Think you know everything about Moog’s new synth? Think again: surprises like a version that could sell for as little as US$1000 are just the kind of surprises we like to hear. CDM’s Lee Sherman has known some of these details for a while but couldn’t tell any of us (even here at CDM); now he brings us this exclusive report.

Moog Music officially confirmed the existence of its new budget synth last week but there’s much more to the story than the official specs reveal. First up the name. Dashing the hopes of many on the official Moog forum, who in a bit of wishful thinking actually came up with their own name, the “Orbiter”; Moog insists it is indeed the “Little Phatty.” Love it, or more likely hate it, the blame rests with long-time Bob Moog associate Steve Dunnington. The name comes from the initial concept for the synth. Moog briefly flirted with creating a classic synth with no memory for presets that would be marketed with a campaign suggesting musicians “roll their own.” Hence, the Little Phatty.

Fortunately, the synth itself is far more impressive than that name would imply. Along with one of the most gorgeous designs ever to grace a synthesizer, the synth features a simplified panel layout and an innovative control implementation designed by engineer Cyril Lance. The goal was to limit the need to access the menu system when editing or tweaking sounds, placing the emphasis squarely on real-time control.

The implementation, reminiscent of recent Nord synths, offers a single knob for each section (Modulation, Oscillators, Filter, and Envelopes) ringed by a set of LEDs that approximate the value of the parameter stored in memory. Unlike with the Nord however, these controls are still analog. Turn the knob and the analog control signal gets switched so that it directly controls that parameter. I’d love to see a similar implementation on a future Voyager (which currently uses the LCD to indicate stored and actual values) but it would probably be prohibitively expensive due the plethora of knobs so, for now at least, Little Phatty owners get something that Voyager owners don’t.

Little Phatty will ship in two editions, 1200 of the “Tribute” edition will be made and sold at a cost of US$1500. The Tribute edition has wooden cheeks, a facsimile of Bob’s signature on it, and will come with a booklet with stories about Bob and a CD-ROM with video from Bob’s memorial. Moog says the tribute will ship at the end of May. A second edition, the”Stage,” will have plastic sides and a different color scheme to the LEDs. The best part is that Moog is hoping to get the price down to much closer to a street price of US$1,000. At 20 pounds, and smaller in overall dimensions, Little Phatty is more gig-worthy than the Voyager and the lower price means you’ll be less likely to worry about some drunk spilling beer on your precious synth.

Moog says the Little Phatty is the culmination of Bob’s dream to bring a budget mono analog synth to market with the same sound quality as the acclaimed Voyager. His sound engine is still at the core and work started on the synth long before Bob’s illness. However, much of the credit must go to Bob’s hand-picked replacement Lance, who has picked up the ball and run with it, delivering an instrument with the kind of quality and user experience that Moog has always been known for. I’ll probably be plastering a Moog sticker over the “Little Phatty” nameplate but I still can’t wait to get my hands on one.

For more insight into this synth, here are some thoughts from CDM contributor and Retro Thing editor James Grahame. James talked to Moog Music about how this instrument came to be:

A Magnificent New Moog Synthesizer


Bob Moog’s Vision: New Moog Synth Specs Officially Confirmed

Moog Music Little Phatty Product Page [Taking orders now; shipping summer]

  • m15a

    i kinda like the name in a way, although it reminds me of some sort of cartoon hero's sidekick . . . the best part is that you could easily call it "the LP tribute" and "the LP stage" if you wanted.

    i see a lot of complaints about price. so hopefully the $1000 goal can be reached.

  • admin

    I have to admit, I'm confused by the pricing complaints. It seems a reasonable amount to pay for a true-analog synth with the features of the Moog. But personally, I also find the $1000 a sweet spot . . . for myself, frankly; I sure know what it's like to be on a tight budget!

    And I'm glad the name isn't a meaningless combination of letters and numbers or a meaningless word mispelled. (Radias? Kore?) I think we should just start making up our own names for our gear. Get the cheaper model, and trick out the design and name yourself, maybe. đŸ˜‰

    What do you think of the name, folks?

  • audioel

    Its a nice synth. I liked the prototype at NAMM lot more, since it didn't have "Little Phatty" screened on it, and the design for the labels was simpler and a single color. Not a fan of the brown color they added.

    I'm sure it will sound awesome, but Moog selling a synth called "Little Phatty" is pretty tacky – think of Mercedes Benz selling a car called "The Big Pimp".

    It's all a matter of taste, but I always prefer class to someone's easily dated and misguided attempts to make a product "hip".

  • It's the same old damm thing with moog…make it with the least amount of shit and charge the most.Oh yeah…give it a lame name…come on people!

  • thomas

    it's a hand made synth, made in the USA, It has the a lot of the same stuff the voyager has (great stuff), looks cool too. try to get something that sounds as good in new shape for that price on ebay or anywhere. not going to happen. chill out.

  • kidA

    yeah, i bet if you're on stage with that synth, nobodys gonna listen to it but everyone'll just go "oh my good, what a stupid name"…

  • keyboard_komuso

    lighten up folks! Show some respect for one of the most important figures in the history of electronic music. What's in a name? If it's a good piece of gear, who cares what it's called!

    Give a chuckle and play away. I know it's gonna be a KILLER synth! Thanks Bob, and all the folks at Moog Music for carrying on the legacy!

  • raddJradd

    man quit hatin, the lil phats will be sik as hell, mine is already on its way. cant waits.