by Francis Preve
Tabletop analog gear is becoming more commonplace. The success of the Moog Slim Phatty, Tom Oberheim SEM, and Doepfer Dark Energy point to a growing market for real but affordable analog goodness. German synthcrafter Vermona joins the fray with the Mono Lancet.
A frame about the size of a hardcover novel packs two oscillators, a resonant lowpass filter, an LFO, and an ADSR envelope. In addition to square and sawtooth waves on both oscillators, oscillator 1 has a triangle and oscillator 2 includes noise. Other amenities include glide as well as LFO and/or envelope modulation of the pitch of both oscillators simultaneously.
The Lancet has a five-pin MIDI input, but not USB, so you’ll need a keyboard or sequencer with a five-pin MIDI out to play it, or a MIDI interface to drive it from your DAW. Pitchbend, oscillator pulse width, and filter cutoff are MIDI-controllable, and two expressive touches here are that you can control either VCA volume or filter cutoff with velocity; filter cutoff can also be controlled by aftertouch.
The filter has a smooth, almost vintage Roland quality, which makes the Mono Lancet sound like a two-oscillator SH-101. Better still, the filter self-oscillates if you crank the resonance to the max. LFO and envelope depth, as well as keyboard tracking, are on hand.
A standard ADSR envelope can be switched off so you can open the VCA manually, freeing up the envelope to modulate oscillator pitch or filter cutoff . Maybe we’re nitpicking here, but the decay segment sounded just a tad mushy—almost linear, as opposed to a snappier logarithmic decay.
The LFO rate can push well into the audio spectrum for nasty FM effects. Waveform options includes square, triangle, and sample-and-hold waves. Having a sawtooth in the LFO would be nice, but no big deal.
The bottom line is always sound, and we’re extremely pleased with the Vermona’s character and versatility. The Mono Lancet excels at analog drums, thanks to its noise generator and pitch envelope option. Duplicating Simmons and Synare toms required just a bit of informed knob twiddling. For leads and sequencer-driven riffs, the Lancet held its ground with a bit of an edge that, while not as aggressive as a Moog, still cut through a mix extremely well. Bass sounds were quite solid and very usable. All in all, this little beast is a trooper when it comes to classic analog richness.
With its great sound, ease of use, and perfect size for placing next to a laptop, the Mono Lancet is a wonderful companion for desktop musicians looking to add real analog sound to their rigs.
PROS Flexible, warm analog sound. Great for electronic drums. Filter selfoscillates. LFO extends into audio range. Big, smooth knobs for every function.
CONS No hard oscillator sync. Envelope decay is a tad mushy. Voltage control requires $200 expansion module.
PRICE List: $689 Approx. street: $619