Korg Monotribe ‘MOD’ Update! Amazing Machines Miditribe, Nasty Mono + Interview

Thanks to the forward thinking designers at Korg and a unique company in Brazil, you can now add more functionality to your Monotribe and Monotron synthesizers. MidiTribe I/O from Amazing Machines offers a plug-and-play MIDI Solution while their Nasty Mono offers a simple solution for feedback control.

Since its release in 2011, the Korg Monotribe has become one of the most popular analog synths on the market due to it’s low price and all-analog circuitry. But one problem that many people have with the unit is the lack of midi connections that would allow sync with other devices. When the Korg Monotribe was released, one of the first things that users did was open the box up, only to find that Korg had neatly labeled solder points on the circuit board , indicating that the unit could do a lot more than initially expected. Among those functions was MIDI capeability, the only problem being that there are no MIDI ports on the box. Please note at this point – as we learn that the Monotribe is highly MOD-able, doing such will void your warranty with Korg.


Amazing Machines MidiTribe Mod

So the Monotribe supports MIDI. But I don’t own a soldering iron and I have a feeling I’d botch the machine anyway. What to do? Enter Amazing Machines with a MIDI Mod so simple that just about anyone can do it. In February this small company from Brazil released the Miditribe I/O,a plug-and-play MIDI solution for your Monotribe. The $64 kit ($88 with shipping to the US) includes a circuit board that provides MIDI in/out with corresponding cables that can be mounted on the case or (more easily) run through the battery compartment. Once installed, you simply plug in your midi cables and turn on the unit. Channel 1 will control the synth and channel 10 controls the drums. Pitch and mod wheels work with the Miditribe as well as the full range of keys from a keyboard.


Amazing Machines Nasty Mono

The Amazing Machines NastyMono is a $59 (83 with shipping to the US) after market Feedback Controller and I/O Adapter that was designed for the KORG Monotron and Monotribe. The unit does exactly what it says, adding feedback control to the Monotribe’s singal flow as well as an Aux input port. Amazing Machines elaborates on the functionality:

You still can use the NastyMono with any other Analog Synth that features a VCF Input and Multiple Audio Outputs or a Separate Headphones Output. However due to the nature of the KORG Mono Series the 1/4” Auxiliary Input and the 1/4” Audio Output Signals on the NastyMono rely on the RING contacts found on the 3.5mm I/O cables, there for the 1/4” Auxiliary Input won’t work if your Synth features a Mono VCF Input, the same goes for the 1/4” Audio Output, if the NastyMono is being feed by a Mono Signal the 1/4” Audio Output won’t work. Despite the fact that the 1/4” connectors won’t work depending on your specific Analog Synth, the Feedback Knob will still work, giving you the desired Distortion Effect, a nice example is the Moog Minitaur which will keep all the NastyMono’s functionality except for the 1/4” Auxiliary Input.

Amazing Machines’ Gabriel Rodrigues Talks About His Creations

Michael Walsh: How did you come about creating the Miditribe kit? Was this created to fill the need for MIDI on the ‘tribe? Or was this a personal project that became something bigger?

Gabriel Rodrigues: The MIDITRIBE Kit was an opportunity and I decided to take the risk. The whole idea of the Amazing Machines “brand” has been in my thoughts for years, I just didn’t knew where to start. A few years ago I was seriously tired of relying on companies like Unilever or Nokia to make a living, I wanted to be around people who understand what I have to say, people who share similar dreams. I needed a catalyst, something where I could put all the knowledge I acquired over the years and happily make a living out of it, that was Amazing Machines.

Then this incredible piece of hardware called Monotribe has crossed my way and I said, this is it! I knew how to build it, I knew how to make it an attractive product, I knew how to support my customers because I’m an artist myself so I knew what they were expecting, and last but not least the market needed it but nobody was doing it. That way I could group my ideas and start building the “brand” I wanted to, product after product, block after block, but I knew, at the beginning, that we would need a popular and absolutely necessary product in order to make the buzz we were looking for, that was the MIDITRIBE.

MW: I hear you’ve had good response with the Miditribe. Has the project been successful thus far?

GR: Yes it was and still is successful, we cannot build enough, they sell like water in the desert, the MIDITRIBE has already covered all the initial costs and also provided us with funds to keep expanding.

MW: Do you have a background interest in synthesis.. and have you made / do you make MODs for other machines?

GR: Yes I must confess that I’m a gear slut, I live for my synths and samplers, I love them all passionately, I do love my wife as well but that’s another story..

MW: What was the inspiration for the Nasty Mono?

GR: I’m not sure when exactly I had the click that the “idea” could become a product, but I remember this conversation I had with the fantastic Brazilian producer Dino Vicente from the DVM studios, when he told me one of his old tricks from the 70′s, one that he does with his Minimoog Model-D, which he still use nowadays, he said: “You just take one of the outputs and connect it back to the filter input, the thing will scream, have you tried that with your Monotron?”

After that I thought how stupid I was for not having tried a feedback loop before with the little beast, it was there all the time waiting for it, then obviously I tried the trick and thought: Wow this thing have potential but it needs to be attenuated or it will just make nonsense noises. Then I added a resistor to the signal path, tweaking the resistor values I found something that would work well for both the Monotrons and the Monotribe but there was too much hiss, I decided to add a simple fixed passive LPF by adding a capacitor to clean up the signal path, then I thought that maybe adding a potentiometer to control the amount of distortion would make it super. At this point it was exactly what most of the Amazing Machines products are, something that I wanted in my own studio that could be useful for a lot of people out there, why not make it a product?

MW: What can we expect from Amazing Machines in the coming year?

GR: The under development page on our website have a few clues on what we have been cooking. At the moment we are looking to expand our staff, we have 3 people working part of time and a few partners, I’m working full time, 16 hours a day, 7 days a week. The store is sold out all the time, everyone has gone crazy about our stuff, I’m not complaining, it is awesome, but I’m not sure when we will be able to release something new, there are too many orders to fill at the moment.

Michael Walsh is a producer of audio/visual art and a journalist living in Southern California. Read more of his work at soundsdefygravity.com