Launched in 1971, Moog Inc’s Minimoog kickstarted a revolution in music technology that saw the synthesizer shrunk down from a room-filling modular science project to an accessible, portable and, most importantly, playable instrument aimed at musicians rather than physicists.
By today’s standards, on paper, the Mini looks like nothing to get excited about, being monophonic and lacking in most of the features we now take for granted in any analogue synth - real or virtual. Nonetheless, its powerful, rich sound has more than stood the test of time, keeping second-hand prices sky high, and inspiring several developers to build software revivals of it.
Here are six of the best Minimoog emulations on the market, starting with Monark, a state-of-the-art reboot from Native Instruments. For a complete guide to Monark, check out Computer Music 218 (July 2015), which is on sale now.
Native Instruments Monark
Perhaps the king of all Minimoog emulations, Native Instruments’ Monark is an Ensemble for Reaktor and Reaktor Player - deployable as a plugin or standalone - that painstakingly models every quirk and nuance of the real thing.
It has an amazingly realistic retro sound and has been put together with meticulous attention to detail (including oscillator drift and wonky keytracking) resulting in an incredibly convincing sound.
The developers were so focused on authenticity that Monark makes few concessions to modern standards - there’s no polyphony, no pulse width modulation, no dedicated LFOs and certainly no effects, for example.
You do at least get a few extra filter modes and the ability to shift the global tuning up and down, but the point is that Monark not only captures the sound of the original synth, but also its workflow, feel and - yes – limitations.
In short, it’s the next best thing to owning an actual Minimoog.
GForce Software Minimonsta
Minimonsta boasts not only polyphony but also additional LFOs and envelopes, the Melohman patch morphing system, a delay effect and external input for use as an effect.
It sounds terrific, too, serving up a solid reimagining of the Minimoog Model D and including over 6000 presets.
BUY: GForce Software Minimonsta currently available from:
IK Multimedia SampleMoog
For a quality sample-based take on the seminal monosynth, IK Multimedia’s SampleMoog uses its SampleTank engine to power no less than 16 virtual Moog instruments, including the Mini.
With its simple control set and 32-strong roster of effects, it’s a very different beast indeed to Monark, but at this price, it’s a strong contender for those in need of mix-ready sounds.
Arturia Mini V2
Perhaps the best known of all the Minimoog emulations is Arturia’s popular Mini V2. Like Minimonsta, this one extends the capabilities of the real thing significantly, adding polyphony, a mod matrix, a formant filter, an arpeggiator, effects, its own parameter automation system and more.
It’s a brilliant soft synth, particularly when partnered with it’s mobile iPad couterpart, iMini, from and to which it can import and export patches.
Counting every part of the Minimoog among its various modelled modules, u-he’s semi-modular masterpiece Diva is in a rather higher price bracket than the others here, but being arguably the finest virtual analogue synth ever made, you’d expect it to be.
Last and unashamedly least, we’d be remiss were we not to mention Steinberg’s Model•E - one of the first VST instruments ever made, way back in 2000.
Obviously, it’s not the most powerful or convincing of faux Minimoogs, but given that you can download it for free as part of theVST Classics collection from Steinberg, there’s no reason not to give it a try.