Each week Tom Whitwell of Music Thing highlights the best of the new music gear that's coming out, as well as noteworthy vintage equipment. This week he's got a special second Music Thing in commemoration of Moog's new Little Phatty:
The new Moog synthesizer has been the worst kept secret in music geek land since before Christmas. But it's finally launched at the huge MusikMesse trade show in Germany. $1475 gets you an analog monophonic synth with MIDI and program storage. It's called Little Phatty, a name so awful that analog die hards have been calling for a boycott of all Moog gear until it's changed to something more sensible. On the surface, there's nothing new here. The technology is all at least 25 years old, and most of it is pushing 40 -- but synths are about interface design, and the balance between mass-production and hand-made electronics. Moog builds their synths by hand in North Carolina, so even a $1475 synth like this is built with huge compromises to hit a price point. Every knob adds a bunch of complicated circuitry, so Moog have been clever. Push a cute-looking blue-glowing rubber button to choose the parameter, then tweak the retro-styled knob surrounded by a ring of LEDs to give visual feedback on what's happening. Yes, you can get 95% of the same sound from a free plugin running on a cheap PC. But it's just not the same thing. The question is, how many people can Moog find to pay $1475 for something special -- but not quite as special as their $3,000 Moog Voyager?