Moog Sub Phatty
The announcement of Moog’s Sub Phatty last year was slightly overshadowed by Korg’s unveiling of the MS-20 Mini, for one simple reason: price. If the Sub Phatty has been released a few years ago, we’d probably all be marvelling at what good value it was, but the emergence of a new class of even more affordable analogue synths has made us all recalibrate our internal value-for-money scales slightly. That shouldn’t detract from the fact that the Sub Phatty is one of the most affordable Moog keyboards ever made.
Affordability doesn’t necessarily mean that the quality is sacrificed. Build quality is outstanding and the sonic character is as strong and impressive as the more affordable models in the range. What Moog have achieved with the Sub Phatty is an incredible balance between classic Moog signature sounds and forward-thinking technology which allows the user to push way beyond the traditional strengths of Moog synths – the company describes it as the “grittiest” Moog ever made. The fundamental architecture is familiar, with two oscillators, a sub-oscillator, noise source, LFO and ladder filter. The key to the gritty sound comes in the form of the Multidrive circuit, a dual distortion option which acts both before and after the filter.
The Sub Phatty’s true versatility only becomes apparent when you realise it also offers a number of parameters which Moog describe slightly euphemistically as Hidden Features, but which the rest of us might call parameters accessed via shift functions. Thankfully, if you don’t feel like memorising the Hidden Features (which are truly hidden – they don’t appear on the front panel, so you’ll need to refer to the cheat sheet to figure them out), then there’s also a software editor to make life easier.
The Sub Phatty might be the black sheep of the Moog family, but it excels where it really matters: it sounds like a Moog, but dirtier.