Korg made quite a splash when they brought out the Monotron analogue synthesiser, and quickly followed it with the Monotron Duo, Monotron Delay and the Monotribe. These pocket synths were priced in that ‘it would be rude not to’ range, and were just fun and inspiring. However, with the success and desirability of slightly larger analog synths such as the Arturia MiniBrute and Moog Minitaur, could Korg launch a synth based on the technology used in modules from the Monotron and Montribe range, with a choice few extra bits and pieces added on, to take on this part of the market? Enter the Korg Monokeys…
The first step is to add a 25-key keyboard with octave transpose buttons. Moving away from the ribbon controller of the Monotrons, this already makes the Monokeys a much more serious instrument. Adding a keyboard though also has the advantage of making the whole unit a bit bigger, so we can squeeze on some new knobs and really add some extra functionality.
Starting with the Oscillators, the two VCOs with cross-modulation from the Monotron Duo would be a good place to start, but what about offering a choice of triangle or square wave for VCO1 and saw or square on VCO2 and perhaps a sub-oscillator with just a single volume control? A standard ADSR, or even a three-knob ADS(D) envelope generator would be a great addition; as would independent volume controls for VCO1 and VCO2.
The MS-10/MS-20 filter from the Monotron comes next, but on the Monokeys it offers that bit more with an envelope generator and envelope amount control. The LFO from the Monotron stays, but is enhanced with a choice of sine, triangle and square waves and an additional three knobs to modulate the pitch, volume or filter cutoff.
Finally, the Korg Monokeys includes the delay effect from the Monotron Delay, and adds a wheel, which can be assigned to filter cutoff or pitch, and a portamento knob. The Monokeys also keeps the audio input for processing external signals, but adds those most-useful of connectivity features: MIDI inputs on DIN and USB connections.
Priced at a competitive £349, the Monokeys would be a great addition to this level of the analogue synthesiser market. It would be everything we’ve been waiting for (until, that is, the release of the Korg Polykeys…).
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