Tiny, yet huge and currently scraping its hooves at Dawsons – we dodge the horns in our Moog Minitaur review
The Moog Minitaur is, despite its small size, one of the biggest music tech products to be released year. When it was announced at the NAMM show in January, the most commonly heard phrase was ‘a real, analogue Moog, for how much?’ The idea that a bona-fide Moog Synthesizer is suddenly within financial reach is enough to get most studio dwellers and keys players, well… a bit frothy. The fact that it is based on the legendary Moog Taurus pedals, held by many to be the greatest bass synth ever, makes this an unbelievably desirable product.
We decided to see what all the fuss is about. Here’s our Moog Minitaur review.
One knob per function – no ‘shift’ buttons or menus
The Minitaur has the rugged, slightly industrial appearance of classic analogue synthesisers. Aside from the bull logo at the top left, every inch of the compact front panel is filled with neatly arranged controls, with brushed steel-look fronts. For those who are unfamiliar with synths, it is a common misconception that lots of knobs and controls means that the synth in question is difficult to use. In the case of the Moog Minitaur this means that each function has its own control. So, there are no menus to wade through, of shift buttons to change a controls function. Easy, eh?
In terms of build, the Minitaur is like a tank (or indeed, a bull). Compact, super-solid and robust, it harks back to an age when synthesizers had an altogether more ‘industrial’ construction. This is a very good thing.
To the rear, there’s a selection of CV connections (pitch, filter, volume, gate) for hooking up to other analogue synth gear, a MIDI in and a USB connection for easy integration into a DAW set-up, and stereo jack outputs.
Original Taurus Oscillator
The Minitaur is a twin oscillator design, with the oscillators based on the classic Taurus synth. As such, it includes the same famous sawtooth oscillator. This is combined with a Moog ladder filter design. Oscillator 2 can be tuned to +/- 12 semitones, allowing everything from thickening, detuned effects, to fifths or octaves.
There’s a single LFO, with a fixed triangle waveform. this can be adjusted between 0.01-100Hz, and routed to control fitler cutoff, pitch, and, well, most controllable parameters.
Though the front-panel controls provide an excellent and intuitive means of creating some classic synth sounds, the USB connection allows users to really ‘get under the bonnet’ via a free software editor. A few hours tweaking here reveals several features that aren’t apparent from the front panel- all very welcome.
The key question, I guess, is ‘how does the Minitaur sound?’ As you might expect, it sounds big, warm, thick and unmistakably Moog. You might argue that it’s limited in functionality compared to some modern synths, but that really isn’t what you buy a synth like this for- you buy it for its sonic character. This little box has character in spades.
It’s very much pitched as a bass synth, and it’s fair to say that, tonally, this is where its strengths lie. However, at this price, it’s hard not to be a little bit bowled over by the sheer, classic warmth of this little monster. Add in the flexible connectivity, and you have a wonderful addition to anyone’s synth collection.
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