It seems popular demand worked.
Moog’s peculiar, brilliant Werkstatt synth was a huge kit as a workshop-only build for premium Moogfest attendees in April in North Carolina. And not only that, the design swept the Internet. It seems your pleas were heard, as the instructional project is turning into a product. Just expect it to be in “extremely” limited quantities, says Moog, at a handful of their boutique-minded US dealers.
Because it’s solder-free, even including those through-hole parts, the “kit” aspect is largely putting it together. But it’s still a clever, rich-sounding, versatile single-oscillator analog synth with some semi-modular routing options. The only real argument against the thing (apart from the feature, not listed of the specs, of Having to Fight Synth Nerds to Buy One), is that it lacks MIDI. (If you want external keyboard input, you’ll need CV out – a good candidate would be the Keith McMillen QuNexus reviewed here on CDM.)
But then we get to the price – at US$329, it’s about the most inexpensive Moog I’ve seen. (Well, unless you’re in the market for a Broken Concertmate MG-1 – you can probably pick that up for less.)
Update/addition: There’s some discussion in comments about comparable synths. Now, for $300 these days or even much less, you can get all sorts of interesting instruments, from the likes of KORG, Waldorf, and yes – us, in the form of MeeBlip.
The best comparison to the Werkstatt, though, is probably the Arturia MicroBrute. It costs about the same as the Werkstatt, it’s an analog single-oscillator synth with switchable waveforms and various extras, and it’s semi-modular. (There’s limited internal routing on the MicroBrute – not so much to write home about – but also CV outs if you have other analog hardware.) The Moog is unique: you get the Moog ladder filter and a lot of the bass characteristics of the Taurus. So I could easily see having both. On value, though, the Arturia wins fairly handily: it also has a keyboard, it has MIDI (via MIDI DIN in and USB), clock, and more sound controls. It’s also easier to buy. They’re each so unique sonically, and so different from one another, that there’s no harm in either one. But yes, I’d probably buy the Arturia first if I had $300/300€. (I actually intend to write up the MicroBrute very soon, especially after spending some hours with it as my main live instrument over the weekend.)
What would I actually want? Well, both. They’re different enough that the comparison on anything other than value is sort of pointless. They both sound great, and they’re both (I think) pretty great buys; they just sound different.
A new video:
Full product details (and dealer links):
Werkstatt-Ø1 Moogfest 2014 Kit
Sadly, the product that’s named in German won’t make it to Germany – or anywhere else outside the United States. Time will tell whether Moog decides to ramp up production for a bigger release (perhaps by adjusting the feature set). But it’s already gone from one-off workshop to limited release, so perhaps it’ll make it further.
But for a review of why we like this synth – and creator Steve Dunnington making some sounds with it himself – previous coverage: