Image of the Week: Analog Synthesis in Your Pocket

While is not a gearhound guide, objects developed for music-making, especially those that can be described as gadgets, are not by any means off the site’s beat, especially when they can be seen as democratizing the production of sound. This forthcoming pocket-size analog synth from Korg, dubbed the Monotron, will have a relatively limited audience, even with its almost philanthropic $85 MSRP, but its size speaks to something larger.

It’s no surprise that Korg is making this thing. Analog synths have been seeing a renewed interest, as a generation of musicians raised in a digital bubble have sought out first-hand experience with what preceded software-based composition and performance.

And Korg has shown a unique aptitude for small-sized tools, from its “Nano” line of controllers, to its hand-held Kaoss Pad and Kaossilator — and let’s not forget its licensing of the Korg DS-10, a fully functioning simulation of an analog synth designed for the Nintendo DS gaming platform.

And yet while the Monotron will sit nicely alongside, and interact well with, all of those devices, what it really seems like is a test — if the Monotron does well, perhaps we’ll see even more (and larger) analog synths returning to the market. (This isn’t to suggest that no analog tools are currently being manufactured.) For all the attention that will be paid to software-based synthesis in the coming weeks and months, once the Apple iPad is released, the Monotron hints that a whole other storyline may be brewing.

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