The Mighty Monotron Trio

original monotronToday for “Pocket Music Monday” we’re going to talk about the Korg Monotron trio. I considered making an individual post about each monotron, but decided it was best to talk about all three since they share so many similar characteristics.

When Korg released the original Monotron, some might say it sparked, or at least was at the forefront of the current resurgence of affordable analog synth gear. This cheap little box features the now legendary MS-20 filter with its great character and really fun extreme resonance. The epitome of portable analog fun, the original monotron features just the very basics of synthesis, with only an LFO to accompany the filter section. The LFO can modify the pitch or cutoff, giving you a surprising amount of sounds, even with the difficult to play ribbon controller. Not only can you produce some great analog sound effects and noises, but Korg allowed for external audio to be processed by the filter which makes the Monotron infinitely more valuable and usable. Just about anything you run through this thing gains a ton of character and the lo-fi output is great (at least to me, though I suppose to other people it is a gripe.)

Monotron Duo and Monotron Delay

Monotron Duo and Monotron Delay

After the original Monotron’s success, Korg released two other Monotron iterations, which include the Monotron Duo and the Monotron Delay. Both have the same MS-20 filter, but add other cool things like a radical-squealing feedback-filled delay and a crazy cross-modulating oscillator section. Each of these has great merits and are a ton of fun to play with. What I enjoy the most about the Monotron Trio is that they are not only infinitely twiddly, but also can be used in conjunction with other gear to creative a wide variety of audio creations. Below are a few things I’ve done with my Monotrons. Check out Youtube for a lot of interesting things other people have done with these awesome boxes.

Here is a little droney lo-fi experimental piece I put together that uses only Monotrons and a little sequence put together using Pixitracker 1Bit for iOS:

Here is a song from my latest EP (more on that soon) with a Monotron intro that gives way to some Omnichord:

And here is another song from my EP that features a lo-fi Casio line (near the end) run through the Monotron Delay to add not only delay but also some crunchy distortion, ending in a feedback-y Karma Police inspired ending:

I’ve had a lot of fun with my Monotrons. The icing on this analog cake is that you can get each one for $50 or less, which is a steal for the amount of creative and noisy output they produce. You can read individual reviews of each Monotron that I’ve done on my other website here:
Original Monotron
Monotron Delay
Monotron Duo

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Ben lives in California and has far too many gadgets and hobbies. His solo recording project is called backward binoculars and he has a website exploring more musical things called Cut the Noise. He dabbles in synthesis, songwriting, and sound exploration with an emphasis on all things cheap and lo-fi.

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One thought on “The Mighty Monotron Trio

  1. Peter Thompson says:

    Hi please can you tell me how to connect my Monotron Duo to run through my DAW? I connect a 1/8″ jack to the headphone socket and connevt the other end of the cable (1/4″ single jack) to my Presonus Fire studio Mobile interface. This is fully synced to my macbook and all other equipment runs fine. I’m running Ableton 8. Should I be putting a dual trs connection into the Presonus instead? Cheers!

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