July 22, 2011

Monotribe Mini-Review...

by Chris Randall

Last night my BFF The UPS Guy dropped off a shiny new Monotribe. I really haven't had time to put it through its paces, so I'll pre mea culpa this review in to submission by saying that once I've attempted to use it in a song, I'll almost certainly have different views. If you're reading this via a Google search and it's more than about a month old, chances are good there's another review later in the timeline.

With that out of the way, some thoughts:

1. It is much larger than I thought it would be. It is bigger than a TETR4 / Mopho. About the same footprint, but it is quite a bit taller. It is also heavier. It ships with 6 AA batteries, but it doesn't come with a wall wart. Korg, being Korg, didn't give it a standard 9V power hole, so you can't power it with one of the 30-odd 9V bricks you already have. Thanks for that, Korg. Good lookin' out.

2. Construction-quality-wise, it is far sturdier than the Monotron. It is fairly chunky. The pots have some wiggle to them, but I imagine this is made with the cheapest possible components, and if the Monotron is any indicator, we're lucky to get knobs at all. In fact, four of the controls are the same as the little pot shaft things on the Monotron, while five of them (the more often-used ones) are of a more substantial construction.

3. The sequencer is very crafty in its operation. However, the 8 step thing is really truly annoying. And note that the unit runs at 1/8th note steps. It's kind of normal to think of 8 steps as half of a measure, but as far as this is concerned, it runs at 1/8th notes for a whole measure.

4. There is an iOS app (here) which allows you to send sync to the Monotribe, using a number of different methods. You could, for instance, be running iElectribe on your iPad via MIDI sync, and sync to the Monotribe app via a WIST session. You'd be best served by having several iDevices to pull off this tomfoolery. Also, when driven by the app, the Monotribe switches to a 1/16th note timebase of a half measure, sort of. (The opposite of point #3, above, but you can really only program 8th notes, still. So you get four.) You can also hit the sync control with a 5V voltage spike (or dip, selectable) so if you have a modular or a DC-coupled audio interface, you can sync the Monotribe's sequencer that way.

EDIT: The drum machine is 16 steps, and can save one pattern. I have verified this. See comments. The synth is 8 steps only, though.

5. The synth voice sounds like an MS10 to me. Taken in concert with the LFO, it is a fairly capable voice, much broader in ability than the Monotron. The filter is even a little bit screamier. The drum voices sound like they came from an SR-120. Not "phatt" by any means.

6. I couldn't find any mods with a cursory Google search. I'm sure they'll be along shortly, though.

Anyhow, that's the general idea. I'll use it in my next Experiment video, so you can hear it in context. There are a couple dozen demo videos on YouTube already, so you can get a good idea of its operation. I bought it here for $229. If you have any specific questions I'll be happy to answer them to the best of my abilities.


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Jul.22.2011 @ 9:22 PM
haiku ;)

I had read in another review the filter was a no go with out the VCO , but that guy .... kinda will right stuff off without understanding once in a while so....

I see the face book pic ...the other ? Not a member . Are the mod points only for drums ?

Jul.23.2011 @ 12:07 AM
Just got mine, must say I think it's a fun little box, hard to put down. There are many quirks, or limitations, which will quickly help coin the term 'monotribe song' I guess. Still, with the MS-20 having been my first synth, and that filter, for me it was a no brainer, proprietary warts and all... I'm going to try running the tron and tribe together and see what I can get cooking with that!

Jul.23.2011 @ 4:11 AM
vcf is only open with vco, but thats a feature right?!

Jul.23.2011 @ 9:10 AM
Hi there, I got my monotribe directly in Japan for a nice price June 3rd, already.

What I like:
- for the Sync you hook up anything that is roughly a +5V 15ms Square impulse also. I synced it to my Nintendo Korg DS-10 even! Esp. if you modulate the peak of teh sync signal the monotribe sequencer gets nicely erratic or syncopatic, depends how you see it. It?s one impulse per 1 step to advance. There is a ton of fun in it!

- The Filter REALLY screams, if you hook it up to some nice monitor you see how deep this thing goes.

- If you connect the Headphone out with the Audio In, you get some really tasty overdrive saturation.

What I don?t like at all is no CV input and that the Audio Input is only usable with the VCO aka pressing the ribbon controller. That really sucks.
I am on the next Circuit Bending train, if there are some schematics out there that show me how to do it.

What I also found is that somehow the tone of the bas drum gets more phat when you play the VCO with it.
I don?t know if it?s psychoacoustic or for real.

Jul.25.2011 @ 7:14 AM
Jason Duerr
I was going to buy one for an upcoming Gulf of Mexico cruise. Thought it would be a nice way of sitting in the sun. But the one memory location pushed me off. Does look like fun. Christmas shopping should be easy for all of our significant others this year.

Jul.25.2011 @ 11:45 AM
triggering steps sporadically as part of your sequence, that's nice. sitting next to my kit that has infinite potential, this is a lovely, retarded friend

Jul.25.2011 @ 4:43 PM
if the memory is you only hold back forget about it.
The one memory slot is actually kind of a none issue -imho

The monotribe is so simple to use, you reprogram it within 3 minutes and less.
It?s much more of live (support) device than a production tool, anyway.
If you think of it rather as a Kaossilator than a electribe you?re actually closer to what it is.

Jul.26.2011 @ 9:23 PM
beauty pill
Just ordered one and having them Fed Ex it for the project I'm working on.


I still want a Tempest though.


- c

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