Less can be more, but really, why go for one voice when you can have, well, more? In the shortest of terms, cost, but also use case.
As mentioned, in the most general terms, monosynths are great for bass and leads, while polysynths are great for chords and lush, moving pads (as well as bass and leads).
Again – the polysynth sounds better, but will cost more.
Polyphonic analog synths are made by physically duplicating the same circuitry for one voice multiple times.
With this in mind, it’s pretty impressive that the Minilogue is so light and portable.
In contrast, mono synths can be less expensive (emphasis on the can, looking at you Moog). They generally have a smaller footprint as all the hardware is just for one voice. If space is a factor, this should be taken into account as well.
So, the Minilogue is polyphonic and the Monologue is monophonic. That means the Minilogue is better, right? As we’ll see, it’s really not that simple…
Monologue vs. Minilogue: Which Is The Better Synth?
The term ‘better’ has multiple meanings here. In terms of pure features and capability, the Minilogue is better, and that’s why it costs more.
But some people will prefer the Monologue for a variety of reasons. Maybe they already have enough polysynths and just need something to handle bass, leads, and SFX. To them, the Monologue is the better synth.
Below we’ll look at the specs of each synth and compare their features and overall sound.
The Monologue features two VCOs (voltage-controlled oscillators) with three waveforms each.
The first VCO features saw, triangle, and square waves and a shape modifier, while the second features saw, triangle, and noise. The second VCO also has extra mods for octave, sync/ring, pitch, and shape.
If you’re learning about synthesis this is a really nice way of showing you how oscillators and filters work. Also it just looks super cool.
In addition to these synthesis parameters, Korg also added micro tuning capability with the Monologue (and the Minilogue via a firmware update). Apparently, Aphex Twin had a hand in modeling the micro tuning and also designed some of the presets for the Monologue.
Korg didn’t skimp on the patch storage either, doubling the Minologue’s sound storage by giving you 200 sounds you can save and play with.
For the Minilogue, the 16-step sequencer works the same exact way that the Monologues does, but there is one glaring difference.
The sequencer on the Minilogue uses 8 buttons despite being 16-step.
Having to watch the sequencer go around again to the first step and recall that it’s actually the ninth step is really frustrating sometimes. If there’s one huge criticism I’d have of the Minilogue, this is it. But to be fair, it would be tricky to fit on another row of buttons without raising the cost.
The Minilogue’s filter has the notable advantage of including a switch to change between 2-pole or 4-pole filter slopes.
This allows for more fine filtering of the cutoff frequency and is a nice touch for sure.
The fully resonant filter also sports knobs for resonance (big surprise, I know), EG intensity, and switches for pole, key track, and velocity.
This filter is really nice and the big cutoff knob is always calling out to you to fiddle with. This is definitely one of my favorite features on the Minilogue and something that is sorely missed on the Monologue (it’s just a regular sized knob).
On the envelope generator (EG) side of things, the Monologue has three targets on offer: VCO1 pitch, VCO2 pitch, and filter cutoff.
The LFO here also has some added modes with three waves, 3 EG mod modes (int, rate, off), and routing to one of three destinations (pitch, shape, filter cutoff). Lots to play with here, even with only one LFO.
Having just a single LFO might seem limiting, but it does mean you are forced to use it wisely.
The inclusion of a delay effect on the Minilogue is very nice, and the cherry on top of a feature-packed polysynth as it is. It’s a very dark sounding delay reminiscent of dub echo, and it’s also notorious for being noisy with longer settings.
In regards to the Monologue, the housing is brushed aluminum with five color options and has a nice wood backside that really classes it up. Both synths are solidly built and yet are surprisingly light and portable. How many analog polysynths can you carry to your friend’s house for a jam?
While it may seem intimidating, the Minilogue is also a great synth to learn synthesis with. With a basic knob-per-function layout and oscilloscope, this really is a great learning tool. Not to mention getting hands-on with a synth is way more fun than using a plugin.
Korg’s Minilogue and Monologue are two great synths that are very affordable. For all intents and purposes, the Minilogue is simply bigger and better, but you may not need everything it offers.
If you just need a mono synth, go for the Monologue. While the Minilogue can do mono, it has a reputation for being a bit thin-sounding in this area. But the Monologue really excels for bass and lead sounds.
So the choice isn’t the most obvious, but at the price they’re offered, both really are a steal.
So Mini, or Mono? If you’re still not sure, listen to some demos on YouTube and let your ears (and your wallet) decide.
Is the Korg Minilogue velocity sensitive?
Yes, this can be toggled as well.
Can you use the Korg Minilogue or Monologue as a MIDI controller?
Yes, both are able to transmit and receive MIDI data.