I remember the first time I encountered a Moog Synthesizer: Switched-On Bach. I was all of 14-years-old and absolutely captivated. All those knobs and patch cords. And then there were the sounds that it made. To an adolescent boy growing up in the mid-late ’60s whose hero was Mr. Spock, it was like a futuristic dream come true — my own musical version of the Starship Enterprise and for only a few thousand dollars. The Last Whole Earth Catalog even featured a review of it by Wendy Carlos herself!
Then I learned how much a few thousand dollars actually was. I tinkered with resisters and capacitors, transistors and chokes, but I couldn’t do anything like that. But this is what led me inexorably to a career in music and recording. Well, and the Beatles helped, too. Flash forward 41 years and many synthesizers, guitars and amps later, I still could not seem to afford that big gleaming Moog dream.
Then a company called Arturia released a virtual software version of my childhood Holy Grail, the Moog Modular V. And there were nine — count ‘em, nine! — oscillators. Filters, envelope generators. A fixed filter bank. A sample and hold module. A bank of configurable mixers. And with enough computer firepower, I could finally make the sounds I’d heard Wendy Carlos make. The software even has stereo chorus and delay lines, a very neat addition to the package to fatten up your sound without having to use any outboard effects. And did I mention polyphony? Yes, unlike its hardware predecessor, the Moog Modular V offers up to 32 voices, if you have the processor power to deliver them.
I’ve been using this powerful, flexible piece of software for almost four years now and I have to admit that it does almost everything I ever wanted a music synthesizer to do. It does things the hardware version couldn’t even do. My only complaint is latency (delay). I would never use it live, but then again I haven’t been playing live these days, and if I did, I’d probably sample off the sounds I want to use and do it that way. The software can be used stand alone or as a plugin, for Mac or Windows OS.
[Here's an audio sample from Jeff -- es]