The Arturia Minimoog emulation has been around for a long time. I hadn’t touched it in a while, but had to create some West Coast Hip-Hop for a new streaming series, and what better plugin to use than an emulation of what Dr. Dre used on The Chronic. I thought what better time to write a post about it, so here’s an overview if you aren’t familiar with it.
Bob Moog created the Minimoog in 1971 as a more consumer friendly (in price and size) version of the larger modular system. It sports three VCOs (Voltage Controlled Oscillators) a noise generator, a low-pass filter, an ADS envelope (notice this was before ADSR) and a Voltage Controlled Amplifier (VCA.) This is possibly the perfect starter synth as it gets you familiar with basics. The most currently made hardware version of the minimoog was the model D.
The Oscillator Bank section has 3 oscillators. The oscillators have 6 types:
- triangle wave
- asymmetric triangle
- ascending sawtooth
- square wave
- asymmetric square wave
- impulse wave (osc 1/2)
- descending sawtooth (osc 3)
The Range positions are:
- 32 (2 octaves above)
- 16 (1 octave below)
- 4 (1 octave above)
- 2 (2 octaves above)
- LoMono (osc 3)
The Sync toggle allows Oscillator 1 to sync with Oscillator 2. Oscillators 2 and 3 can be adjusted up or down in semi-tones using the knobs to the right of the Range knobs. If Sync is enabled, then Oscillator 1 is fine tuned, while Oscillator 2 adds in harmonics.
The Osc 2/3 Ctrl toggles the activation of the keyboard and the Oscillator Modulation Toggle modulates all 3 by Osc 3 with an amplitude based on the position of the modulation wheel.
Before the filtering is applied, the oscillators can be mixed together. There is a volume knob for each of the three oscillators. There is a volume knob to blend in the noise as well, and you can select White or Pink noise with the toggle. The overload light will turn on when the external audio is overloaded. You need to turn on soft clipping for this effect, which is the toggle all the way to the right of the interface. You then need to set the toggle of External Input Volume to the middle position “out” and then turn up the volume. Each of these 5 sources can be toggled on or off with the 5 horizontal toggle buttons.
The output from the mixer section is then sent to the filter modifiers section. The low pass filter is a 24dB drop off. The Cutoff Frequency knob is used to set the frequency where the drop off starts. The Emphasis knob refers to what moderns synths call resonance, and Amount of Contour is the envelope boost of that resonance.
The Envelope is similar to that of a current ADSR, you have Attack Time, Decay Time and Sustain Level. Attack is when the filter starts to kick in after the key is pressed, Sustain is how long the note holds after its pressed, and Decay is the amount of time it sounds after the key is released.
The Keyboard Control Toggles are for key follow at the frequency of the filter cut-off. With the first on, the cut-off is modified by a major 3rd and when the second is on, the key follow is a 5th. If both are on, the filter cut-off follows the keyboard.
When the first is “ON”, the key follow allows the modification of the cut-off frequency by a major third for an octave.
The Loudness Contour is a similar ADS envelope, but applied to the output volume.
The Output Section has a master Volume knob to control the overall output. The polyphonic toggle is an Arturia added feature. The original keyboard was monophonic, but this allows multiple voices, up to 32. You can select the number of voices at the very bottom of the plugin, below the keyboard. The Unison toggle allows for the playing of all voices at once, and Voice Detune sets a slight detuning of each voice to thicken the sound. There is a playing mode section next to where you select the number of voices below the keyboard. It lets you decide how the notes sound, whether you hear the last note played, or the lowest note played, etc.
The Glide switch will turn on portamento, where the note slowly moves to the new note. The Glide knob will affect how long it takes for this transition to occur.
The Bend Wheel will alter the frequency and the Mod wheel will modify the oscillator amplitude.
The bend toggle switch disconnects the wheel from the oscillators to be used with another parameter in the advanced matrix. The range knob sets the amplitude of the bend wheel by 4 octaves in semi-tones.
Arturia Minimoog Extras
Arturia added some features not on the original. If you hit the double down arrows in the top right corner, it’ll open up a hidden panel. You have access to an arpeggiator and an LFO.
There’s also effects like chorus and delay. The Vocal Filter is a really cool formant effect. The LFO can adjust the speed that it rotates through the 5 vowels, and you can drag the vowels into the circle to just use those vowels.
The Modulation section allows you to map various sources to destinations. So the mod wheel could be assigned to VCA attack for example. And the LFO could be assigned to the VCF Envelope Delay.
Also, check out our post on the Arturia Prophet.