The latest app from KORG brings the 1981 vintage synth to iOS – and there’s reason this particular remake is interesting in 2017.

The KORG original is really three synths in one. Playing one voice at a time with its four oscillators, it’s a fat monosynth. Using those four oscillators separately for chords, it’s a near-perfect polysynth. And then, most interesting, you can use paraphonic mode, where the four oscillators use a single filter and amplitude.

Sending pitches separately, you also get unique sequencing effects, generating melodic ideas that dance across those four oscillators. And then there’s modulation.

KORG has remade its Mono/Poly before. (I’m still holding out for a hardware remake, but I mean in software.) The Legacy Collection plug-in version is a nice enough recreation of the original for the desktop, and it seems if you were a user of that plug-in, you can exchange presets with the new iOS app. (That also opens up the usual possibilities of making an iPad or iPhone a satellite to your desktop studio rig.)

But on iOS, there’s particular reason to rejoice. Let’s review:

All those modes. It could be called the Mono/Poly/Para – you get all three modes in the app.

That arpeggiator. This is actually my favorite feature of the Mono/Poly, partly because you can arpeggiate across voices. And Duran Duran fans, yes, there’s a random mode.

Massive modulation. This might be a 1981 synth, but it still offers advanced sound possibilities today. (Hey, the ballpoint pen hasn’t evolved much since 1981, either – so work on your drawing skills.) Route loads of envelopes and inputs to loads more sound and envelope features.

MIDI control. In addition to routing modulation, you get MIDI Control Change for almost everything. Couple this with something like the Modstep app and you can sequence complex transformations of sound, live.

Deep effects. Formant shaping, multi-tap spatialization delay with chorus, and more. That of course may also lead you to new sounds.

You can make templates. No excuses for not creating your own presets with basic sounds …why the heck doesn’t every darned soft synth in the world have this feature?!

It works with KORG Gadget. Integration with KORG’s own DAW/synth environment should appeal to lovers of that tool. (Though, of course, you’re just as free to use whatever MIDI hardware and apps you want.)

The iPad is uniquely suited to vintage software remakes. Fake knobs on a screen, with a mouse – not the best. But with touch, they create the illusion of being able to really use the interface. And KORG have here thrown in their usual KAOSS-style X/Y pad, which works even better. Plus, because apps are portable, you can sketch ideas to bring back to finish later in the studio or at home.

Twenty bucks. Sold.

Thanks for Francis Preve for consulting on this story.

  • Did they remember to put in, at the very least, a MIDI channel setting? iWavestation still doesn’t have it and it makes it virtually impossible to use alongside other iOS synths. Device settings would be even better. And honestly, it’s 2017, where’s the AU?

    • Raphael

      Lack of AU is a big issue now. PPG Infinite is here with unique design and AU.

      • You want AU and midi settings to integrate the korg synth into a sequencing or live environment ? Well, so you mean inside Gadget ? So you can do it ! Korg behave like Propellerhead with Reason before it accepted VST, with the added bonus that RE can only be made by themselves !

        • Raphael

          Monopoly is a gadget and a standalone synth which is why korg have set a higher price. The standalone part should have AUV3 as all new synth releases do. PPG infinite is AU. zeeon is AU.

  • The Mono/Poly is still one of my favourite synths of all times. If Korg made a remake of it in their usual “mini” format, I’d buy that in a heartbeat. The original is too bulky for my bedroom studio and I can’t be bothered having to maintain 40 year old hardware. If this version sounds half as good as the Legacy plugin, it’s a no brainer.

  • itchy

    the faster the ipad can switch between apps and have mulitple views to see many at once the more value these apps have.

  • Tony Scharf

    The mono/poly was the first synthesizer I played in a music store. I was in Highschool and didn’t have the $100 bucks they were selling it for (yes…in 1991 you could have gotten one for $100). It was amazing.

    • What a missed bargain!

    • Kyle Sherrod

      I bought one in 2014 for $75 😉

  • chaircrusher

    I want a reissue of the Korg Polysix as analog hardware with MIDI. IS THAT SO MUCH TO ASK?????
    Best pad synth ever.

  • Romain Bårbøt

    I don’t know why there’s no hardware reissue of the Mono/Poly or the Polysix. the second hand prices are crazy and people are still excited by these instruments.

  • Mako

    no ipad 4 compatibility, secondly monophonic. on vst korg offers excellent polyphony but on ios its lame mono. about midi ch settings, its still a question mark. at least ppg offers all of those, ipad 4 compatibility and good polyphony, plus its an AU. What is wrong with Korg??

  • mako

    i am sorry its says 32 note poly somewhere, so thats great, hope now at least its ipad 4 compatible

  • A really nice addition!

  • Andreas Karperyd

    humm, Mr KORG…. still no midi synk or link.. superb arp. hard to record in time.. is this just pure eavil or accidental ?

    • Fuzzyparts

      No, ODYSSEi lacks aum and sync, too.
      Lacking, a bit like “uhm Gadget’s very popuhlarrr but we pay programmers 15 days per year”

  • DPrty

    “the illusion of being able to really use the interface”
    That pretty much says it all.

  • Spankous

    whaaaa? not ipad4 compatible ? take care imonopoly

  • It sounds fake, unfortunately… The poor included set of presets reflect trite, modern whims. But lack the warmth and soul of the original. Unusually Korg have not hit the spot this time, in my opinion.

    • Oliver Greschke

      That’s what I also think, when listening to the demos. If they reflect the general sound, they did not hit the spot indeed

  • Will

    Easy 20 bucks to spend. Bummer about lack of arp clock sync (or, better, trig in), for sure.

    And yeah, please, Korg, (you read CDM, right?) fix the MIDI channel/port situation with the stand alone apps. Pretty please.

  • Ned Bouhalassa

    It looks great, but doesn’t sound anything like the original, or the programmers were told to make it sound modern. More than most I’ve read here, this particular piece really felt like an ad by Korg.