Sonic LAB: Moog Grandmother Analog Semi Modular Synthesizer

Moog modular circuits in a modern mono      19/07/18
    MP4 20:41 mins    

Just what the world needs - another Moog mono with ladder filter. Actually, that’s what I thought on announcement of the Moog Grandmother, but this one’s different - honest...

The Grandmother is a colourful synth with simple subtractive structure - 2 VCOs, 1 LFO, Ladder Filter and Envelope, three pattern step sequencer/arp and a built in Spring reverb. Plenty of 3.5mm Euro style patch points are also  available.

But the nod to the older modular design - albeit with colour coding is more than that. What you are actually getting are  VCOs derived from the the new Model D, the CP-3 Mixer, the 904 Filter, the 902 VCA and the 911 Envelope.

Thats the same circuits that are in those classic large format Moog Modulars. Obviously, these are SMD (surface mount design) versions to keep the costs down, but they do sound authentic. VCO 2 also has a linear FM input too which will please some - allowing more controlled FM rate modulation. A sync option brings a massive, harmonic oscillator sync in - lovely!

The result is that the VCOs sound massive, plenty of girth and weight and buzz, all those words apply, the LFO also works as a 3rd VCO with rock solid keyboard tracking. Combining those into the CP-3 mixer  (VCO 1+2 + Noise inputs) and the classic Moog drive becomes apparent as you head past the 12 o’clock position  - it can get very dirty.

The 24dB Ladder VCF does that Moog thing, it sounds very authentic, but that’s where I have to complain about the same loss of low end when introducing any resonance - I would have like to have seen a switch for a resonance compensation mode that some synths are now using for this filter type - just for a change - but I guess it's either a purist thing, or that it would have increased the cost.

Snappy envelope, with a high quality DJ style, low resistance fader on the sustain portion - means you can really play the volume if you wish, though I for one would think that the the fader on the decay phase would make more sense? VCA control can be routed from ADSR, Key trigger and Release or Drone mode and gives some extra flexibility, though a second envelope would have been super useful, panel space would not really allow it.

Sequencer and Arpeggiator - you get three 256 step sequences and an Arpeggiator - the sequencer can be overdubbed for some Keystep style creativity, but I think I have finally realized that I just don’t get on with step sequencers. It not them, it's me..

Audio rate mod aplenty with the high rate LFO or just patching audio rate signals into anywhere you can find, makes for some real fun. But the basic sound is pure classic Moog - big and authoritative. Combined with the quality build and keybed, this is a nice instrument which is built to last.

Speaking of patching, the Grandmother comes with 6 patch cables, plus the utilities panel gives you a 1 to 3 mult, 6dB highpass filter (not modulatable) and an attenuverter (audio and CV) again without a modulation input. The Grandmother comes with 6, 3.5mm patch cables and a Moog Slinky!

Perhaps a couple more patch points would have been nice - mod or pitch bend wheel outputs(these are quality, Model D type wheels), for controlling sync or filter sweeps, spring reverb input and perhaps a way to decouple the sequencer from the VCOs would have added a little more flexibility.

Sure it has a Moog premium , but this instrument feels worth that little bit extra, access to those classic modular circuits at this price is a bargain.

Overall, I think the Moog Grandmother is a quality instrument, nicely built. It's relatively simple, but what it does, it does very well. 

Available now priced at £879/$899 - street

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