There are lots of fantastic music tools out there, but some of them just inspire love and envy, and the Moog Little Phatty certainly fits the bill. Via Matrixsynth, Melbourne Sydney-based composer / music maven Sofie Loizou has posted her unboxing ceremony and first impressions of the Moog synth. (At this point, I would normally post the various links to coverage at Keyboard Magazine, but the Good Ship Keyboard’s site seems to be down.)

Sofie writes:

This bundle of joy came this afternoon and I couldn’t help but take a few happy snaps to celebrate its arrival. My initial comments are â€Å“yayâ€Â? and â€Å“woohoo.â€Â? It looks and feels solid, great key action (no skimping on key size depth), it has pink and blue buttons (extremely important) and rotary LED knobs. The layout is simple and easy to use, and its controls are chosen to emphasise its role as a chunky sounding monophonic synth. And above all it sounds like a moog. My thirst for tangible analogue aesthetic has been quenched. Every girl should have one. 😉

And it glows in the dark. (Hint to product makers: as a reviewer, I instantly put that in my “pros” column.) I don’t own a Moog here, sadly, but I will say, if you haven’t played the Voyager or Little Phatty, you really should get a hands-on experience. The total user experience of the Moog instruments is truly greater than just the sum of their parts; they are fantastic designs.

Sofie, who says she’s also a CDM reader, is an interesting figure herself. In addition to various compositional projects, she helped put together the record label Southern Outpost (as in Southern Hemisphere, I presume), which now has a deal with Submerge in Detroit, has worked with a lot of really cool people, has played SONAR as a laptop artist, and, well, go read her bio. And she has her Little Phatty under a Roland SH1000, a rig that will make any synth-loving boy or girl happy!

For more:

my first moog
my first moog part 2
flickr stream

(Apologies to Matrixsynth readers, who are now experiencing the new Sofie Moog meme.)

We’re always happy to hear reader stories, so all you good folks, feel free to share any time you like.

  • Damon

    Pink and blue buttons? They look nice ( thought beauty is subjective) but do not really speak to the quality of the gear. I am sure if they were green, black, orange, or brown, they would still function with equal effectiveness.


    Do analog synths really sound that much better than their digital counterparts? Softsynths like absynth, zebra 2, the arturia moog stuff.

  • Bird In Macaroni


    No. Real analog and virtual analog don't really sound that different anymore, despite what people say (especially a downgraded synth like the little phatty). However, if you are using a softsynth on your computer, with a midi controller, midi only has 256 levels of resolution – and a lot of hardware virtual analog synths have the same restriction – meaning that you don't get that nice smooth knob tweaking sound on a softsynth that you do with a real synth.

  • @Bird, that is not true. There is a huge difference between real analog sound and any digital software or hardware synth. I have a NordLead 3 and a rig of softsynths at home as well as a MacBeth M3x (pimped Moog clone) and there you can clearly hear that the M3x sounds richer and fatter than any digital synth. And please don´t say you have only heard MP3´s of analog synths…you need to hear the real thing for yourself.

  • The original question, of course, was "better", which is absolutely a matter of opinion. Arturia is one thing: Bob Moog himself claimed to hear the difference, even though he endorsed their simulation, and I respect his opinion (even if it's, perhaps, biased). But that was a simulation. And even there, there's a huge convenience in being able to, say, save your patches which makes working with a software Moog modular radically different than a physical Moog modular. (I love the latter, but it's not always the quickest way of making music! Not to mention, I love seven foot Bosendorfer grands but I can neither afford one nor fit it in my apartment.)

    Plenty of other soft synths diverge even further, as they go beyond emulating analog hardware. Synths like Zebra and Absynth are capable of all sorts of things the Voyager and Little Phatty can't do. But better? Is a tuba better than a clarinet? They're different instruments.

    Bottom line is, you can make music with both, so let people debate whatever you want and go use the instrument that makes you happy.

  • Oh…and the Little Phatty is not a "downgraded" synth…its sound has more and bigger balls than any softsynth. And the synth is still quite diverse to use. Listen to this:

  • jonesboy

    Bird In Macaroni, your other statement is also untrue. MIDI has 4096 'levels of resolution' for most messages, CC included.

  • Bird In Macaroni and Jonesboy, where did you get these values from?

    CC messages can have either 7-bit or 14-bit resolution. That means 128 values or 16384 values.

  • Bird In Macaroni

    Regardless of the amount of quantitization on midi, it is clearly an audible amount. Turning a knob on a midi controller is not the same as turning a knob on an analog synth. You can hear the discrete stages with the midi, that you can't hear with the analog synth. If MIDI used 32 bit values, then it would be quite different… but 128, 256, 4096, or 16384, are all small enough to be audible.

    But once you get beyond that, there is nothing particularly unique about analog synths that couldn't be done digitally, if the digital simulation is built robust enough. That doesn't mean that X plugin or vitual analog synth sounds as good as Y analog synth, as plugins must also try to conserve CPU resources, and virtual analog synths use cheap off-the-shelf DSP chips. They might cut corners in their simulation. But a well designed soft synth or virtual analog synth could have all the rich subtleties of analog.

    Personally, I have seen experts fooled into thinking that a DX7 was an analog synth, let alone a simulation of an analog synth. A lot of difference between analog and digital is in people's heads.

  • What Nico said — 7-bit / 14-bit resolution is correct.

    Speaking of changed quantities, the Moog has bigger *and* more balls? Now I know why the sound is different. 🙂

    Bird, I still question whether people can hear 16,384 steps as stepping. 128, sure, but 16,000? Even if we're talking analog voltage, there are limitations in terms of the accuracy of potentiometer itself; you don't get an entirely smooth curve with that, either. There are also limited situations where you're focusing entirely on, say, adjusting a filter knob.

    There are certainly characteristics of the Moog that are unique, so ultimately, if you like the instrument, use it; no need to resolve these issues theoretically. A lot of what makes instruments inspiring is ephemeral, anyway.

  • Sasa

    Never ending debate… Analog vs digital/ vinyl vs CD. oh, how passionate people could be about it… 🙂

  • suzy

    yes it amuses me but confounds me as well…the argument over analogue vs digital.

    i think it's just a matter of what you prefer and let's leave it at that. anyway it's the creativity, vision and talent of the musician that makes a composition sound great, not so much what gear they use to create it.

  • I have a question for Bird in Macaroni, when you say that turning a knob on an analog synth doesnt have audible steps between the values, does that apply to the little phatty? because i know that the sounds are supposed to be all analog but the interface is digital. i was just wondering because i watched a video demonstration of one and when the guy turned a given knob i could hear the divisions in the value changes.