Thick, rich, and full-bodied, the Moog Minimoog Model D is the bar none definition of fat analog synth. In fact, the odds of synthesis becoming the phenomenon it is today without the Model D are slim to none.
You’d be hard-pressed to overstate the importance of the Model D. Credited by many as the instrument that both popularized the synthesizer and provided an archetype for synthesizer design, the Minimoog has been all over the place. Pink Floyd, Parliament, Nine Inch Nails, Dr. Dre, Hans Zimmer: this article could just be a list of famous artists who had the Minimoog in their rig at some point.
For most of its early life, synthesis was available only to the select few who could afford the expensive modular units likely to fill half a room. If you didn’t have an established understanding of synthesis, a lot of space, and thousands of dollars, getting a synthesizer wasn’t in the cards.
By providing the public with a compact, intuitive, and affordable instrument, the Minimoog Model D revolutionized the field. Drawing design elements from the massive Moog modular systems, the Minimoog allowed pros to bring synthesis to the stage and newcomers to learn the medium without getting intimidated by a wall of knobs and patch cables.
The Minimoog went through four iterations between its initial conception in 1969 and its final form made available for purchase in 1971. Models A, B, and C went through various design and technical tweaks, evolving from what was essentially a shrunken modular unit with a keyboard to a streamlined instrument built for workflow and portability.
While a milestone for synthesis, the Minimoog’s revolutionary design is only half the story. The fat analog tone at the heart of this 44-key legend remains the textbook definition for monophonic synth. While you only get one note at a time, you also get basslines, leads, and effects that other manufacturers have tried copying for years.
Built around three oscillators, each with selectable waveforms and individual frequency control, the Minimoog can detune and mix the VCO trifecta for a thick slab of tone coveted by synth junkies. Right alongside the oscillators is an equally renowned four-pole 24 dB/oct low-pass filter that’s a key player in achieving the Minimoog’s signature warmth and fluidity.
Discontinued in 1981, the Minimoog continued amassing its cult following until Moog replaced it with the Voyager in 2002. While the Voyager is a powerhouse in its own right, the Model D remained a crowd favorite with pristine pieces fetching up to $7000. In 2016, Moog reissued the Model D in a limited run with new features like a dedicated LFO, CV output, and MIDI capability.
View the Moog Minimoog Model D here.
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