It's real: Moog have recreated the most famous modular of all time. Engineering joins Herb Deutsch, Keith Emerson.

It’s real: Moog have recreated the most famous modular of all time. Engineering joins Herb Deutsch, Keith Emerson.

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April Fools’ Day seemed an appropriate time for Moog Music to announce they were recreating Keith Emerson’s legendary, room-sized modular rig.

I mean – that’s be preposterous. You’d need an unprecedented engineering team working round-the-clock for years to execute such a project. To do it right, you’d have to go back to the original circuit boards and reprint them, find surplus, vintage parts, source new parts that fit the specs, and assemble the entire thing by hand.

So, uh – funny story. Turns out Moog Music had an unprecedented engineering team working round-the-clock for years, went back to the original circuit boards and reprinted them, found vintage parts and new parts that fit the specs, and assembled the entire thing by hand.

It’s preposterous.

It’s also ridiculously awesome.

What will it cost? How many will be made? Moog say they have no idea. But – you can’t ask practical questions like that about something like this.

MOOG continues their leadership in the April Fools' department, by bringing you ... Keith Emerson's rig.

Figures. The only way to really fool people on April 1? Release real news.

And in an announcement today, the lead engineer (the youngest at Moog) stood aside Moog veteran Herb Deutsch and Keith Emerson himself to unveil the results.

It’s one thing to rebuild something like KORG’s MS-20. As you’ll see in pictures – and further details in coming days – the Moog Modular is on a whole different scale, deeply complex and requiring meticulous hand construction. In synthesis terms, it’s a bit like recreating the Saturn V rocket used on the moon missions.

And the impulse to remake Keith’s Moog comes from the same spirit that would recreate moon rockets. NASA actually is reconstructing the F-1 rocket that sent humans to the moon – in 1969, even, the same year as Keith Emerson’s best-known early missions. Understanding that project part-for-part is more than an exercise in history. It restores knowledge and hand-built expertise from the original rocket. But it also benefits from modern appreciation. And the project to remake the F-1 promises not just to take humans back to the moon – it’s a necessary step to taking us to asteroids, Mars, and beyond.

For the same reason, a new Moog Modular helps reignite both synthesis past and future.

And — as for specs, well, almost everything (apart from shooting rockets) Moog said on the 1st of April is true.

For once, we got fooled. And we couldn’t be happier about it.

Emerson Modular (b. 1970)
- 81 total modules/custom panels
- 12 unique, custom built modules including: sample and hold, preset programmer, custom LFO’s and DRONE VCO Control
- Two custom modded modules: 903 Noise Source and 905 Reverb
- First synthesizer with performance presets
- Shoots rockets
Emerson System by Moog Custom Engineering (b. 2014)
- Every standard module printed from orignal [sic] circuit board films
- Original/Vintage and NOS (new old stock) components sourced from around the world
- All face plates reproduced using original transparencies and techniques
- Each module hand built and soldered with original schematics and service manuals as guides
- No longer shoots rockets

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ModularNewLow

Moog Music Announces The New Emerson Moog Modular System [Moog]

  • http://v8media.com/ Ian Page-Echols

    I hope they actually sell modules. Although, to put together a system like this, 81 modules at even a small price of $100 each would make this a $8100 synth. I suspect if they actually start selling commercially, it will be two or three times that for most modules.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      It’s… more than that. Possibly a lot more.

    • mercury

      Uh, this is Moog, $100 a module? I’m thinking this will be closer to $80k or so.

    • http://v8media.com/ Ian Page-Echols

      I was just saying 81 modules times anything, this synth is going to be quite expensive. I know they already have those recent ladder filter modules that are around $800. Hopefully they wouldn’t all be that much, but yeah, that would make for a crazily expensive synth. If they were actually $800 modules, you’re talking a $65k synth.

    • Random Chance

      I paid more than $100 for some Doepfer modules (and to be precise, the ones manufactured by Doepfer, not any old Eurorack modules like Cwejman which were never exactly cheap but seem to go only up in price). I guess you’re talking more like $1.000 for a basic module in this particular system.

  • zootook

    Moog, respect!

  • nick

    Lets see – Gizmodo.com was dropping a $90K cost on it. That doesn’t necessarily mean retail.

    Fine achievement. I’m pretty sure the intent is to do something impressive for the 50th
    anniversary. They can definitely get a lot of publicity bringing it to
    events. Better than saying the original is in the Henry Ford Museum and
    incorrectly labeled as Wendy Carlos’ synth and definitely better than
    saying that they can’t or don’t want to make synths like that any more.

    Seems like it has to be useful R&D despite being a one off. I would
    guess they now know the difficulties and having the actual built unit
    surely will get them feedback from the musicians they court and
    retailers.

    The question I’d have is firstly the Emerson synth was
    surely restored with likely parts changes so is the new one based on the
    restoration? There is that old conundrum that new parts perform
    differently though surely vintage parts if obtainable show changed performance due to age,
    so where does that leave you besides hand winding inductors?

    It’s worth noting though that several manufacturers have released many modern built cloned modules, perhaps not as exacting as this one might be but that goes back to the debate. – nick kent

  • angstrom

    It seems odd that Moog seem to be saying “look at this” rather than “listen to this”. I didn’t find sounds anywhere. I understand this beast exists to promote the company through looking cool in photos, but I can’t help feeling we’ve slid into an absurd realm where the image of the thing is more important than the intended function.

    • zedkah

      In the photo close up of the circuit board a couple of the pots have no wiring attached.

    • http://andrewwaterloo.tumblr.com Andrew Waterloo

      The problem is you don’t know anything about the photo, such as when it was taken. It’s very likely the photo was taken while the module was being built.

  • Dave Whiting

    If you need to ask, you can’t afford it.

  • musics

    How much for the version that does shoot rockets?

  • guest

    I’ll be happy with the VST. It’ll sound the same without $80,000 worth of wood panelling.

    • another guest…

      Yeah, you stick with the VST version… it’ll be just as good… if not better…!

  • BenInNY

    The most surprising thing about this whole operation is that Keith is carrying a murse.

    • Rick Nance

      It’s European!!

  • Clancy

    The only line that made me wonder on April 1 was “no longer shoots rocket”…that part sounded legit. Could you build & sell maybe 100 of these as a limited issue for $250k each, to the likes of a Paul Shaffer or Elton John or Abbey Road studios? Or any insanely well off collector? If so, then that’s the price. A boutique number simply increases the value of the real product line. My voyager XL floor demo now looks like a steal at $3300.

  • James Husted

    The main difference I see is that Keith’s had a fake oscilloscope (at least the one he toured with) and this on seems to have a LCD one.

  • ExasperaTron 5000

    $100K is the price, and utterly worth it. Add to cart. First really uncompromising, full-calorie instrument they’ve done in years. Well played, Moog.

  • poopoo

    People have been hand building and soldering these exact circuits, based on the original schematics, for more than 40 years. And along the way they made many improvements to the designs in terms of reliability, noise, tuning stability, ergonomics. Imagine 250k worth of MOTM modules.

    Synthesizers are starting to go the way guitars did in the 90′s. How long before we get a 1970 “relic” minimoog which comes with a beat up case and wonky keys straight from the factory. Just the thing for a baby boomer retiree to indulge his Jan Hammer fantasy.

  • Pierre Fontaine

    My understanding from an old article in Keyboard Magazine called “The World’s Most Dangerous Synth” was that some of the modules were in fact just front panels with no real function. They just filled out the front so that there wouldn’t be any open areas. And yes, the oscilloscope on Emerson’s original Moog modular was a fake.

    I always wondered what function this synth played in Emerson’s rig. Yes, it looks fantastic but it didn’t really do much more than a MiniMoog in terms of true analog sound. I must say that when he’d play the end solo of Lucky Man in concert, they room shook when he’d hit the low notes!

  • The Alien 666

    One Question: why ?