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Moog Sub Phatty

Moog Music Sub Phatty

3.9 3.9 out of 5, based on 5 Reviews

Thes Moog Sub Phatty is the newest in a long line of fine synthesizers made by Moog Music. While it brings new tools to the table which allow the user to take it into new territory (for a Moog) it retains the true essence and character of it's predecessors.


8th January 2014

Moog Music Sub Phatty by Jfingaz123

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 1 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 3 out of 5
  • Overall: 3.25
Moog Sub Phatty

While this review is in no way intended to be a complete explanation of what Sub Phatty has to offer, I will do my best to outline the experience of using it for the modern musician. There are a ton of sites where you can read a complete breakdown of the synth, I will focus on what it's like to use it in the real world.

The Moog Sub Phatty is the newest in a long line of fine synthesizers made by Moog Music. While it brings new tools to the table which allow the user to take it into new territory (for a Moog) it retains the true essence and character of it's predecessors.

FEATURES

I went back and forth for some time deciding how to rank the Sub Phatty's features. Initially, I viewed the lack of arpeggiator/sequencer and only 16 programmable presets as a big negative. However, as I took the time to study the user manual and began to unlock it's "under the hood" features, I realized that this synth is full of usable features.

I won't lie, 16 spaces for presets does not even scratch the surface of what I'd like to do live, but there are ways around this. For one I made a theme for each of my four sound banks. So bank one was four patches of lead sounds, bank two was bass sounds, bank three was pad type sounds, and bank four was misc. sounds. This way, as long as I was in the proper sound bank for the type of sound I wanted to create, I was never more then a few minor tweaks away from creating the patch I wanted.

As for the arpeggiator, while it would have been a nice feature as on the Little Phatty, I realized that for recording I could get by with multi tracking and making the parts fit together. It turned out to be a situation that was easily remedied.


As for the key range, it's only 25 notes. As a trained pianist, this was the most difficult part to wrap my mind around. How could I make this work? Here's what I did. First of all there are octave buttons that allow you to quickly jump up or down + or - 2 octaves. This in effect adds four more octaves to the instrument. Then I took it one step further. I programmed my pitch wheel to bend up or down by + or - 1 octave. This made it much easier to complete longer lines on the synth that continued for more than an octave. I found it much smoother because I could use the pitch bend for minor expression and I did not have to take my hand off to transpose the octave in which i was playing. So the smaller size makes it so much easier to carry around and I didn't really lose any key range. Excellent.

EASE OF USE

The Sub Phatty has one knob per function. If I remember correctly, that's 31 knobs on the face. This makes sound crafting so much fun. Instead of diving through a ton of menus, you can quickly achieve your desired sound or spend hours on end experimenting! I mean it. Hours. And I couldn't ask for a better knob layout and the large, high quality knobs are a pleasure to use. The filter knob is extra large and it really makes it easier to locate quickly and use.

The "under the hood" features however are not complicated to use but I find them somewhat tricky to memorize. With my manual in hand it's a breeze, but in a live situation I'd rather just not try to deal with it.

SOUND QUALITY

Let me begin by saying I've owned many synthesizers over the last 27 years. Some great, some not so good. Each one has had it's own unique character that shines through regardless of the "features" of the instrument. Let's not mince words. For me, the bottom line is the sound quality of the instrument. I want the sound emanating from the instrument to resonate with my heart.

When I first touched the keys on the sub phatty, I immediately fell in love. Something about this synthesizer just sounds and feels "right". It has a certain impingement that can cut like a knife, or can massage your soul. The oscillators sound very
precise yet in a way untamed. In the studio the sub phatty sounds sits so nice in the mix and just fills out its space well. Waveforms, from the thin pulse wave type sounds to the thick, stacked sawtooth waves seem to instinctively know their place and play well with others.

Then there's the live sound...

I brought the sub phatty out for a week with a top 40 cover band. We play most of the hits from the 80's on up including everything from hip hop to country. On the big stage with 18" sub woofers and a stack of 15" and 12" mains with horns, this synth sounds larger than life. As I didn't have a chance to program any presets for the shows, I had to create sounds on the fly. With it's one knob per function and intuitive layout, I found that more times than not I was able to create a usable patch that was similar enough to the original sound in the song with the first 20 seconds of each song. Even our sound guy who rarely gives compliments said he loved how the sub phatty sat in the mix.

BANG FOR THE BUCK

The Sub Phatty is not a "cheap" keyboard in terms of build quality or price. It's components seem to be of high quality and it feels solid in general. I'd say that the weakest components IMHO are the keys which felt a little bit strange to me at first, but I've since grown accustomed to them. For the price tag, I would have expected more immediately recognizable features but the "under the hood" section more than makes up for it to me. Sure you can buy a cheaper synth with similar sound and features but this synth sounds majestic and inspires me every time I turn it on, and that's what I'm in this for. It also gives me a sense of pride to be part of the Moog "heritage" and that's gotta be worth something as well.

So if you love high quality components, straight forward layout, some great features, and that sweet Moog tone, I say get the Sub Phatty asap. I promise you will be glad that you did.

  • 1
27th April 2014

Moog Music Sub Phatty by mixpan

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.25
Moog Sub Phatty

The Moog Sub Phatty is almost one year now in the market and it has been so successful that Moog decided to stop production of the widely respected "Little Phatty" and replace it with the Sub 37, i.e. a Sub-phatty with 37 keys, step sequencer and the ability to play the two Oscilators independently. With this double priced version of the Sub Phatty on the way, I think it would be useful to revisit the original Sub phatty, so that anybody on the verge of buying or waiting for the new one could make an informed decision.

Now, the differences between the Sub-phatty and its predecessor, the Little-Phatty (or the rack version of it, the Slim Phatty), are many: first of all, the Sub has a sub-oscillator that produces a square wave at half the frequency (an octave lower) of the OSC 1. Thus, the Sub is more suitable for synth-bass than the little/slim phatty. Moreover, its oscillators are extremely stable and reach perfect pitch within 60 seconds (actually much sooner!), as opposed to the minimum of 20-35 min. the Little Phatty took to do that. As for the raw oscillator sound, the Sub, due to its oscillator's stability, never seems to drift, which according to some vintage-Synth lovers makes it a bit colder than older moog synths. I should say though, that, despite what some people have claimed in forums here and there, they are VCOs and thus sound very different from DCOs, Virtual Analogue synths and VSTs for that matter (I own some of the best analogue simulating software in the market and it still remains miles behind the Sub-phatty soundwise). Retuning to the raw sound of the instrument, it definitely delivers the Moog quality: the bass you can make out of it is huge and in some aspects really "minimoogy". The most impressive thing about the SubP is how well it "sits" in almost every mix I do, no matter how diverse. This is a really important aspect, very well addressed in the previous Gearslutz review of the SubP as well.

The filter section, featuring a beautiful moog-sounding filter, offers the option between 4, 3, 2 and 1-pole and has a multidrive circuit that saturates the tone in a very pleasant but controlled manner, which is quite different from the Little's "Overdrive". The latter reaches some extremes in the upper harmonics, that the Sub will not get, however, I prefer the Multidrive for its more universal usability, which pays off in some really wild patches you can make with it. Note, though, that there is still a debate in the Moog forum about which is better and, as a result, Moog has now added a feedback knob in the filter section of the Sub 37, which is more like how the Overdrive worked.

Because of the one-knob-per function architecture of the interface, the Sub phatty offers a really nice control over its many sound-shaping capabilities, including filter/ pitch and PW Modulation, Filter envelope as a modulation source, to name just a few. Here lies the indisputable big improvement over the rest of the Phatty-series: We're talking about 31 knobs and 15 buttons on the front panel, more than you will ever find in a budget synth (besides the Sub37, well, if you still consider 1500$ to be "budget"…). Of course there are more control options than these, i.e. the so-called under the hood features. However, given the absence of an LCD-screen, the under-the-hood functions are selectable only through button combinations which are really hard to remember. Even so, the instrument's overall appearance and functionality is so well thought, that it begs to be played and explored!

Now, the main limitation of the Sub-Phatty lies in its keyboard, which is only 25 keys and no aftertouch. For accomplished keyboard players this might be annoying, though you have the option to expand through a MIDI or USB cable. The USB port can also be used, as with the Slim/Little Phatty, for connecting the SubP to a Computer. But perhaps the biggest problem with the Sub-phatty until now is the Editor, i.e. the Software for computer and DAW integration. After nearly a year of development the Editor is far from flawless, especially as a VST Plug-in for Windows. This can be a real issue, since the Sub can save only 16 presets on board and in case you need more to choose from within a single session or performance, the editor is indispensable. Moog has recently updated the Editor and is still working on it, so this shouldn't stop you from buying a Sub.

Now the real question for new buyers is whether to get the SubP or wait for the Sub37. The Sub37 is double the price, but it really offers more features, i.e. a feedback circuit, two LFOs instead of one and the para-phonic feature, namely the completely independent pitch control of the OSC1 and 2 and a step-sequencer. However, you don't get a very different sound overall, which would probably be the case, should you combine a Sub and a Slim Phatty for the same price. Moog plans to offer poly-chain for all the Phatty series, so the choice is yours and either way the result will sound fantastic!

  • 1
21st July 2014

Moog Music Sub Phatty by TheOmegaShadow

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
Moog Sub Phatty

Build quality, 5/5

The Sub Phatty is built like a tank, it's really heavy for it's size, the knobs are not wobbly, they feel like they could be easily broken if it was taken on the road or exposed to such conditions, mine will stay in my studio so that's not really a problem for me, but they are not cheap feeling they are very sensitive and there is near zero play in them.

The keyboard is great, it's really quiet compared to any other keyboard I've ever used, there's minimal lateral key wobble and the keys don't feel cheap, plenty of weight in them and uniform spring action.

Ease of use 4/5

Memorizing the key combinations for the functions not offered under a single knob twist or button press is hard (solution: print out the cheat sheet) Saving a preset was something I had to google, I'm sure it's in the manual but it's not obvious to me at first glance, but apart from that the knob control is what you would expect from a good analogue device, The knob midi resolution is higher than 128 steps on some knobs too which means I can automate some really smooth transitions on the filter from my DAW. I'm still not sure if the knobs are digital encoders or not. but whatever they are this should be the new standard that all hardware synths and soft synths should use for smooth control of parameters.

Features 3/5

2 oscillators, 1 sub osc locked to osc 1, no sine wave.
1 Moog Filter, different to the ones on most previous models but only slightly different.
1 LFO with repeatable filter envelope as one of the wave choices.
Various CV inputs and outputs.
The Sub Phatty is a single voice synth with the basics, no effects or arpeggiator.
I would have like at least the option for more CV ports for LFO, overdrive etc. also more buttons or switches for modulation routing changes on the front panel and a third envelope with routing options would have made this synth more adept for more modern sound design.

For what the Sub Phatty lacks in bells and whistles it makes up for in quality control of what it's got going on inside.

No aftertouch on the keyboard, this is wierd because alot of the factory patches respond wildly to aftertouch. If I had to pick between a rattly loose keyboard with aftertouch and the one that came on the Sub Phatty. I'd choose the one without aftertouch.

Bang for buck 5.5

I always dreamed of owning a Minimoog model D. but this is as close as I'll ever get. So considering the price of one second hand even without a midi modification and then comparing that with the Sub Phatty and sure there are differences but alot of the same sonic ground is covered with both.

Overall 4.5 / 5

Worth.every.cent.

It's no Minimoog D but one quarter of the street price where I am. I think it's closer than any plugin due to the smooth hardware control of the real analogue synth components inside allowing you to get a better feel and control of what everything is doing. The filter does not open as much just like the Voyager so not quite as bright and creamy as the model D but it only falls short by a small degree.

I'm not disappointed in the least and when you compare it with anything else in the realm of analogue synthesis, it's a bargain for what you get in the package. It's a great starting point if you were to get into modular synthesis.

The Sub Phatty is limited in it's modulation capabilities and relative oscillator tuning, but it's forgivable, especially if you happen to own other hardware synths already due to the audio input, as it really shines when you plug in another synth such as an Arturia MiniBrute with midi and use the Sub Phatty as a front-end, things get much more interesting in reverse due to the MiniBrute's unique filter modes and CV connectivity.

  • 1
12th November 2014

Moog Music Sub Phatty by ensagen

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 1 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 3 out of 5
  • Overall: 3.25
Moog Sub Phatty

To begin, I don’t like reviews explaining details about how to use a product, how each knob works or how it sounds. These are easily accessible through youtube demos or through the manual. What I like to mention are the things that you can’t find online.
Ok, I bought this lovely synth two weeks ago. It surely sounds as advertised and the analogue sound is obvious. Nothing to complain about the sound but so much to complain about the use in practice. First of all, the editor software that comes with this synth has serious problems. I am frustrated with this message “hardware disconnected” whenever I open the editor. I downloaded the latest version of it, I upgraded the product exactly as directed by the manual and tried it in four different computers with 32bits, with 64bits, with windows 7, with windows xp (just out of curiosity I tried it with my friend’s mac but the result was same). The result is same “hardware disconnected”?)))) I changed also 3 times the usb cable. The editor never connects to the hardware and it never shows up in your DAW’s effects menu or in virtual instruments’ menu no matter where you paste the DLL files that are supposed to be placed under your plug-ins folder of your DAW as MOOG suggests.
The second biggest issue comes with controllability of the synth. As I suppose many guys like me would like to have a synth that can play a pre recorded midi track, or to be able to record a midi track while playing it. You definitely need a midi/usb converter (I bought one for 50 Dollars). But this solves only the problem of sending a previously recorded midi track to the synth to play. It doesn't solve the problem of recording midi through the keyboard of the synth. You have to have a separate midi controller keyboard to send midi signals to this device and to record midi in your DAW. None of these issues are mentioned in any reviews online or in the website of MOOG.
On the other hand, I would buy it again if I knew about those issues because as advertised, it is a lovely synth with a very warm, analogue sound that you can’t easily get from a VST synth.

  • 1
4 weeks ago

Moog Music Sub Phatty by Music Bird

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 3 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.25
Moog Sub Phatty

It has a good bass and lead. Once you program it, it isn't that hard sounding. It also is good for techno the presets are oriented towards it. The bass is ground shaking, the leads are good. It can sound like Zapp and Roger basses if you want it to. It can create some good sounding 5th leads and brass leads. It is good even without the distortion.

 
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