A Low Cost Moog Synthesizer? Here's How They Could Do It
By James Grahame
Moog instruments are famed for their warm analog sound, beautiful quality, and significant price tags. Music Thing and Matrixsynth recently let the world know that Moog is rumored to be launching a brand new low-cost analog synthesizer at next week's NAMM show in Anaheim. NAMM is the musical equivalent of the Consumer Electronics Show, where long-haired guitar gods and the pocket protector brigade co-exist peacefully for four days.
There's a problem with low-cost analog synths, though: high quality analog circuitry is expensive and requires custom parts. In the 1980s, companies like Oberheim and Sequential Circuits relied on analog chipsets from manufacturers such as CEM and SSM to work their musical magic. Those companies are long gone, and modern manufacturers are forced to go digital or build circuits from an expensive combination of discrete components and off-the-shelf semiconductors.
All this is a long-winded way to suggest it will be difficult for Moog to produce a low-cost synth using traditional technology. Now, let's step back a couple of years -- to the 2004 NAMM show. Bob Moog was showing off his lineup of synths and effects, but he found time to stop by a booth belonging to chipmaker Anadigm for a demo. Their claim to fame? They produce programmable analog chips that can be dynamically reconfigured in real-time. Mull that one over for a moment. Programmable analog chips.
Now -- as I recall -- Anadigm was showing off one of their evaluation boards configured as a slightly crude analog synth. One has to wonder how they've progressed in the years since. Here's what the Anadigm site has to say about their chips' musical possibilities:
- Oscillators –analog and look-up table
- undefined capability
- FM synthesis
- Resonant filters
- Fully reprogrammable and patch changeable
- Full and flexible polyphony easy and cost-effective to implement
- Non-linear transfer function capabilities
- Full software control over analog synth
- True analog synth plug-in capability
- Midi Interfacing
- Software LFO
Pricing starts at $7.95 in quantities of 10,000, and evaluation boards cost less than $200. If you ask me, this would be an ideal way to build an affordable analog synthesis system.
Like the one Moog is rumored to be working on.