Sonic LAB: Moog Sub 37 Synthesizer

US A beast of a synthesizer      11/12/14
    MP4 22:56 mins    

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Introduced almost a year ago, demand is high for Moog's latest synth. The Moog Sub 37 improves on the multidrive and and multi-pole filter design of the Sub Phatty (see our review) and some.

The Moog Sub 37 feels like a 'proper' synth, not that other Moogs aren't, but there's something wonderfully solid and precise about the Sub 37 when first you meet it.

First up, the front panel is heavily populated with knobs (38) and buttons (74) all feel sturdy and solid. There's a 37 key velocity and aftertouch capable keyboard, underlit mod and pitch wheels.

Connections are Audio In/Out + headphones, CV in for Pitch, Filter and VCA and  Gate , MIDI in and out, plus USB for MIDI.

We've got the Tribute edition which has wooden end cheeks and a Bob Moog Signature graphic.

One of my big issues with the Sub Phatty was that there were many hidden parameters, so it was actually pretty hard to see what was going on at a glance. This has been addressed, through additional mod routings, MIDI setup and system type stuff is still accessed via a cursor menu system via the LCD.

First up the twin oscillators - with variable waveforms (like the Mini) TRI through SAW to SQUARE and PW - for each, OSC2 can be tuned +/- 7 semitones, 1+2 can be synced plus there's the nifty fixed beat frequency mode and the KB reset function to give a consistent front end to bass pulses. The Sub 37 can also play in Duophonic/ Paraphonic mode with switchable Hi/Lo priority.  The oscillators do sound great and can be enhanced enormously by introducing drive into the filter by turning the mix controls past 12 o'clock.

Mixer sources are Osc 1+2, Sub wave (square -1oct from OSC1), Noise (white) and Feedback/External in. All have dedicated on/off buttons as well as level control - and indeed the main output also has a mute, while the headphones remain active - a nice touch.

Filter is the classic Moog Ladder but with 6, 12, 18 and 24dB modes like the Sub Phatty - while not multi-mode, there is a pretty wide range of character to be had here. From the gritty, full driven sound to a much cleaner signal if you don't send as much into the filter via the Mixer. Additionally, there's the Multi-Drive knob to get the FET and OTA post filter distortion working - from clean to really mucky.

Envelopes - And the Winner Is...

Twin, high function DADSHR (Delay, Attack, Decay, Sustain, Hold, Release) envelopes also have a looping cababillity - Env 1 routes to Filter, 2 to VCA though other destinations are possible via the two mod busses.

I havbe to say these envelopes are great, not something one generally gets excited about, but these are soo snappy and the scaling of the values really makes them easy to dial in exactly what you are looking for. The looping feature can be free run or synced to Arp or MIDI clock too.


Mod 1 and 2 are the LFOs with TRI, SQ, SAW up, SAW down, Rand and F.EG/PGM modes.

Both also have a high range mode taking them up to around 1k which mostly makes up for the lack of OSC mod routings (you can't use the OSC as a mod source). The F.EG mode allows you to route the Filter Envelope as a source, so you can add a pitch envelope if you like, but there's also an additional mod bus for each which (via the menu system) lets you route the mod anywhere, and I mean anywhere - destinations are legion.

Mod can be synced to Arp or MIDI clock, KB reset and also routed to each others rate - so MOD 1 -MOD-2 and MOD 2 to MOD 1. You can spend hours with this section and pretty much route any of the sources to anywhere. Only thing missing here was the ability to delay the mod depth.

At this point, I should mention that because most of the controls are front panel, you can  get into quite complex synthesis very quickly, while extremely tempting to drive everything for heavily saturated sounds, you can go clean and sparkly too by backing off the mixer signals and dialing down the multi-drive.

Glide + Slide

Glide (portamento) also gets it's own detailed section allowing the synth eo behaive an radically different modes to suit any style of mono playing - - one nice feature is the abillity to affect one or both Oscillators.


Some the 16 banks of 16 patches show this off to great effect, with normal arp modes available, plus the 32 step sequencer gives you plenty of riffs - one sequence per patch. Programmed in step mode via the keyboard, with rest and tie input buttons.

There is a LOT to like with this synth, it so sounds musical and has that Moog thing going on, but at the same time you can completely lose control of it if you program it right, which I don't think I've seen in a keyboard based synthesizer for some time. I am betting this this becomes a modern classic, it has all the right ingredients.

If I have any criticisms, it would be just that for a synth of this price,  I would like to have seen CV and Gate outputs as well as inputs, plus some cross modulation for the Oscillators for some high audio rate modulation.

Bottom line is that the Sub 37 feels like a properly grown up synthesizer, with really musical parameter scaling, and is  well worth the asking price. I can only assume that when the standard edition comes along it will represent an even better deal.


Tribute Edition £1189/ $1499

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