Moog Mavis Semi-Modular Synth
Moog Mavis, a semi-modular self-assembled synth for $349
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Moog Music releases Moog Mavis, at $349, a more affordable semi-modular analog synthesizer
Please sit down, first a bit of history
In 1949, a teenage Bob Moog discovered a copy of Electronics World, which featured an article with details on how to build an electronic musical instrument at home. Shortly after, he built his first model of the instrument, a theremin, from plans published in the magazine. By 1953, Bob and his father established R.A. Moog to market and sell theremin kits out of their home in Queens, NY.
With the release of Mavis, Moog harks back to its roots. The user assembled a synth kit. Every Moog Mavis is custom built and hand assembled by Moog employees.
Back to the Future
Moog Mavis looks like a more affordable extension of the Moog synth line up, designed to entice novices away from their computers, and into the fascinating world of hands-on synthesizers.
Moog promises an expressive analog synthesizer with patchable modular matrix, without compromising the Moog sound and quality. The form factor allows the user to integrate Moog Mavis into a modular setup. When removed from its enclosure, the instrument becomes a 24-point CV-controllable module (44HP) ready to be installed into any Eurorack setup or Moog semi-modular system. This opens the door to not only the aforementioned first-time users, but also might attract established synthesists with existing modular components.
The assembly before the art
Before you can get any sounds, you have to assemble Moog Mavis. At first glance, a synth kit sounds like a pure cost-saving measure. While this may well be the case, extra benefits stem from this approach. The user gets the rare chance to look inside a synthesizer, helping them understand how electronic sounds are created and shaped. This educational aspect is not new to Moog. Their history is heavy with education, including connecting with young musicians and schools, and offering self-assembly products like the Moog Werkstatt.
The assembly does not require any soldering required, and looks to come with a comprehensive range of instructions on assembly, as well as sound creation.
Sorting out the sounds
Once assembled, you can get started straight away. The built-in one-octave keyboard invites immediate exploration, without additional equipment (except for a speaker or headphones, of course). Great stuff.
So is the Moog Mavis too simple to coax complex and usable sounds from it? It doesn't look like it. Plenty of options to mangle sounds are on offer. Not just does the synth include an oscillator and filter circuits. Moog also included a first for the brand: an analog wavefolder. This is before you pull any cables out and connect them.
The compositions created by seven artists certainly sound promising, and include:
- A dance tune with producer AceMo (Mavis, Mother-32)
- A synth-pop piece from Nite Jewel (Mavis, Matriarch, Mother-32)
- Ambient explorations from Arushi Jain (Mavis)
- Hardware industrial techno from Silent Servant (Mavis, DFAM)
Moog Mavis: Key Features
- 24-Point Patch Bay: Connect with other voltage-controlled devices, including with Moog’s other semi-modular instruments: Mother-32, DFAM, Subharmonicon, Grandmother, Matriarch.
- Full Range Analog Oscillator: Mavis’s Voltage Controlled Oscillator (VCO) with pulse-width modulation (PWM), waveform mixing, and mod source mixing.
- Voltage Controlled Filter: -24dB Moog Low Pass Ladder Filter.
- Audio Rate LFO and 4-Stage Envelope Generator: Mavis uses crossfaders in its modulation routing instead of switches, allowing you to blend between a variable shape LFO and 4-stage envelope generator for interesting and unusual modulation.
- Wavefolding and Modular Utilities: Mavis features Moog’s first-ever wavefolding circuit, allowing for additive synthesis to sit alongside traditional subtractive synthesis, and features a broad modular utilities section complete with attenuators, offsets, mults, and a flexible DC-coupled mixer.
- Patchable Sample and Hold (S+H) Circuit: This circuit generates a random CV pattern that can be patched to modulate other parameters, including setting Mavis into a “random sequencing” mode of performance.
- Protective Cover
Mavis includes a fitted protective cover for use during studio downtime or taking your instrument on the go.
Andrew Huang Review of Moog Mavis (Sponsored by Moog)
Moog certainly stands for history and quality, with the company owned by its employees. However, Moog has always been at the more expensive end of electronic musical instruments. So first of all, I applaud Moog for offering a semi-modular synth for $349.
Much to the annoyance of many, the obvious comparison when it comes to value for money is Behringer. The Behringer Crave is available at $169, pretty much half the price of Moog Mavis. The specifications do not look too dissimilar, but I expect the quality of components to be better in the Moog.
We hope to bring a hands-on test on the Moog Mavis soon. In the meantime, it is great to have more choice for now. Both companies now have cheaper options, making music making more accessible.
Moog Mavis: Compositions as part of a Complete Setup
Andrew Huang Review of Moog Mavis (Sponsored by Moog)
Trained in classical and jazz piano, Christof has over 30 years of experience in songwriting and music production. In 2021, he founded musicmanta and is now its Editor-in-Chief. Christof has worked in marketing for 25 years in Unilever and Kimberly-Clark. He is now the Head of Performance Marketing UK for Andrex, Kleenex, and Huggies, leading a team of 10 to create award-winning marketing campaigns, writing effective content, reaching millions of people.