Synths
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With such a large collection of vintage instruments on stage, and the revival of interest in analogue sounds in many areas of modern music, members of the audience are often curious about the gear itself. A lot of this equipment is over 40 years old, and while this can lead to interesting electrical problems during set-up, the sounds produced have a richness and character that is often lacking from today’s digital equipment.

While Moog synthesizers contribute a great deal to the ensemble sound, not all the equipment is from this manufacturer. Korgs and Rolands synths are also used, along with modular equipment and a few boutique rarities, which have become available with the revivial of interest in ‘retro’ synths and the rise of Eurorack in recent years.

  • Moog Model 15

    The Model 15 was the smallest of the Moog modular synths, originally intended for schools and music colleges to demonstrate the basics of analogue synthesis and voltage control. (The largest being the Moog 35 modular, as used by Keith Emerson among others). With modular synths, the instrument consists of discrete modules – oscillators, filters, amplifiers etc – which the user patches together using cables. However, the set of modules that you got was decided by the manufacturer, unlike today’s Eurorack where users buy individual modules and slot them in as they wish. There are now several companies making ‘clones’ of the original Moog modules using modern components, which makes them a bit more affordable. Vyv uses a Model 15 clone by Club of the Knobs, with a couple of non-standard modules, namely an extra VCF (filter) and an extra VCO (oscillator) in place of the standard Moog static filter bank which would normally sit top left of the cabinet.

  • Moog Sub 37

    As it says on the Moog website, “The SUB 37 Tribute Edition is a limited release, 2-note paraphonic analog synthesizer built on the award winning Sub Phatty sound engine, but specifically enhanced to meet the demands of professional synthesists, sound designers, and keyboard players.” It sounds subtly different from the Minimoog, but has a number of performance advantages, notably presets! Dan uses one for the bass sound with the Moog Ensemble, put through a Vortexion valve amd and Ampeg cab, and sometimes doubled with Taurus bass pedals for added earth-shudderingness.

  • Minimoog Model D

    The mainstay of the Moog Ensemble since it formed in 2005. They offer the classic creamy Moog sound in a reasonably portable and reliable package, so there have always been three or four of these in the band. These instruments are quite old now, so it has been necessary to bring a backup or two when playing live, as they don’t respond well to unstable mains voltages or fluctuating temperatures. With the re-release of the Model D in 2016, many of us are using the slightly more resilient new version for touring while preserving the originals for studio work.