Review: Arturia Mellotron V
Do you like the Beatles? How about David Bowie, Led Zeppelin or King Crimson? Odds are, if you like any music from the 60s or 70s, you’ve heard this synth and loved it. Its raspy, flowing tone and quirky, captivating orchestral capabilities have been delighting listeners for over 50 years. Finding one to play on your own music would cost you a pretty penny, but thankfully, our friends from France have gone and recreated it to perfection. We’re talking, of course, about the Arturia Mellotron V.
A tape-based keyboard often used to provide orchestral sounds, the Mellotron was weird and innovative at a time when popular music could be described in the exact same way. It originally worked by having a bank of tape assigned to each key- press a note on the keyboard, and that tape would play. Simple enough, but Arturia’s version takes this novel concept and supercharges it. Not only can you play any of the three banks (A, B, or C) assigned to a key- you can choose to blend them all together. Customize the extent to which your tapes sound old and worn; edit, trim, loop, mix and pan the samples as much as you like. You can even load your own samples to go places no Mellotron has ever gone before.
The original onboard knobs allowed the user to set the volume, tone, and pitch on the instrument, as well providing the means for choosing one or all of the above-mentioned sound banks. All of those are still included, of course, but the list of added features is nothing short of mouth-watering. Four FX slots allow you to load 13 guitar pedal-style effects (chorus, flanger, compressor, phaser, etc.). Adjust the volume curve for attack, decay, sustain and release with a synth-like envelope; change the feel of the Mellotron’s digital “tape” with flutter, tape saturation, mechanical noise, and noise floor, all of which can be paired with velocity sensitivity. You can even crossfade, blend, and zone the instrument’s tapes across the keyboard!
Admittedly, the Mellotron is not typically thought of as a dance music instrument- it will probably always be synonymous with progressive rock, and for good reason. That being said, that really ought to change. The sound this little keyboard produces is truly unique, and I can easily see any creative soul making absolute magic with this tiny dynamo.
Arturia Mellotron V is available for a price of $149 and is a part of the larger Arturia V collection.
If you’re someone who loves to incorporate vintage synths and craves for the warm analog feel in your music, Mellotron V is well worth the buck for you.
Be sure to watch the video below to get a feel for the iconic sounds of the Arturia Mellotron V down below!
Image Credits: Arturia