I felt like a kid at Christmas, staring into the box and seeing the toy of my dreams looking back up at me. A once-over glance at the big widely spaced knobs and I was at home with the Moog Minimoog Voyager Rack Mount Edition’s layout. Like many who would choose the Rack Mount Edition, rather than the full sized Voyager, I already have a MIDI controller I like the feel of and really don’t have the space for a keyboard to go with every tone module floating around my modest home studio. Since I was completely out of rack space, I immediately appreciated the unique way Moog approached the design of their rackmountable unit. Rather than being rectangular, the bottom angles up so that, when sitting on a desk, the face angles back and is easier to see and access. A couple of quick connections later and I began the journey into the infinite possibilities the Voyager had to offer.
My initial plans involved building some strange and ethereal sounds (I’ve always been a big fan of Pink Floyd) and then sequencing and recording with my computer’s DAW. My plans were delayed when I decided to take what I thought would be a quick glance at the included presets. Just shy of being overwhelmed, I was inspired! The Voyager ships with over seven hundred presets, ranging from every flavor of fat bristling bass, to vibrant shredding lead, wild and evolving modulated ambience, to glistening swelling pads. While every parameter leaps to its new configuration with the push of the patch change button the sound is 100% analog, and 100% tweakable. With the twist of a knob or flip of a switch you can take control of the preset value and customize away. I found this particularly useful because, though I am familiar with analog subtractive synthesis, I sometimes find it daunting to start with simple waveforms and build drastically complex patches. With the wide range of presets to tweak, this is never an issue. By the time I was finished “just getting to know it,” six hours had melted away into what felt like minutes. I turned up the panel brightness, basked in the blue glow, and kept plugging away.
The Voyager Rack Mount Edition is the perfect companion for anyone interested in creating original, organic, analog tones. I wrote a number of tracks using it as a lead, and in one case as every instrument including percussion. I also generated a variety of sound effects, and for the sound designer, it is a must-have tool. Moog is a name that is synonymous with analog synthesis, and anyone who has ever tried one in any form is bound to recognize its quality a malleability. What many may not know about the modern Moog architecture, is that the analog oscillators and filters are much the same as they’ve ever been, but they are regulated by finer circuitry which is further controlled through MIDI. That means that you still get the classic sound you would expect from the Moog name, but with all the advantages of a modern synthesizer.