My impressions of the Mono

I recently purchased a Monomachine SFX60+ MkII. Wow, the sound engine is definitely weak and the FX are poor (apart from the delay which is OK). Even if I had purchased this in 2004 my opinion would have been the same (especially if I compare it to say a Yamaha EX5R which came out in 96).

Still I did my research and was not expecting or needing a sonic powerhouse. The sequencer/arp is sweet and with a bit of movement and complimentary tracking I will be able to come up with some useable sounds. Plus, with up to 12 midi tracks, I can use what the mono is good at, drive other instruments and VSTs.

I like the layout, my encoders seem fine and the buttons are OK but a little noisy. The display is excellent and most of the controls and menus are very immediate and well thought out. Though I don’t understand why the file menu is inside Global or why you would need 8 Globals in a snapshot. Also it is strange that the level encoder can’t be used to scroll through the longest lists (snapshots, kits and digibanks).

I needed a standalone device of a specific size that could also add something to my computer based setup and the Mono fits the bill. All in all it should keep me amused and hopefully will contribute to my music making.

Welcome :slight_smile:

The mono often makes a weak first impression straight out of the box because on their own its waves and effects sound quite thin. Building up a thicker sound is definitely doable, but many users have found that it requires exploration of the bus system, filter tracking adjustment, feeling out each machine type’s eq/filter, and experience with how the sequencer interacts with the envelopes and effects. IMHO, helpful examples of how to approach these things are in two sets of sysex you can find on Elektron’s Support and Downloads page: The Nicholas Lem pack and the Monomachine Booster pack.

Like the Machinedrum, it’s not an instrument that has a particular use or configuration in mind from the start. It more or less demands that you impose your will on it to do what you want.

I agree with dubathonic. It makes a bad first impression. I think the ‘initialized’ sound of each synth engine is crap for some reason. Something about a medium length decay and release that just sounds weak. When I’m working on a synth part I usually mess with the Amp EG first, adding a little distortion and delay helps too. But usually, with initialized sounds, I like it to be an on/off sound to start with. I don’t know why, maybe just something I’m used to from other synths.

I disagree with the point that the mono is [just] good at driving other instruments, though it is just my opinion. It’s seriously an amazing synthesizer/groovebox if you get to know it. Try using it by itself for a while to get a real feel for it (instead of gimping it to sequencing only, though yes, it is a good sequencer). Hook it up to a reverb unit if you have one (you can also use the internal reverb, but I find that less enjoyable because it takes up a track).

I am fairly confident that I will be able to coax useable sounds from the Mono. I will be using it standalone and I also expect it will provide the odd sound in my main setup. I don’t need a year to find my way round a new synth (having owned a few over the last 35 years).

I have read all the tricks about switching of filter key tracking and lowering distortion etc. and I have installed and listened to all of the sound packs and have even installed extra digibanks.

I still think the sound engine and FX are weak compared to other digital synths and VSTs . The Mono is not capable of great pad, brass, string, lead , bass or keys sounds. By which I mean you would not get great pleasure by just playing a single Mono sound via a keyboard (compared to other digital synths e.g. the Virus). Also I am not sure that any of the FX are worth sacrificing a track for (certainly not the flanger or phaser). I think complimentary tracking would yield better results (and I noticed is used in many of the demo patterns).

However, I do recognise that by adding movement to the Mono’s sounds, via the sequencer, arps and step modulation, that it is possible to make the Mono sound interesting. And, as stated in my original post, I am sure I will get some use out of it and I don’t intend giving up on it and I got plenty of things that sound great when needed.

It depends what you expect. The Monomachine, for me, is a pure digital synth. It doesn’t pretend to sounds analog at all and that’s what i like about it.
Its gritty, organic, cripsy, a weird sounding machine.

At first i was extremely disappointed, i really hated it. Now its one of my favorite digital synth.The more i play with it the more i like it.
Its not for everybody though.

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Learn to program.

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welcome to the forum, and to the MM … please keep us updated about your findings. how you use her, what patches you create and so forth! … cheers buddy!

Provide me one example of a great Mono sound (not a sequence or a performance) and I will try to learn even more about programming synths then I already do. :wink:

I am not comparing the Mono to analog synths, I am comparing it to other digital synths, which I have owned or played, and I am more than happy for things to sound digital.

I am quite satisfied with what the Mono is capable of. I think that although I was prepared for a so so sound engine I was quite surprised at how weak it is. Obviously it forces you to use the sequencer, arps and step modulation to get the best out of it, which is no bad thing.

I have already cooked up a few patterns which I should be able to make a song with. It is certainly my intention to make a finished song using just the Mono.

Keep at it! I have made some of my favorite synth sounds with the Mono, and conversely some of my least favorite. It’s a lot more capable than it might seem at first.

oh dear… User error?
Maybe you just need more time to learn to use it. It doesn’t matter how good you are at programming synths or what you think you know about synthesis, you really just have to learn to use it. The Monomachine is unique and massively capable. Plenty of resources around to help you get what you want out of it… here’s one >

I am sure that the Mono is quite capable in its own way and I certainly intend to use and abuse it.

Not sure that there is anything particularly unique about the Mono’s synth engines. Nothing new about FM, wavetables, VA, LFOs, basic envelopes and a filter (which reminds me of one of the many filters in the old Yamaha TX16W sampler). Maybe the VO engine is unique (though I think it would be easier to use a vocoder).

Thanks for the links, but I already downloaded all the tips and other available guides prior to purchasing the Mono.

i just made my first string patch with the fm today! and a great bass after 3 weeks of monomachine i find it great but i was very desapointed with it at the beginning[/quote]
That looks like a sequence but I will try it tomorrow to see what the bass sounds like when just played via a keyboard.

ok I appreciate what you are saying here actually and sure, a fair enough point to say the synth engines are not particularly unique on their own but I don’t think that’s where the good stuff is either. The uniqueness can be found in the myriad ways you can make use of routing sound, filtering, lfos and fx etc etc through neighbour tracks, as one example. And then of course you can plock and automate parameters which adds a crazy amount of depth to the audible possibilities. This is definitely unique.
It’s also probably not fair of me to sing praises of the Monomachine as my experience with other digital synths is restricted to an ms2000, OP-1, microkorg and ultranova. I just really enjoy using it. It’s a solid well thought out package. I am still learning how to get what I want from it and it often surprises me. I don’t always like the sound either but that can be equally as important. Initially weak maybe but it can scream and boom and generate some lovely pads and sound crazy powerful…I don’t hook up a keyboard and ‘play’ it that often - I tend to manipulate it more as a standalone unit or hook it up with my A4 so this forms a large part of my experience and opinion of it?

I always felt the Monomachine was a complete instrument when taken as a whole… that is, I don’t look at it as a multitimbral synthesizer with an included sequencer, but a marriage of the two in every sense. Peeling away a single synth sound from the Mono and weighing it alone would be a bit like eating just the bun from a cheeseburger and calling it bland, or perhaps trying to play a single string from a guitar and judging its overall sound accordingly.

That doesn’t mean I think the Mono sounds thin or weak, personally. On the contrary, every facet of its design suggests that the sequencer (with all of its nearly limitless tweaks and tricks) as well as its synth sounds and effects, were intended to be exploited in unison; the resultant rich and complex sound is anything but weak. For me, to divorce these elements is to essentially cripple the Monomachine… pulling off its wings and still expecting it to fly.

When I first received mine I knew what I was getting myself into; I had researched the Mono for months and was very familiar with the sound and overall sonic capabilities so there were no surprises when it hit my doorstep. I did struggle for quite a while (several months, to be candid) to get my head around the concept of incorporating the various effects, routing options and parameter locks in order to add nuance and motion – basically coming to terms with the very heart of the Monomachine. Up until then, I had owned several synthesizers (analog and digital) as well as several “grooveboxes” (I’m still an Electribe fanatic!). Most of these were easy to get bold and distinctive sounds from, and fast, for better or for worse.

So the Monomachine was a new experience in that I had to apply my efforts in sometimes drastically different ways than I was accustomed, in order to create a sound that met my expectations, in terms of complexity and presence. I am pleased to say that nowadays I can get around the Mono quickly and easily when seeking a “new sound”, but it still contains a lot of surprises and “ah ha!” moments which make using it a joy, even today.

Ain’t nothing like a MonoMachine.
So much character. So many quirks. So many LFOs!

Try this:

Treat the MnM as a 1 or 2 voice synth. Using 3+ tracks per voice with FX chains. Things get disgustingly filthy in the best way possible quickly, this way. When I do this, I don’t feel like I am losing out because those 2 lone voices are so remarkably complex that there’s no room in the track for anything else.

“Thin” becomes the farthest word from it, and that doesn’t even include what the sequencer does to it all.

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weak sound is representative of your present skill, its up to you whether it gets better

yeah ‘forces’ to use the other features, well you have to switch it on too, damm elektron
for ‘forcing’ me to switch it on and off

ever learned to play a violin or trumpet, sound shit at first,

hope those few point might give you an idea or 2

Thanks for estimating the level of my present skill.

Step sequencers, arpeggiators, step modulators, LFOs, multiple synth parameters etc. are things that are found in many synths, in one form or another. Obviously the possible parameter combinations are pretty endless (even more so on something like a Korg M3) and how one utilises the possible combinations to create a tune is a performance issue.

A skilled guitarist can pick up a cheap acoustic guitar and make it sing. But that does not alter the fact that the tonal quality of the cheap guitar cannot match the tonal quality of a more expensive guitar.
[font=Calibri","sans-serif]Some trumpets sound better than other trumpets and some violins sound better than other violins (I am neither a trumpet nor a violin player but I am sure there must be some reason why some trumpets and violins cost more than others).

just stating a fact, been thru that stuff some 7 or so years ago when the MnM was new
and there were a plethora of ‘this thing sound shit’ threads…groundhog day

well with the mono the p locks and various trig options are part of the sound making
arsenal, i’ve got sounds where there are no notes in the seq just the above, you have to press play to hear it as intended, i doubt you’re using some of those options yet.

so with your guitar analogy (a good guitarist can make a cheap git sound good)
you’re saying you’re not very good with synths?:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

simply, its not an easy instrument to get the best out of, whether you have the patience
and determination to find “it” is, as already posted…up to you (many dont and sell them)

i tend to make jokes that often do not come over easily as jokes on forums
but nor do i care when people make definitives on subjectives.

i just know the sounds i can generate in my machine are far from weak,
so sorry no i dont agree with your assessment.