The Elektron Monomachine SFX60 MKII represents the pinnacle of in-the-box synth sequencing. Imagine having Access Virus sound quality in a drum machine styled box - you can make it absolutely pound! If you're buying Elektron, you know you're getting the best quality sound, the best quality components, and getting a machine that will last you a lifetime. I believe it is the best of its class and will satisfy any musician's love for synth.
Odd collection of synths in a box
I wanted to take my time with it before I wrote any kind of review. At over $1,200 bucks, I would be apprehensive too, given you're paying for a digital synthesizer, in a market of many wonderful analog synths. So why this one?
My first Elektron was the Elektron RYTM. I went through the process of banging my head to figure that one out, and from the RYTM to this, this one was a breeze. Easier actually.
The Sequencer is of course wonderful. It always is. Lots can be modulated, & the "trigless trigs" with the "Slide" feature creates an EXTREMELY powerful modulation potential -- Make one sound on one step, and a totally different sound on the next, then "slide" -- and watch your sound morph to something totally different. Very cool. Not to mention there are 3 LFOs you can use. But LFOs seem so stone-age when you have the power of the P-Locks & Slides. LFO is like the Grandpa of modulation in comparison (except that you can P-Lock the LFO as well!!)
Ok, the sound is very important, and sound-generation methods. Especially with a digital synth, you'd hope it blows your mind to justify the cost. Well, I love the approach that Elektron took here:
Elektron didn't just make a VA digital synth that pretends to be analog. Instead, they give you "Machines" that are different digital synthesis methods. Formant Voice synthesis is a very digital concept. FM synthesis is a dominantly digital concept. The SID chip emulation of a digital sound chip. etc. So really, it's not so much you're getting a digital imitation, no, you're getting a little toolbox of digital synthesis methods, and it's all thrown into a very neat package with an excellent, Parameter-locking sequencer.
So why this and not something like an OP-1? Well, to answer my previous question, the quality of sound is really remarkable -- and you can tell partly by looking at the back of it. A robust, high-quality set of outputs, built like a tank, that sound really clean, and are split up into 6 individual outputs....... I mean really... what more could you ask for aside from a S/PDIF output? :P
But at the end of the day, do I come back to it? Do I get excited about playing it? Do I think it's a quality synth that I will want to turn to for many years to come?
A niche product that revolutionized the groovebox concept.
The Monomachine is not for everyone. And it certainly is not an "Access Virus in a box."
If you are dependent on presets, there are none. Buy something else.
If you want to just load up a sound and record, this is not for you either.
If you hate reading manuals, this is also not for you.
The Monomachine is a very deep 6 part synthesizer with multiple synthesis types (called machines) mated to the most powerful hardware step sequencer on the planet. The Monomachine also includes multiple effects, AND can sequence 6 tracks of external midi gear.
Sounds are created from scratch. To do so, one must first assign synth machines/effects to tracks. From there, multiple parameter pages allow for deep synthesis fun.
The Monomachine is not the most obvious synth in the world. You WILL be spending time with the manual. You will be confused in the beginning. Once you understand how the file hierarchy, sequencer, neighbor tracks, button shortcuts, etc. work... it becomes second nature.
It has a distinct sound. Very cold, sterile, and digital. It will not sound like a Minimoog or even another VA like an Access Virus. It sounds like a Monomachine, which is a good thing.
5 Stars because this synth is a game-changer. The Elektron sequencer is light years ahead of the competition. It sounds unique. The build quality is excellent. It will inspire you to think outside of your comfort zone and create avante guard sequences and sounds. It rewards your intelligence.
Straight up analog BooM!
I'm from the late 90's groove box error.
Got away from those things years ago! piling
Up one sound on top of another always turned into mud
On those things!
Electron on the other hand is straight analog power!
Easy to make a separation on every track. Effects never lose
Any kinda depth. If wanting to add one if these to your DAW
Bottom line plug and play!
Both Future & Bulletproof!!
This box is intended for experts. People who want to create sounds from scratch. I recently purchased an MKII and I feel very secure and future proof with this box. Although the learning curve is steep, the results in the end will be remarkable. Top producers in the world use these to create sounds that are impossible to achieve with software. BELIEVE ME.
Super Synth Power!
The Monomachine is one of the best synths I've ever worked with, delivering a huge punch in a small package. I've learned to never judge a book by it's cover. Six individual tracks are employed to create vast sonic soundscapes using any one of the synthesis methods available. The beat box style sequencing allows instant programability. Learning the basics takes only seconds.
The REAL power of this machine lies within the parameter locks, enabling sounds to transform in real time, creating new and exciting textures that are seldom heard. Maybe you only want an LFO on one specific note in a sequence or want to employ one of the effects on that same note (or others). This is easily achieved and with ease. Any of the available parameters may be locked in placed on a note by note, track by track basis, turning some of the most basic synth sounds into strange, far out and complex layers.
Once you get to know the Monomachines landscape, you'll be tweaking knobs and taking your sounds all over the audible spectrum into places they've never gone. Solid construction allows for mass annihilation of buttons and knobs and is the perfect center piece for any live show. The internal 6 track midi sequencer also makes this the perfect brain for the rest of your gear, ensuring you never miss a beat.
As someone who is heavily invested in computer music, this brought me away from my mouse and back to the basics my predecessors reminisce. If you want a hands on approach to making music, this is good as it gets. If you're lonely, simply program this beast to talk to you.