HARDWARE SYNTHESISERS don't attempt to mimic other musical instruments, but instead use electronics and waveform manipulation to create unique sounds that you just can't get out of anything else. And that's why this tech has endured for the last 40 years.
Sure, you can buy a "synthesised synth" (or maybe simulated synth?) in the form of an app for your chosen mobile platform, or install a "library" of "voices" in a digital audio workstation (DAW) that runs on a PC - but it's like a real trumpet vs a super-high-resolution digital sample of a trumpet, right? The actual instrument is always better.
Purists go further: the only truly worthy synth is a monophonic synth. Unlike a piano or digital keyboard packed with processors, a monophonic synth can only play one sound at a time.
But what a sound! Korg's Monologue combines proper hardcore filters and oscillators and a "one knob per function" design that really hammers home the analogue philosophy.
Forget selecting "Hammond Organ" from a list, this is a synth where twisting one knob through fraction of a degree can dramatically change the sound. Yes, you have to "get" this type of music - fat bass, rich harmonics etc to appreciate it, but that's true of any instrument. Especially the clarinet.
Korg has the rise of digital synths and apps to thank for a resurgence of interest in proper hardware synthesisers.
Classic synths were expensive because they were hand-built and super-niche. Today, mass production gives musicians the Monologue (in five colours no less) for $459 (as at Feb 2017* May be subject to change).
It's battery powered, so you can busk with it, but it also supports MIDI and Korg's own Audio Sync to hook it into a bigger setup.
Another neat touch: the 25-note keyboard runs E-to-E like a guitar or bass, so it should slot easily into any band.
Yes there's more than a hint of retro about the Monologue too, with its metal casing and chunk of real (albeit cheap) wood out the back to remind you of the days when companies like
Moog and Korg could charge $15,000 for a monophonic synth...
...oh wait they can still do that. Because analogue synths rule.
In a world where a musician can produce a number one album from their bedroom using a MacBook Pro and $200 in software, the Monologue isn't an essential tool by any means. But it's a very powerful and interesting option for composers who understand the contribution that hardware analogue synth has made to the history and future - of music.
This article was originally printed in Australian Popular Science Magazine. Subscribe at http://www.popsci.com.au/
The monologue is available in five striking and vivid colours. In addition to the same aluminum silver as the minilogue, the lineup also includes black, red, dark blue, and gold. Choose a colour to complement - or be the highlight of - your setup!
Enquire at your nearest KORG Dealer here
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