Review: Amazing Machines MIDITRIBE IO

Add MIDI to your Monotribe      21/02/12

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Korg’s Monotribe was the hit of the Musik Messe last year - the 303-like mono synth and simple drum voiced 16-step groove box sounded great, but opinion was divided. Certainly the Ribbon Strip Keyboard had me frustrated - giving you a decent sounding synth but no real way to play it - seemed cruel.

Fortunately, Korg continued on their path of encouraging  user modification - started with the Monotron,  by adding various patch points under the hood, should you have the courage to get stuck in. Brazil’s Amazing Machines took up the challenge and introduced a basic add-on board that gave you MIDI in. Subsequently, Korg introduced OS 2 for Monotribe which added further MIDI capabilities plus a few other nuggets and Amazing Machines responded with the enhanced that kit that is the MIDITRIBE IO.  

What It Is
The MIDITRIBE IO brings MIDI in and out to the Monotribe, it comes in kit form, a user installable circuit board which gives MIDI in and out on trailing leads that you can either mount in the case (if you are prepared to drill holesd in it) or trail through the battery compartment if not.

Installation was pretty straightforward, took me 12 minutes but make sure yoiu have some decent , cross-head screwdrivers handy to loosen the screws. There’s no major surgery involved, so all but the completely incompetent should be able to manage it.

Once installed, you’re pretty much done, though I do recommend updating the Monotribe to OS V2. if you havent yet.

So now I have access to note  and velocity via Ch 1 - this alone is fabulous - I can now play the thing meaningfully - I’d forgotten just how good it sounds. Drum voices are fixed on Ch 10 note values:
36 - Kick, 40 - Snare, 42 - HH.
There is no velocity on the drums.

Below is list of additional MIDI mappable parameters - notable in their absence is the VCF cutoff and resonance - this is not a fault of the MIDITRIBE IO, but it simply is not supported by Korg.

CC# Parameter
01 (modulation) LFO intensity
07 VCA Level (synth part)
16 LFO Rate
80 Env Shape
81 LFO Target (VCF, VCF/Osc, Osc)
82 LFO Mode (1shot, slow, fast)
83 LFO Wave (Saw, Tri, Sq, Random)

Its worth noting that all the front panel controls listed above also transmit over MIDI via the MIDI output. Useful for recording and playback of performances.

In Sync
If you send MIDI clock to the Monotribe, it will lock to the incoming tempo and start and stop together with your sequencer - I did this successfully with Ableton Live and the tempo lock was very fast.
You also get the corresponding sync pulse from the  sync out jack on the Monotribe - so it can be used as a MIDI clock to sync pulse converter. Putting Live into external sync and hitting play on the Monotribe gave me solid lock, though changing the tempo took a little longer to lock than the other way round.

Fitting that the package arrived on valentines day as if I ever fell out of love with the Monotribe, the MIDITRIBE IO kit has helped me rediscover it.
But seriously, what was a novelty has now become something I might actually use, as it will integrate with my existing MIDI setup and I can also play it as an instrument.

The MIDITRIBE IO is not bargain basement cheap, but for $64, you might just get something meaningful out of your Monotribe again.

Available via the website only $64 plus $24 worldwide flat rate shipping.




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