The M-Tron Pro (approx. US$225) is a software-based Mellotron emulator synth, available for Mac as stand-alone or as a plug-in with Logic, GarageBand, Pro Tools, and a host of other music apps. It's made by UK-based developer GForce Software.
Let's start with a simple question: what is a Mellotron? No doubt, it's an instrument you will have heard in many popular songs. In the 1960s, the Mellotron was one of the first sample-based keyboards. It was made famous by Pink Floyd, David Bowie, The Beatles and others, and later by many more bands, like Radiohead, for example. The Mellotron emulates choirs, voices, strings and orchestral instruments, among other things. Here's a description of how the Mellotron works from the GForce website:
When pressed, each key engaged playback of a discrete strip of tape containing an eight-second recording of that note played on an instrument such as a violin. The tape rewound after key release. The lack of looping forced the player to adapt his playing style giving the instrument a unique playing characteristic in addition to its already distinct sound.
The M-Tron Pro, well... It digitally models those tape sounds, but with enhanced features, like vintage-style ensemble and delay effects, dual layering (29 parameters per layer), filter sections, a very cool tape reverse option as well as dynamic keyboard control and filter aftertouch.
The "Tron" has just under 200 high-quality sample banks, with new and classic tape sounds, including 19 tape banks from the original M-Tron that were remastered at London's Abbey Road Studios.
The Tron comes with over 700 patches, with many authored by world-class recording artists and programmers. Out of the box, Tron produces instantly recognizable and usable sounds. But the real fun comes with Tron's powerful editing tools. Tron allows you to layer two tape banks, both of which are individually editable with filter and envelop controls, effects, pitch LFO, and keyboard responses (velocity, aftertouch). You can also apply those same editing features to both samples at the same time.
If you've used any kind of audio editing software before, you'll feel right at home with Tron. Once you understand the simple dual-layer premise that blends the tape banks, you'll be on your way to sculpting your own, bespoke Mellotron-based sounds.
I have to say that there's a wealth of high-quality sound on the M-Tron. The samples sound fantastic. Editing is intuitive and straightforward. I lost an afternoon enjoying the tape reverse and the half speed option, producing some rather tasteful results!
G-Force also offers expansion libraries, including the ChamberTron, OptiTron and the OrchesTron. I was particularly fascinated by the ChamberTron. Check out the video below to hear about the instrument and how it was invented, used and later sampled for the M-Tron Pro.
The M-Tron Pro offers high-quality virtual modeling of the classic Mellotron instrument, with fantastic editing features and effects to make unique, signature sounds. If you're looking for a fresh, inspiring take on the virtual Mellotron instrument, the M-Tron Pro won't disappoint.