The Mini Moog Synthesizer with Herb Deutsch
Herb Deutsch, the co-inventor of the first Moog synthesizer discusses the history and functions of the Mini Moog as well as its impact on the music of the time. Deutsch also plays one of his original jazz fusion pieces.
Though its design impacted the industry in a way that set the stage for all the synthesizers that came after it, the Minimoog is probably most famous for its excellent analog sound and arguably the best filters in a portable synth. It featured three oscillators (one of which can be used as an LFO) that could be individually tuned and offered multiple waveforms. The Minimoog is monophonic (only one note can be played at a time) so the three oscillators allow for an incredibly rich sound – three de-tuned oscillators each playing a different waveform can create some pretty thick analog sounds! There are also some very cool modulation possibilities when using one of the oscillators as an LFO.
But you can’t talk about the Minimoog without mentioning its filters. The Minimoog uses a 4-pole (24 dB/oct) low-pass filter with cutoff, resonance, ADS envelope, and keyboard tracking controls. Amazingly, Dr. Moog’s filter design has yet to be surpassed by a better sounding filter. It’s a filter that sounds so warm and smooth that Moog’s rival, ARP, tried to copy it for their 2600 and Odyssey synths.
The Minimoog’s internal wiring configuration and front panel layout has defined the general synthesizer configuration for decades. Every adjustable parameter is so clearly laid out on the front panel that the Minimoog makes a great teaching tool for anyone interested in classic subtractive synthesis. It even has a built-in A-440 tone generator so you can manually tune the oscillators-which is nice since (like mosts analog synths that heat up) the tuning of even this machine can be a little bit unstable. Though input jacks allow you to run your own external audio through the Minimoog’s filters, modulation and amplifier circuits too!
Directed by Michael Sterling