The Korg Monotron is just as inspiring as a filter for external sources as it is as a pocket synth…
The Korg Monotron quickly became the musician’s stocking filler of choice. Packing a true analogue synthesiser, complete with the filter circuit from Korg ’s legendary MS10 and MS20 synthesisers, into a box that is not much bigger than a deck of cards, the Monotron was something of a landmark. All of this was priced at not much more than pocket money, which led to it becoming the musician’s toy of choice. However, the analogue design of the Monotron means that this is far more than an entertaining diversion.
Aside from the excellent tone it produces however, the Monotron is a great addition to a home studio set-up as an external filter. As previously mentioned, this filter is the same circuit that featured on the sought after MS10 and MS20 vintage synthesisers. With character in spades, this filter played a major role in providing the unique tone of this synth. To have this included on a synth that costs less than £35 is remarkable, but the inclusion of an external aux input makes this an incredible purchase. Here’s a brief guide of how to use it for this purpose…
Using the Aux input
- There are only two connections on the Monotron: a headphone output, and an aux input.
- To get the most out of the Korg Monotron as a filter within a computer based recording set-up, it is advisable to have an audio interface with several inputs and outputs. That way, an output (or a pair of outputs) can be employed to send audio from the audio interface into the Monotron ’s aux input, then routed back into a spare input on the audio interface from the synth’s headphone output.
- Rigging the unit up like this has several useful applications. It could be set up as an auxiliary send effect, or used as an insert effect.
- Most modern software packages include an insert plug-in, designed specifically to make it easier to integrate hardware into a software-based set-up (Logic’s I/O plug-in for example). To use the Monotron as an insert effect, simply open up the relevant I/O plug-in, and set where the input is to come from and the where the output will go to (i.e. Where the Monotron is connected to). This will send the whole signal to the output.
- If you would like to use it as a send effect, simply open up the same plug-in on the appropriate effects channel. This way, the amount of effect added to a part can be controlled, by using the send control to adjust how much of a signal is ‘sent’ to the Monotron, and mixing this with the dry signal. This also allows for more complex, automated effects, if required.
In use, the Korg Monotron filter is an awesome, ferocious beast. If can veer from warm and squelchy, to ear-splitting screams. Assigning the LFO to filter yields even more inspiring results- try running a drum loop through it, then adjusting the LFO speed to sync. Instant Lo-Fi tones in abundance.The Monotron Delay modelcan be used as an analogue delay effect, too.
To get a true analogue filter, and one of this heritage, for less than £40 is frankly, ludicrous. Try one for yourself – you won’t be disappointed.
Joe is a contributor for the Dawsons Music blog. Specialising in product reviews and crafting content to help and inspire musicians of all musical backgrounds.