Korg iMono/Poly

Bruce Aisher checks out Korg’s new ana­logue-emu­lat­ing iOS synth. Does its small foot­print hide a large sound?

Future Music - - CONTENTS -

CON­TACT KEY FEA­TURES

WHO: Korg WEB: www.korg.com Works with iOS 9.3 or later, ana­logue mod­el­ing syn­the­sis, arpeg­gia­tor, 128 sounds (pre­set) two multi ef­fects, eight vir­tual patches, mod­u­la­tion (159 sources and 35 des­ti­na­tions), in­ter­op­er­a­tion with KORG Gad­get, Core MIDI, Blue­tooth MIDI, Kaoss Pad (Touch Scale func­tion), In­ter-App Au­dio and Au­diobus 3 sup­port

Korg have a long and well-re­spected back­ground in the world of syn­the­sis, and have strad­dled the worlds of ana­logue, dig­i­tal and com­puter-based syn­the­sis with much suc­cess over the years. They are now in the en­vi­able po­si­tion of re­leas­ing cut­ting-edge kit, re­makes of their le­gendary gear, and em­u­la­tions of th­ese, all at the same time.

Korg were quick off the mark in the vir­tual in­stru­ment stakes when they re­leased their Legacy Col­lec­tion back in 2004. On the ana­logue side, this in­cluded com­puter-based em­u­la­tions of the MS-20 monosynth, Polysix, and the rather in­trigu­ing Mono/Poly. In re­cent years they have been up­dat­ing and port­ing th­ese to run un­der iOS, both as sep­a­rate apps, and as part of their Gad­get pro­duc­tion soft­ware. The lat­est of th­ese to en­ter the Ap­ple uni­verse is iMono/Poly.

The Korg Mono/Poly was first pro­duced in 1981 and was de­signed as a flex­i­ble mono­phonic synth to sit next to their PolySix polysynth. How­ever the Mono/Poly was no or­di­nary beast thanks to its in­ter­est­ing key as­sign­ment modes. As well as func­tion­ing as a straight­for­ward four-os­cil­la­tor monosynth, it could trig­ger chords (al­beit rooted through sin­gle VCF and VCA stages), or move through the os­cil­la­tors in turn with each new key press. The synth utilised VCO and VCF sec­tions built around clas­sic SSM chip im­ple­men­ta­tions, com­bined with two en­ve­lope gen­er­a­tors and three LFOs. Cross mod­u­la­tion and os­cil­la­tor sync were also sup­ported, and a sim­ple, but ef­fec­tive, arpeg­gia­tor (clocked from the sec­ond LFO), took care of sim­ple se­quenc­ing.

iMono/Poly has all of this (in vir­tual form) but adds a mod­u­la­tion ma­trix for more so­phis­ti­cated sound de­sign and two ef­fects units for fur­ther fi­ness­ing the raw sound. As ex­pected, and un­like the orig­i­nal, iMono/Poly al­lows you to store and re­call patches.

I tested iMono/Poly us­ing both hard­wired and net­worked MIDI and the grat­i­fi­ca­tion was in­stant. It cer­tainly sounded very sim­i­lar to my mem­o­ries of the orig­i­nal. Per­haps even more im­por­tantly, given this syn­the­siser’s quirks, was the ease with which sounds could be tweaked or cre­ated from scratch. Korg con­ve­niently pro­vide a se­ries of clearly la­belled tem­plate sounds as a means of quickly build­ing your own. The soft­ware comes with a de­cent se­lec­tion of fac­tory sounds (with sup­ple­ments via in-app pur­chases).

As with all Korg synth apps, the iMono/Poly en­gine can be ac­cessed from Gad­get. ‘Mont­pel­lier’ pro­vides ac­cess to the iMono/Poly sound set, though with a re­duced scope for edit­ing. For users of other iOS se­quencers, Au­diobus and In­ter-App Au­dio in­te­gra­tion is pos­si­ble.

Korg’s af­ford­able new synth, like its fore­bear, de­liv­ers a dif­fer­ent take on es­tab­lished con­ven­tions of mono­phonic synth de­sign.

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