Synth Site: Korg: Mono/poly synthesizer: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.5 out of 5
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Vaughan a part-time user from Australia writes:
Following from my previous review, I have now found a way around the annoying arpeggiator triggering problem.

Korg designed the Mono/poly's keyboard to reset the arpeggiator's clock everytime a new note is triggered. The problem is that even when the arpeggiator is synced to a drum machine, the keyboard will trigger an extra note if you don't hit the key at the exact time the drum machine triggers a new step for the arpeggiator, and this can throw out your pattern in a most annoying manner.

Fortunately Korg also included a VCO FM input on the back panel, and you can use this input to reliably transpose your arpeggios from another CV equiped synth.

First you connect the CV out of your other synth to the Mono/poly's VCO input (don't connect to the CV input - it won't work). Then you switch on the arpeggiator and play a chord on the Mono/poly's keyboard. Then trigger the arpeggiator from your drum machine. Finally, you can transpose the arpeggiated chord from your other sythesiser's keyboard, and it wont trigger an extra note if your timing is off!

Another neat thing you can do with the Mono/poly's arpeggiator is arpeggiate other CV equipped synths. For example, I connect the CV out from the Mono/poly, to the CV in on my Roland SH-2, and voila! The SH-2 now has an arpeggiator! Although unfortunately, because the Mono/poly's keyboard is controlling it, the triggering problem arises once more :(

Rating: 0 out of 5 posted Monday-May-11-2009 at 03:44
Vaughan a part-time user from Australia writes:
The Mono/Poly is definitely a worthwhile analogue synth to have around if you can still get one for under $1,000, which is becoming quite rare. But it is definitley not an all-rounder type analogue.

It is certainly able to create some excellent sounds, and many of these kind of sounds are not common sounds that you would easily come across in other synthesisers. This is mainly because of the Mono/Poly's "effects" section, which includes various combinations of envelope swept oscilator sync and cross modulation. You can certainly get some nasty acid sounds out of it, particularly when applying a bit of portamento.

It also has what COULD be an excellent arpeggiator, where the poly mode cycles through each of the oscillators separately (different tunings and waveforms on each oscillator are the key here), but unlike Roland arpeggiators, everytime you hit a key, that key will sound and THEN start the arpeggiator. This means you have to be very careful with your timing when you hit a new chord, as the first note can be annoyingly out of sync with the rest of the arpeggiated notes. Synchronising the Mono/Poly to another device does not eliminate this problem.

Despite the great sounds you can get out of this machine, the basic generic synth sounds are really nothing to write home about, because frankly, the oscillators are not strong enough. They are really quite weedy. If you want strong sounds, you invariably have to apply sync and at least a little cross modulation, which is not always desirable. For this reason I certainly wont be parting with my Roland SH-2 anytime soon, which has very ballsy oscillators, a very nice filter and therefore is fantastic for generic synth sounds.

I should also point out that, contrary to the previous review, the Mono/Poly does NOT use the same filter as the Prophet 5. The Mono/Poly uses an SSM-2044 chip, whereas the revisions 1 and 2 prophet use an SSM-2040 chip. There IS a difference in the sound, though it is not great.

Buy this synth if you love analogue and already have something else with strong sounding oscillators. DON'T buy it if it is going to be your only analogue synth.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Monday-Jan-07-2008 at 18:41
Lee a hobbyist user from USA writes:
I traded/sold my MonoPoly for a brand new Studio Electronics ATCX "analog" synth. MISTAKE! I miss it terribly. The new analogs just can't compete, they're not discrete enough. The Monopoly and other older synths with VCOs drift subtly, they're not oh-so perfect like modern synths. The ATCx filters are shit compared to the MP4's SSM filter. It sounds so musical and syrupy. It's funny that one of the original reviewers compared the MP filter to the Prophet 5 filter, because it's the same filter! SSM's were used in the early, and more desired, Prophet 5's.

This synth has balls, but you have to know what you're doing to get them. If you don't, you'll be disappointed when you play it, mistakenly thinking it's weak. I will say that there are other analogs that give more immediate satisfaction, but the MonoPoly is what I call a "journey" board. Fire it up, let it get warmed up, then start recording as you tweak, because you'll get crazy stuff you can never replicate again.

I want mine back!

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Friday-Sep-29-2006 at 13:32
WD from NYC writes:
Had and then bought a new Mono/Poly back in the 90s. It's sounds are generic-solid good analog with the proviso that it doesn't have any warmth or much character, period. Also kinda smooth, lacks balls.

They can rhapsodize about how it's undervalued, 4-oscillators, blah, blah, blah but at the end of the day it's (1) not any thicker than other 2-osc. synths in my experienced opinion, and (2) it doesn't have much character! I always had to use a lot of resonance to try to compensate, which is probably why most of it's better sounds can be accurately described as somewhat nasal. IF IT WAS GREAT I'D HAVE KEPT IT. Any number of other monos are much more worthwhile, not all of which are expensive or hyped.

Rating: 2 out of 5 posted Friday-Sep-08-2006 at 16:27
jake a professional user from USA writes:
Where is the hype for this synth? Why is it not in the legacy collection? Is it to complex? Do I just have weird taste or does this thing one of the most versatile and useful analog synths ever? I think I read in the Vintage Synthesizers book that this was the Japanese designer's favorite keyboard design. No surprises here.

Everyone compares everything (synths) to Moogs and then says that whatever is better or worse. These qualitative opinions and comparisons mean nothing when a product reaches a certain level of greatness. It's the proverbial apples and oranges. I play in a rock band and would be unable to use a moog on most of our recordings. My opinion is that Moogs (particularly the mini) are often too thick; it's better mix around one than fit one into the mix. The mono/poly's four oscillators can also be too thick but can easily be tweaked down to just the right tone where it fits into the mix without distracting from the whole and without compromising the character of its own sound. Again, just an opinion.

Needless to say, I enjoy this synth. It is my main analog. I like the Juno 106 for poly, moogs for bass and this for leads, ambient and also bass. It has a distinctive sound that keeps synth people from saying "that's an arp on your song" or "oh, I have a moog too". Instead it's usually "what did you use there?".

I would recommend against using this for a poly synth. It is more than just a mono but not a useful poly. It is usable though, but more for experimental poly or, very basic four note melodic stuff.

Also, be prepared for a bit of a learning curve on this one. Don't immediately assume you have this ting completely figured out. Its a little more complex than the usual knobby analog. I've had mine for a couple of years and am still frequenly discovering new tricks.

If you are mainly a synthesizer player and are considering buying this synth for less than $600(in good working condition), it would be wise to stop what you're doing and make sure that you get it right this second before the seller changes their mind or it's gone. I would pay about 650 (in 2005) 700 would be my max but, compared to Moogs and other hyped synths, is still undervalued. Adbot and prepal are neither accurate nor realistic. The vintage synth market is too volatile for these bots to figure out.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Monday-Jun-06-2005 at 15:45
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