I thought I'd add more than a few cents' worth of thought here on the 'trons...
Like an eager schoolboy, I pre-ordered the Monotron DUO and the DELAY version, having seen some poor demo videos on YouTube, with the assumption that the actual potential is far greater than what you see some hack doing on YouTube (apologies to any "hacks" here--I'm sure you do great work). Well, as someone who has messed about with song creation for over a decade using VSTIs, including some great VAs, I have been ready to make the switch to hardware. The 'trons have given me the impetus to make the jump. I prepared for the purchase, actually, by also procuring a BOSS DR 110, which I like a lot (for under $100 USD). I paid $100 total for both new 'trons together, and do not regret it at all.
I avoided buying the first Monotron (though now I am considering getting one, if the price is right), but the new ones got my attention. Let me start with the DUO. It has a nice tone to begin with, not sure what the actual waveform is, and ALERT: no LFO. Boo-hoo. But that's not really the point of this one. It does have a nice filter with CUT and RES (peak), which is decent enough. But the point of this thing, and where the real magic is, is when it's switched to 2VCO so you can use the X-MOD. Now you can muck about and create jarring tones, which may have their purpose, but there is a sweet spot where VCO2 is tuned to just under 0, and the X-MOD is to one side or the other of the middle (sorry, don't know the technical terms): this thing SCREAMS. It's hugely fat in the low end for meaty bass tones and it really screams like a trance lead at the high end. I just use VCO1 to change the pitch range. Hooked up to a PA or even my home stereo, the thing shakes the room. Just the kind of tone I am looking for to make those bright, sharp VNV/futuristic or trance tones.
Now for the filter. The input is noisy, but that is fine with me. It adds a nice tone and character, and when you already love noise, it works. It also has its uses. Using the DUO to filter the DR 110 elevates this thing to a new level. The noise actually helps a great deal; when the RES is turned up, there is so much noise, the feedback almost acts as a pure oscillator, and the pitch can be controlled by the cutoff. This makes things extra fun. You can really blow some speakers with it to. Using it subtly adds some cool sound to the percussion coming from the drum machine. If you want sonar-sounding percussion, it's good for that; if you want the kind of compressed/filtered drums of, say, The Flaming Lips on Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, it's good for that. It's a good filter, and the extra noise is a bonus (to me, anyway).
Now, let's talk Monotron DELAY. You probably already know the description, so I'll try to avoid wasting space with it. It's fun looking, but let me be clear--it has WAY more potential than YouTube videos would make you think. It has an LFO, but you can't use it with the filter, only the VCO. Because the choice is between triangle and square, this immediately presents three obvious possibilities: sirens. 1. More European type square siren (with the rate set right and INT not too high)...you can even use the keyboard to give it a doppler effect. 2. More American style siren (triangle LFO rate set much lower and INT set wherever sounds realistic to you). 3. Theremin. The theremin sound alone makes this "toy" worth its pricetag. To make the theremin sound, use the triangle LFO and set the rate about in the middle and the INT fairly low so it's not overpowering for a beautiful vibrato. You'll be scoring old skool SciFi in no time. And that's just the beginning.
There is no RES control on the DELAY, but that's what the other 'tron is for. As far as the delay unit itself goes, it adds tremendous dimension to the synth itself or to whatever it's filtering. No, it is not analog, but I'm too young to really know the difference between it and a real Space Echo, and I couldn't afford one even if I wanted it. It's more than adequate. Yes, turning the feedback to %100 will give you all kinds of distorted industrial rhythmic noise, and that's fine if that's your thing. But what almost every YouTube video misses is that it's also perfectly functional as an echo delay, not just a noisemaker. If you are interested in making some fun experimental rhythms, a great thing to do is leave the feedback at %100 and wait for things to come to an equilibrium, then tweak the cutoff to 0 and back up quickly. You will eventually end up with a pounding kick sound, which would be very usable when sampled. Very nice deep, clicky kick sounds can be had this way. Another fun thing to do once you've tweaked away the high freq. noise is change the pitch of the kick sound with the delay time knob.
As far as the ribbon controllers go, you may be able to pick out melodies on the DUO with a pen or pencil used as a stylus, and you can become fairly effective. On the DELAY, it's more fun to use your (or my...) fat fingers and move them ever so slightly to change pitches. Not really for melodies.
Okay, I've tried to give the scoop on the strengths of both 'trons as useful instruments. Now, put everything together: I daisy-chain the DR-110 to the DUO and send the signal to the DELAY. Lots of noise, you say? Maybe, but not intolerable. Now, I match the tempo of the DR 110 to the timing on the DELAY, tweaking it mainly through the DUO's filter, and something rhythmic and wonderful happens. I also have two synth sound sources to play on top of the rhythm. Again, put through a PA or even my home stereo, it's room-shaking. Can I create an entire song or style with this setup? No, but that's not exactly the point. For one thing, it's tons of fun. For another, I need a sampler w/sequencer to use these to their max potential. But wow. What I have for just under $200 (DR 110+'trons) is impressive, at least to me. And the hands-on sound creation makes it worthwhile too.
Yes, there are frustrations, but you have to have realistic expectations with prices this low. These things are great for what they are, and they more than earn their keep, as far as I'm concerned. If there's interest, I can post some samples/demos on VSE in the near future. And yes, I am eagerly awaiting something more substantial from KORG in this line of machines. Bring it on. I'm hooked.
I nominate this for STUPIDEST THREAD ever in the history of the internez.