DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA — Moog Music announced it’s reintroducing the classic Minimoog Model D synthesizer with a pilot production run at Moogfest 2016. The Model D first hit the market in 1970, and was used on countless recordings and live tours throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. After a hiatus of over 30 years, Moog Music employees are handcrafting new examples in a pilot production run at the Moog Pop-Up Factory here at Moogfest. The company will sell the units made here in Guitar Center’s Moog Store.
We had the chance to, if not exactly sit down, instead stand up and walk around the Pop-Up Factory with Moog Music guru Jim DeBardi. The Pop-Up Factory is a “way of bringing everything we have in Ashville in our Moog synthesizer factory to the festival to Durham for people to experience that,” DeBardi said.
We started off with the Moog Modular 1c Synthesizer, and specifically, an example that was purchased new by nearby Duke University in 1968 and lost in storage for several decades. “Prior to this instrument, there wasn’t a way for musicians to work with electronic sound,” DeBardi said. Synthesizer enthusiasts know the Moog Modular was the first commercially available synthesizer in 1967; Wendy Carlos used one to produce her seminal electronic work Switched-On Bach in 1968.
The Minimoog Model D, in turn, was an attempt to bring that sound into a reasonably portable, three-oscillator package that anyone could bring on stage or record in a studio with. The original had no patch memory or MIDI capability, neither of which had been invented yet; the new one has both. There’s no word on price yet, but we’d expect at least $3,000, given the price of the company’s current lineup of hardware synths.
The Model D reintroduction comes less than a year after Moog Music ended the decade-long production run of the high-end Minimoog Voyager, a reimagined digital version of the classic monosynth. Prior to today’s announcement, Moog Music has been selling the Minimoog Voyager Old School, a $2,695 Voyager digital synth, but without the display and digital controls. That’s still not the “real thing,” though, if you want a pure analog synth. The Model D also comes hot on the heels of its new Model 15 iOS app, a $30 recreation of the company’s classic, incredible Model 15 modular synthesizer. If you’ve got the money for the real one, it’s handcrafted down to individually soldered wires–no printed circuit boards in this thing.
Moog Music is based in Ashville, North Carolina. Moogfest is taking place in Durham, a few hours away from Ashville, for the first time. Here’s the full 12-minute video of our conversation (and we apologize for the audio quality; it’s a bit hot throughout in part because of the insane amount of background noise):