Moog is reviving the analog electronic synthesizers of the 1970s that sparked a musical revolution. The company announces that it's restarting limited production of three of its classic large format, modular synthesizers, which were originally produced in 1973: The System 55, the System 35, and the Model 15.
Developed by Dr Robert Moog in 1963, the Moog Modular wasn't the first synthesizer (early examples date back to the 1920s), but it did represent a real breakthrough. Previously, composing and playing synthesized music meant either playing a cantankerous device like a theremin or taking on a long, tedious process involving a room full of banks of oscillators, filter devices, odd circuit lash ups, and tape recorders.
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The Moog did away with that by bringing together all the analog electronics into a single unit that used transistors rather than valves and allowed musicians to start with the most basic of tones and literally design and create any sound they desired.
The ability to stick an entire orchestra on a tabletop revolutionized music and panicked a generation of musicians who thought they were out of a job. After Wendy Carlos' Switched on Bach album introduced the Moog to the public in 1968, the Moog Modular and its more performance friendly Minimoog successor were picked up by such artists as Stevie Wonder, Giorgio Moroder, Brian Eno, Yes, and Tangerine Dream. However, the development of more compact and user-friendly digital synthesizers put paid to the format by the 1990s.
Monday's announcement follows on the recreation of the Moog Modular, which was unveiled at Moogfest 2014. According to the company, the limited edition synthesizers will be built using the original plans and specifications. Even the manufacturing techniques will be revived, including hand-stuffing and hand-soldering components to the circuit boards, and photo-etching the aluminum front panels.
However, Moog says that the revival of the Moog Modulars isn't just an exercise in nostalgia. The company believes that the transition from analog to digital meant that just as the synthesizer was being recognized as an instrument in its own right, the analog synthesizer's potential was never realized. The idea is to introduce the analog Moog to a new generation so they can explore its capabilities and, in the words of Dr Moog, "discover endless offbeat, unconventional, and even irrational ways of working."
The System 55 will have a run of 55 units costing US$35,000 each, the System 35 will have 35 units priced at $22,000 per instrument, and the Model 15 will run 150 units at $10,000. In addition, accessories for the Modular Systems, including keyboard, expansion cabinet, and 960 Sequential Controller will also be available.
The video below features electronic music pioneers talking about composing for the synthesizer and playing selections on the recreated Moogs.