The Korg Monologue is a 25-key, monophonic synthesizer that was designed off the back of its powerful and successful brother, the Minilogue.
It keeps the compact and sturdy design, you have a selection of different colors to choose from and it even comes with some advanced features and tuning options that will excite a lot of synth lovers out there.
The Monologue is a powerhouse at an extremely affordable price, co-designed by none other than synth legend Richard D.James, of Aphex Twin fame, it urges you to dive in and explore the potential straight out of the box.
The fact that the Monologue has been guided in design by the man behind Aphex Twin, gives you confidence that you’re getting a machine capable of wild and wonderful sounds. This unique input around the sound and design of this synth pushes it high above its competitors.
A special feature of the Monologue is that you can micro-tune each of the individual keys across six octaves. This Aphex Twin inspired feature is more geared towards the electronic style of music but there are preset scales to give you a guiding hand as to how they work.
There is also a built-in self-tuning circuit that is activated every time you turn the synth on, so no matter how much experimentation you take on with the micro-tuning feature, you can have peace of mind that it will have no trouble in resetting itself back to its normal tuning.
On the outside of the Monologue, you’ve got a tidy and sleek design with a choice of five stylish metallic colors (black, silver, red, blue and gold) and on the back, you have a wooden panel that sets off the overall design with a vintage look.
The Monologue’s synth voice is based upon two VCOs that are both open to waveshaping. Saw, triangle and square waves are available in the first VCO and the options of saw, triangle and white noise (that takes the place of the square wave) are in the second VCO.
Only the second VCO includes Pitch and Octave controls, but the range of textures and the potential to create new timbres with these two oscillators helps to make this synth stand out, especially for the price. Plus, you’ve got hard sync and ring mod options on the second VCO.
The 16-step sequencer really shines a light on the Monologue, you have a three-way switch that toggles each sequence mode – note, slide and motion. In note mode, you can record in real-time with the aid of the metronome (found within the menu) and play along to the bleeps.
Slide mode enables the step-by-step portamento option, here you can control step lengths and resolution, with other functions such as swing time and gate also available.
The third mode, Motion, is what really highlights the power of the sequencer. This allows you to automatically record, program and layer up to four parameters. It allows you to capture knob movements on any of the parameters and will assign these values on a step-by-step basis.
The low-pass filter is surprising, even though it’s a 2-pole (12dB) design, it still has the ability to produce some extremely bassy and sweeping sounds. Turn the Resonance up to maximum and you’ll find that the filter starts to self-oscillate, opening up more sound-shaping potential.
The analog Drive circuit is our last standout feature on the Monologue, it’s a powerful distortion tool that will bring a lot of life to your synth sounds. You can add just a little for punchy sounds or turn it up for full distortion and let chaos arise!
The Monologue does carry a lot of similar design ideas over from the Minilogue, like the inputs and interface design, more of which we’ll touch upon shortly. However, there are some nice little extras that have been included and they are worth pointing out.
The Monologue has an even smaller footprint with a 25-key velocity sensitive keyboard, the keys are still mini-sized due to the compact nature of the synths housing. However, the unique feature here is that the keyboard is laid out over two octaves, unconventionally, from E to E.
This E to E layout is designed to help you play along in a live environment. The low E of the Monologue will line up with the standard tuning of guitars and bass guitars, giving you more expression and freedom in those live conditions.
You’ve got 80 factory sounds with some having been programmed by Aphex Twin’s Richard D. James, letting you access his signature wild and crazy sounds straight from the touch of a button. There are 20 blank patches for storage and any of the 100 in total are re-writable.
The oscilloscope display is another feature that was kept in from the Minilogues design, for beginners, this is really useful as it lets you visualize in real-time just how your waveforms are reacting, plus you’ll quickly understand how each parameter affects your sounds.
Another great feature in relation to the oscilloscope is that it still functions when external audio sources are plugged in, allowing you to visualize the soundwaves. Plus, all of the Monologue’s editing options are available to use on external sources giving you extra flexibility.
The Monologue comes with one LFO which is surprisingly functional. It has a high-frequency mode that can be used for FM effects and there is a 1-shot mode which allows the LFO to be used as a basic envelope generator.
The Monologue’s main envelope generator gives you a simple two-stage Attack/Release option that offers up three different modes, these allow you to further shape your sounds with the use of sustain as well as bypassing to an open gate to assign the envelope to other areas.
In terms of input and outputs, you’ve got the standard 1/4 inch jacks for headphones and mono audio in and out, sync in and out for connecting other Korg products, standard MIDI in and out, and also USB for MIDI.
Surprisingly, this compact and powerful synth can be powered on just six AA batteries alone, which is handy for when you want to take it out of your home or studio environment. There is an option for an AC adapter but this does not come as standard, you’ll need to buy this as an extra.
The Monologue is another hit for Korg, in a short space of time they have managed to design and produce both the Minilogue and the Monologue, two powerful yet affordable synthesizers.
The compact and sleek Monologue is full of advanced features and functions. It has great potential for beginners, the intuitive layout and LED displays all help to guide you on the way to synth heaven, being able to connect up to a DAW and to other instruments adds to the flexibility.
At the end of the day, the Monologue is an analog beast and it’s extremely fun to play!