INTRO Monique by Monoplugs is a fantastic monophonic subtractive synth plugin that has all the sound, features, and flexibility needed to bring bass-lines and synth-lines to life.
The purchase, download, and install is simple. There is an authorization that can be done with or without an internet connection. Thankfully, there is no other protection required, i.e., iLok, etc. Upon launching, the first thing you will notice is a refreshing and slightly haunting GUI that is different enough spark interest and familiar enough for comfort. The learning curve is shallow. Anyone with prior synth experience will be able to dive right in and navigate around the basic parameters of the interface. There are little helpful hints that pop up when the cursor hovers over a feature. This certainly reduces the need for a manual. The area that may require extra investigation is the morphing region.
The sound engine features several osc/filter routing options that inspire creativity, and any sound can be custom morphed to evolve up to eight-fold, which provides an incredible amount of movement within a patch. Filter modulation is a combination of an envelope and LFO with the ability to mix between the two with a mod mix. Oscillator waves can be changed with the wave selector (sine, square, saw, noise and all points in between). The morphing area itself is divided into four groups that control various parameters: 1. Oscillators, 2. Filter (LP, HP, BP, Cutoff, resonance), 3. Arp, 4. FX. Each group can be assigned to two data sources with four LFO's each. Presets and user patches can be morphed into otherworldly spirals of sound that somehow find their way back to the root. The oscilloscope provides excellent visualization of the oscillators and the filter envelopes in real-time. A 16-step arp includes all the good stuff (quick step arrange, adjustable tune and velocity, glide, shuffle, etc.). This deep, effective arp should be no surprise as Monoplugs is also the developer of B-Step Sequencer. Additionally, there is a filter EQ bank with 7 Resonant bands; 20 Envelopes; stereo Effects (chorus, delay, distortion, loop, reverb, etc.), and an UI Remote.
The "flat, puristic" interface is the gateway to a surprising complexity of sound. Monique is deep and rough on the low end and bright and bold on the high end. The timbres span from digital pure to analog raw and everything in between. There are over a hundred presets that highlight the organic nature of this beast, most of which are either useful or interesting. I successfully created a few cool patches, but found it much easier to use a preset as a start-point. Users will have no difficulty creating beastly basses that will drive the beat and leads that will cut through the mix without shattering your windows.
FAVORITE FEATURES • Neat, clean, mysterious interface • Easy to use, yet powerful • Morph XY pad • Sui Generis (class of its own) osc/filter routing options • Fun to use — easy to spend hours tweaking • Kinetic (def: 1. Relating to or resulting from motion. 2. Work of art that is dependent on movement for its effect) • Stable (no crashes after several hours of noodling and tweaking) • Solid bang for the buck, especially if purchased on the introductory deal or special sale • Cool developer (B-Step Sequencer is also fantastic)
OTHER THOUGHTS • More presets please, especially basses. I also hope 3rd party sound designers whip up some good soundsets • GUI could benefit from a touch more contrast • Morphing, in general, can create a lot of evolving pad and texture excitement. Monique also brings surprising morphing movement to basslines • I wrote the developer and inquired about the possibility of morphing several bass patches from one to the next to the next to the next throughout an arp line (a sequence). He has placed this on the list for the pro version. Cool! • UI Remote? I'm guessing this would open up lots of live/jam possibilities.
SUMMARY Monique is perfectly designed to deliver growling basses and stunning leads. It's monophonic, so by nature, it's designed to live or die one note at a time. Fortunately, this synth lives! If I needed to describe the flavor of this synth in one word, I would choose a word that fell somewhere between ASSERTIVE and AGGRESSIVE. For me, the morphing is a bonus, but for others it might become a favorite feature. With so many soft synths on the market, it takes something unusual to get me excited. This captivating little lady is well worth checking out. She's a bit quirky, like the art major you dated in college. I agree with Korgi, who wrote,"The synth is really wicked." Monoplugs provides an indefinite demo. They are clearly confident that users will grow fond of this alluring siren and pull the trigger. It's a great value — an excellent bang for the buck. I highly recommend this sexy little beast to any eMusician, producer, sound designer, DJ, game scorer, etc., who is looking for a go-to bass and lead synth that is great for recording, jamming or gigging. If you're looking for a VSTi with a bit of bite — look no further. Tommy Zai gives Monique two raw, throbbing thumbs up.
RATING I'm giving Monique a 9 for the time being. I wish i could give it a 9.5, but that's not an option. It's a new release with some room to develop. I'm confident future updates will raise this score to a perfect 10. Great stuff.
B-Step by Monoplugs is a melodic chord-based step sequencer (16 step/16 bar) that enables users to effortlessly create melodies, counter melodies, and bass lines. I use it for song writing in a home studio as well as live improv in a classroom setting. It reminds me of the add-on step sequencer I bought for my Roland S-550 sampler a while back. Long after I sold the sampler, I thought about how useful that sequencer was. .. many song foundations were created with that step sequencer. But alas, I finally found something better! My B-Step workflow features a MacBook Pro with either the built-in trackpad or my MIDI controller. I've heard great things about B-Step's Launchpad integration, but sadly I prematurely sold mine. This must also be amazing to use with a touchscreen. The B-Step interface is neat, clean, cool looking, easy to use, and inspires creativity — it's a lot of fun! It's great for simple mono melodies and riffs, but really shines as a chord progression designer via the chord editor. Individual note, bar, and global parameters can be tweaked in vivo (duration, velocity, octave, etc.).
MY FAVORITE FEATURES
Clean, user-friendly GUI with a few color profiles.
Drag n' Drop MIDI.
Plugin + Standalone.
Innovative, responsive developers.
B-Step is addictive. Are there any 12-step programs for 16-step sequencer junkies?
I highly recommend B-Step to any and all eMusicians, producers, film/game scorers, DJs, and anyone else looking to add an amazing creative tool to their MIDI toolkit. This plugin/app not only plays well with others, it was clearly designed to augment and enhance your digital audio workflow! And, the price is insanely cheap. It's a MUST GET for any tracker, who appreciates the freedom and inspiration of a powerful step sequencer. Tommy Zai gives B-Step two sweetly programmed thumbs up. Thank you, Monoplugs, for developing a fantastic bit of audio software.