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The M-Tron is modeled on the legendary British instrument, the Mellotron. This instrument was manufactured in various guises between 1963 and 1986 and was used by artists including The Beatles, The Moody Blues' Mike Pinder, Black Sabbath, Rick Wakeman and Genesis' Tony Banks. The instrument faded into semi-obscurity during the 80's and early 90's, but due, in part, to its evocative and unique nostalgic sound, it was rediscovered and used by artists including Oasis, Radiohead, Kasabian and countless others.
The principle of the Mellotron was simple - take a 35 note keyboard and have a piece of tape for each note containing real recordings of real players. In this way it was arguably the world's first sampler, with recordings varying from single notes (as in the Flutes sound used on the legendary Strawberry Fields Forever) or entire musical motifs (as in The Beatles' Bungalow Bill). Each sound lasted a maximum of eight seconds before they had to release the note, allowing the tape to rewind. This forced the player to adopt a different technique (often referred to as 'a spider crawling up the keys') and, in turn, this allowed the music to truly breathe.
However, while the sound was undoubtedly magnificent, because of the huge array of moving parts, the instrument's reliability was questionable and the price was expensive. Rick Wakeman regularly recounts a story of becoming so fed up with the unreliability of the instrument, he unceremoniously burned his at the end of a Yes tour.
Purchasing an original M400 now would cost several thousand dollars and would probably only come with the default three sounds, Cello, Flutes and Violins. The M-Tron, on the other hand, costs a fraction of this price and now comes with over 2Gb of sounds that don't require the instrument to be dismantled in order to hear them.
The M-Tron captures all of the character of the original instrument by sampling every note of every key and adhering to the eight second limit of each note. This way, not only do the resultant sounds ebb and flow, all the inherent and nostalgic magic of each sound is closely observed - minor imperfections and all.
- The original virtual Tron.
- 35 Notes each individually sampled.
- Over 100 Tape Banks.
- Classic Mellotron, Novatron, Chamberlin & Birotron recordings.
- Classic Rhythms and Tron Sounds.
- Attack & Release Envelope.
- Tone Control.
- Rare sounds from tapes made for artists including Yes, Frank Zappa & Tangerine Dream.
- The sound of pure nostalgia.
Reviewed By taijiguy
June 20, 2006
I’ve owned the M-Tron since it first came out and have purchased the additional tape sets as they became available. Now all are available in one package for less than the price I paid for just the VSTi.
GUI: The interface nicely mimics an M400 Mellotron. There are volume, tone and pitch knobs. The selector switch, instead of selecting one of three available sounds from a tape frame, opens a list of all available sounds. Unlike a real M400, you cannot mix adjacent tracks. The only thing I think is useless is the envelope option, which doesn’t exist on a real Tron. Maybe Gmedia included it to overcome the bad starts on several of the samples.
Sound: Judging from the size of the sample sets, I would guess that the sample rate is 44.1k at 16 bits. For 35 fully sampled notes (6 to 8 seconds each), this should come to about 20 megabytes, which the M-Tron sample sets seem to be. There are more than 100 sounds, but several are redundant and vary in quality. For example, there are several versions of the infamous MkII 3 Violins of varying sound quality. There are also some sound effect sets from an SFX tape set, and rhythms and fills from a MkII tape set. In addition to the Mellotron samples, there are some decent Chamberlin samples and some really cheezy Birotron samples (although this may be due to the fact that the Birotron was a bad concept in the first place). Still, the M-Tron has the greatest variety of sounds of any other sample set on the market.
Features: Basically, the feature set is the same as a real M400; sparse, but complete in and of itself.
Docs: The M-Tron is so simple that the documentation is more than adequate. If you can’t figure out how to use it without any documentation whatsoever, a 2 inch thick manual isn’t going to do you any good.
Presets: Lots of them; more sounds than the infamous MkI and MkII.
Support: The one or two times I wrote to GMedia, I got no response, so I’d say, not very good.
VFM: It’s a bargain compared to the other sample sets on the market.
Stability: Very stable.
Besides the M-Tron, I also own the Pinder sample set which is more expensive and sparser in sound variety (but of higher sound quality for the most part), the CrimeSounds sample set (good sound quality and downloadable from the MI7 website as individual notes or sets) and samples of my own Trons (superior in sound quality to the above sample sets, but not a lot of variety). All in all, the M-Tron will give you the most bang for your buck (or euro or ruble or renminbi, or whatever you use).Read more
Reviewed By funkychickendance
October 13, 2005
The supply chain to the US has been a bit iffy in recent months, but new distributor M-Audio now has it out with retailers.
It's the kind of VST you either love or hate: it does just what it's supposed to do, which is sound like the classic Mellotron, the sound of the Sixties and early 70s. [Yes, I know people used 'Trons long after, but their heyday was earlier].
The latest release is the real deal, containing ALL of the available sounds previously sold as add-on banks, and some that were never commercial in the first place (custom jobs for Yes, Tangerine Dream and Frank Zappa). This adds up to 2GB-plus, and explains why it's no longer a download...
Authenticity being the name of the game, some of the sounds are a bit creaky and wobbly, which adds to the charm. GForce has also added a few 'new' sounds in the same mood (mostly choral).
And for those who say 'What the hell in a chamberlin?' the answer is revealed in the manual, wherein you discover it was a 'Tron predecessor. Its sounds are included, along with some from the defunct Megatron.
The VST behaves very nicely. The GUI is a kind of send-up of studio hardware, complete with cigarette burns and coffee cup rings. It's pretty simple to use. I read the manual AFTER I'd been through pretty much every function 'live.'
If you're an old geezer like me, who remembers when these devices were brand new, and only owned by the nouveau riche and rock elitists, you'll agree that $99 -- what it cost me -- is a fantastic deal.
It knocks the socks off all other 'Tron wannabes I've auditioned. Now all I've gotta do is stop myself from overusing it!Read more
Reviewed By ChamomileShark
September 29, 2004
Negative points? The choice of some of the sounds is a bit eccentric, fun, but not maybe not that usable (though you have plenty of very usable flute, strings, brass/woodwind and choir sounds).
Also I find the selector bar (which allows you to either change the sound or the attack/release etc) a bit fiddly and I have no idea why.
Overall a must have though if you love the mellotron sound. The additional tape banks also make fascinating reading with the details of where the sounds came from.
User interface - lose one point for the fiddly selector bar, apart from that it's simple and looks ok.
Sound - Spot on.
Features - while it is faithful copy of the mellotron down to the tape wear and 8 second "sample" it adds attack/release which others have commented the hardware version didn't have and I find really useful.
Documentation - really not much to it, just select and play!
Prests - have to give it a 10 even with the "wacky presets" because the core sounds (for me) are so usable.
Customer support - I had a couple of minor probs. I got a reply within 24hrs and the problem was seen through to a happy conclusion very professionally.
Value for money - I've put this at 9, the M-tron itself, additional banks are at a reasonable cost, but it still adds up for 100 or so sounds.
Stability - I've put this at 9, I do find sometimes that I have ended up with different sounds being called up when I run a track within my host (Cubase SX2), others have mentioned the same. It's a minor irritation, you just get the right preset back and resave the project.
To re-iterate, if you like meelotrons, get this without hesitation!Read more
Reviewed By Dogboy73
February 6, 2004
Installation was well handled by a menu system that aloud you to choose which patches you wanted to install. A complete install was around 500MB but I decided it best to hear everything on offer. All the patches had a definite vintage quality about them & they were brimming over with warmth & character the likes of which I'd never heard from a soft synth previously. One of the first patches I tried was the flute sound that, on the original mellotron, provided the intro to the Beatles classic Strawberry fields. Sound wise it was spot on but I noticed a problem with my M-tron at this point which was that some of the notes appeared to be missing! I e-mailed the Gmedia tech support who very quickly replied & directed me to an update patch which solved the problem (So, Hats of to GMedia for customer support which was excellent).
The controls on the M-Tron are very simple but allow you enough control over the sound to make things interesting but without loosing the character of each sound. The M-Tron also adds Attack & Release time which apparently the original Mellotron never had. This allows you further control over the characteristics of each sound & is especially useful on the more string like patches in order to make them softer.
The documentation is simple but it gives you a brief history of the Mellotron & explains that it wasn't really a synth at all but in a way the worlds first sampler.
The M-Tron really is a classic Soft synth with a warm sound that's full of character & is unique amongst soft synths. The extra volumes of 'Tape banks' that have been released add even more wonderful sounds to an already excellent collection (Just make sure you have plenty of hard disk space!). Some might argue that the M-Tron is nothing more than a collection of samples from an old synth but what you actually have here are a collection unique (And very rare) sounds from an equally unique instrument. Of course, It's not going to be for everyone but one listen to the demo MP3's on the GMedia website will convince you of it's worth one way or the other. In my opinion for £45 you can't go far wrong.Read more
Reviewed By lucille
February 23, 2003
the eighties--this is a great purchase. Years of
'mellozone' and 'tapestrings' rompler presets have
never even roughly approxiamated the beauty of these
Although there are a fair number of patches in the
presets and 'refill', you'll only end up revisiting
5-10: but they are awesome.
Like ppg wave, m-tron is 1 part synth, 1 part time machine.
No real tech problems; I subtracted a point for the
coffee stain. enjoy.Read more