Sonic LAB: Moog Mother 32 Semi Modular Synthesizer

Desktop, Eurorack, you decide      14/01/16

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Buying Choices

So the Moog Mother 32 is finally in my hands, not for want of trying, but I think Moog have been struggling to meet demand. Not surprising, if the reaction to the announcement was anything to go by.

It's a simple synth on the face of it, a single dual wave VCO (Saw/SQ) + White Noise, a single LFO (TRI/SQ), that ladder filter again - good old 24dB with a switched HP mode, AR envelope with switchable Sustain, and a VC mixer - two voltages or audio signals can be blended manually or using CV.

There's also a 32-step, on board sequencer with 8x8 pattern storage, MIDI input and a nice and fullsome patchbay for a bit a lot of modular madness.

Now the voice is quite simple, but there's plenty of patch points (32 in fact) including an assignable out - this defaults to Sequencer Accent out but can offer, Clock (div 2 and div 4), a kind of additional sequencer driven CV waveform which cycles over the length of the sequence  - Ramp, Saw, Triangle, Random, Step 1 trigger, MIDI Velocity (takes the velocity value and converts to CV) Aftertouch, Pitch Bend, MIDI CC1, 2, 4 and 7.

Oscillators do sound good and it's possible to blend Saw and SQ (or PWM) via the audio mixer by patching into the noise input.

That Filter

Okay so it's the Moog ladder filter - again which is fine - gives you that creamy LP sound we all know, but also the same low end loss when resonance is introduced - time for something new?. There's no drive, so it doesn't seem possible to saturate or drive the filter any harder. HP mode is slightly unusual, it's not quite the same as others, but is generated by "generated by subtracting the Lowpass Ladder output from the input to the Lowpass Ladder" which means when you introduce resonance, you get a lot more signal through so it's not quite as high pass-like as you might expect but useful nonetheless.

Sequencer

With up to 32 steps, it's possible to make some cool phrases, but you can only input in step time. Either from the on board 1 oct keyboard switches, or via ext MIDI in. Rests, slides and accents are all programmable per step as is a ratchet (or repeat) of 1-4.

Recording, editing and programming are all possible, but to a real-time guy like me, its a midly frustrating experience and didnt get my creative juices flowing - but thats just step sequencers I guess.

One other thing, would have been nice to be able to decouple the sequencer from the synth voice so it could be used more as a CV modulator, leaving the synth voice to play something else, but this is not currently possible. Indeed, with the assignable CV out you can send waveforms that last one cycle per loop.

Rack'em Up

Of course, the Mother 32 can be taken out of it's case and installed in Eurorack form, the module is quite shallow and does not require heavy voltage (250mA) so will work with most cases. Additionally Moog offer a few mounting options themselves. If you have two or even three Mothers, then there is hardware available to do that, as well as a 60hp Eurorack enclosure (without power).

I must confess, given the initial simplicity of the Mother 32 synth voice, you can get some pretty radical sounds from it, the LFO goes way up into audio rates, and can be patched to track over a couple of octaves for a faux second oscillator - using the VC mixer. The sequencer, while I found it infuriating to use (but I think I'm just not a step kind of guy) will delight many who like to work that way.

It's got a lot to offer, and while one usually pays a premium for the Moog name, this seems reasonably priced when you consider it's features.

 

Perhaps you are thinking of going modular or just getting your first Moog - this allows you to do both without having to by any other gear. You also get MIDI/CV built in, which is a bonus.

If you want or need some Moog in your life, then this is a very good place to start.

 

Moog Mother 32 £499 $599

2 Mothers rack £49

3 Mothers £59

60HP 12" Moog case £74.99

Available now.

http://www.moogmusic.com/products/semi-modular/mother-32

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