I've been working with softsynths for 15 years now and am ready to finally say for sure that Korg's Mono/Poly is my favorite. Sometimes over the years I've had doubts, but no longer, I'm sure now. I have Alchemy, Sylenth, Massive, Serum, and have used countless others, and this one, for me and my musical purposes, is the best. It sounds fantastic, is incredibly eclectic, anything from arcade sounds to kicks and snares and a bottomless variety of lead and bass possibilities. A local music shop has a hardware Mono/Poly that they'll loan out to trusted customers, so I had a chance to do a comparison a few years ago, and not only does this plug capture the hardware's sound almost exactly on every patch I compared, the plug actually often sounded *better* and offers true polyphony and an awesome mod matrix and other features as well. (To be fair, I was comparing a computer program to a 35 yo piece of machinery so, take this as ye may.)
I've done everything from imitation glitch to classic acid with it. The Mono/Poly with the MS-20 (not as realistic to the hardware but still fantastic in its own right) and Polysix (also very close in sound to the hardware and just as good as the Mono/Poly plug) are an unbeatable team in my book, relatively straightforward synths that together can do pretty much anything you'd want. Add the M1 (incredibly good emulation and also in many ways better than the hardware) and Wavestation, and Korg has the best deal in softsynths going at the moment with the Legacy Collection, despite their age. Despite a lot of options, at least 3/4 of my tracks over the last decade have used one or a combo of them, often exclusively, and I have buyer's remorse from buying several other more expensive synths that I almost never use.
My biggest complaint about the Mono/Poly plug is that I'm indifferent to its built-in FX, which are really Korg's MDE-X plug built-in to the synth's DSP. Some of the FX are OK, the reverb is unique and sometimes useful as are the delays, most are pretty blah though, so I turn them off and use Renoise's built-in FX or other 3rd party plugs. The separate MDE-X plug us the weakest of the Legacy Collection bunch, I never use it. Other than that I recommend the Mono/Poly or entire Legacy Collection unreservedly, including over much more recently developed competitors.
This is a hidden gem and a hell of a good deal - only 50 bucks. It may or may not sound like a real MonoPoly - I'm fine with it just as it is Where it shines is the amount of sonic ground it covers - from sweet and juicy vintage sounds, to ambient soundscapes, to blazing Drum N Bass reeses. Highly recommended to anyone building a starting software setup, as well as anyone looking for a good backup VA synth. This synth has the sonic versatility of software 4 times its price. I give the Korg MonoPoly a 9 in light of the low cost. For true analog emulations, there's better out there, but take just as it is, the MonoPoly is still a great value - modulation matrix with a large number of sources/distinations, a ton of effects, oscillator modulation, etc. Interesting irony....this is sold as a vintage emulation, yet is VERY good at making the latest fresh and current sounds.
The Korg Mono/Poly is the most powerful virtual-analog soft synth that I have. The original hardware Mono/Poly was an excellent monophonic synth that was introduced at a time when poly synths were all the rage. To get some of the polysynth business, Korg enabled a polyphonic mode on the Mono/Poly where up to 4 voices could be played with one oscillator per voice and a shared filter section. This type of poly capability was half-assed and soudned like it. It was hard to fault the Mono/Poly as a monophonic synth, however. The software version cures the weaknesses of the hardware version. They polyphonic capability of the software Mono/Poly allows full polyphonic playing of what were previous 4-oscillator mono patches and there are integrated effects. Naturally, with the modern softsynth you have virtually unlimited program storage.
What kind of sounds can the Mono/Poly make? What CAN'T it make? The Mono/Poly can do imitative synthesis, including a surprisingly nice harspichord and an analog brass sound that almost sounds like real sampled horns. It's real forte is gated rhythm pattererns that would be at home in a Deadmaus track.
I usually play the various Korg Legacy synths from my laptop with the little Korg Microkey controller keyboard. I hooked the computer up to my big keyboard with polyphonic aftertouch, and it was a lot of fun controlling the Mono/Poly with the aftertouch.
Every synth has negatives, and the Mono/Poly's negatives are pretty minor. The blue panel is pretty but lack of contrast and small fonts can make it hard to read controls, and the signal flow isn't always obvious. I still get messed up in the loading and saving of sounds. I downloaded the pdf manual, but I can't say that I've spent much time looking at it. I suspect I'm not alone in this habit. It's easy to come up with a synth sound that is "too big for the mix", that is one that overwhelms the song.
Note: the Korg legacy synths including the Mono/Poly are multi-platform. I have run all of them with no problems on a Mac (Os-x 10.5 through 10.7) and Windows 7 pc. Two of the legacy synths, the MS-20 and Polysix have already made it to iOS (iPhone & iPad), so it might mean that a Mono/Poly for iOS might be right around the corner. I have the iPolysix, and I have barely touched it. I'm going to skip the MS-20 and wait for the Mono/Poly.
Overall, the Mono/Poly is a must have for most synthesizer players. Right now the various Korg legacy synths are available separately for $49 each. The Mono/Poly is well worth it.
Glad to see a good review on the Korg MonoPoly. It's definitely way underrated, and my personal favorite out of the entire Korg Legacy Collection. The MS-20 is really nice, too, but man, the patch cord area always gets me confused. Maybe there's some good programming tutorials out there for it, though.