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Dark Edition! The Moog family saga continues. Today we get to know the head of the family: The powerful Matriarch Synthesizer. Moog compiles within tis synth a "Best of" of his circuits to an impressive up to four-voice paraphonic synthesizer! The oscillator design comes from the Minimoog, the mixer is the well-known fat and saturating CP3. The stereo filter, the envelopes and the VCAs also come from the Moog Modular, while the Analog Delay is based on the Moggerfooger MF-104M. The signal routing is completely analogue and in stereo throughout.
This synth is very colourful and this is definitely a matter of taste. But this provides a very good overview, which is absolutely necessary, because there are over 90 patch sockets on the control panel!
The Matriarch’s normalization / "pre-cabling" is designed in a way so that you can start immediately - without patching. The arrangement of the modules and the signal routing follows familiar concepts.
The core of the sound generation is in the middle: Beside the four oscillators is a six-channel mixer, followed by a dual filter (parallel - HP/LP, stereo - LP/LP, serial - HP/LP), a utility section (see below) and an analogue dual ADSR. The final VCA is quite logically on the far right!
So there are:
- Four oscillators with triangle, sawtooth, pulse wave. With additional linear frequency modulation and synchronizable with each other (2-3-4).
- Mixer based on the Moog CP3. It is DC-coupled, so it can also process CVs and has six channels. One of them is intended for the integration of external signals and is connected to the 6.35mm mono jack socket on the rear of the unit.
- A dual highpass and lowpass filter based on the 904A module from the large Moog Modular. It can be connected in series or parallel and can therefore also be used as a stereo filter.
- Analog full Dual ADSR with End of Gate output. Pre-patched to filter and VCA.
- Analog dual VCA with 6.35mm / line level controls for the main outputs on the rear panel, 3.5mm Eurorack level and headphone jack with separate volume control. In the VCA section you can switch between mono, duo and paraphonic playing.
To the left of the oscillators are modulation sources: A generously equipped LFO with six waveforms and keyboard control with arpeggiator and sequencer functionality. The keyboard is a 49 keys (four octaves) keyboard by Fatar with velocity and aftertouch. At the bottom left you can see the playing aids: Pitch and modulation wheel, as well as a control for the portamento time. The arpeggiator is simple but effective: Order, Forward/Backward, Random are available as playback modes. The sequencer can record up to 256 steps. Supporting polyphony with up to four notes per step.
These modulation sources are supported by a utility section with two CV-controllable attenuators/inverters (aka ring modulators). The fact that these are (modulation) VCAs/ring modulators allows very complex sound developments! A second utility section with only one ring modulator and (simple) LFO instead, is located between the filter and the dual envelope. This LFO is intended for the modulation of e.g. delay, filter and VCA. In both utility sections there is an unbuffered 4x multiple in the upper part to split signals.
The VCA (far right) is preceded by the delay, which is stereo and based on vintage Bucket Brigade Delay chips. Due to the limitations of these chips, the delay time is limited to 700ms. But it's exactly the medium-length and very short times where this delay really shines. Either in parallel / stereo mode or as a jumping ping-pong delay.
As mentioned patching is not needed to bring the Moog Matriarch to live. But it is hugely rewarded with impressive, astonishing and unheard of sounds!