These are exciting times for mobile musicians. After the storm caused by the introduction of the groundbreaking Ableton Link technology some months ago, Moog caught (almost) everyone by surprise with the release of the Moog Model 15 app, an iOS version of the iconic 1970’s modular synthesizer.
This is the first Moog modular synthesizer and synthesis educational tool created exclusively for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.
The Moog Model 15 is not the first modular synth available on iOS, mind you – we’ve already seen remarkable products like Audulus, Zmors Modular, TC-11, etc. However, Moog’s fame and the excellent performance of their previous iOS synth, Animoog, make this release inevitably significant.
Tradition meets innovation
I’m usually not very excited when it comes to synth emulations and I’m not a fan of skeuomorphism either. I prefer apps that make the most of the innovative experience offered by touch screen devices, like some of the above-mentioned ones.
That said, hats off to Moog’s internal and external developers: Geert Bevin and the NorthKingdom design team did some amazing work on the Model 15 app.
They collaborated directly with Apple to take full advantage of the CPU-maximizing tech in iOS 9, freeing-up CPU processing power to run audio at 4x full rate while ensuring that all zooming, panning and modular patching throughout the application feels completely natural. And believe me, it does. Even on my 2-year-old iPad Air 1st Gen, browsing the interface feels incredibly smooth and responsive.
To me, Moog Model 15 is a state-of-the-art app. The gestures, the details, the sound – everything screams quality here. Make sure to run it through some good speakers and enjoy the vintage tone. The first time I ran the app, I started experimenting with it and time flew by so fast – I spent more than two hours on it without even noticing! Speaking of addiction…
A learning experience I can also see why Moog calls Model 15 an educational tool. This app, while not a replacement for the real thing, can prove to be an invaluable learning experience for all those users that want to enter the magical modular world.
When a starting patch point is selected, all available patch destinations are immediately highlighted, assisting the user in the concepts of modular signal flow. Also included in the application you’ll find some “Tutorial Presets” that provide guided, step-by-step, instructions on patch creation and signal flow. The app also allows users to easily create and share their own Tutorial Presets from inside the application.
The Moog Model 15 app it comes with the following modules:
2x 902 Voltage Controlled Amplifiers
1x 904A Voltage Controlled Low Pass Filter
1x 907A Fixed Filter Bank
2x 911 Envelope Generators
1x 921 Voltage Controlled Oscillator
1x 921A Oscillator Driver
2x 921B Oscillators
1x 923 Random Noise/Filter
1x 995 Attenuator
Moog didn’t stop there, though. They also added some cool perks: 4-voice polyphony (!), an Animoog-style keyboard, an arpeggiator, a ribbon controller, full MIDI integration, Audio Bridge and MIDI Bridge modules, a looping recorder module (similar to the one in Animoog), a ping-pong delay module and a new extension cabinet populated with additional amplifiers and voltage controlled attenuators.
Is it worth $30?
YES – If you have a fairly recent iOS device and you are interested in classic modular synths and electronic sound design, in one word, YES!
The Moog Module 15 app will get you as close as it gets to the $10,000 analog namesake, with the extra benefits you would expect from a software product (4-voice polyphony, connectivity, presets, MIDI, etc.).
Tip: to make the most of it, make sure your iPad is updated to the latest iOS version (the app supports all 64-bit devices running iOS 9.3 or later).
The Moog Module 15 is CPU-intensive and despite its brilliant optimization, you may experience some issues when using it in combination with other apps. Keep your workflow as lean as possible. I had no problems running an AUM session with a Moog Module 15 sequenced by Fugue Machine in combination with iSem and Ondes (CPU usage was approx. 60%, with the buffer set at 512).
NO – If you are looking for a more intuitive synth with plenty of presets, the Module 15 is probably not your cup of tea. I would recommend other apps like iSem, Magellan, Gadget, etc.
Speaking of presets: while the app comes only with a basic set (after all, this is a modular synth, and you should create your own sounds with it!), Moog offers some attractive preset packs as in-app purchase, starting from $2.99 each, including one by the ubiquitous Richard Devine ($4.99).
If you are on Facebook and willing to ‘connect’ with Moog, you can get a free preset pack created by Suzanne Ciani.
I’ll admit it; I was skeptical at first, but the Moog Module 15 has been a pleasant surprise. Regarding look, feel and sound, it is a remarkable achievement that raises the bar for iOS music apps. Also, if you’re interested in discovering the joy of wiggling but you’re not ready to take the plunge yet, Moog Module 15 provides a learning experience that is hard to beat. Recommended!
Moog Model 15 is a state-of-the-art app. The gestures, the details, the sound – everything screams quality here