It began as an exclusive for a limited-edition workshop. But it’s turned into more. Moog’s Werkstatt synth is a lovely little analog synthesizer in its own right. But, driven by its educational mission, it’s also become a means of learning electronics.
This is a synth you want to hot-rod.
The synth itself will run you US$329, with a mod kit available from Sparkfun for US$29.95. The Mod Kit on its own doesn’t look like much – it’s basically a whole bunch of capacitors, resistors, wires, and breadboard, with a handful of key extras. But what it does for you is make sure you have all the necessary parts to do a selection of clever mods devised by the Moog folks.
Now, to be fair, some of thees mods are features you might have wished were on the Werkstatt in the first place – like a volume knob. And you still don’t get MIDI. But from there, the fun begins.
Here are our favorites, plus some of the favorite work others have done.
There’s the LFO quantizer:
Or, via the ever-powerful 555 timer chip, a second LFO:
Or how about pressure-sensitive pitch bend:
And the Arduino getting in on the game really opens things up. For instance, think accelerometer motion control on the Werkstatt:
Even better, the Arduino makes an easy-to-hack arpeggiator – in hardware:
The Werkstatt-ø1 still requires assembly. Future Music recently did an unboxing video that shows what the process is like:
It’s also great to see the Werkstatt in on some other projects. In New Orleans, the hardware synth is becomes part of an architectural instrument, played by a whole community.
artists. Once open it was enjoyed, experienced and played by 15,000 visitors, held workshops for 500 students, and hosted 80 world-class musicians for orchestral performances that had audiences lining up around the block.
Our team of artists, musicians and inventors are building off the wonder, possibility and community support that this collaborative experiment inspired. We are dreaming, step by step with our community, of a new and permanent venue for musical architecture — Dithyrambalina. (I have to do a round-up of “playing the building” projects – to use the phrase coined by David Byrne in his own work, which I saw years ago in New York. Nominees welcome, readers!)
This architectural wonder of sound, exploration and innovation will serve many functions: a unique concert venue supporting boundary-breaking performances by local and visiting artists, an amazing recording facility, a sonic playground, a creative campus whose learning laboratories and educational platform will be a beacon to the city’s youth, and a landmark addition to the skyline and reputation of New Orleans.
And it’s the basis of events, too – as in Munich, where Club Mate-fueled hackers made new creations from the Moog instrument last month:
HACKING WERKSTATTS AND OTHER WORKSHOPS [hackaday]
Here’s a tasty combination of 303 with Werkstatt, too!
While it doesn’t have MIDI, there is some charm to recording without everything in perfect sync. Here’s a nice hands-on from Indiana’s Sweetwater showing how you might use the Werkstatt with Ableton Live (applicable to other hardware, too, of course):
Disclaimer: the pronunciations expressed in these videos are those of participants, and do not necessarily reflect those of CDM, or the Moog family, or the German language. (Let’s take the easy one: Moog rhymes with rogue.)
Find all the tutorials and other community features at:
You can even add your own mods.
Plus you’ll find 3D-printable enclosures you can produce on a Makerbot:
werkstattworkshop: 3D Printing
The kit, originally US-only, is now available worldwide:
Werkstatt-ø1 Moogfest 2014 Kit
We were some of the first to hear the Werkstatt, played by none other than creator/engineer Steve Dunnington of Moog Music:
Moog Werkstatt: Listen to its Creator Make Sounds