Two powerful, mini-sized, analog synths from two well-established companies. It’s a tough choice for many when deciding between the two. They both offer so much in terms of features and value for money. But which one is going to be the right purchase for you, the MicroBrute or the Monologue? They both pack a lot of punch and are capable of producing some big sounds.
Arturia and Korg have managed to squeeze a lot of power into each of their mini-sized synths. It’s no surprise that they are popular choices for both beginners and experienced users. However, it is a tough decision and one that needs some thought.
Choosing the right synth will depend on your current setup (if you have one) and what you want to achieve in the long run.
To make things easier, we’ll point out some of the differences between the two synths. This will help you to decide which way to go. Micro or Mono, let’s find out.
|Sound Engine Type(s):||Analog||Analog|
|Number of Keys:||25||25|
|Type of Keys:||Mini-key, velocity-sensitive||Slim-keys, velocity sensitive|
|Number of Presets:||N/A||80 factory, 20 user|
|Oscillators||1 x VCO (Sawtooth, Triangle, Square), 1 x LFO||2 x VCO (square, triangle, sawtooth), 1 x LFO|
|Filters||1 x 12dB per octave Steiner Parker filter||1 x 2-pole low pass filter|
|Effects||Analog Distortion (Brute Factor)||Analog Drive distortion|
|Sequencer:||Monophonic 8 sequences, 64-steps||Monophonic 16-step|
|Audio Inputs:||1 x 1/4″ TRS||1 x 1/4″ TRS, 1 x 1/8″ (sync in)|
|Audio Outputs:||1 x 1/4″ TRS (audio out), 1 x 1/8″ (sync out)||1 x 1/4″ TRS (audio out), 1 x 1/8″ (sync out)|
|Headphones:||1 x 1/4″||1 x 1/4″|
|USB:||1 x Type B||1 x Type B|
|Other||CV Gate I/O, Mod Matrix, Pitchbend, Mod Wheel, Arpeggiator||Micro Tuning, OLED oscilloscope screen|
|Power Supply:||12V DC power supply||9V DC power supply / 6 x AA batteries|
|Weight:||3.9 lbs.||3.7 lbs.|
The MicroBrute is designed for those dirty bass and lead sounds. The single VCO and Steiner-Parker filter deliver all of the aggression you would need. It doesn’t stop there though as it offers extra drive and bite through the on-board Arturia “Brute Factor” feature.
The Monologue’s dual VCOs and MS-20-inspired filter can also reach those biting tones but it will also give you the warmer tones as well. The Mono has the edge if you’re looking for flexibility, plus the extra connectivity also gives the Mono a slight advantage for expansion.
The full ADSR envelop on the MicroBrute is what you would expect from an analog synth. The stripped down version on the Monologue is a slight disappointment and we did expect more from Korg. Also, the MicroBrute doesn’t use a menu system for those who prefer simple playing.
Both come with step sequencers although, for usability and advanced functionality, the Monologue version is the clear winner. The Mod Matrix on the Micro welcomes a lot of options for external modular gear. Proving why it’s suited to anyone looking for pure analog setups.
The MicroBrute from Arturia is a semi-modular, analog synth that excels in sharp and biting tones. The build and features on-board all point towards an instrument that has been created for deep basslines and screeching overdrive. It’s certainly not micro in sound performance.
The Mod Matrix is an excellent addition to the interface. It gives you extra modulation options and opens up a lot of potential for experimentation. The MicroBrute is a small unit at only 12.9” wide. However, the layout of the knobs and sliders do not feel cluttered and it’s easy to use.
The single VCO and redesigned sub-oscillator might sound small in comparison to the Monologues double VCO design. Don’t let that deter you. With the help of wave-mixing, a Steiner-Parker filter, and extra “Brute” overdrive knob, it’s got plenty of power and character.
Overall, the MicroBrute is a well connected and menacing little synth. The ability to connect up to various external devices is going to be a huge plus for many users. For under $500, you’re getting an analog synth with plenty of character and potential. The MicroBrute is a little beast.
The Korg Monologue is one of the most popular analog synths for under $500. It’s easy to see why when you look at the features and overall build. It not only looks easy on the eye but it also plays and sounds like a synth well above the asking price. The Mono is deceptively powerful.
The twin VCO and MS20-inspired filter lay the foundation for a synth capable of creating many different tones. Quickly change from warm to aggressive in just a couple of knob tweaks. The various waveshaping, sync, and ring mod capabilities are perfect for bass and lead sounds.
The fully editable, 16-step sequencer is one of the standout features of the Monologue. The fact that the interface includes 16 individual buttons onboard makes programming your sequences easy. Include the Microtuning and Scale Modes and you can start to see the real potential.
The Mono has a lot to offer. You’ve got that analog sound, an intuitive interface, and plenty of advanced features. The connectivity options to expand and connect with your modern gear is a huge plus as well. You’re getting a lot of synth for your money and it’s a deal that’s hard to beat!
As you can see, both of these mini-sized synthesizers are worthy of your hard-earned money. It’s just a case of finding out which one will give you the most value. The analog sound is great on both and we believe that it’s the on-board features that will be the deciding factor between the two.
The MicroBrute from Arturia is geared more towards the analog purist. If you’re looking to build an exclusively analog setup then the Micro is going to give you a good starting point. The on-board Mod Matrix opens up plenty of opportunities to connect up with modular gear. One area where the MicroBrute does need to improve is the keybed. It’s not as responsive and doesn’t offer much playability at all in comparison to the Korg keybed.
The Monologue, on the other hand, is more rounded to everyday synth playing. It’s easy to use with its intuitive layout. The keybed, although it has the slim keys, does give you a nice playing experience. The Monologue has more range in terms of sound creation and the sequencer is one of the best around for this price range. Furthermore, the MIDI I/O connections make this perfect for teaming up with soft synths and other modern gear in the months ahead.
Overall, the Monologue gives you more synth for your money. If you’re starting out in the world of synthesis then the Mono will put you in a better place to expand and adapt. The MicroBrute is fierce when it comes to sound but it’s more of a specialist synth, useful for those people who are looking specifically for that biting and aggressive sound. The Monologue’s filter does allow you to get down and dirty with basslines, but it also gives the chance to open up with warmer sounds as well. It’s a tough call but if you’re unsure about which synth to go for then we recommend the Monologue. It’s going to serve you better as a more rounded synth and it’s a great companion to start your synth journey with.
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