Superbooth 24: Moog’s Spectravox is “not just an instrument - it’s a portal into uncharted sonic realms,” but you might have seen it somewhere before

Moog Spectravox
(Image credit: Moog)

SUPERBOOTH 2024: Throughout the 2010s, Moog played host to a series of Moogfest weekenders in and around its North Carolina base of operations. Combining live performances, talks and workshops, the events were part music festival, part celebration of the synth brand’s heritage.

One regular fixture at those Moogfest events was an engineering workshop, which not only gave attendees a chance to try their hand at instrument building, but also often provided the wider world with a glimpse into what the company had in the pipeline. Instruments including the DFAM, Mother-32 and Subharmonicon all began life as DIY workshop projects, before re-emerging as official - non-DIY - instrument releases later on.

The last Moogfest happened in 2019, and attendees of that event’s engineering workshop got to build an instrument called Spectravox, a resonant filter bank built into a similar form factor as the DFAM et al. This functioned as both a vocoder and semi-modular synth.

Since 2019, a lot has changed for Moog, including the company being acquired by InMusic and recently downsizing its Asheville factory. To be honest, we’d almost completely forgotten about the Spectravox and assumed it would remain a DIY rarity, but now, five years later, Moog has unveiled an updated version for full release.

The basic concept for Spectravox remains the same as the DIY version. It’s a 10-band filter bank paired with a single analogue oscillator and white noise generator. As before, these allow it to function both as a vocoder - with a combo XLR/jack for external inputs - and a standalone synthesizer. Or, to put it Moog’s way: “Not just an instrument; it's a portal into uncharted sonic realms.”

The most obvious difference from the Moogfest version is the fact that the faders used to control each filter’s VCA on the original have here been replaced by rotaries and CV patch points. Along with the oscillator and noise generator, Spectravox also features a triangle wave LFO for internal modulation.

The unit itself is built into a 60HP case that matches that of the Mother-32, Subharmonicon and DFAM. As with those synths, Spectravox is semi-modular and features a patchbay along the right-hand side with a further 16 CV inputs and outputs.

The signal path enables Spectravox to function as a synth without the need for an external input or any patching. We suspect, however, that Spectravox will likely be at its best when paired with Moog’s other semi-modular hardware.

Spectravox is available to order now priced at $599. Find out more on the Moog website.

Si Truss

I'm Editor-in-Chief of Music Technology, working with Future Music, Computer Music, Electronic Musician and MusicRadar. I've been messing around with music tech in various forms for over two decades. I've also spent the last 10 years forgetting how to play guitar. Find me in the chillout room at raves complaining that it's past my bedtime.

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