Moog Slim Phatty Synthesizer review
The Slim Phatty is the all new monophonic, two oscillator wonder from the Moog stable. It’s essentially a Moog Little Phatty without the keyboard, although the design and circuitry has been bred from the Minimoog Model D.
It can’t be called an analogue synth as there is a digital presence in the form of the display, preset control and USB communication options, however the output signal is 100 per cent analogue. The omnipresent retro styling on the Slim Phatty will please even the hardiest synthesiser boffins and the specifications sheet looks as if the features will be just as pleasing; particularly the fact that an external signal can be routed through the filter for modulation thus maintaining analogue purity throughout. Another strength is the ability to polychain the unit to another Slim or Little Phatty enabling polyphony.
The first thing you’ll notice after you’ve allowed the Slim Phatty its 15 minute warm up time (VCO has a heated chip design to ensure proper tuning) is the immensely powerful sound that the synth has. If you’re a classic synthesizer lover with a passion for sculpting your own soundscapes from a raw waveform upwards then you’ll undoubtedly yield some impressive results from this beast. Anyone serious about making dance music should take notice as the bass sounds are infinitely warmer than any results that you’ll get from a soft synth. Dubstep producers desiring the basslines pioneered by the likes of Skream or Rusko can route the LFO to the filter cutoff and tweak away for that distinct wobbly effect.
Weighing in at just over 2.5Kg it’s clear that portability has been a key consideration in the design process, with optional rack mountable ears making it a very attractive investment for those of us on the move. The build quality is generally up to the industrial level you’d expect from Moog – one gripe was that the knobs do feel a little wobbly on their PCB mountings although we hazard a guess that this could be a quirky feature deliberately overlooked to preserve authenticity. At the back of the synth we’ve got heavy-duty quarter inch jacks taking care of the headphone output, audio in/out and the volume, filter, pitch CV (control voltage) and KB (keyboard) gate control inputs. 5 PIN DIN in/out and thru alongside USB B connections cover the MIDI link up possibilities. Power is managed by a universal internal power supply and is distributed via a 100-250VAC, 50-60 Hz kettle lead input. The layout is smooth from left to right, including preset management and global controls, a large step-illuminated rotary control for each of the modulation, oscillator, filter and envelope generator functions with a further 26 rubberized midi emitting buttons bringing each on of these controls to life.
“If you’re a classic synthesizer lover with a passion for sculpting your own soundscapes from a raw waveform upwards then you’ll undoubtedly yield some impressive results from this beast”
Looking at the main controls in slightly more detail, you’ve got two analogue voltage controlled oscillators each with 16′, 8′, 4′, 2′ octave parameters. Each of the oscillators has a continuously variable waveform from triangle through to saw and square to narrow pulse. You can adjust the waveform’s frequency, glide rate and level, with fine tuning also possible with numerical display through the LCD screen. You can also sync oscillator one to two. The Moog’s voltage controlled 24db/octave ladder filter really is the money shot. You can control the cut-off and resonance frequency parameters as well as other functions such as the keyboard amount, which allows you to set the degree that the cut-off frequency tracks the note being played. The EG (envelope generator) parameter allows you to set the degree that the Filter EG affects the filter cut-off frequency and you can wreak absolute havoc with the overload function which uses soft to hard signal clipping. As previously mentioned the filter jack on the back panel is a CV input (accepts -5 to +5 volts, or an expression pedal like the Moog EP2) for external control of the filter cutoff.
The Slim Phatty has two envelope generators one for volume the other used to control the cut-off frequency of the filter. You can adjust the behavior of each envelope with the usual attack, decay, sustain and release functions. The filter envelope generator can also be used as a modulation source through the modulation matrix. The KB gate accepts a footswitch or gate signal which triggers both envelopes when applied. Modulation-wise you can select from six sources, target one of four destinations and set the modulation amount. The output of the modulation section is controlled by the modulation wheel of your MIDI controller. You can also enable the modulation control knob to act as a modulation wheel control by pressing and holding the amount switch. Aside from the LFO rate and amount controls the available source selections are: LFO sawtooth wave, LFO square wave, LFO triangle wave, LFO ramp wave, Filter Envelope/Sample & Hold. The modulation destination selections are ‘filter’, which affects filter cut-off, ‘pitch’ which alters the pitch of both oscillators then there is ‘wave’ that changes the waveform of both oscillators and Osc 2 affects the of pitch oscillator 2.
“Dubstep producers desiring the basslines pioneered by the likes of Skream or Rusko can route the LFO to the filter cutoff and tweak away for that distinct wobbly effect”
Operating the Slim Phatty is incredibly easy and is done so in either preset mode or master mode. In preset mode you have 99 factory presets which range from basic sine, square, triangle, and sawtooth waveforms to analogue drums and complex pads. Names such as Dead Robot, Dirt Bubbles, Stab Me, Disturbance, Cheese Grit and Game Over give us the idea of the kind of thing that we can expect! You can edit these with any of the synthesizers controls and store your creations in the memory bank. There’s also a nifty tap tempo feature which is an easy way to adjust the speed of the LFO rate or the arpeggiator clock. Master mode gives you access to the global settings and advanced preset controls such as filter poles, EGR release, gate trigger options, filter sensitivity, additional LFO modulation sources, pitch bend, secondary modulation destinations, keyboard priority, pot mapping, and arpeggiator. Master mode also allows you to create performance sets which are collections of pre-sets which you can pre-arrange for convenient or on-stage access. Other features of master mode include LFO Sync, analogue mode (controls the way the analog edit controls work), keyboard mode, program change send and receive, fine tune, precision mode, tuning scale, MIDI and Sysex modes.
The Slim Phatty is ideal for anyone entering the world of hardware synthesizers for the first time. Its user-friendly layout and instantly useable presets means you don’t need any previous experience to get results that would have Keith Emerson salivating. The higher frequencies generated from the synth are truly skull-splitting as outlined in the user manual which politely asks the user to proceed with extreme caution in order to avoid permanent hearing damage. And if all this still isn’t enough you can control the Slim Phatty from your iPhone using the Filtatron app! Nice.
Review: Dicken Lean
|Performance Features||Arpeggiator: synchronize to internal clock, LFO or external clock|
|MIDI Clock Sync: synchronize arpeggiator and LFO tempos to external synths, drum machines, software and more.|
|Tap Tempo: synchronize arpegiator and LFO to live music.|
|Pot Mapping: reprogram panel knobs to control any Slim Phatty parameter.|
|Sound Engine||Monophonic, 100% Analog signal path|
|Oscillators||2 ultra-stable analog VCOs.|
|Oscillator Parameters||Osc. 1 Octave: 16′, 8′, 4′, 2′|
|Osc. 1 Wave: Continuously variable from triangle through saw and square to narrow pulse.|
|Osc. 1 Level|
|Osc. 1 to 2 Sync On/Off|
|Osc. 2 Frequency|
|Osc. 2 Octave: 16′, 8′, 4′, 2′|
|Osc. 2 Wave: Continuously variable from triangle through saw and square to narrow pulse.|
|Osc. 2 Level|
|Fine Tune (Global)|
|Octave Up/Down (Global)|
|Filter||Voltage Controlled Low Pass Filter: 24 dB /Oct Moog Ladder filter with overload.|
|Filter Parameters||Cutoff, Resonance, Kb. Control Amount, Filter Env. Amount, Overload|
|Envelope Generators||2 ADSR EGRs assigned to filter cutoff frequency and volume.|
|EGR Parameters||Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release|
|Modulation Parameters||LFO Rate, Mod Source: LFO triangle, LFO square, LFO sawtooth, LFO ramp, Filt. EGR or Sample and Hold, and Osc. 2 or Noise|
|Mod Amount||amount of modulation w/ the mod wheel all the way forward|
|Mod Destination||Pitch, Osc. 2, Filter, Wave|
|Ext. Audio In: accepts +4dBu line level signal|
|Pitch CV In (1 V/Oct)|
|Filter CV In|
|Volume CV In|
|Keyboard Gate In|
|Options||Rack Mount Adaptor|
|Wooden Side Panels|
|Power||100-250VAC, 50-60 Hz|
|Dimensions||17″W x 4 9/16″H x 5 5/16″D|