In this article I’m going to tell you about the absolute best synthesizer you can buy for under $100. You know what? I’m actually going to tell you the absolute best synthesizer you can buy for under $50!
The world of hardware synths is a high-end world of flashy nostalgia mixed with bank breaking pieces of sought after must-have gear. Within the community of hardware synths we actually have a term for it, it’s called GAS. Gear acquisition syndrome. It is definitely real, and it is very easy to fall victim to.
However, there are a lot of pieces that are fun to use, cost friendly, and easy on the wallet. In my opinion, a piece of gear that checks all those boxes for me is the Korg Monotron Delay!
The Korg Monotron Delay, in it’s simplest description, is an analog synth mixed with a spacey chaotic delay. The notes can be played through a simple ribbon keyboard and you can modify that sound through the five knobs located on the front of the unit. Inside this tiny box is where the magic really lies. The Monotron actually uses the same VCF circuit from the original Korg MS-10 and MS-20.
My favorite part of the Korg Monotron is how easy it is to hook it up to other instruments and manipulate them in crazy and huge ways. The Monotron has a headphone out and auxiliary in on the top of the unit. With the headphone out, you can hook it up into your sound board or mixer if you are using a dawless structure like I am. This thing really shines with the auxiliary in. Through the input you can run other instruments, tape decks, samplers, and more through the unit and manipulate their output in real time with all of the nuances and craziness that the Monotron provides. One thing that I really like to do is to use the Arturia Drumbrute Impact’s individual drum outputs and run them through the Monotron Delay to take the drums into Outer Space.
Without further delay, I’ve compiled a video that really just scratches the surface with the amount of fun and creativity that you can harness with the Monotron Delay. In this demo I’ve paired the Monotron with a modded tape deck made by the incredible Kryptic Species Mutations. I’ve included the links to check him out below, he creates a wide variety of modded and circuit-bent instruments. Do you have one of these? Think there’s something that offers a better value than the Monotron Delay? Want me to demo another device? Let me know in the comments below!