Saying nice things about other companies’ software (one of a series)


One of the reasons that virtual synthesis is attractive is that the arrival of the auction/speculator’s market such as eBay has effectively put all kinds of interesting things I remember from my childhood beyond the reach of anyone other than the beneficiaries of a Bush tax cut. Sadly, this category of unaffordable objects includes many synthesizers. One interesting exception to this rule is my friend Justin Bennett, whose brother reportedly rescued a Synthi AKS from a UK rubbish bin for him; the rest of us have–until recently–had to watch from afar, our noses pressed to the glass.

I suppose that it’s also true that, like many people, I have a tendency to acquire instruments now that I couldn’t afford back in my youth. And, I suppose, a tendency to make noises that I would (should?) have made back then (Relax-it’s only a passing phase).

While I love my little Mellotron virtual instrument right down to the clunk at the end of its samples, I’d have to say that the new update that Arturia has released for their Moog Modular V instrument is the black hole that my spare minutes are going to be orbiting and disappearing into for the near future. Version 2 of the Moog Modular V has actually pried me loose from the MODE plug-ins-and that’s no mean feat. I can simultaneously indulge my nostalgic fantasies in affordable comfort, and make some new noises.

Unless you’ve been living in a cave in Peru or somewhere equally remote to the critical press, you already know that the thing sounds great. Unless you’ve some kind of fetish for the physical act of knob twiddling or ornamental knots composed of patch cords, you can just close your eyes and imagine that tall brown rack with the black panels, radiating heat as you listen.

The new upgrade (which is free to all 1.0 owners. Let us raise a glass to our friends in la belle France, shall we?) has some thoughtful eye candy/configuration stuff (a scrollable view and the ability to choose from a selection of modules for a given rack location in some places, which lets you actually reconfigure the Moog to fit your own preferences ( you can never have too many Sample and Hold units, I always say) and has tweaked the CPU usage, I think that the cool new stuff is what they’ve added:

  • a nice, FAT unison mode
  • the ability to input and process external audio
  • a couple of modules I really missed in the original unit (an envelope follower and a sample and hold unit)
  • some new stuff Arturia added (a ring modulator and a formant filter)
  • and last but certainly not least, two emulations of old Moog stuff I’d only heard about (their 12-stage phaser and the Bode Frequency Shifter, which is very cool) and certainly never horsed around with in the flesh.

And all those nice new knobs, when instantiated in a vst~ object in my MSP patches, can be freely twiddled by all manner of Max algorithms quite nicely, thank you. For me, connecting what Max kicks out–especially now that we can make use of LISP and the procedural possibilities of rtcmix or Java/javascript–to the way the Moog Modular V sounds is the best of both worlds.