Mellotron 4000D – A Personal Review

August 7th, 2011 by Douglas Romanow

 

I recently acquired a M4000D directly from Mellotron.  For those of you who may remember, Mellotron was [arguably] the first sample playback device in the 1960s to use tape cartridges to recreate the sound of other instruments.  The mechanism was clunky and suffered from tape wobble and hiss and artifiacts, which ended up adding to its charm.   Mellotron was resusitated in 1989 and has been building newer, sturdier Mellotrons ever since.   With the advent of digital playback [sampler] systems, the call for this kind of instrument is small though, but for those “in the know,” they are highly esteemed.

This new digital instrument from Mellotron is everything I could have hoped for.  It sounds beautiful, offering high resolution capture of the Mellotron and Chamberlain sound sets and delivers the uncomplicated warble and kitsch of the original tape instruments.  It has amazing horsepower and playability, allowing instantaneous playback of libraries that few could afford in the past.  The wooden keyboard is expressive

and the sound combinations are beyond what any tape-based instrument could offer.  Undoubtedly, there will be skeptics who prefer the original, but this is not your father’s sampler.  A dream come true.  Dave and Markus indulged my request and signed mine.

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4 Comments on “Mellotron 4000D – A Personal Review”

  • Comment 4
    Craig Weatherhill Says:

    Couldn’t agree more. Have had mine for about 6 weeks and have totally fallen in love with it. Simply beautiful, and Markus somehow kept the 8-second note limit of the originals, too, ensuring that it’s exactly in character with its heritage. So far, I find the best orchestral strings tone to be M400 3-violins with about 25% of M400 Cello B mixed in. That is truly stunning.

  • Comment 3
    Rick Gloth Says:

    Amen… a thousand times amen!! I own #26 of the first production run and the fidelity of the M4000D totally blows all software and computer driven samples off the planet. I’ve compared them side by side thru a studio reference amplifier. The craftsmanship is 1st class and the ability to blend any two of the 100 settings makes for a sonic menu that cannot be matched by the old tape driven models.

  • Comment 2
    Mark Ames Says:

    Received M4000D # 329 about a week ago. 8 years ago I sold my M400 and regretted it….no more regrets now!!
    This machine/instrument is going to be a classic, if not already. The sound quality is superb. Yes, the 4000D mini and the future rack version will have that quality also and be a better choice for a working band thats hauling gear around every day/week. But for the few of us lucky ones that can invest extra money in the M4000D we will have a BEAUTIFUL instrument to showcase.
    The build quality is top notch. This is something you would want to set out and show. Even make a special stand for.
    And then there’s the keyboard…..what a work of art, both beautifully and functionality. The pressure sensitive volume alone is worth the extra cost from the mini version.
    I’m 58, I’m not a working musician. I only play and record at home for fun, but I’ve been a Mellotron junkie all my life. I thought my glorious days of playing and recording with the Mellotron were behind me after selling my old M400……. but not any more…….They are just beginning again!! Only this time I have over 100 mellotron (and Chamberlin) sounds, with more to come, instead of the nine I had before (3 tape banks), and it won’t take 5 minutes to change from one bank to another!
    Markus and Dave had the right idea, and we are all benefiting from there hard work. The M4000D is worth every cent…..for the sound and the beauty. Good job.

  • Comment 1

    Just purchased a 4000D frmo Markus, who said he would sign it but did not. Was wondering if there is anyone who knows about a soft case that will fit around this. Flight case is too heavy for everyday use for me.
    kathnrich@yahoo.com

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