Image courtesy KORG, USA.

Looking for all the world like it was inspired by the Gakken SX-150 synth, but packed with Korg analog electronics, the monotron has to be one of the biggest surprise announcements from a major vendor in recent memory. The tiny has the filter from the classic KORG MS-10 and MS-20 and is called a “real analog” synth.

It’s also likely to be very hackable, though we’ll know more about that soon. I think we’ve found the stocking stuffer of 2010, and it’s only March.

Pricing: MSRP US$85
Availability: August 2010
(note: this is official information from KORG USA; for some reason some other dates and prices are floating around)

Specs:

  • A ribbon controller for vibrato, glide, and pitch
  • Circuitry: one voltage-controlled oscillator, one voltage-controlled filter, one low-frequency oscillator.
  • Controls: five knobs, one switch.
  • LED blinks with the LFO.
  • Same voltage-controlled filter circuitry as on the legendary KORG MS-10 and MS-20 semi-modulars – now, if we could only convince KORG to give us a monotron Pro with more of the MS in it.
  • Runs on two AAA’s
  • External audio input (updated) for filtering any external input – awesome. (Thanks, arne/styrofoammusic!)

Official product info:
Monotron Page @ KORG

Videos:

Via Engadget, MusicRadar, Gizmodo

  • brian

    that's so cute :D

  • Microwave Prince

    I think that it's photoshoped. It should be labeled fishers-price =]

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Uh, no, the photo and video are assuredly real. But I will say, this apparently came as a surprise to most of the KORGies I know.

  • Joe

    Yes! Nice one Korg! This is going to be an intense hack fest of fun. Some kind of CV control would be first on my list :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/styrofoammusic arne

    You're forgetting one of the biggest features (for me at least): AUX input!!! Meaning you can put pretty much any audio source through that lovely filter.

    From the KORG website: "Just as on the original MS-20, the monotron's filter can be "patched into," allowing any external audio source to be processed by the monotron's filter. The input jack (AUX input) built into the monotron's compact body inserts the AUX input into the signal path right before the VCF. This provides a great way to connect a KAOSSILATOR, a keyboard, a guitar, a digital audio player or even an un-mixed track to the monotron and enjoy tone-bending filter effects."

  • Jonathan

    Good grief, it's tiny. When I first head about this I expected something the size of a Mopho, not a warped stack of index cards.

    I have to say…I want one, but stenciling piano keys onto the ribbon controller is a cruel joke unless they're going to include a stylus with the thing (and a slot to store it, like the Nintendo DS).

  • Jake

    Please, please, please let this sell well. If it does then I expect that a Monotron pro will eventually exist, with at a guess:

    3 x the voices from a monotron

    The ability to address at least pitch via midi (such as on the kaossilator pro)

    If we get that for a similar price to that which kaossilator pro and kp3 retail at then korg will sell loads….

  • http://soundcloud.com/wi_ngo wi_ngo

    Stylophone with an MS-20 filter? I'm down.

  • http://berend.tumblr.com Berend

    Combine this with the sequencer of the bliptronic 5000 and look what you get for just over a 100 bucks

  • ihav2p

    thats not a piano keyboard, its a ribbon controller with keys silkscreened on it. one that can be routed to filter and pitch. it will be so easy to mod for CV in. people should be doing backflips over this. i am.

  • s ford

    that looks awesome. i reckon it'd be a good little toy to piss around with. looks like a lot of fun, which is often a forgotten aspect when making music!

  • Spazmatron

    I paid around $200 for my mooger fooger filter pedal. It's awesome, but no vco, just a filter. This is a steal. I don't think I could build a diy clone for this price (after paying for fancy knobs and building the enclosure, etc)

  • Aaron

    to me the big deal is that they contain the MS filters, which means they're into manufactoring them again which can only lead to good things. perhaps they're using this to weigh profit/scalability questions for a larger product.

  • deamras

    sounds like it`s a korg ds10 for nintendo ds in a box with audio in. the only analog thing is aux input. I want this box.

  • deamras

    forgot to mention that it will look nice near my future gadget from Teenage Engineering

  • http://www.facebook.com/styrofoammusic arne

    @deamras "the only analog thing is aux input". The KORG website explicitly mentions "Full-fledged, true analog synthesizer: VCO, VCF, LFO " so it's in no way a korg ds10-in-a-box. not that there would be anything wrong with that ;)

  • deamras

    @arne i think "Full-fledged, true analog synthesizer" is a marketing trick $)

  • http://www.saturdaynightvillain.com Mannstrane

    True analogue my ass.

    "Kept popular by dance and electronic artists, this legendary MS-20 filter came back to life using the Component Modeling Technology in Korg's Legacy software collections. Now you can experience the glorious, evocative MS-20 filter along with true analog synthesis in Korg’s new monotron Analogue Ribbon Synthesizer!! "

    "Component Modeling Technology in Korg's Legacy software"

    Yeah, that makes it analogue.

    Good job Korg.

  • Gavin@FAW

    First video at 0:19 should explain if its analog or not!

  • Jonathan

    Don't let paranoia get the best of you. They just mentioned the Component Modeling as part of the history of the MS-20 filter – i.e. "the legendary Korg tradition", as the paragraph heading said.

    Later on the page it explicitly says "The monotron uses the same highly acclaimed VCF circuit as KORG's classic MS-10 and MS-20 semi modular synthesizers."

    Not "a model of" the same circuit.

  • jimmie

    demo songs on Japanese page:

    http://www.korg.co.jp/Product/Dance/monotron/inde

  • niggles

    hmmm wonder what the DI from the 1/8" sounds like? i mean will i be tiltin' a U87 to that mini speaker? on second thought it worked for the buddha machine…

  • Aaron

    @deamras; in comparison to the DS10's features nah… DS10 has sooo much more to it. I would hesitate to compare the products really since when is just a glorifed stylus minisynth and the other is an entire software package. They're both cool in their relative areas.. in the hand held software synth/sequencer area nothing touches the DS-10, and in the minisynth world, nothin can seemingly touch the new monotron (because of it's components/filters and hackability) ;]

  • Damon

    Pet Rock – no substitue for sentimental value

  • Polite

    Might be worth it just for the filter if the info about it having an audio in is correct.

    Regardless. I'm always down with any cheap things that can make crazy space noises like this can.

  • http://www,joshmobley.com jmob

    Yeah, I want this Sh*t

  • Jaime Munarriz

    Hack! Can we open it and have some CV in/outs? We need to connect it to an MS20, and then to some handmade music weirdos.

    A Mod site is a real need.

  • mclismoscow

    Let's say, it's the first korg i'm interested in since 90's. Oldskool baby!

  • http://technopop.info nick kent

    I think everyone is waiting to see what it looks like inside. It might be easy to mod like the Gakken SX-150, surely a huge influence on it's design.

    I'm sure some kind of mod is possible given the pots but I think people assume the components will be 70s (in the 70s Korg ran out of filter chips and decided not to make more ICs) when it might be just a new tiny custom SMT chip. Also that it will be 1 volt per octave (when the original was Hz/volts and this doesn't have to be any standard since it doesn't interface, something Korg has done before)

  • zee

    awsome!

  • zee

    i mean awesome!

  • http://andrew.hicox.com plurgid

    needs midi input badly.

    I can't see being able to play any kind of melodic line on that thing. AWESOME for sound design stuff though.

  • http://routeit.noisepages.com gbsr

    that is so small.

    i cant believe how small it is.

    neither could i see myself using it, cause its simply too small.

    need to play it with matchbox sticks to hit the notes correctly hah.

  • alhogar

    You can buy spare Nintendo DS stlyus in a 2-pack for a few dollars. Immediate upgrade over using your finger on this little beast.

  • http://ruinwesen.com Ruin

    I would like to get my hands on this, simply to mod it. it may not be 1v/oct but who cares. and im curious to hear the waveform it outputs. square probably? but if it was saw thatd be interesting, could mod it for more.

    however smd is an issue. most benders have probably never tried smd, or successfully modded smd.

    its probably likely that there is some kind of internal format, which is probably v/hz. at the very least, vactrols on the pots.

    i lol at the skeptics.

    its cheaper to drag a circuit out thats already been made, especially analog, then to try and scale down a cpu or whatever, or waste a whole dsp chip on just 3 functions. this thing probably costs pennies to make.

    /me is excited

  • Jonathan

    Thank you Korg!

    This looks awesome and the price is JUST RIGHT!

  • http://www.document02.com Document 02

    Some musicians are going to be really disapointed here.. “The monotron uses the same highly acclaimed VCF circuit as KORG’s classic MS-10 and MS-20 semi modular synthesizers.”

    OK. And they also have stocks of old electronics? The huge difference between old and new synths is the quality of components. old components are of poor quality, which is why old synths have such interesting sounds when internal saturation comes into it. Compare an old Moog and a new one, you'll hear it.

    Oh, and MS-20 had two types of filters, depending if they were first or second generation (don't know which the MS-10 had).

  • Martin

    nice thing, i´ll get one, but what made the ms-20 so spcial, was the combination of the highpass and lowpass filer. we´re not anywhere near a ms-20 but it´s a nice toy anyway :)

  • http://ruinwesen.com Ruin

    played with one today. oscillator sounds like a saw, and the lfo is a saw… wtf?

    SAW? LFO? but it goes well into the audio range for nice fm effects. also the ribbon seems like you can use it with a stylus.

  • http://ruinwesen.com Ruin

    also the filter self oscillates nicely… which might not be a suprise to anyone, but you can play it like a sine oscillator.

  • David Prouty

    R2D2 Fart Sounds. :)

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  • http://www.savetodisc.net/ Steve Dillon

    Korg= $85 Stylophone/ Beatbox= $25 Cute and appealing tho it is Korg are marking this right up!

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  • Stuart

    @ Martin

    "but what made the ms-20 so spcial, was the combination of the highpass and lowpass filer"

    You can always make a HPF by flipping the phase on the source signal and mixing it with the output of the filter (which I guess is only an option if you're using it to process external audio and only if you've got something to flip the phase with). Hack a patch point between the VCO and VCF and away you go.

  • Martin

    @ Stuart

    bright idea, but then it wouldn´t be the ms-20´s highpass filte, it´s probably too much asked anyway :)

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  • http://www.myspace.com/goldmundo Goldmundroid

    I put the Monotron through it's paces via a MicroKorg XL on 'Electric Bee Takes A Trip' here:
    http://www.myspace.com/goldmundo

  • http://www.billthompson.org prof_lofi
  • http://synthsale.com Rob

    This is an awesome gadget for synth geeks like me. Looks like there is an extensive number of ways to tweek and hack around here. The fact you can make it sound like an MS-10 or MS-20 is reason enough alone to add this one to your arsenal.

    Korg Synthesizer