What is it?
A software recreation of a classic Moog modular synthesizer, in the form of a plug-in.
Which modules do you get?
The first version has the following modules:
The second version adds the following:
How authentic does it look?
I know, looks are superficial, and no one listening to your music will care, but perhaps it helps the creative process to be immersed in interesting looking tools for the job. The Moog Modular V certainly won't disappoint: from the style of the knobs and the woodwork to the secondhand, dust coated look, it certainly feels like a real Moog modular.
How authentic does it sound?
I'll be honest: I've never actually used a real Moog. I've heard many recordings featuring the classic synthesizers, though, and to my ears, at least, this sounds very accurate. As long as you use the low pass filter, people will recognise "that" sound. If you get a bit more creative and people never work out which instrument produced your sounds, that's probably more due to the fact that your average listener doesn't know a TB-303 from an MC-303 than any authenticity issues of this plug-in.
How does it compare to a "real" modular synthesizer?
In an age of increasingly popular free software, including modular operating systems, Moog Modular V can seem a bit pricey. Indeed, three or four times the price would get you a decent amount of tangible modules. So what are the advantages and disadvantages of this particular software synthesizer over the hardware-based competition?
- It's cheaper.
- You can save your patches. (The best you can do with hardware modular synthesizers is take a photo of them or draw a diagram showing which leads go where and which positions all the knobs are at).
- One module's output can be directly connected to several other modules' inputs. In tangible modular systems, multi-connector modules are required to do this.
- Instant synchronisation with the song's tempo.
- You can run multiple instances of the software simultaneously, in effect giving you as many modular synthesizers as you like (providing you have enough processing power). However, you can't connect them together.
- This is the closest you are ever going to come to owning a classic Moog modular, if you're going to be honest with yourself.
- Even if you could get an authentic Moog modular, it wouldn't stay in tune for long. Moogs were innovative and pioneering, not stable and reliable. This is as close as anyone will get to a stable Moog modular.
- Only a handful of different types of modules available compared to recent hardware modular synthesizers (although this has improved slightly with version two).
- Also only a set number of each of those types. Nine oscillators is probably enough for most people's requirements, but it's nice to know you can expand other systems as much as your budget will allow for.
- You can't get your hands on it physically, and computer mice aren't very intuitive compared to real patch cables and knobs.
- As good as the Moog sound is, it's still just one sound. Some other modular synthesizers have different filters reminiscent of many different synthesizers.
- You can't exactly add an antenna or ribbon controller for fun.
In short, it's a case of pragmatism over idealism: patches you can save, multiple synthesizers you can easily feed into a virtual mixing desk and sounds you can synchronise with the song's tempo, at the cost of expandability and a hands-on feel.
If you've got money to burn and want either an impressive looking rack of modules to show off to your friends, or a whole array of interesting types of input to have fun with, you might be better off with a hardware solution. If you want the sound of a vintage Moog with none of the hassle of finding and repairing one, and you want it in the form of a plug-in you can use in your sequencing software, this is a versatile instrument.