Mellotron M4000D
  • Sound
  • Keys and feel
  • Quality/Luxury/sexiness of build
  • Navigability
  • Ridiculous attention to detail

Sometimes I obsess over things and lose sleep. Like when FedEx tracking let me know that my Mellotron M4000D had arrived in Oakland from Sweden. That’s when my insomnia and mellotron filled dreams (literally) began. Every little sound I heard in the night would disturb me to the point of waking, imagining that it must be the FedEx guy ready to deliver. It only got worse when I got noticed that it was in Pacheco, a mere 10 minute drive from my house. By the time it was on the truck, I was literally hopping up and looking at out the window every time the sounds of a vehicle would pass; which means that when the FedEx guy actually did pull up, I spotted him easily and had the door open, waiting for my package with a smile.

I think it took about 3 hours for my heart-rate to get back to normal and the adrenaline rush to go away. In the course of my physical alterations, I noticed something about the new tron that I expected, but surprised me anyway. The M4000D is a luxurious and marvelously crafted instrument. Before even getting to the sound, this beast is easily recognizable as being a gorgeous yet extremely playable instrument. The build is phenomenal: basically a chopped M400 case made out of high quality wood and a phenomenal white finish. The knobs and switches are all heavy duty, and the overall impression of the instrument is that it was built to last and be stared at by visitors entering your home.

What really blew me away about the build, however, was the playability of the keyboard itself. Markus sure didn’t go with cheap plastic keys of -10 clunkyness; it has wooden keys with mechanical, instead of hammer, action; and the playability is perfect. The keys have great weight and a sense of depth to them without being clunky or slowing you down in the least bit. In other words, it’s an extremely playable instrument that won’t distract your attention to the sounds with a shoddy build that trips up your fingers on runs; I am not sure that I have played a better feeling keyboard before. It just feels really natural.

What everyone is probably wondering, at this point is, “how do the sounds hold up?” In my opinion, they are absolutely gorgeous. I’m not going to get into the argument with purists about how a sampled tron can never double the idiosyncrasies of an electromechanical tron. That may be so, however, if you don’t like the idea of the Mellotron M4000D, then please ask yourself why you are bothering to read this article and stop trolling. In my opinion, Markus Resch is about as much of a mellotron conneseiur as you can probably be and is one of the utmost experts in the world. He thought this machine was a good idea and I agree with him. So, he built it and he did everything he could to make this the definitive mellotron library instrument: 24bit uncompressed samples of 100 sounds with expansion available and no loading time. Combine that with a keyboard look and feel that no ROMpler user’s midi controller could possibly match, and this is the ultimate dream for those who love mellotrons and either a) can’t afford an analog tron, or b) find analog trons inconvenient or impractical under certain circumstances and therefore choose this as either a supplement to their original tron or a more practical option. I think 99.9% of all mellotron sound fans fall into one of these 2 categories.

If I were to make a heretical statement, I would say that even if you can hear the difference between this and an electromechanical tron, you’d never tell the difference in a mix or live, especially since our sense of tron sound may have been altered over the years by countless bands using samples but only writing “mellotron” in their liner notes, leaving us to guess. In the end, the production quality of the album will probably have more to do with whether any given mellotron sounds amazing or not, be it analog or otherwise. Either way, at least in terms of album production, when you record an analog mellotron with modern digital technology as your band cuts their latest record, the end result is still a digital recording. And Markus decided to do his in 24bit uncompressed, which will sound better than many peoples’.

In the end, if you have actually seen, touched, and played a Mellotron M4000D, you know that it’s an amazing instrument. I am extremely happy with my purchase. While there may never be anything that surpasses the feeling of that piece of classic machinery in the same room with you, you can’t deny that as far as the digital world is concerned, Markus Resch and Mellotron really outdid themselves with this brilliant instrument. From me to you, the Mellotron M4000D comes HIGHLY recommended.

Stay tuned for my video review of the Mellotron M4000D coming soon!