You are here

Moog Minimoog 204E

Synth By Nick Magnus
Published October 1998

Moog Minimoog 204E

The Minimoog rides again thanks to Welsh company Moog Music Limited. But how close does it sound to the original? We at SOS knew opinion would be split, so we got five of our regular synth reviewers, all previous or current Mini owners, to give us their views. Step forward Nick Magnus (main text), Paul Nagle, Paul Ward, Paul Wiffen and Steve Howell...

Regular SOS readers will probably be aware that a Cardiff‑based company, Moog Music Limited, has acquired the rights to the Moog name and logo. Their plan is to re‑issue products from that legendary family of instruments, starting with their replica of what is possibly the most famous household name in synthesizers, the Minimoog (see the July '98 issue of SOS for Steve Howell's preview). Rather than go into anorak‑level detail about the history of the unit, this in‑depth review is intended to answer the questions most likely to be at the forefront of every Moog aficionado's thoughts: just how accurate a copy is it? Would your granny be able to tell the difference? Since my granny is now eternally unavailable for comment, I did the next best thing and sat the new replica next to my own 1980 vintage Minimoog, fired them both up, and prepared to perform some critical comparisons.

Before launching headlong into the results, it's perhaps worth making a point based on my experiences with three different Minimoogs I've owned over the years. My first Mini (vintage unknown) was an earlyish model fitted with perspex pitch and mod wheels, and was extremely unstable in tuning. The merest breeze would send it out of key, but it had the sweetest, creamiest tone imaginable. It's not easy to put one's finger on something as subjective as 'creaminess', but that Mini had it in droves. Unfortunately, its instability made it a non‑starter for stage use — indeed, even during recording it was necessary to stop the tape every few minutes and retune. So I decided to replace it with a newer one — vintage unknown again, but the pitch and mod wheels were of the later, white ribbed variety. This Mini had good tuning stability, and coped with life on the road unflinchingly. Tonally it was different to the older one, having a slightly brighter edge, and I loved it dearly. I was thus not best pleased when it was nicked from a rehearsal room.

Fortunately the insurance funded the purchase of a brand new Mini — the one I still own, vintage 1980, serial #11858. Major differences between this model and the previous two were improvements to the scaling and tuning trimpots on the back panel, together with even greater tuning stability. The tone was subjectively different yet again, having a slightly brighter edge than the second Mini.

Each of the three Minis had their own idiosyncrasies — the feel and response curve of the pitch/mod wheels, the feel of the keyboard — there were even subtle differences in the way the rotary pots behaved. The point I'm making is that, regarding analogue synths of this type, even three models (albeit different vintages) of the same synth can feel and sound different from each other. So if the word 'subjective' seems to appear a lot within this review, it's because comparisons between two such 'identical' instruments must be subjective when taking into account variables such as component tolerances, or whether a knob is fixed to a pot in exactly the same relative position or not.

Physical Attributes

The new Minimoog has been designed to unmistakably echo the original, with one or two enhancements, additions and alterations. Perspex pitch and modulation wheels hark back to the earlier Moogs' styling in true retro fashion, whilst the most obvious visible difference between the 204E and a vintage Mini is the use of flip switches where the original had rocker switches. These new orange and blue switches are reminiscent of those found on the ARP Pro Soloist, but smaller. They seem fine, although the old rocker types were less vulnerable to accidental knocking and damage. I suspect that the new type, having a smaller footprint, were chosen to accommodate the extra room needed for the additional switches at the top left of the panel. The three new switches are: Osc 1 PWM (pulse width modulation), Osc 2 PWM and +/‑ 1 octave transposition. Some original customised Minimoogs exist with PWM and oscillator sync added, but Moog Music Limited have opted not to include a sync facility on the 204E.

One oddity is the panel legending chosen to represent Sustain level for the filter and amplifier. These knobs on the original Mini were calibrated from 0 to 10, whereas the replica's are curiously labelled in the same way as the attack and decay knobs — ie. in milliseconds and seconds. Ultimately you would use your ears to gauge the correct level, but it is a little odd, using units of time to measure level...

Other changes include the migration of the Glide and Decay footswitch sockets from the pitch/mod wheel panel to the top of the control panel along with the output sockets. Adjacent to the pitch/mod wheels is now a green MIDI activity LED. The headphone socket has also made a similar move away from the front right of the control panel — maybe not so sensible, being no longer as accessible as it used to be.

The wooden case is deeper overall than before, by about 1cm, and the wood panel below the keyboard extends the whole depth of the case, whereas the original Minis had a chipboard base which created a 1cm gap between the front panel and the base of the synth. Weightwise, the new Mini is 32lbs, and feels slightly lighter than the original.

The back panel too sports a few variations. Gone are the oscillator and filter scaling trimpots and the A440 adjustment trimpot — more on the ramifications of this later. The panel's top edge now sports MIDI In/Out/Thru connectors, a rather fragile‑looking detented trimpot for MIDI channel selection, and a set of four DIP switches to set various options (see box). The MIDI selector is labelled 0‑9 then A‑F, meaning that channel 1, for example, is at position 0, and channel 16 would be at position F. The S‑trig input is at far left as it used to be, and the pitch, filter and amp external control sockets are adjacent to the MIDI ports. Glide and decay on/off footswitch sockets are at the centre, followed by sockets for high‑ and low‑level audio outs and an external audio input (for processing whatever takes your fancy through the Minimoog's filters and envelopes). Finally we have the headphone socket, IEC mains input (the original Minis had a fixed lead — ugh!), fuses, and two six‑pin +/‑10 volt DC, 50 milliamp output sockets.

The Clone Zone

And so to the moment of truth... The replica Minimoog (henceforth referred to as 204E) and my own (henceforth referred to as 11858) were powered up together, and left to warm up for a while, as all good analogue synths like to do. Both seemed to have settled quite nicely after about 15 minutes, and by half an hour were pretty much stable. As the ensuing hours would reveal, 11858 needed almost no retuning to speak of, whereas 204E did (surprisingly) require a gentle tweak from time to time. The drifting was minimal, however, and may be considered within the bounds of what you might expect from such a beast.

The inbuilt A440 reference tone on 204E was actually at 442Hz, which is a fair way off the mark — it must be presumed that, being an early production unit, the final calibrations had not been fully completed. The lack of an A440 adjustment trimpot could make this a bit of a problem if units were shipped thus, with the reference tone out of tune. Similarly, the next test revealed that the oscillators themselves were not scaled accurately — if any two oscillators were zero‑beat tuned at the 32' range, they were significantly out when switched up to 4' or 2'. By contrast, 11858's tuning between oscillators was consistent across the entire range, despite not having had its scaling touched for over 15 years. As in the case of the A440 tone, one would assume calibrations such as these will be made with greater accuracy on later production models, particularly as the absence of scaling trimpots means the user cannot recalibrate the instrument themselves.

The next thing to do was to compare the waveforms. Setting the contour generators to a gate envelope and opening the filter wide, resonance fully off, each wave was compared in turn. The replica Moog scored five out of six here, as all but one of the six waveforms sounded absolutely identical to 11858's. The rogue candidate was the square wave, which sounded as if a slight amount of sawtooth wave might be present. Played in the 32' range, it gave the impression of two oscillators, one octave apart, hard sync'ed together. By comparison, 11858 had that typical hollow, woody squarewave sound. Further investigation of this phenomenon involved setting the oscillator range to 'Lo', making the pitch so low as to sound like a series of clicks. Whereas 11858's square wave was a completely even tick‑tick‑tick‑tick, 204E revealed its square wave to have a slight 'limp' together with a slight emphasis on alternate ticks, sounding more like tick‑a‑tick‑a‑tick‑a tick — as if it contained elements of pulse and saw. Since I had no access to an oscilloscope, I can't be more accurate in my description than this, but it would be well worth the designers having a closer look at this anomaly and correcting it, if at all possible.

The filter is generally attributed as being the real 'personality' of a synth, and the classic Minimoog filter certainly has a reputation in this area, so a direct tonal comparison between the old and the new is inevitable. I can confidently say that 204E's filter sounds and behaves as identically to 11858's as makes no difference. Even with the resonance up high, and sweeping the cutoff frequency through its range, the filter exhibited exactly the same characteristics as its older cousin. In fact, with the resonance at maximum, 204E seemed to self‑oscillate even higher into the ultrasonic range than my old 11858. Definitely no shortcomings there! Setting the keyboard tracking to full (both switches on) with the filter still self‑oscillating showed the filter to track the keyboard with an accurate 1 volt per octave, meaning you can play tunes using the filter itself as an oscillator.

The personality of this filter was clearly demonstrated with this following test: I fed a simple, raw sawtooth sound from my humble Juno 106 into the Minimoog's external audio input (while triggering the envelope contour from the Moog's keyboard) and was not at all surprised to find that the Juno totally adopted the Moog sound. The next logical step was to send the MIDI out from the Juno to the Moog (to trigger the envelope generators in sync with the Juno's keypresses) and you end up with something rather like a polyphonic Minimoog with a monophonic envelope generator.

So how did 204E fare when requested to copy exactly sounds set up on the older machine? Well, the short answer is that there was nothing that I set up on 11858 that I couldn't replicate with near‑enough total accuracy on the replica, with the exception, as previously explained, of some of the more square‑wavey sounds. 204E has the additional advantage of PWM, so even richer sounds can be made with two oscillators, freeing up oscillator 3 to do the weird duties at which it excels. 204E has all the weight and solidity of tone that the original has, with a wonderfully authoritative bass end that manages to avoid being woolly.

Comparative Feel

Which brings us to the matter of how the new Minimoog feels, physically, to play. Naturally enough, improvements in technology that we enjoy nowadays have been applied where appropriate, and the keyboard is the obvious example. It has the original Minimoog's three and a half octave F‑C range, but is of the modern digitally scanned type, rather than the old leaf‑spring closure variety that was so prone to wear and failure. This keyboard has a tighter, springier feel than the one on 11858, but seems perfectly appropriate for the instrument. The older Moog's keyboard is actually acoustically quieter than the modern one, but this is hardly a major issue.

Moog Music have chosen not to include a number of improvements, like the addition of locking pots for oscillator tuning, which are frequently made to original Minimoogs (this one is Nick Magnus's modified Mini).Moog Music have chosen not to include a number of improvements, like the addition of locking pots for oscillator tuning, which are frequently made to original Minimoogs (this one is Nick Magnus's modified Mini).As I learned with my three Minimoogs, the pitch and mod wheels can also vary in feel and response across different units. The replica Moog's pitch wheel has a firm centre detent together with what seemed to be a slight dead spot, thus minimising any tendency for the pitch to wander away from the centre point. In this respect it is slightly better than my old 11858, which has little or no dead spot and relies entirely on the detent to stay centred. The mod wheel has a rather steep response curve, making it hard to accurately apply subtle amounts of vibrato — it does tend to come in a bit suddenly. This, however, is no different to the mod wheel on 11858, which is also a bit on the fierce side, so I guess we can say it's an accurate copy! It might be nice to see a mod wheel fitted which has a shallower logarithmic curve at the bottom of its travel — no need to abide too rigidly to the replication! Just a thought...

As with the original, the tuning pots for oscillators 2 and 3 are quite sensitive, requiring a little patience and a steady hand to get the oscillators detuned to an exact amount. To that end, I had a locking 10‑turn pot fitted to replace 11858's oscillator 2 tuning pot, making the process a little less inexact. It may not be true to the original design, but I think it's something the designers might like to consider, maybe as an optional extra.

Some Time Later That Day...

Other minor differences included the output level, which is higher on the older Moog than the replica. Both synths were running into identical mixer channels, set at the same level and (naturally) without EQ. The high level output of each synth was used. With 204E set at full output volume, the equivalent perceived volume on 11858 required a level of 6, according to the front‑panel graphics.

One other curiosity concerned the way the oscillators beat together when tuned in unison, particularly audible when all are using the sawtooth waveform. Oscillators 1 and 2 exhibited a smooth, rolling liquid quality, but if I attempted to close‑tune either oscillator 1 or 2 to oscillator 3, the results were not so smooth. The waveforms would go out of phase at the zero beat point, resulting in a distinct volume drop at that moment. This was especially noticeable at lower pitches like 32' (OK, OK, I was doing my favourite Taurus pedal impersonation...). Since oscillator 3 is quite often going to be used for modulation duties, this is perhaps being ultra picky — but even having all three oscillators sounding at once didn't quite disguise that momentary phase cancellation. Incidentally, I checked 11858 to see if it had the same problem, and it doesn't.

The pitch wheel bend range is quoted in the manual as being +/‑9 semitones, (as on the original Mini) or +/‑2 semitones when DIP switch 4 is in the alternative position. In fact the actual ranges turned out to be +/‑11 and +/‑3 semitones respectively — something that needs to be checked if Minimoog convention is to be fully honoured!

The original Minimoog's envelopes were single‑triggering only, meaning you had to release the keys altogether between notes before the envelopes would perform their complete cycle again. The replica Mini can be switched to multiple triggering (the envelopes retrigger whenever any new note is sounded) using the third DIP switch on the top panel. Since this is a feature that one is likely to want to access quickly and often, I wonder why a fourth flip switch couldn't have been added to the main front‑panel controls for this purpose — there's certainly enough room. There may be internal constructional constraints, but if not, maybe Moog Music might consider moving this switch so that it becomes practical, especially during live performance, when you just don't have time to lean over the back of the synth with a matchstick, a magnifying glass and a torch...

Last in the list of critical observations is the maximum decay time with the decay switched to 'on' (introducing a release phase to the envelope). Comparing 204E to 11858, the older Moog had approximately five seconds more decay time to play with. Such a discrepancy may well be found comparing two vintage Minimoogs, however — as mentioned earlier, component tolerances are quite likely to be the reason for this.

Moog Minimoog 204E

MIDI

As can be seen from the list in the Specification box, the new Minimoog adds MIDI to the original spec, providing velocity response (applied to the VCA and VCF) plus a number of controllers permanently assigned to appropriate parameters. In practice, I found that reducing the velocity range of the external MIDI keyboard (in this case a Roland A50) produced the best results. If the velocity range was set to the full 0‑127, the Moog tended to end up with the filter pushed wide open unless you played with a featherlight touch. Of course, the external keyboard's velocity range and the Moog's cutoff, contour amount and envelope controls are highly interactive as you might expect, so a little experimentation is needed depending on the extremes of response required. The pitch wheel range as received via MIDI was also closer to the quoted spec than that of the Minimoog's own pitch wheel, for some reason, although this is apparently a MIDI software bug that Moog are already tackling.

Rounding Up

There's no question that Moog Music have made a largely faithful copy of the Minimoog, at least as far as comparison with a 1980‑vintage original is concerned. Just one or two points need to be addressed (the accuracy of the square waveform, the oscillator and A440 calibrations, the pitch‑bend range) and one or two other potentially beneficial enhancements could possibly be considered, such as bringing the single/multi trigger switch round to the front, providing a slightly less ferocious mod wheel, and offering a 10‑turn locking tuning pot, either as standard or as an option. Despite all my minutely critical comments (which I believe are the sort of details any other Minimoog aficionados would investigate themselves) this replica is, to all intents and purposes, the real thing.

The final question to ask is: should you buy one of these or a second‑hand original? Alternatively, if it's just the Minimoog sound you're after, and the physical design and appearance of the thing isn't an issue, there's also Studio Electronics' SE1 (reviewed SOS January '94), a rackmounting, MIDI‑equipped module that boasts a circuit design based on that of the Minimoog together with a host of additional features.

At £1499 including VAT, the 204E doesn't come cheap — second‑hand Minis pop up from time to time in the classifieds at prices that vary from sublime to ridiculous, depending on which trendy britpop/techno outfit was last known to use one. Finding one for something comfortably (maybe very comfortably?) under a grand shouldn't be impossible, but bear in mind that you'll be buying whatever problems it may have, too. Unless you really know what to look out for, and are prepared to pay a bit extra to have, say, the keyboard contacts and pots cleaned up or even replaced, you might find it better in the long run to go for the newer model. It has the advantage of a guarantee, it's built with modern components which are at the start of their life, not 20 years into it, and you won't need to shell out the extra cash for a MIDI retrofit or a MIDI‑to‑CV converter. For those of you who are VAT‑registered, the price starts to look even less daunting.

From what I've experienced of the 204E, I really am looking forward to seeing which other instruments from the Moog range will make a reappearance — maybe some brand‑new products will be developed that have all the classic Moog trademarks. What would be top of my wish list? OK Computer, replicate me a set of the original Taurus bass pedals and I'll be a happy boy...

MIDI Implementation

New for '98 — a Minimoog with MIDI as standard!New for '98 — a Minimoog with MIDI as standard!

  • Modulation (Controller 1).
  • Glide time (Controller 5).
  • Glide on/off (Controller 65).
  • VCA (Controller 11).
  • Filter (Controller 12).
  • Pitch (Wheel).

DIP SWITCH SETTINGS

  • 1: inactive — possibly for future developments.
  • 2: On/off to assign Velocity to VCA, VCF, Channel pressure to Mod.
  • 3: Single/multi trigger on/off.
  • 4: Pitch wheel range quoted as +/‑2 semitones, or +/‑9 semitones.

EXTERNAL CONTROL INPUTS

  • Pitch and filter control inputs — 1 volt/octave.
  • Amplifier input — gain range spanned by 0‑4 volts.
  • Trigger input — switch closure activates both contour generators.
  • Aux DC power sockets +/‑10 volts at 50mA.
  • S‑trigger input.

Paul Nagle's Verdict

If anyone were to write a Synthesizer Concerto, which synthesizer do you suppose it would be for? Perhaps surprisingly, solo synthesizer design has been largely neglected for years, and for many players, the finest example of all is almost 30 years old. It was wonderful, therefore, to give this new Welsh Minimoog the once‑over and see if it stirred any fond memories.

The review model had been hawked around quite a bit and was starting to show signs of shellshock, rather than the gentle aging which beautifies a 'real' Minimoog. The hinged panel had parted company with the body of the synth and was attached only by a slender cable, and I suspect the new‑style switches are in need of filing down so they don't accidentally get snapped off. Other than the switches, the overall look was quite classy and familiar.

I was pleased to see a few features not present on the original, but looked in vain for an oscillator sync option or a dedicated LFO for modulation. By this you can deduce that I'm no purist (in fact, I sold my Minimoog some time ago, mercenary‑fashion). It seems to me that Moog Music have placed more emphasis on building a replica than adding all the extras we might want.

My own Minimoog was a particularly early model and was forever out of tune. I think the subtly more polite character of this one is an acceptable trade‑off for the stability and reliability of newer components. The sound is fat, thick and powerful, as you would hope, and during my short time with it, it remained steadfastly in tune. The filter is pleasing enough — it reminded me of the original Minimoog, certainly, but with hints of Sequential's Pro‑One too.

It's good that MIDI is included as standard and although its implementation is basic, it includes multiple triggering and velocity control. Activation of the latter has no effect on its own keyboard, which seems to be an opportunity missed. Considerable zipper noise was evident when controlling the overall output or filter cutoff via MIDI, and although the manual states a range of +/‑2 semitones could be set, this was actually +/‑3 semitones on the review model — apparently a MIDI software bug (see main review).

Although I'm sure there will be those for whom only an original will do, the majority of Minimoog seekers will find this replica a dream come true. Any criticisms of the lack of additional features or even the MIDI implementation are minor, because this isn't what the Minimoog was about. The important question is how close does it get to 'that sound'? — and, for me, the answer is 'pretty close', especially given that no two original Minimoogs sounded identical. I feel the price is rather high, even though MIDI is included, but this instrument has enjoyed a reputation that others have envied for years and I, for one, hope the new model succeeds.

Paul Ward's Verdict

I suppose the real test of the new Minimoog is to put it up against the original, so I powered up my beloved Mini and matched up the controls on the two machines. The absolute positions of the two sets of controls were not consistent, but with a little trimming here and there I could pretty much match the sounds. At first I thought that the oscillators on the newcomer sounded a touch brighter than the original, but the more I listened, the more I became convinced that I was mistaken. The filter, too, initially seemed slightly less warm on the new Mini, but the difference was so subtle that I'm again unsure if I'm just hearing what I'm expecting to hear. No — the more I tried to find differences, the more alike they sounded. So, to all intents and purposes the newcomer is the equal of the original in terms of raw sound.

As to the physical implementation — well, I think I would have preferred it if the manufacturers had resisted the temptation to construct such a close lookalike. From my own point of view, a rackmounting version would have been far better than having yet another keyboard in the studio, and I doubt that I'm alone in this view [Apparently a rackmount version features prominently in Moog Music's plans for the future — Ed]. Given that the new Mini comes with MIDI fitted as standard, the provision of a keyboard is likely to be superfluous much of the time. The coloured rocker switches also give me cause for concern, since they appear to be prime candidates for being snapped off in transit. They are none too smooth in operation either, feeling quite 'gritty' and uncertain. In places, the switch surrounds cover the front panel legending, which gives a less‑than‑professional appearance — not good in this price bracket.

One final gripe... Almost as soon as I had a MIDI lead plugged into the new Mini I wanted to turn off velocity response. A dip switch on the back allows this to be done, but also turns off its ability to receive aftertouch. This is not good — surely velocity and controller reception should be independently switchable? The irony here is that one of the other dip switches actually does nothing at all — please rethink this one, Moog!

Would I buy one? At this price, I'd have to say no. A second‑hand original would still cost less than this, and has a certain desirability that the new machine can only earn over time. For the price of this monosynth you could have two professional‑quality multitimbral synths and record entire arrangements on them. I wish Moog UK every success with the new boy, but at this price I think they have a fight on their hands.

Paul Wiffen's Verdict

As it had been a while since I used a Minimoog, I rang my producer friend Martyn Phillips who uses one regularly in his productions and sound design, and we set it up in his studio next to his original.

To me, the new machine sounded very much like Minimoogs I have known and used over the years, but Martyn commented fairly quickly that it sounded a little 'cleaned up'. After A/B‑ing, he also remarked that the envelopes on the new unit had been speeded up, which we were able to confirm using an oscilloscope. The VCA's minimum attack/decay time was visibly shorter, down to half that of the vintage Minimoog, although that may be an idiosyncrasy of Martyn's machine.

I remembered most Minimoogs as having been modified for oscillator sync (as is Martyn's), and I was disappointed not to find this on the new unit, as it has become a staple of my sound design. As far as deliberate front‑panel alterations were concerned, we both liked the inclusion of separate Pulse Width Mod routings for Osc 1 & 2. With a fastish LFO speed it would give that slightly out‑of‑tune effect so beloved in rave music, although Martyn measured the maximum variation as only 20 percent of the duty cycle (ie. only moving between 40‑60 percent Pulse Width). I was surprised this was so small, but I suppose you can't complain, given that the original doesn't offer PWM at all. Having found the single/multiple triggering DIP switch, we agreed this was a nice addition. The fixed single triggering of the original always drove me nuts, as its low‑note priority still does.

The overall quality of the filter was noticeably different between the two machines, with the new having a sharper, colder character. Martyn's serial number is in the 6000s (earlier ones tend to have a more 'rubbery' character, whereas later ones can be a bit 'flaccid'‑sounding) Whilst the new machine didn't stray to these extremes, we both felt it didn't quite have all the balls of his original. This is by no means a bad thing — it was a little reminiscent of the Roland System 700, or even a Prophet, and both these give a very usable sound in themselves. We found that some compression on the newer machine helped compensate for this subtle difference between the two.

Martyn felt that the new machine's MIDI implementation was less flexible than the Kenton modification on his original, although the pitch wheel range switch was a nice addition. With respect to the price, we felt that £1500 was a bit steep, as you can get a second‑hand original for £800. I guess if you allow for VAT and a years' warranty, however, this is pretty reasonable. In addition, most original Minimoog keyboards are now rather beaten up, so it is nice to play one from a young keyboard with springs that still have some vigour in them.

Steve Howell's Verdict

I differ from some of the other commentators here in that I don't own a Minimoog as such. Instead, I have a Studio Electronics MIDIMini. This is not to be confused with the later SE1 from the same company — the MIDIMini is not a replica but a genuine Moog with original Minimoog boards, recycled, modified and repackaged in a 19‑inch rack. Of all the synths that have been in my possession (and that includes an ARP2600 and Odyssey, Oberheim SEM, Sequential Pro One and many more), my MIDIMini is without doubt the best‑sounding and most playable synth I have ever owned. Suffice to say, it is now the only analogue synth I possess!

With that in mind, how does the new Minimoog compare with my (albeit bastardised) original? I can only say amazingly well! With a bit of tweaking on both instruments, I could get them to sound pretty much the same and to my ears, the new Minimoog sounds as close to the genuine article as you're ever likely to get. Bearing in mind that not all genuine Minimoogs were created equal, the new one may even sound better than some originals!

However, I have to voice some disappointment too. My MIDIMini not only has oscillator sync, envelope control of pitch, versatile front panel routing of velocity and aftertouch and many other refinements, but also sports a separate LFO dedicated to vibrato, leaving Oscillator 3 free to be used for audio duties at all times. Personally, I feel that Moog Music might have missed an opportunity to improve upon the original design by not including these features. I completely understand their desire to replicate the Minimoog exactly, but they have already strayed from the original specs with the addition of PWM, the Transpose switch, MIDI and a choice of single or multiple triggering — so why did they not go the extra mile and include these additional features? Along with a sprung pitch‑bend wheel, they would have made the new Minimoog quite a bit more flexible and, in my view, more desirable.

That said, the new Minimoog is quite an achievement. It looks gorgeous, 'feels' gorgeous and sounds gorgeous — just like the original in fact!

Pros

  • Authentic sound.
  • Authentic looks.
  • Additional features and enhancements.
  • All the benefits of modern technology.

Cons

  • Fairly pricey compared to a second‑hand original.
  • Square waveform not 100 percent as the original.
  • Tuning calibration of demo unit was a bit iffy.
  • Single/multiple trigger awkward to change.

Summary

A bold and successful replication of what is perhaps the most famous synth ever. Maybe not the cheapest way to acquire a synth bearing the genuine Minimoog logo, but possibly a better investment in the long run considering the age and condition of the surviving originals you're likely to encounter.

Information

£1499 including VAT.

Published October 1998