Robert Moog first put synth music into the hands of the public back in the 1960s. His Moog module systems inspired future generations of moog music and now they are back for more with their latest 2018 release.
The Moog Grandmother is a semi-modular analog synthesizer that is playable straight out of the box. However, it’s the underlying wealth of features that make this synth such an intriguing prospect.
You’ll find plenty of power and potential hiding under the retro-looking interface and the build quality of this grandmother semi modular Moog is very much high-end. Record and playback sequences with up to 256 notes each.
This product is exactly what you should expect from the company of Robert Moog – one of the grandfathers of synth music! As he wonderfully stated in regards to his creation, “everything has some consciousness, and we tap into that. It is about energy at its most basic level.”
Moog decided to re-use the circuits from the legendary 1970s Minimoog and a lot of the other components are based on the classic Moog circuits of the original 1960s synth modules. Using a combination of these parts gives this synth that true analog Moog sound and we love it.
Start up the Grandmother Moog and you’ll hear exactly what we mean but only after you’ve allowed the analog oscillators time to warm up. This is a common feature with analog synths and they’ll be at their optimum temperature after around 10 minutes, but what about that sound engine? This Grandmother could have gotten the name minimoog grandmother as an offshoot of the classic minimoog if there was such an original name.
The Moog Grandmother works on two main oscillators and each can produce square, triangle, and sawtooth waves. Pulse waves are also possible although any tweaks to these need to be made via modulation sources. Oscillator sync and frequency adjustment are also available.
Oscillator patch points include Pulse Width Modulation, Pitch In, and Wave Out for OSC1 and then Linear FM for OSC2. The oscillators, along with the noise function, are channeled through into the mixer which is a design based upon Moog’s famous CP3 module.
The CP3 mixer is synonymous with the Moog sound and gives you plenty of patch points for further modulation. Patch points include OSC1 In, OSC2 In, Noise In, and Output. Moog deciding to stick with their winning circuitry comes as no surprise.
Why change a winning formula? Synthesizer brands ofter feel the pressure of technology trends and are influenced to change their core products which can often turn off their customer base. But these iconic brands don’t make this mistake.
Instead of abandoning their distinguished features, they add and enhance them. It’s no wonder that Moog Grandmother reviews has already received high marks from users and respected industry talents alike.
Continuing on with the unique characteristics of the Grandmother semi modular analog is its filtering. The filter is one of the first features that people like to talk about when they discuss the uniqueness of the Moog sound. The Grandmother uses the classic transistor-ladder filter (24dB) and it comes with Resonance, Envelope Amount, and Cutoff knobs for fine-tuning and a 3-way switch for tracking amounts.
You can add noise at the oscillator mixer stage, and a utility section includes a patchable 1-pole highpass filter and a bipolar attenuator. The classic 4-pole 10Hz-20kHz ladder filter offers a convenient key-tracking switch and large controls that are easy to find even in the dark.
The filter is excellent, as you would expect, and if you’ve not yet been in contact with a Moog filter before then you are in for a treat! These high pass effects offers the user the ability to patch cords to connect one section to another. You can get very clean non resonant filter sounds just by patching in the Wave Out in Oscillator 1 to the input on the high pass filter while taking the output on the high pass and plug that directly into the VC Input.
This will bypass the low pass filter, so you are just hearing the high pass.
From here, you can start filtering the sound to your liking. You can also combine both the high and low pass filters. To do this, Oscillator 1 goes to the high pass which then goes to the low pass.
This then gives you a custom bypass filter. You could also change the signal flow if you want the low pass first. To achieve this, you would plug Oscillator 1’s wave form out to the input on the low pass and then take the output on the low pass filter to the input on the high pass. Then finally the high pass output can go into the VCA input.
This will give you a very bypass filter sound. Just experimenting with these filters can pull you down the rabbit hole of mind blowing exploration! In addition, patch points are also included with jacks for Cutoff In, Envelope Amount, Input, and Output.
No Moog analog synthesizer would be complete without the LFO and ADSR envelope generator features. These both allow for multiple modulation options and particular mentions should be made in regards to the envelope’s dedicated fader for ultra-fine tweaking in the sustain stage.
The envelope itself is the usual four-stage setup with Attack, Decay, Release all controlled via knobs. The final Sustain parameter is adjusted via a smooth vertical slider that allows for added control. The jacks above the controls include Trigger In and Positive and Negative outputs.
The LFO has been hardwired to the on-board mod wheel that sits to the left of the keyboard. You can choose from Sine, Square, Saw, and Ramp waveforms with oscillator pitch, filter cutoff, and pulse width modulation options available, plus a dedicated knob for Rate control.
The Moog Grandmother Semi Modular synthesizer is an advanced piece of kit but that doesn’t mean it’s difficult to play. An intuitive layout and hands-on approach makes controlling this synthesizer easy for all users. These modular synthesizers give you the ability to magnify musical and non musical sounds with the equilibrium of your own choosing.
It’s the ultimate sonic playground for a musician to communicate on a subconscious yet physical level. These tools has lifted the roof on what is possible and how far out one can go with synthesis. Its internal qualities allow for incredible external results.
The communication between signals is lightning quick. The potential is huge once you start to understand the on-board features and functions.
The Grandmother weighs in at 16 lbs so it’s not a light piece of equipment, that’s for sure. The best thing about its weight though is the fact that it feels solid and sturdy in your hands. A strong unit is essential in keeping all of that vintage circuitry safe from any knocks and scrapes!
The knobs across the colorful interface all feel well-built as you twist and turn them. It’s reassuring to know when you’re paying out top money. The interface itself can only be described as retro chic with the multi-colored sections that represent each module within the synth.
From left to right, you have the Sequencer in yellow, the Modulation in black, Oscillators in light blue, the Mixer and Utilities are both in black, your filter functions are in green, the VCA is in black and then on the far right in the bottom corner you have the Spring Reverb section in red. These module sections also hold a total of 35 x 1/8-inch (3.5mm) jacks. Use these to re-route any of the internally wired signal paths and create your own experimental sounds.
The interface layout lends itself to beginners with its clear labels and easy to use controls. No confusion here. The front panel is beautifully laid out showcasing all of the Moog Grandmother patches.
The instrument comes courtesy of Fatar so you’ll be making music with one of the very best keybeds in the world. It doesn’t get much better than Fatar and key-based players will be singing its praises when they get their hands on this 32-note, velocity-sensitive keyboard!
Other worthy mentions of the Grandmother include the Arpeggiator/Sequencer feature. The 3-way switch toggle on the left of the synth (the yellow section) holds three different options. Here you can choose between arpeggiator, sequencer, and sequencer recording modes.
The built in arpeggiator is quite standard in terms of functions but it will allow for forward/backward and random play modes. You can choose to repeat the notes you played, play them in an octave higher or lower and then also play them two octaves higher if you so wish.
The sequencer is more detailed and provides you with plenty of options to create complex sections of music. There is no real-time recording so all notes are entered from the keyboard, plus you’ve got Rest, Ties, Accent, and Latching options to play around with as well. Having the arpeggiator and sequencer as options adds even more range to your sounds and compositions.
Another nice component of the semi modular analog synthesizer is its pitch bend wheel. The pitch bend range of Grandmother’s PITCH wheel can be set anywhere from 1 to 12 semitones. To adjust the Pitch Bend Range setting, press the (D#1) key, and then use the lowest 12 white keys (F0 to C2) to select the corresponding number of semitones (1-12).
The Default is 2 semitones. The Grandmother is meant to behave more like a purely analog synth and is thus calibrated as such. This means that it may not always achieve the most accurate settings that a hybrid or digital synth could achieve.
The additional MIDI implementation is a nice feature to have, but some discrepancies will be present due to the calibrations and the nature of the synth.”
We’ve touched upon some of the patch points on this synth but to clarify, there are 41 available including 21 inputs, 16 outputs, and four parallel-wired non-buffered patch points. This allows for simple access to your Eurorack rig, Mother-32, DFAM, or other modules in your setup.
The USB MIDI and DIN MIDI In, Out, and Thru ports allow for multiple computer and studio connections. This product will happily sit alongside most existing setups and it’ll bring a touch of class to your music-making process with all of those years of Moog expertise behind it.
The Moog Grandmother semi modular analog synthesizer is another success story for the brand. The Grandmother manages to tick all the important analog synth boxes and it appeals to both beginners and experienced synth users alike. It’s quickly becoming the VIP guest at any semi modular analog synthesizer party, and a must have for any producer whether working on a hit record, and composing film and television. In fact, it’s almost becoming a studio requirement!
You can learn the basics of modular and semi modular synthesis using the intuitive layout and multiple patch points. The keyboard matches the price tag and gives you the ultimate playing experience and sonic range.
These new synthesizers don’t provide everything but then again, it’s not designed to be an all singing and all dancing synth that caters to everyone. It’s clear what Moog’s audio intentions were when designing this analog semi modular synth. This instrument very clearly magnifies the message of exploration and creativity in a way that is so original and unique.
Music begs for this type of call to action. Step out into your cosmic potential, and purchase this outstanding piece of machinery. You may just surprise yourself on what is possible.
There are ample amounts of help online to learn more tricks and tips from some of these leading creators.
At the end of the day, this item gives you the ultimate chance to creatively explore and make music using vintage Moog technology and that alone is something a lot of people will pay the asking price for.