Moog’s top mono/paraphonic semi-modular
Currently a limited edition of 250 Moogfest Matriarchs, available from the festival’s pop-up factory or numerous Moog dealers.
First, let’s get the least important critiques out of the way. I hate the name, like the Moog Grandmother and a couple other maternal models… and I hate the goofy color combo, similar to the Grandmother. I’ll own those opinions and I wouldn’t let them get in the way of buying the Moog Matriarch, if everything else was what I wanted.
The next critiques I won’t own but they are popular ones for any fully fleshed out top end monophonic/paraphonic synth, however misguided. They are the silliest critiques and I’ve hear them applied to the Moog Matriarch. It isn’t a polyphonic synth, it should have more voices for the money, other synths in the price range have 6 or 8 or whatever voices, blah blah, blah… Well it’s true, monophonic/paraphonic synths are not polyphonic synths and they are not meant to be. I will say, I do appreciate being able to split 4 oscillators into 4 voices like the Moog Matriarch or the price comparable Sequential Dave Smith Instruments Pro 2 can do, but monophonic/paraphonic synths are just plain different critters from polyphonic synths.
OK, I really really like my Pro 2. It is the killer must have monophonic/paraphonic synth in my opinion, so I’m going to make some comparisons here.
Continuing the subject of oscillators, I really like my Pro 2’s 4 oscillators. I was happy to see the Matriarch with 4 oscillators as well. I was a bit disappointed to see no sub oscillator. The Pro 2’s hybrid digital/analog design with DSP-based oscillators solves some issues like tuning, and adds functionality like many more waveforms vs. the Matriarch VCOs which are fairly straightforward analog. From what I have heard so far I’m gonna guess the Pro 2 still reigns supreme for gritty dirty industrial synths, and the Moog of course sounds Moogy.
The Pro 2 has 4 LFOs. The Matriarch has 1 LFO. The Pro 2 has 5 envelopes. The Matriarch has 2 envelopes. They both have delay, feedback and stereo. The Pro 2 has distortion also.
I’m gonna guess that some will find the Matriarch’s lack of presets or way to save patches a negative. I do. Personally, I find the external power supply a sign of less expensive construction out of place in a $2k synth. The external power supply bugs me, especially how the connector to the Matriarch is likely to fare over time and more wire junk to tame and arrange… Are the Matriarch’s end caps wood or plastic? I think plastic like the $899 Moog Grandmother.
The Matriarch does have a few things up on the Pro 2 though: larger keyboard, more CV patch points, and a sequencer with 256 steps. The Matriarch’s 5 extra keys for a total of 49 compared to the Pro 2’s 44 keys are inconsequential to me. I’m gonna guess bar the sexiness of modular cabling, the Pro 2’s 4 CV in/4 CV out with very extensive soft routing is near if not equal to the Matriarch CV capabilities. Personally, as an IT guy I have always been befuddled why synth manufacturers treat sequencer steps like RAM sells for 1980 prices. Sequencer steps should be virtually unlimited but reality being reality, among products on the market, the 256 steps in the Matriarch’s sequencer is cool, but other than that I’m gonna guess the Pro 2’s 32 step sequencer has more capabilities. That’s about all I can say with out a hands on.
My opinion for now, I think it is about time Moog came out with something semi-competitive to the Pro 2 and more featured than the Moog Subsequent 37. For me personally, it doesn’t add what I need this year or next, that the Pro 2 and Subsequent 37 aren’t already giving me. Overall though, good job Moog, it sounds like you are listening to your customers and paying attention to market trends, mostly… Maybe some day when I have more studio space, ha!
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This page is a living document, subject to update and expansion. Last edited – 5/18/2019
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