900 Series (Moog)
900 Series tech specs
Various modular synthesisers were made by Moog in the 1960s and 1970s, known as the 900 Series, 900 System, or simply Moog Modular, although there doesn't appear to be a definitive name for the range as a whole... or any one system in the range.
Moog's modular system grew out of various good ideas that Moog's clients had asked him to implement. In 1964, he prototyped a modular system with voltage control for Herb Deutsch. This was inspired by Harald Bode's modular system, although Moog added a musical keyboard and introduced the 1 volt per octave standard for relaying pitch information from the keyboard to the oscillators. Moog built VCAs, ADSR envelope generators, and envelope followers to Vladimir Ussachevsky's spec in 1965, which presumably became the 902, 911, and 912 modules respectively. Also in 1965, for Gustav Ciamaga, Moog designed a voltage controlled filter. This likely became the smooth, creamy sounding 904A which, along with an excess of detunable oscillators, gave his synthesiser its signature sound.
The whole range sounds great — and big — but if you're used to more recent modular synthesisers such as Roland's System-100M or Doepfer's A-100, bear in mind that equivalent patches on a Moog 900 Series might be significantly more longwinded. These systems were trailblazing, and so lack many modern conventions, from features through to terminology.
For example, the CV inputs of modules like the oscillators, amplifier, and filters don't have built-in attenuators to specify how much each control signal affects them. So you'll likely be using additional attenuator, amplifier, or mixer modules on the way into those.
A more sensible approach when dealing with modern clones might be to simply get that smooth, creamy filter, and combine it with modules from another system that has more modern conveniences. But then again, there is that aesthetic...
My favourite instrument is my old Moog III system, and I use its twelve envelope generators together to create specific sound shapes. It's also useful for treating the computer processed sounds, and even though working with this analogue system takes longer to set up (tuning, patching etc), it gives me plenty of freedom because I can choose all the connections independently — and that's impossible for my digital systems.
— Isao Tomita, 1983
...a big Moog was ideal and it sounded good. It still sounds better than anything else around. I have a theory that every year the manufacturers make synthesizers that sound slightly less good but have more functions. But it's really quite peculiar that if you set up one sound on any of the synthesizers around at the moment and you set up the same sound on the Moog — particularly bass sounds — the Moog just has so much more punch and quality. And that's why it's still around.
— Hans Zimmer, 1986
I built some equipment for Ussachevsky in 1965. I built two voltage controlled amplifiers, two envelope generators, and two envelope followers. Ussachevsky wrote the specifications for these modules. He wanted the envelope generators to have four parts: attack, decay, sustain, and release. He was the first one to specify the ADSR envelope. Now it is standard on electronic synthesizers and keyboards.
— Bob Moog, 2000
The first series of complete systems were the Synthesizer I, Synthesizer II, and Synthesizer III from the 1960s. These evolved into the Synthesizer Ic, Synthesizer IIc, and Synthesizer IIIc "console" (studio) versions, so named to differentiate them from the Synthesizer Ip, Synthesizer IIp, and Synthesizer IIIp, their new "portable" equivalents that replaced the rather fetching walnut cases with black cases with handles.
|950 / 956|
|950 / 956|
|950 / 956|
These were joined in the early 1970s by the portable Synthesizer 10 and Synthesizer 12, and the Sequencer Complement A and Sequencer Complement B. The complements were based around the new 960 Sequential Controller module, an analogue step sequencer, and both the A and B complements were available in studio or portable cases.
This time, the 960 wasn't based on something Moog had built for a friend, even though he had previously transistorised one of Raymond Scott's sequencers. Instead, it was based on rival Buchla's Sequential Voltage Source Model 123.
Finally, after a change of company ownership, the range was cut back to a more manageable three offerings: the portable Synthesizer 15, and the studio-bound Synthesizer 35 and Synthesizer 55, all of which replaced the 901 oscillators with more stable 921 equivalents. The Synthesizer 55 is rather opulent, offering an iconic three rows of modules towering above its keyboard.
As this is all clearly too simple, yet more variations of these product names exist, replacing the "Synthesizer" with "Model", and eventually "System".
|901||Module||1965||VCO (Doubles as LFO)|
|901D||Module||1965||Variable waveform output stages|
|902A||Module||1965||Bandpass filter adapter|
|904C||Module||1965||Bandpass and notch VCF|
|907||Module||1965||Fixed filter bank (8 bandpass, 1 low, 1 high)|
|911||Module||1965||ADSR envelope generator|
|913||Module||1965||Triggered envelope generator|
|911A||Module||1969||Dual trigger delay|
|N/A||Rack||1969||22-module upper walnut rack|
|N/A||Rack||1969||12-module upper walnut rack|
|N/A||Rack||1969||12-module lower walnut rack|
|903A||Module||1971||White and pink noise|
|991||Module||1971||Highpass and lowpass filters / attenuator|
|992||Module||1971||Control voltages / attenuator|
|993||Module||1971||Trigger / envelope voltages|
|CP1||Module||1971||CV and trigger out|
|CP2||Module||1971||Lowpass and highpass filters / multiples / CV and trigger out|
|CP3||Module||1971||Mixer / trunk lines / CV switches / attenuator|
|CP4||Module||1971||CV switches / attenuator / trigger and envelope routing switches / CV and trigger out|
|CP5||Module||1971||CV and trigger out / power switch|
|CP6||Module||1971||CV switches / attenuator / trigger and envelope routing switches / multiples|
|CP7||Module||1971||Trigger and envelope routing switches / multiples|
|CP11||Module||1971||Mixer / multiples / attenuator / CV and trigger out / trunk lines / power switch|
|914||Module||1972||Extended range fixed filter bank (12 bandpass, 1 low, 1 high)|
|921||Module||1972||VCO (Doubles as LFO)|
|952||Controller||1972||Duophonic keyboard controller|
|1630||Module||1972||Frequency shifter (Harald Bode)|
|1631||Module||1972||Ring mod (Harald Bode)|
|1632||Module||1972||Dual ring mod (Harald Bode)|
|1125||Peripheral||1973||Sample & hold|
|923||Module||1974||Highpass and lowpass filters / White and pink noise|
- "An Interview With Bob Moog" 2000
- "Abominatron Tape Transfer, Part 2" Seva Ball, Mar 2010
- "Isao Tomita" Mike Beecher, Electronics & Music Maker, Feb 1983, pp. 50—52
- "No Presets Allowed" Ralph Denyer, Sound On Sound, Aug 1986, pp. 50—55
- "Electronic Music Composition-Performance Equipment Short Form Catalog — 1967" Moog, 1967
- "Moog 1971" Moog, 1971
- "Moog Synthesizer 12" Moog, 1973
- "Professional Synthesizers Catalogue '76" Moog, 1976
- "Ultra-Short Form Catalog of Electronic Music Composition Instruments" Moog, 1965
- "Prices of Synthesizers and Single-Function Instruments Currently Being Produced by R. A. Moog" Moog, 1969
- "R. A. Moog Supplementary Price List" Moog, 1969
- "Moog Component Price List" Moog, 1972
- "Moog System Price List" Moog, 1972
- "Moog Inc. Price List" Moog, 1973
- "Moog Synthesizer 15" Moog, 1974
- "Moog Synthesizer 55" Moog, 1974
- "Yards Ahead" Matthew Vosburgh, Music Technology, Nov 1986, pp. 52—55
- "The Start of Something Big" Peter Forrest, Music Technology, Sep 1992, pp. 62—65
Moog: 900 Series (Moog) | Sequencer Complement