Korg's $85 monotron analog synthesizer
Korg has been a big player in the democratization of music production in recent years, with the mini Kaoss Pad effects device, the Kaossilator phrase synthesizer and the incredibly affordable nanoSeries USB MIDI controllers finding their way into the kit bags of countless budding rockstars (and many actual rockstars). Its latest noise maker is the monotron, a dead simple analog synthesizer featuring a ribbon controller (essentially a touch panel instead of keys, which is incredibly "playable" even for amateurs) and the same filter used in the classic MS-10 and MS-20 analog synthesizers which are still some of the most sought-after vintage synths on the planet.
The monotron is about as simple as they come, with a single oscillator, a single filter, and a single low frequency oscillator (LFO), meaning it's unlikely to be used in the sound design for the next Transformers film, but that doesn't mean Korg won't shift millions of them.
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The inclusion of an auxiliary port means you can run other audio sources through the monotron, and apply that classic MS-20 filter sound to whatever you can think of - a leg-wetting concept for musicians and producers who've been stuck in "virtual analog" land.
The monotron will be available some time in August with a ridiculously reasonable MSRP of $85, so we wouldn't be surprised to see street prices of well under $60. Not only would this be an incredible purchase (or gift) for someone who wants to learn the basics of synthesis through hands-on experimentation, but I guarantee you that sounds from the monotron will be appearing in music in the Beatport charts by the end of 2010.