Sound Check Moog: Multiple Personality Reorder
posted by June 28 at 9:35 AMon
Today we talk Moog. Whatís your current Moog?
Moog synthesizers are loved, trusted, and original. The Moog sound is the Moog sound. When musicians, producers, and listeners want it, they must have it. There is no substitute.
The Moog synth is singular, yet everywhere. Multiple personalities it has. That rounded tone, proven enough for Comptonís sub-woof tweet hydraulics, and just as fitting over the ocean, in a car pumping German techno power grind. Bomb is bomb.
Robert Moog created the first subtractive synthesizer to utilize a keyboard as a controller in 1964. The Moog was not considered a performance instrument at first. It was more a complex studio tool.
The monophonic Minimoog Model D came out in 1971. It was portable, affordable, user friendly, and could stay in tune. Then there was the Taurus bass pedal synthesizer a la Rushís Geddy Lee. In 2006, the Little Phatty Moog was unveiled.
Here he is with seventeen seconds of live Little Phatty Moog from Triple Doorís Musiquarium Lounge:
The Little Phatty (Stage Edition) is a fully analog, dual oscillator synth with a digital interface to control presets. It’s sort of patterned after the Moog source of the early 80’s. The Moog is best known for its lead sound and its bass sound. A great example of the Moog bass sound is Stevie Wonder’s “Boogie On Reggae Woman.” To hear the Moog’s lead sound, listen to early 90’s Dr. Dre albums and from yesteryear, with George Duke, Herbie Hancock, Jan Hammer albums and such.
Moog synths are built solidly (unlike my Arp Odyssey or my Sequential Circuits Prophet 600). They sound insanely fat. It has something to do with the Moog 4 pole, 24db lowpass, ladder filter. I can’t tell you exactly what that means other than that’s the type of filter Moog uses and used back in the day and the ARP synth company copied it until Moog threatened to sue.
The Little Phatty is analog and analog = fat and funky. I have yet to play a digital synth that can fully replicate the sound of an analog synth. Also, with analog synths, you have much more real-time control over the shape and sound of the notes. It's a performance synthesizer for sure.
I like being able to reach up and grab a knob instead of staring at a tiny LCD screen to change sound. Little Phatty has PRESETS too, unlike most vintage analog synths. I can quickly change or save a patch and move on to a different one without having to twist all the knobs - great for live playing and capturing cool patches that you may never find or remember again.
Little Phatty holds its tune well. All analog synths are somewhat sensitive to temperature and you have to tune them regularly, like you would any other instrument. I used to have an old Moog Rogue that I loved the sound of but had a hell of time keeping the thing in tune.
It's important to note too that almost all the synths Moog used to make (except the Opus 3, the Polymoog and the Memorymoog), and both the synths Moog currently makes (The Little Phatty and the Voyager), are monophonic instruments only. Which means it's more like a horn or wind instrument than a keyboard instrument - it can only play one note at a time.
This gets back to why Moogs are good for some things and not others. A polyphonic synth gives you the ability to play chords. That's why I also use the Sequential Circuits Prophet 600 and a Roland Juno 6. They're both still analog synths but you can play chords on them.