Analogue synthesis has been around for about a jillion years, and yet there’s still a seductive mystery to it. Some call it ‘raw,’ some call it ‘funky,’ some call it ‘chaotic’; there’s something that speaks to us all in the magic of knowing that everything you’re hearing is the result of a physical process rather than an algorithm. The Moog Mother-32 is the first tabletop semi-modular synthesiser from Moog, designed to be used either by itself or in conjunction with a full electronic or modular system. Handcrafted in Asheville, NC, it has the classic Moog look and feel as though it could have been made 30 years ago. And yet here it is, new and different, and sized to be easily transferred into a Eurorack skiff or case, or in any combination of Mother-32 and Moog DFAM units in Moog’s Three-Tier Rack Kit or Two-Tier Rack Stand.
The extruded aluminium enclosure with wood sides features a voltage-controlled 32-step sequencer with 64 sequence locations, low pass and high pass Ladder Filter, two voltage controlled mixers, a classic Moog oscillator with dual outputs, wide-range LFO with audio-rate modulation capability, MIDI input and MIDI to CV conversion, white noise, a modular patchbay with 32 patch-points for extended synthesis complexity, and a CV jack with 16 assignable sources. Moog sells high-quality modular patch cables in packs of five, so you can really go nuts with the inbuilt modular patchbay, and it’s worth listing all the patch points here: inputs for External Audio, Mix CV, VCA CV, VCF Cutoff, VCF Resonance, VCO 1V/Octave, VCO Linear FM, VCO Modulation, LFO Rate, Mix 1, Mix 2, VC Mix Control, Mult, Gate, Tempo, Run/Stop, Reset and Hold, and outputs for VCA, Noise, VCF, VCO Saw, VCO Pulse, LFO Triangle, LFO Square, VC Mix, Mult 1, Mult 2, Assign, EG, KB and Gate.
Back up a bit and note that External Audio input: you can have a lot of fun with that one. The multipurpose control output has 16 available functions: Sequencer Accent, Sequencer Clock, Sequencer Clock /2 Sequencer Clock /4, Decimated "Ramp”, Decimated "Saw”, Decimated "Triangle”, Stepped Random, STEP 1, MIDI Note On Velocity, MIDI Channel Aftertouch, MIDI Pitch Bend, MIDI CC1 Mod Wheel, MIDI CC2, MIDI CC4 and MIDI CC7. The only rear output is a 1/4” headphone/line out: remember this is an analogue synth and therefore you can’t just hook it up to your laptop via USB and have at it.
I plugged the Mother-32 into my audio interface and hooked up a MIDI controller keyboard for some good old-fashioned dirty analogue fun. What I found was that the tonality was distinctively ‘Moog’, and yet there’s enough sound-sculpting power that it’s easy to find sounds that are just as distinctively ‘you’, whether you’re using it as a sound source for a controller keyboard or using the built-in step sequencer. I ran it through some analogue effect pedals and into my Marshall guitar amp too - this thing loves analogue delay. I also let my 11-year-old son try it out because he’s getting into EDM, and it was cool to see how quickly he took to it. Baby’s first synth!
Hits and Misses
Huge possibilities via a clever control suite and patchbay
External Audio jack lets you process found sounds like crazy
Maybe read the manual before tackling the sequencer if you’re new to it