The following article is a Electro-Harmonix Mono Synth review discussing the features and performance of a very popular synth pedal.
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Synth effects have been a secret desire of many guitar players for decades. Thanks to huge technological progress in the past few decades and the arrival of digital effects, genuine synth sounds are more accessible than ever. Like never before, you can get all the great synth tones, vintage or modern, in a super-convenient way.
The Electro-Harmonix Mono Synth is an impressive unit for many reasons. First of all, it delivers a full load of amazing synth effects, which sound amazing, on par with original units. The best thing about this pedal is that you don’t need any kind of additional device. No need for special pickups, MIDI or other guitar modifications. This is a simple, plug and play stompbox, which will fit any guitar, amp and pedalboard, without any impact on other units in your chain.
This pedal comes from a highly renowned pedal manufacturer, which already has a nice portfolio of synth pedals. MicroSynth guitar and bass pedals have been around for a quite long time. A couple of years ago, we saw a brand-new Synth9 Synthesizer Machine, which is a direct predecessor of the product we are talking about in this review.
This pedal features 9 synth voices, with 9 empty slots to memorize your settings. The new Mono Synth comes with a notable expansion, as it adds two more voices and two more storage spaces. It is one of the biggest novelties that Electro-Harmonix has presented this year.
Features and controls
Just a quick look and it becomes obvious that this pedal is designed to bring great synth sounds of the ’70 and ’80. The first thing you’ll notice is its super cool look, which combines old-school knobs with vintage color combinations. Despite the vintage look, this is a brand-new product, a digital pedal with strong capabilities and hi-quality sound.
The housing is rock-solid, typically for the brand. When it comes to the front panel, you can count on a typical layout. There are five knobs in total, as well as two footswitches. The upper section consists of four knobs. From the left to right, there are Dry and Synth volume knobs, as well as Sensitivity and Control knobs. Underneath, there is a knob that lets you pick the synth type you want. As I’ve already mentioned, there are 11 synth voices in total.
When it comes to footswitches, the one on the left lets you pick/save the preset, while the one on the right is a typical bypass switch. An important thing to mention is that the bypass is buffered.
From the sides, there are two inputs and outputs. Of course, there is one input for a guitar, while the other one is for an expression pedal, which can bring playing experience to a completely new level. On the other side, there are separate outputs for synth and dry signal. This is highly convenient, especially if we consider that there are separate volume knobs for dry and synth, which makes this pedal a highly pedalboard-friendly unit, considering that you can maintain dry signal for other processing.
In my humble opinion, the expression pedal input is crucial for the pedal’s functionality and playability, as it allows us to control another parameter in real-time. Still, there is one big complaint about it, probably the only major issue of this pedal and I’ll come back to it in a minute.
Finally, there is a power supply jack on the backside. Things are pretty typical in this aspect, as the pedal runs on 9 volts. The best thing is that the power supply is included, which isn’t always the case, especially with pedals at this price range.
Tone and Performance
As I’ve already mentioned, the Electro-Harmonix Mono Synth offers a wide palette of synth voices. There are eleven of them in total and most of them are designed to closely resemble vintage synth voices.
At 12 o’clock, you will find the effect called XOX. It is a typical acid synth effect form the ‘80s, while the main reason for such an uncommon name is probably some legal issue. On the left half, the first in the line is Bass. As you may presume, it is a typical sub-octave synth effect. The next one is Twin, which is a typical aircraft take-off phaser.
Blast adds upper partial harmonics, while Unison adds a pretty interesting-sounding fifths, perfect if you want to build odd chords. Finally, there is New Wave voice, which is a typical string synth, your best companion for synth-pop genres.
On the right side, there are equally interesting voices, such as Wub, Tinker, Lair and Ghost, which are also perfect for the 80’s vibes. Finally, the last one is a kind of uncommon chirp with an adjustable harmonizer, which creates a pretty interesting effect as well.
Although it is quite hard to explain each tone with more words, it’s easy to realize that all of them sound great. Also, we love the fact that the Sens knob allows a lot of modification of each voice. Still, the Electro-Harmonix Mono Synth shows its full potential once you connect it with an expression pedal. Then you can control the second parameter of the pedal in real-time.
However, a big drawback is the fact that you can’t change parameter assignments between knob and expression pedal. We hope the company will fix this issue in some updated version or future pedals of this type. Still, this doesn’t change the fact that we are talking about a pretty versatile and functional stompbox, which is fully loaded with all kinds of amazing synth voices.
Another thing you should keep in mind is that this is strictly a monophonic pedal. If you play polyphonically, there is a big chance you will get some quite strange sounds, due to obvious digital splatter. Therefore, there’s a chance that you’ll need to adapt your playing style for a bit.
Electro-Harmonix Mono Synth Conclusion
All in all, the Electro-Harmonix Mono Synth is a great pedal. Of course, it has a couple of drawbacks but if you consider the price tag, the amount and quality of sounds you get, as well as the pedal’s plug and play design, this small unit is definitely something everyone who likes synth voices on a guitar should try. A highly recommended product!
Customer Review Rating
The Fender Bubbler chorus has a rating of 4.5* out of 5* on Amazon – >>>Check out the Latest Amazon Customer Reviews of the Electro-Harmonix Mono Synth<<<
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