The trademark Moog sound, a convenient form factor, some cool features and an inviting price point. Inspiring and well-built, the Mother-32 may prove to be a future classic.
Pros – Impressive sound (for a one VCO synth) – Versatile envelope, beautiful Filter & Pulse modulation – Well built, convenient and portable – Very versatile Patch Bay – Expandable via Eurorack or adding a 2nd or 3rd unit – Inspiring Sequencer (albeit not very intuitive) – Affordable
Cons – No On/Off switch if used as stand-alone desktop synth – No Midi Out for specific applications, such as Live Sequence Tweaking – No “Osc Sync” for hard sync (you can still use the instrument with another oscillator, using the KB output). – No Editor software (yet) – No real time note or rhythm input for the sequencer
After the success of the Moog Sub 37, a must-have synthesizer for many enthusiasts, Moog has now released a new mother ship, the Moog Mother-32. The name itself is intriguing: Mother-32… mother ship, mother earth, carrier and sustainer of all basic music elements, with its 32 steps sequencer, and 32 socket patch bay. After all, a mother needs a father, and perhaps several potential descendants. Will this Moog Mother-32 be the base for future expansion elements, modules, options, updates? Certainly Mother-32 offers plenty of musical and creative possibilities. Let’s find out more about this new Moog synth.
What is it? Moog’s first tabletop semi-modular synthesizer, Mother-32 is both a desktop synthesizer and a Eurorack module. Both synthesizer rookies and experienced lovers of analog and modular music and synthesizers will enjoy it because the individual modules are already hard-wired, so you can create a great range of sounds without the use of the supplied patch cables. Pure, tight, bombastic sounds, that spread out across a full 8 octaves.
An affordable Moog If you can’t afford the crazy prices of vintage analog gear on eBay or don’t feel like starting your collection of Eurorack esoteric modules (yet), the Mother 32 is one of the best things money can buy right now. You can get it for $599 – £516 – €699
The Moog Mother-32 is a high-quality but accessible and affordable instrument. It can be used as stepping stone or to enrich your Eurorack modular system, for beginners as well as experienced lovers of subtractive synthesis. The Mother-32 is for use as stand-alone performance or production synthesizer or connected up to other Mothers, Eurorack or any devices equipped with CV/GATE out/inputs.
Here’s the main features:
• 1 VCO with Pulse and Sawtooth wave outputs
• Voltage Controlled 32 Step Sequencer with 64 Sequence Locations
• Low Pass & High Pass Moog Ladder Filter (20Hz–20kHz) with voltage controlled resonance
• External audio input for processing outside sound sources
Thanks to the 32 steps sequencer you don’t have to be an experienced musician. You can create melodies in no time and make ‘out of the box’ experimental combinations, taking yourself on a euphoric and endless adventure of music creation, which makes many other synthesizers simply fade away! The easy-to-use format and ‘gigantic’ output make this Mother-32 a David (of Goliath fame) and make statements such as “Size does matter” redundant. The Mother-32 is certainly not inferior compared to its predecessors and partners in crime, the Moog Sub series.
Construction and design The Mother-32 is handcrafted in Asheville, USA, requiring a lot of time and attention. Since the official launch of the product on October 1st, the demand for the product is so high that there are long waiting lists at retailers worldwide.
Looking at the design of the Mother-32 you clearly get a lot of value for your money. A beautiful and sleek instrument made out of good quality materials. An extruded black aluminum case, beautifully finished with 2 dark wooden side panels. Not too thick, nice and subtle.
A popular Mother The Mother-32 popularity can also be seen in the Mother-32 Facebook group, which I started a few days after the launch, out of enthusiasm, passion, faith and conviction of the quality and versatility of the product. A community accessible to everyone, that provides info, images, accessories, videos and demos related to this great synth. The group currently consists of over 1300 enthusiastic members and is growing daily.
Both sides are held on with 4 black screws, which allow use in combination with the 2 or 3 tier rack system. The 2 or 3 tier rack panels form a coherent whole to an almost natural arrangement of 2 or 3 Mothers.
This design gives the total setup a floating semi-transparent yet strong appearance. Not too big, very easy to use and very accessible.
The base has 4 rubber feet to prevent vibrations and damage if you want to use it as a desktop synthesizer.
The interface consists of a silkscreened aluminum panel, featuring black and white/silver typography Tight, sober and subtle. No unnecessary elements, with the primary controls in the most prominent places and one control per-function. You get, as sources, a powerful 10-octave Analog oscillator with variable pulse width and an analog noise generator. Signals from each sound source are then blended together with a voltage-controlled mixer. From the mixer the sound goes via a Moog ladder filter with selectable low-pass and high-pass filter types.
On the right side a 32-point analog patch bay, neatly grouped, with several patch options including an assignable CV output, MIDI to CV conversion, external audio input, a second-voltage controlled mixer, and sync for a good connection with a second or third Mother-32 or any other extra equipment. The buttons are solid and of high quality. They are firm, have good grip and lock securely in position, no slack or wobble and one of the finest and most beautiful buttons available on any synthesizer in my opinion. They will make you feel like a white lab coat engineer operating an industrial device!
The voltage controlled sequencer at the bottom of the Control Panel, secondary and subordinate to the control buttons, but still prominent enough, is to take you on a voyage of discovery and makes the Mother-32 even more dynamic and interactive encourages extra creativity. You can use the sequencer in 2 different ways, in Keyboard and Step-edit mode.
You can save and recall your favorite 64 creations in the Mother-32 memory bank. The sequencer buttons are made of a rubbery flexible plastic that we tend to see more often in midi controllers, drum pads, workstations or reminding me of old calculators. It remains to be seen whether, with extended use, the buttons discolor or will show wear (I always wash my hands before using my analog equipment, which also prevents discoloration and deterioration of the material).
Connections The MIDI In connector is located at the bottom left of the faceplate, next to the sequencer section. If you want to use the Mother-32 as a desktop synthesizer and operate the device with both hands (i.e. using a keyboard), the MIDI In cable could be inconvenient. This can easily be fixed by placing a right angle MIDI cable. Also, the MIDI and patch openings could gather dust, when these are not in use. At the back is the power supply and the Audio Out. Personally, I think the power connector is a bit too loose with too much slack, that is sensitive to excessive use. But this is a general problem that I experience at 95% of all new gear. The Audio out on the back can also be used for headphones.
In the box The Mother-32 comes in a nice tight printed box equipped with necessary information and the serial number. The pack contains a Mother-32, a power supply, a bag with 5 colored Modular Patch cables 3.5 mm with a length of 6 inches. It also included a special ballpoint-like plastic tool for calibrating the oscillator to other analog gear. Also a quick start and registration card to register your Moog product (always useful for your warranty), and information about firmware updates and the latest software. What also pleased me was the 75 pages booklet (A5 format) containing info & photos about all Moog products. A nice extra that already found its place in my synthesizer book collection.
The 59 pages manual (A4 format) will help you quickly identify all elements with helpful illustrations, including 9 preset & 4 blank patch examples for your own creations. The manual is printed on beautiful recycled paper.
Sound Overall I am impressed by the sound of the Moog Mother-32. It’s full, warm and it just screams quality (especially considering its size and price). It can be hard or soft, high or low, with dark and soft timbre and even rough and experimental, but always pleasant to the ears. I would almost say that the purer sounds are brighter and tighter compared to the sound of my Moog sub 37, which by contrast, has a slightly darker character. Short bright and tight chords or long dark drone-like soundscapes make you drown and get lost in the adventure of creating new sounds. With minimal tweaks of the Rotary knobs, you create a melancholy rainbow of sounds, both new and classic. In combination with an effects pedal or module, this Mother-32 grows into endless possibilities, bombastic and powerful.
Conclusion I am very happy with my Moog Mother-32; ever since I bought this machine, my other analog devices have had a rest, but I have not. In one way or another, the device encourages you to experiment, also in combination with other synthesizers, sequencers, effects and other gear, endlessly stimulating your creativity. The look’n’feel is what we expect from Moog; tight, industrial, consistent, black with wood finish, nice buttons, easy to use. It always reminds me of the two phrases “Less is more” and “Form follows function”. The Moog, accessories, packaging, user manual are all good quality with nice graphic design, and design is consistent throughout. A great package for a very affordable price, cheaper (for instance) than a Doepfer Dark Time & Energy together and a Pittsburgh Modular System 10 synthesizer. The build quality, the design, the sequencer and the sound are already making this Mother-32 a bestseller and possibly a future classic. We’ll have more on the Moog Mother-32 in the next few days, stay tuned…
About the author Dennis Martens. a.k.a. Dennis Stennis, Darkadia, Dunkelwelt, Denn The Mann, DJ for more than 25 years. House, Deep House, Tech House, Techno music, and for several years actively producing with analog hardware. Also founder/administrator of the Mother 32 + Mother 32 patches Facebook Group/Community and an entrepreneur in the designer/advertising sector.
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