Last week, Moog Music released Filtatron, an iPhone app modeled after Moog's own analogue hardware. If you're not familiar, and you're wondering what the heck a Moog is anyway, you may be surprised to find you've probably heard one dozens of times before, performed on countless albums. Moog Music, founded by Dr. Robert Moog, is the maker of digital and analogue synthesizers like the Minimoog and the Moog Theremin (although the original Theremin was invented by Léon Theremin). A good example of a Moog synthesizer can be heard by the band Air, on their track Kelly Watch The Stars, off their album Moon Safari (Listen in at about 2:10 for what sounds like a Moog Theremin to me).
Typically, Moog Synthesizers are rather expensive, being that they are hand made for a rather substantial, albeit niche market. Therefore, I can't say I've spent any time with a real Moog. As much as I'd like to say I have a couple kicking around in the spare room of my house, I don't. So, unfortunately, I don't know a great deal about the sounds of Moog hardware other than what I've heard off recordings. And, I suspect, that's how most other users will approach Filtatron, too.
Thankfully, Filtatron goes a long way to helping users understand what it does and how it does it by including a built-in user guide and glossary. After you've had an initial play, I highly recommend you have a good read over these to get the most out of the app. It certainly helped me out. There's also a whole bunch of presets to show you exactly what Filtatron can do, and how to get there.
At this point, you may be wondering what Filtatron actually does. In a nutshell, let me try to explain. Using its filter ladder -- a four-pole resonant ladder filter modeled after the filter found on analogue Moog hardware -- Filtatron shapes sound, giving it characteristics akin to a real Moog filter.
In Filtatron, there are two different ways of using this filter. You can either shape the sound using the knobs and dials found on the main tab of the app or by using the two "hands-on" pads provided -- allowing you to swipe and move your fingers around the pads to adjust and control most of the parameters found in Filtatron. To provide further character to the sound, there's a FX module, with fully featured delay, and an amp with distortion and controlled feedback, too.