While traditional-style analog synths may not exactly be at the forefront of emerging technologies these days, this particular product launch expected from Moog Music at the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) trade show is sure to get people’s Voltage Controlled Filter Lust rising.
Moog (pronounced moh-g) was founded by Bob Moog in 1953. Since then, it has become ubiquitous with precision analog synthesizers. The terms "Moog" and "Analog Synth" are almost interchangeable in some circles. After the initial years of being not much more than a novelty, the musicians of 70’s and 80’s took the sounds these machines create and started using them everywhere. In almost any form of today’s popular music, it’s likely you will hear a synthesizer; and if the sound itself didn’t come from a Moog, it was probably modeled after an innovation or specific tone from a Moog synth.
The long standing pedigree of the company is such that while other companies gleefully add any number of fashionable bells’n’whistles to each new synth, the brains at Moog, in their time-honored traditional minimalistic style, only have to add, say, a new distortion circuit, or a white noise generator and/or simple sub-oscillator, and the frequency purists can get very excited indeed. And it seems that, in addressing the feedback input from loyal Moog enthusiasts, this new addition to the "Phatty" family of synths is going to have all three of the above.
Expectations have been raised and the rumor mill set in motion by the appearance of some prototype photos. These show unhoused printed circuit boards (PCBs) with the typical Moog dials mounted on top, plus a 25 note keyboard and some modulation wheels, all of which is fitted on a makeshift wooden placeholder setup. A closer shot of the PCB (below) shows the alleged – and somewhat maligned – new name "Sub Phatty" printed on it. Let’s face it, the name doesn’t quite evoke such grand, frequency-soaring, arpeggiator-mangling mental images as their much lauded "Voyager" synth has been known to. But when one considers the tonal range this synth will likely represent, that is, deep basses, dirty monophonic sounds and tough leads, the name might well become loved – in time.
While it appears an LCD strip has been left out and the ability to save and use presets dropped, some of the expected features are two "stable" oscillators, a third sub-oscillator, noise generator, twin ADSR envelope generators, a traditional VCF circuit (the famous Moog Filter), and perhaps most intriguingly, a new Multidrive Circuit, which supposedly combines pre-filter gain with post-filter overdrive.
The video below shows analog pioneer and friend/collaborator of Bob Moog, Herb Deutsch, putting the stripped back synth through its paces. The synthesizer veteran of several decades seems impressed. But for those wanting more, the actual housing design and general form factor for the synth won’t be unveiled in full until NAMM 2013, which kicks-off on January 24. Though, if the prototype is anything to go by it should remain very similar, if a little smaller, to the previously released Little Phatty range of synths.