get right on in using it and it almost becomes a performance tool. You’ll see what I mean once you start messing with it.
It really is amazing the amount of fun you can have with one of these and if you can’t check out the videos on YouTube particularly the Autobahn one.
Unbelievable it’s also possible to upgrade the Korg Monotribe, the 2.1 update is available free from the Korg website and offers several great new features, for me the best has to be the gate and CV in which opens up the world in terms of interfacing so it’s now able to fully integrate with your other analog gear. There are other improvements to the overall workings of the synth and sequencer and you get them all for free!
A few people have commented that the Korg Monotribe would have been even better if it had a Midi interface to incorporate it completely into a studio. Well if you agree with that you will be happy to find that you can now get an easy to fit Midi upgrade and probably even happier to find out it only costs about £30.
One of the drawbacks of having something so small and portable I that you have to make do with the ribbon controller instead of a proper keyboard but with the CV and gate input and now Midi that’s not really an issue anymore.