Korg Introduces An Analog Synth & Drum Box
By James Grahame
Japanese music equipment maker Korg has been around for 49 years, which is impressive for a high tech company in a niche marketplace. Their first product was a rhythm machine, so it's fitting that they've just announced the Monotribe Analog beatbox.
It features three analog drum sounds, an 8-step sequencer and a monophonic analog synthesizer voice with resonant filter. There's even a battery compartment on the bottom, allowing you to make analog noise almost anywhere on dry land.
Weirdly, the synth voice is played using the elfin ribbon controller that first appeared on their pocket-sized Monotron microsynth last year. It seems out of place here, since it's just too small for anything but hunt-and-peck playing.
It's interesting to see the company return to analog technology after producing dozens of successful digital synthesizers in recent decades. The Monotribe doesn't even have MIDI ports, opting instead for an archaic pulse sync system to link multiple units. Several commenters on the web have suggested that the absence of MIDI is because the instrument uses analog sound generation circuitry, but yet it has a digital step sequencer built in. Most likely it was all about keeping costs low.
The price and release date are TBA, but I suspect it'll drop in the $150 to $200 range. Whether that's cheap enough to tempt a generation of synth-heads away from their iPads and digital plug-ins remains to be seen.