Korg has consistently been on the forefront of easy-to-use, yet complex synthesizer workstations that cater to beginners and professionals. Their recent Korg Monologue follows up the release of the Korg Minologue, which has been praised by many industry experts.
Although the Monologue and the Minilogue share a common aesthetic and design, the Monologue brings improvements to some features, while boasting an impressively competitive price of $299, one of the cheapest synthesizers on the market. While the Monologue is a monophonic synth and has fewer keys than its predecessor, the improvements it does make to sequencing and its impressive price point prove this synthesizer to be a worthy successor to the Minilogue.
The Monologue is an impressive synthesizer for those just getting started with analog synthesis and experienced players looking for a powerful synthesizer with easy-to-learn, hands-on features.
Below, please take a moment to check out our interactive table below, which will allow you to compare the Korg Monologue to the Korg Minilogue, as well as a variety of other popular synthesizers.
|Roland JUNO DS61||8-Track Pattern Sequencer w/Non-Stop Recording|
|Roland JUNO DS88||128 Note Polyphony|
|Korg Minilogue||16-Step Polyphonic Step & Motion Sequencer|
|Roland JD-XI||Gooseneck mic w/built-in Vocoder & AutoPitch|
|Yamaha MX88||1,106 voices, 61 drum kits|
|Behringer Monopoly||VCF, 2 LFOs, 2 envelopes, sync and cross modulation|
|Novation Impulse 61||Semi-Weighted w/Aftertouch|
You can also read our review of the Korg Minilogue right here.
How Does it Feel?
The Korg Monologue is a slick, impressively portable instrument that feels very natural to use. The front panel display is organized very neatly, clearly labeling the editing parameters. Korg has replaced the complex matrix of editing options with a simplistic, easy-to-navigate panel that encourages experimentation instead of reading.
While many synths today feature knobs or toggle buttons to change waveforms, such as the Roland JD-XI and its LFO knob or the Korg MS20 and its VCO waveform knobs, the Monologue features vertical switches that snap into each waveform’s place, allowing for seamless, comfortable edits while you play. This is a design feature I would like to see implemented in Korg’s following synthesizers.
The Monlogue’s knobs feel sturdy and comfortable, and they rotate smoothly around, giving a true analog touch to the player. The indicator line on the knobs are not colored differently than the knobs themselves. Although this shouldn’t be a frequent issue, it can be difficult to know where your knobs are turned if you’re playing in a dark club or have poor eyesight.
A white indicator line could have benefited the accessibility of the instrument, though it is relatively insignificant issue. I never had any trouble reading where my knobs were turned, but I can foresee situations in which it could be a problem.
Below, please feel free to view some of the best-selling synthesizers currently on sale (and then see how each one of them compares to the Korg Monologue).
|1) Yamaha MX88|
|2) Korg Minilogue XD|
|3) Roland JUNO-DS61|
|4) Roland JUNO-DS88|
|5) Behringer Poly D|
Design and Keys
The Korg Minilogue introduced a new pitch bend slider in its design, and it is present in the Monologue as well. If you’re used to the more common pitch bend wheel, the slider may take some getting used to, but once you develop the feel for it, it is a very rewarding design choice. The slider is similar to a Nord digital piano’s wooden pitch stick. The resistance towards its resting position feels just right, and the amount of nuance that can be achieved by its use results in very tasteful melodic lines. Once I developed the right touch, I was able to perform subtle vibrato effects to lead and bass voices, adding depth of character to my sound.
What may disappoint some users is the mini-sized keys on the keyboard. While full-sized keys would have been nice, portability of the instrument would have needed to be sacrificed to accommodate two octaves of full-sized keys. I believe the compromise was the right choice. You may even spend more time performing on the front panel than the keyboard itself—this isn’t a digital electric piano. The keyboard provides the player with two full octaves, from E to E, which is the perfect range for developing interesting bass lines.
Sound of the Monologue
The Korg Monologue features the following tools for sound editing:
- Two voltage-controlled oscillators
- Filter parameters
The second VCO replaces the square wave with a noise generator, allowing the player to generate percussive sounds. In addition to the wave shape options in the VCO (sawtooth, triangle, square), the Monologue also comes with a knob that can alter the shape of the wave in subtle ways, achieving different sounds with the same waveform. This is a fantastic editing feature, especially for a synthesizer of this price.
Since the Korg Monologue is a monophonic synthesizer, it won’t be providing any chordal pads. Instead, it provides impressively deep bass sounds. Whether you want a rumbling sub-bass, a dirty saw bass, or a dynamic, slow-attacking bass, the Monologue can do it. As mentioned before, this synth spans two octaves, from E to E—this is the standard range for bass guitars. This synthesizer was designed with bass in mind, even to the point of constructing the keyboard range to accommodate the bass range.
The Monologue also comes equipped with an octave toggling option in the form of a horizontal switch—another smart design choice, allowing for seamless octave toggling and helps keyboardists visualize the keyboard horizontally. Just as the monologue provides robust bass patches, it can also produce satisfying leads, sometimes by simply transposing your desired bass sound up a couple octaves.
The powerfully satisfying lead and bass sounds achieved by the Korg Monologue are the perfect types of sounds for monophonic synth. With its easy editing features and intelligently designed pitch slider, the melodies I constructed with the synth sang with character and emotion. It doesn’t just produce computer-generated noises—it makes music with emotion.
One of the most impressive features of the Korg Monologue that separates it from the Minilogue is its sequencer. The sonic possibilities that can be achieved through the sequencer are even more impressive when compared to how simple it is to edit. There are three basic editing elements with the sequencer: notes, slides, and motion.
The sixteen horizontal toggle buttons on the front panel give a red indicating line when they active, giving a visual representation of how often the sequencer will sound different elements. For example, when you select the “NOTE” parameter for the sequencer, each toggle button that is on represents a different sixteenth note that will sound. You can easily toggle on and off different combinations of sounding notes, allowing for a great variety of rhythms.
Perhaps the most impressive function of the sequencer is the motion-editing parameter. As the sequence repeats, you can set the sequence option to “MOTION” to get started. After doing so, you can then perform different actions using the front panel’s knobs and the sequencer will remember this actions and repeat them until you toggle it off. This can be done up to four different times with any of the knobs—filter, LFO, envelope-generator, etc. The display will also show you a visual representation of your performance on each of the knobs so you know exactly what is being played back to you.
The sequencer, specifically its motion function, is perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Korg Monologue. Its hands-on functionality makes it easy to learn and provides the player with so many possibilities for expanding sound palettes. I found the sequencer of the Monologue to be more fun and more approachable than the Minilogue’s.
Another of the Monologue’s most useful features is its built-in oscilloscope. Having a direct, real-time visualization of the sounds you are building is incredibly useful. I think this feature is one of the most attracting aspects for beginners, for a visualization of sound editing helps one understand how different parameters affect the waveform and its sound.
The oscilloscope will continue to operate even when plugging an external audio source into the Monologue’s input. This is one of the oscilloscope’s most impressive aspects—using external hardware for sound editing while still being provided with an accurate visualization of the sound waves. After plugging in an external source, every one of the Monologue’s editing options can be used to edit its sound.
With its simplistic front panel options, clearly organized editing parameters, built-in oscilloscope, and hands-on sequencer, the Korg Monologue is one of the best options for those beginning to learn analog synthesis. The Monologue makes every step of the process simple, while providing the player with the option to combine simple steps to create complex, full-bodied sound palettes. The oscilloscope helps solidify the Monologue’s place as an instrument for the novice, providing waveform visualizations that can assist in one’s understanding of how the turning of knob affects the produced sound wave.
Finally, the price of the Korg Monologue, well under $500, makes this the perfect instrument for a newcomer to analog synthesis. Few synthesizers on the market fall under the $500 mark, and the Monologue’s $299 price point is incredibly impressive for what it can produce.
Those experienced with analog synthesis and keyboard workstations can also find an instrument of great value in the Monologue. It provides a seamless work flow through its hands-on sequencer and clean interface that even the most experienced player values.
However, this is a monophonic synth instead of a polyphonic synth, so many experienced players may want to pay an extra couple hundred dollars for the Minilogue, which is the polyphonic option. The Monologue, however, provides players with a more streamlined sequencer that is easy to use and master. The easy-to-use sequencer and competitive price point are the aspects of the Korg Monologue that make it one of the most desirable synths on the market.
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