Live primer: Using IK Multimedia UNO Synth Pro onstage

UNO Synth Pro
(Image credit: IK Multimedia)

BACK TO LIVE: The Italian brand’s latest analogue synth is surprisingly feature packed for its convenient size and tempting price.

What is it?

IK Multimedia’s UNO Synth Pro is a paraphonic analogue synth with a sequencer, arpeggiator and some wonderful built-in effects. 

It comes in two versions; one with a Fatar keyboard and sturdy metal case, while the other, desktop version, is smaller and lighter and only has a capacitive touch keyboard. Both have the same controls, engine and feature set, so the real choice is how you want it to interact with your other equipment on stage.

Why use it on stage?

The UNO Synth Pro, especially in its keyboard guise, is a solid device that can take the rigours of the road when gigging. The palette of available sounds is very broad, making it a versatile paraphonic synth. 

Combine with the ease of connectivity to outboard gear and USB power and you have a gig-friendly synth. It’s weighty enough to not shift under your touch but not prohibitively heavy, so you decide to leave it behind in favour of something else.

Any downsides?

It’s three-note paraphonic, so more complex voicings are something you’ll need to look elsewhere for, so this is unlikely to be your only gigging synth. While it is a great compromise between weight and feature set, it is limited to 37 keys. USB power can be very handy but it is a micro-USB socket, so not the most robust connection.

Setup ideas

The UNO Synth Pro excels for connectability. It has full-sized midi DIn in and out, as well as USB, both of which can be assigned easily via the settings menu and can act as host or slave. 

The two ½” outs are standard fare but some competitors only have ¼”, so plus marks here. But the real star is the set of CV in and outs for connecting to Eurorack gear. It’s a breeze to combine your modular setup for syncing clocks, cross modulation or simply triggering events across the two. The UNO has fantastic effects but it is fair to say that your Eurorack is better for versatility and adaptability, so team them up for killer live sets.

Live tips and tricks

Player? Go for the keyboard

The UNO’s Fatar semi-weighted keyboard is definitely one of the better ones out there, especially at this price point, so if you consider yourself a player, the keyboard version is definitely the one to get. If not, the desktop is a great option for just sequencing, as it is small and light.

Assign the drive amount

The drive effect on the UNO synth pro is superb but turning the drive amount knob can hinder playing. Assign this to either aftertouch or the mod wheel, for nice, controllable, expressive drive swells. This can work out much better than using an Envelope or LFO in a live situation.

Get off grid with a USB battery

Not exactly a performance tip but keep a USB battery bank handy. The UNO can be powered this way, which is brilliant for unreliable venues with noisy power but also means you can gig off the beaten track. Go off grid and play in a field, festival or just for yourself and nature. Some banks have solar too, for endless playability.

Legato mode

As well as paraphonic and mono modes, the UNO Synth Pro has a legato mode, which engages the envelopes in a different way. This gives the Uno an extra flavour of attack which works really nicely for ambient passages that may not be so well suited to the other modes.

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