Moog Synths At GAK – Pushing The Envelope Since 1964

Moog Music lovingly crafts their synths in Asheville, North Carolina.

The name Moog (rhymes with “vogue”) is often the first one that comes to mind if you mention “analogue synths” to someone. Even folk who aren’t necessarily synth experts know of Moog (and have probably heard a Moog synth on one of the countless classics they’ve been featured on). The massive influence that Bob Moog and his wonderful instruments have had on modern music is undeniable. Used throughout the decades by so many artists – from the Beatles to Bruno Mars – a Moog synth can be a fantastic companion when your music calls for something special.

Mother 32

Demonstrates the interface of the Moog Mother 32 semi-modular analogue synthesizer.
Mother 32 rewards sonic exploration with its 32 patch-points.

The Mother-32 is a semi-modular analogue synth and Moog’s first foray into Eurorack-compatible desktop modules. Powered by a weighty VCO, which can alternate or combine a Saw and Square wave, and a juicy ladder filter (with Low Pass and High Pass modes) – the Mother 32 is capable of warm leads, crunchy basses and a host of other inspiring sounds. It’s undoubtedly a Moog synth, let’s put it that way! Hardwired mod sources include an analogue LFO (which can go into extremely fast rates for FM/cross-modulation) and a two-stage envelope (with switchable Sustain). If you have CV-compatible gear, you can patch it in to modulate the Mother-32 even further.

Where the Mother 32 makes its mark is its extensive patch bay, which allows it to venture aware from those characteristically Moog-y sounds, and a powerful 32-step sequencer.

Housed in a robust extruded aluminium enclosure with sleek wooden end cheeks, the Mother-32 looks as good as it sounds. You’ve got the option to remove it from its chassis and turn it into a 60HP size module.

Demonstrates the two-tier rack stand for Moog modules.
Better together – the two-tier rack allows you to stylishly connect your Moog modules.

The built-in one octave “keyboard” allows you to play the Mother 32 and programme its sequencer without having to use any external hardware. With its extensive CV connectivity, the Mother 32 can also act as a controller for your Eurorack gear. There’s a 5-pin MIDI input if you want to hook up your favourite keyboard and perform Rick Wakeman/Bernie Worrell-style solos.

More Than Meets The Eye

On the surface, the Mother 32 has a well-laid-out interface that makes patching in great sounds a breeze. As is expected of a Moog, this synth has a massive sweet spot so its hard to get a bad sound out of it. However, the Mother-32 has an ace up its sleeve – the patch-bay – which features 16 assignable destinations. Moog kindly provides five patch cables with the Mother-32 and you can pick up an extra pack of 6″ or 12″ cables for more modulation routings.

The patch bay boasts a whopping 32 patch points, giving you a vast assortment of additional tones. Moog provides a list of nine example patches to help you get to grips with the Mother‘s architecture. The Mother strikes the perfect balance between simplicity and depth. Having all of the main controls at your fingertips encourages you to explore and experiment with it. One of our favourite ways to use the patch-bay is converting the LFO and the resonant filter into oscillator sources.

The 32-step sequencer is a brilliant way to discover new sounds as it lets you punch in an idea whilst leaving both of your hands free to tweak the controls. You can add expression and dynamics to your patterns by adding holds, rests, accents and ratcheting (with up to four note repetitions per step). Once you’ve created a sequence that you like, you’re able to store it in one of the 64 slots. This saves you having to input the sequence every time you start up a session and lets you audition them with different patches.

Mother-32 gives you the best of a standalone machine as well as an expandable Eurorack-friendly voice which can enhance your rig with a powerful Moog flavour. If you’ve ever wanted to own a Moog modular but can’t deal with the back-breaking price (or size), we recommend the Mother-32 as an affordable alternative that can fit in your backpack.

Subharmonicon

Demonstrates the interface of the Moog Subharmonicon semi-modular analogue synthesizer.
Craft otherworldly melodies and poly-rhythms with the Subharmonicon.

The Subharmonicon is a semi-modular analog synthesizer that’s chock full of interesting and unusual textures. It’s capable of complex polyrhythmic patterns and, thanks to its simple and intuitive interface, achieving these sounds is straightforward. At the core of the Subharmonicon are the two VCOs and four subharmonic oscillators, giving you up to six sound sources. When used in tandem with the 4-step sequencers and rhythm generators, it’s possible to generate beautiful multi-layered sequences and 6-note subharmonic chords. With the oscillators levels cranked, you can start to overdrive the filter for more aggressive tones.

Just with the Mother-32 and the DFAM, you can pop the Subharmonicon out of its chassis, transforming it into a 60HP Eurorack module. There’s also a 15-in/17-out patch bay, greatly expanding the Subharmonicon‘s sonic possibilities and allowing it to interact with your CV compatible gear. For example, if you have a controller that can send a polyphonic CV (such as the Keystep Pro), you can play the VCOs independently.

Demonstrates the three-tier stand for Moog semi-modular synthesisers.
3 is the magic number – create a powerful mini-modular with the three-tier rack.

The Sub oscillators aren’t like the one you’d find on a Juno 106 (which is locked to an octave below). They’re just as rich and Moog-y as the main oscillator and can be set to either Sawtooth or Square waves. They can also be tuned to a wide range, from an octave below (f/2) to four octaves below (f/16). Because these are subharmonic oscillators (and based on the subharmonic series), as you start tuning them lower, the intervals start to become less “standard” and more dissonant. This gives you the option to craft all sorts of weird and unique timbres if you so choose.

A Unique Machine

The main pitch generated by the VCO (the “fundamental”) provides the basis for the two sub-harmonics (the “partials”). This means that once you’ve set up a nice layer of intervals with the VCO, the notes will move together if you change the pitch. There’s a handy quantisation feature which locks the pitch of the VCOs to a set scale. You’ve got four to choose from 12-ET (chromatic), 8-ET (diatonic, just the white notes on a keyboard) and Just Intonation versions of the first two. Just Intonation uses a tuning ratio to Equal Temperament, which is closer to the one used by the Subharmonic series. If you want to go off the deep end, you can switch off quantisation altogether!

This where the 4-step sequencers come in. Each VCO has it’s own 4-step sequencer, which can be assigned to any combination of the Osc, Sub 1 or Sub 2. When dialling in the notes, you’ve got a massive pitch range of five octaves (up and down) to choose from. If you want more precision, you can choose from one or two octaves instead.

The four polyrhythm generators can be used to affect to Seq 1, 2 or both. Like the Sub oscillators, they’re based on the Subharmonic series and can add off-kilter excitement to your sequences.

There’s really nothing like the Subharmonicon. Once you’ve grasped it’s concepts, you’ll be creating sprawling compositions and out-of-this-world melodies with ease. It’s subharmonic tunings give it a distinctive character that makes it stand out from other analogue synths.

Werkstatt 01 + CV Expander

Demonstrates the interface of the Moog Werkstatt-01 semi-modular analogue synthesizer.
Werkstatt 01 is a fully-featured monosynth with the classic Moog-sound at an affordable price.

The Werkstatt-01 (with accompanying CV Expander) is a fun, portable and affordable way to get into Moog synths. It features 100% analogue circuitry, a full-range VCO (with alternate Saw and Pulse waves) and the legendary Moog ladder filter. A wealth of glorious analog tones are available with the LFO and envelope, which can be used to modulate pulse-width, pitch and filter cutoff. This is all before you start getting into the CV Expander, which really opens up the Werkstatt‘s palette of sounds.

A Moog That Fits In Your Pocket

Originally an exclusive to the “Engineering VIP” workshop at Moogfest 2014, the Werkstatt-01 that’s presented today is the result of a huge demand for a solder-free version. The Werkstatt-01 has transcended it’s “educational-tool” purpose and become a highly capable synth in its own right.

Staying true to its roots, the Werkstatt-01 comes as a kit that doesn’t take an electronics degree to assemble. There’s no need to heat up the soldering iron, all it needs is a screwdriver. It’s a rewarding project that helps you appreciate the thought and design that’s gone into the synth. Moog have created a useful walkthrough if visual learning is more your thing.

Once you’ve constructed the Werkstatt-01 and hooked up the CV Expander, you can start playing it with the one-octave push-button keyboard. The KB CV output means you can use it as a controller for your CV-ready hardware. The VCA has a drone mode, which can free up your other hand to use with the controls.

Werkstatt – Expanded

Let’s get into the CV Expander. This is a big enhancement from the Werkstatt‘s that came before, as it increases the number of sounds that it can pull off as well as allow it to interact with other synths. 12 1/8″ points include Linear and Exponential FM inputs, taking the Werkstatt-01 well beyond the classic analogue realm. Using the Expander, you can also use negative CV to slow the LFO to an even slower rate than you can achieve with the knob.

Whilst the CV Expander is a way to alter the Werkstatt‘s internal routing, the outputs and inputs make it a great processor and modulation source for other instruments.

There’s never been a better time to find out why the Moog sound is so iconic and the Werkstatt-01 & CV Expander are an amazing gateway into that world. Don’t be fooled by its size and attainable price, it’s a serious synth with a girthy sound and premium components.

Subsequent 37

Demonstrates the front panel and keyboard of the Subsequent 37 paraphonic analogue synthesizer.
Subsequent 37 is an absolute powerhouse of a synth.

If you’re looking for a beastly monophonic synthesizer – Moog’s Subsequent 37 is hard to beat. The Subsequent 37 is a monophonic analog synth 37 velocity and aftertouch-sensitive keys. There are two VCOs which can be played duophonically as well as a Sub and Noise generator. It combines the thunderous low end and lush filter (which boasts 6, 12, 18 and 24dB slopes) with modern features such as preset storage (up to 256), extensive modulation and a powerful 64-step sequencer/multi-mode arp.

Building upon the hugely successful Sub 37, the Subsequent 37‘s upgrades are a result of Moog listening and implementing user feedback. One of the most notable updates is twice the headroom in the mixer section, giving you a wider range of clean timbres. If you’re a fan of using Duo mode, your duophonic patches will sound more defined. An added bonus of the Subsequent 37‘s increased flexibility is the ladder filter’s improved gain staging. The result is a richer low end, due to the boosted analogue compression and harmonic saturation. The evolved Multi Drive circuit boasts a wider range and can achieve filthier sounds than its predecessor.

Another upgrade has been made to the Subsequent 37‘s playability, with a swifter keyboard action that allows you to pull off elegant runs with ease.

A Future Classic

Just like the Minimoog, the Subsequent 37 has a classy aesthetic and inviting control surface that begs to be played. With 40 knobs and 74 switches to mess around with, you’ll be tweaking it for years to come. The intuitive layout demonstrates the synth’s signal path, starting from the oscillators and finishing at the master output. To the right of the VCOs, you have the dual LFOs, Glide and performance controls. It’s all to hand if you want to make on-the-fly adjustments to your sound.

Moog provides a comprehensive software editor for the Subsequent 37 – totally free! This programme gives you the ability to back-up and organise your presets, perfect for when you need them in a particular order for a live set. It’s a huge boon if you work with a DAW-based setup as you now have all the flexibility of a plugin with the superior sound of a Moog synth.

The Subsequent 37 is an incredibly deep synth with an earth-shattering sound that’s easy to navigate thanks to its wonderful interface. It can pull off all the classic Moog-sounds you know and love as well as a host of others.

Subsequent 25

Demonstrates the front panel and keyboard of the Subsequent 25 paraphonic analogue synthesizer.
Subsequent 25 packs a monolithic sound into a portable package.

Moog’s Subsequent 25 is a more affordable and portable version of the 37, retaining the high-quality build and stunning sound of its bigger brother. The feature-rich 37 may be a bit overwhelming for some, if you’re one of these folk then the more focussed Subsequent 25 is the one for you. It excels just as well as its sibling at bread-and-butter monosynth sounds like soaring leads and rubbery basses. If you’re a soloist that needs a wider range, you can hook the Subsequent 25 up to a larger keyboard.

The Subsequent 25 features a streamlined architecture and interface that’s more aligned with a classic Moog synth whilst retaining the convenience and flexibility of a modern machine. There’s an Activate Panel button if you prefer an old-school Minimoog-style workflow – where what you see is what you get! It inherits the Duo mode, versatile multi-mode ladder filter, transformative Multi-Drive circuit and expanded headroom of the 37 and packs it into a desktop-friendly form factor. The Subsequent 25 boasts comprehensive connectivity options, including MIDI (5-pin Din & USB), CV and an input for processing external audio sources. When nothing is inserted into the Audio In, the Subsequent 25 routes its output into the mixer section for saturated tones. If you want extra gain, you can drive the VCF by turning VCO levels up high.

You’ve got 16 preset slots which you can use to instantly recall your favourite patches. This can be extended by hooking the Subsequent 25 up to the free software editor, allowing you to store as many patches as your computer’s memory can handle! It’s also a great way to access the Subsequent 25‘s deeper parameters and visualise all the parameters of your patch at once.

If you’re looking for a more straightforward alternative to the Subsequent 37, the Subsequent 25 is an ideal solution. All the main controls are right where you need them to be and the hidden parameters can be quickly accessed via the Shift mode.

Since Bob Moog’s passing in 2005, Moog Music have continued to expand upon his legacy with new and exciting synths. Whilst their synthesisers vary in price and features, each one has that undeniably appealing Moog sound and quality. Their latest synth designs are bold and present new ways to explore analog synthesis.