Realistic Concertmate MG-1
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Realistic Concertmate MG-1

Concertmate MG-1, Analog Synth from Realistic.

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Mark Kleback 03/03/2009

Realistic Concertmate MG-1 : Mark Kleback's user review

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The Realistic MG-1 has become a novelty lately. With all the digital synths out there, this is a nice, albeit noisy, analog alternative.

The MG-1 has a built-in mixer with two user-adjustable tones, a grating polyphony, noise, and a "bell tone" which is a sort of ring modulation. The tones and polyphony are tuned separately, and there is a detune feature for the separate tone sources.

Each tone has three octave ranges, selectable by switching. The keyboard itself is an octave and a half. Each tone can also be switched between square and sawtooth waves. There is also a sync feature, which puts the tones out of phase.

There is a filter, with faders controlling the cutoff frequency and resonance. There is also an oscillator for both the filter and the amplitude, controlled by a fader. The oscillation rate is also controlled by a blinking LED on a fader.

Each oscillation can be set to either a sine wave, square wave, or random generation of tones. Each of the oscillation settings only apply to the tone sources, however, and not the polyphony.

There is a contour section as well, with an adjustable rise and fall time. The synthesizer can be set to keyed (only playing when a key is pressed), contoured (following the rise and fall times), or continuous (constant). The sustain can also be adjusted to hold or decay when a key is held down.

There is a 1/4" headphone output, which can also be used with an instrument cable. There is RCA tape in, as well as RCA outputs. I found it much easier to use the 1/4" as the output, despite it being on the front of the instrument.

There are also 1/4" pitch and trigger inputs, though I have not experimented with these.

UTILIZATION

There is a pretty big learning curve on the MG-1. Buying this second-hand, I did not receive a manual and had to learn on my own about most of the instrument. There are an infinite number of sounds that can be produced, since this is an analog instrument, and it is very versatile when one learns how to use it.

Without a tutorial, this is a pretty intimidating instrument. Since it is analog, and pretty old, the tones still tend to bend out of tune quite frequently, even after cleaning and repair. The tuning varies with temperature and humidity, and frequent tuning is necessary.

OVERALL OPINION

The most basic tones on the MG-1 are reminiscent of an 8-bit Nintendo. The polyphony is a grating sawtooth, and is not user adjustable. However, the tone sources are very versatile, and I have used them to reflect bass, bells, filter sweeps, and endless other tones. It is warmer than a digital synth, and the manipulation of the filter allows for infinite tones.

The mixer allows for style, adding in noise and the ring modulation to the tones. The ability to create custom tones is a big advantage to this instrument.