Music

Moog welcomes back the machine by bringing back large format synthesizers

Moog welcomes back the machine...
Moog is restarting limited production of three of its classic large format, modular synthesizers: the System 35, the Model 15, and the System 55, shown here with optional keyboard
Moog is restarting limited production of three of its classic large format, modular synthesizers: the System 35, the Model 15, and the System 55, shown here with optional keyboard
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Moog System 35
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Moog System 35
Moog Model 15
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Moog Model 15
Moog System 35 with optional keyboard
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Moog System 35 with optional keyboard
Moog System 55
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Moog System 55
Moog is restarting limited production of three of its classic large format, modular synthesizers: the System 35, the Model 15, and the System 55, shown here with optional keyboard
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Moog is restarting limited production of three of its classic large format, modular synthesizers: the System 35, the Model 15, and the System 55, shown here with optional keyboard
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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.

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.

Moog System 35 with optional keyboard
Moog System 35 with optional keyboard

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."

Moog Model 15
Moog Model 15

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.

Source: Moog

Back to the Future Sounds

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3 comments
kalqlate
"The idea is to introduce the analog Moog to a new generation so they can explore its capabilities..." At those prices, the new generation will be happy to stick with their sub $300 digital emulations.
Stomps
Emerson, Lake and Palmer made good use of a Moog synthesizer...
RavioliShankar
I love old hardware and even super-expensive stuff like this isn't awful to have in the world if some people can get the most of it and use it to make new, cool music -- that's great. Moog should kind of lay off the stuff about it being some kind of tool for "a new generation of musicians" or anything like that, though - it's not. It's a very specialized instrument for people who have the means or the support to do some experimental exegesis and to push the envelope of the original sounds that were made before they were outmoded. If they wanted to make it a tool for a "new generation of musicians" they'd send one to a Chinese company and have them build a marketable replica for $1,200.
This is a high-end piece of equipment for people who either have boundless pretentions or some really extraordinary inspiration. Let's see which one winds up being the truth.
If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up. - Ferris Bueller.