The Step Sequencer from Mars that you won’t be able to keep your grubby little hands off of . . .
An Expanse of Possibilities
I’m always drawn to it’s expansive 32 bays for patching. It really allows for you to intensify your sound. Once you get into the patching of this device, you don’t know how you played it so ‘plainly’ before. Your sound really hinges on where you want to take it. One of many very intriguing features.
Before you shell out $600 or so, check out what other options are available on eBay.
I’ve mentioned this once or twice before but thanks to Abe over at AI Synthesis I own a module which allows me to jack pedals into in/out patch bay jacks. This is primarily used on my Mother 32, where the instrument is very receptive to the subtleties the effects have over particular combinations of jacks. In a sense, the Mother 32 steps out of the semi-modular world when outer effects are patched directly in. I’d argue with this addition it becomes a modular unit with all the bells and whistles one could probably ask for.
The Mother 32 sports a full octave of step keys to the bottom of the unit. You’ll have the option to program your sequences in either keyboard or step mode. I like to begin in keyboard mode and fine tune in step mode. It’s a little intimidating to start a pattern from scratch when in step mode. I’m sure I’m making it sound more difficult than it is, but we all have our preferences. I love the fact that this instrument can also function just as a keyboard. To test your patching or knob settings you can actively use the octave’s worth of buttons at the bottom to play a simple test melody and adjust accordingly.
A super fun aspect of the Mother 32 is the ability to make live changes. That’s right – edit even while a sequence plays. Namely, you can add ratchets and have finer control over the attack per step via the gate tempo. Of course you don’t have to do it live, but it’s awesome when you nail it. Makes you feel special. Also, let’s say you made an error while programming in keyboard mode and triggered the wrong pitch. This is entirely fixable in edit mode in a flash.
MIDI Mode for some reason, I always have trouble conceptualizing MIDI. I understand how it works. It all makes sense on paper. Then I go to do it and fail miserably .. Always. For 10+ years now I’ve messed with MIDI and still don’t get it. The Mother 32 makes MIDI simple enough that even a dullard like me can understand. It’s kind of a bummer that it only has a MIDI in, but you can do so much with just an In that it feels like it would be overkill to also contain an Out. It would be extraneous.
With my SQ1 and MS20 there’s no need for a MIDI out. There’s so much gate control seeping from the SQ1 that you end up with a wide array of parameters to mess with regardless. The possibilities truly are endless with this three punch knockout combo. It also makes up for the fact that I can’t play piano with a gun to my head.
This unit is tiny. For the amount of punch it packs, it certainly comes in a small package. It makes it very portable if you don’t rack mount it. That said, of course mine is rack-mounted, so I’ve lost that mobility. However, prior to owning the rack mount, I remember taking it all over my apartment with me. All you need is a power jack and a pair of headphones. Of course some patch cables too if that is your intention.
The Moog Mother 32 is a spaced out synthesizer with parameters out the yang. You could write a doctoral thesis on the statistical possibilities this instrument has to offer. One could choose to get very scientific and precise with this synth, or just mess around with it. It has range. It is excellent at both accompaniment (especially with it’s companion piece; The Moog DFAM)and taking the lead all at once. It’s generally a freakin’ home run of a purchase (so long as you go USED!!). I got mine for $450. I wouldn’t really pay more than that, now knowing the instrument. It integrates well with other synthesizers and if it doesn’t that’s partially what the patch bay is for. Do yourself a favor if you are in the market for a boutique synth. I’m yet to find one as powerful as this for the price point.
Do you own a Mother 32? How do you like it? Please feel free to let me know in the comments below and as always, keep on rockin’ and rollin’!