I just have to praise the Monomachine and preach to the choir about it. I'm making sounds with the Monomachine that are like the sounds I've dreamed of for years. Just about every other synth I've had in the past has let me down in some way. Most were because they seemed made more for keyboard players. Many were too hard to program, even if they had a good sound engine, and seemed built to keep preset-programmers who spend most of their days dedicated to synth arcana busy. Some are a bit in the middle.
But the Monomachine. Holy cow. How do I love thee in my six short months of knowing thee? Let me count the ways. At least, some of the big ones off the top of my head.
- The different synth engines. I'm so bored of (virtual) analog at the moment. It's great having FM and SID alongside the DigiPro and Superwave engines.
- Great starting points and usable synth controls. One problem I've had with other synths is they have all these elaborate presets, and then a very boring plain 'init' program that's just a triangle wave doing nothing, which discouraged me from wanting to program them. It's very easy on Monomachine to find an engine/machine and start going with a good starting point, and then good controls catered to that machine.
- Really, those different synth engines! I love them. Then you start sequencing them together and they play off each other and it's all too beautiful. One of the things that was drawing me to Eurorack was some of the different sound sources (Make Noise Telharmonic and Mysteron, Pittsburgh Modular Generator) more than plain analog VCOs. I don't feel that draw any more.
- LFOs modulating LFOs
- That sequencer and those parameter locks. I've always liked the concept of Native Instruments "Absynth" which could have very long and interesting envelopes that could control various parts of the sound. But I found programming it to be tedious. Elektron's whole "sound engine tightly coupled with the sequencer" design ... well, you all should know what it opens up for sound creativity. Between this, the LFO cross-mod capability, and the different machines, almost all of my Eurorack lust is gone (and that goodness - it would cost many times the MM's price to get its equal in modules).
- Just having a good sequencer on board and so tied in. I think I haven't connected with some of my other hardware synths because they were either tied to the keyboard or required setting up a sequencer / tying into a DAW. It made all of my sound design attempts just be sounds, not rich patterns.
- Knowledge that if there's anything it can't do, or that can be augmented by another synth, it just requires some MIDI setup and then switch to a MIDI track. (This has started a new symbiotic relationship with the OP-1 where the OP-1 provides even more cool machines like their Pluck string physical modeler and the OP-1s funky FX, but I still get to use the Monomachine's sequencer and P-Locks to really monkey with the OP-1's sounds - 4 CC midi controls on the OP-1, 4 CC control options on Monomachine. Deadly symbiosis. And can then route back into sequenced MM FX.)
- A real printed manual instead of a "here's a two page quickstart and a link to a PDF download. Good luck!" wish. And MIDI Thru. Both are increasingly rare things, it seems.
Also: man I love the Swedes. Much of the above applies to the OP-1: multiple sound engines, fun starting points, good UIs for building your own sounds. These are the first deep synths I think I've had where I pretty quickly felt like "this is mine!" instead of "someday I'll sit down and learn this thing for real and make more than two custom sounds with it and then it will be mine!"
I ordered my Monomachine on the day of the price drop (so I got one of the 'sitting on the shelf for too long' ones) and so have only had it for a few months. It took me a little while to warm up to it, partially because I was having so much fun with Machinedrum which I also got early this year, partially because I really hadn't experienced a synth like this before. There's still much more to learn and do with it!
My only real regret is not having bought one earlier. But maybe I had to go through some bad relationships to appreciate the good.