Review: Moog 15 for iOS

You can finally own the synth that kick-started the industry
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Ten thousand dollars—that’s what you’ll pay for Moog’s new entry level modular system. It’s also what you’ll pay for an excellent used car, or a loaded Mac Pro, or groceries from Whole Foods for a year. Ten grand can buy a lot these days. Fortunately, Moog realizes that too. So they developed a virtual version for iOS that not only nails the sound of the hardware, but also functions so realistically that the difference in behavior is almost negligible.

The Model 15 app’s attention to detail is stunning, and not just from an interface and usability standpoint. From the filters, which include both the legendary 907 Fixed Filter Bank and the 904A Voltage Controlled Low Pass Filter to the dual 921B Oscillator and the ultra-flexible 921 Voltage Controlled Oscillator, the Model 15 is packed with pretty much everything you need to create complex, living “analog” sounds that quiver and burble just like the real thing.

In addition to the filters and oscillators (which also serve double-duty as LFOs, appropriately), there is a pair of envelopes and a ton of modular utilities such as two VCAs, two types of attenuators (six total), a four-channel mixer with mults, the 923 highpass/lowpass/noise module (great for shaping LFO behavior, among other things), the 921A Oscillator Driver, and an integrated analog-ish delay that includes control inputs for time, feedback and mix, allowing for everything from chorusing to out-of-this-world flanging effects and, of course, echoes. And while this list is by no means exhaustive, it should still give you some insight into how deep this app goes—Mariana Trench deep.

Case in point: Of all the synths I’ve owned and/or used in studios, I still never got my mitts on an actual Moog fixed filter bank, and now that I’ve experienced the sound, boy do I want one for my studio. Its ability to carefully control specific frequency ranges is a truly impressive feat. Other modules, like the 921A Oscillator Driver (for controlling the 921B oscillators) and the 923 Random Noise/Filter (with its integrated filters) deliver wonderfully bizarre results when configured in unorthodox ways. And that’s the whole point of modular, isn’t it? To experiment with audio tools without really knowing the end result in advance. Because of this—and of course, the Moog pedigree—the Model 15 is a must-have for any electronic music or audio coursework. Even if you’re an expert, you’ll still learn more about the craft And if you’re a newcomer, the tutorials and factory presets are exceptional tools for learning the essentials before you go down this rabbit hole.

As for iOS amenities, the Model 15 is absolutely current, with extensive MIDI features including Bluetooth that worked beautifully with the Korg nanoKey Studio controller (see the review on page 46), as well as Ableton Link compatibility. There is also integration with Audiobus, Inter-app audio, and AudioCopy/Paste/Share. MIDI Bridge and Audio Bridge are also represented. Moreover, the app is compatible with iPads and iPhones, though using it with smaller devices will be an exercise in patience.

Although 30 bucks may be a steep investment for some iOS users, the functionality, educational value, and overall sound of the Model 15 make it a must-have for compatible iPad rigs: Mind = Blown.

Snap Judgment

PROS Faithful re-creation of the Moog Model 15 modular. Extensive array of modules for creating complex patches. Exotic routing schemes and audio rate modulation behave accurately. Bluetooth MIDI and Ableton Link are supported.

CONS Requires a 64-bit device and iOS 9.3.1. iPhone experience is a tad cramped.

Bottom Line

You can finally own the synth that kick-started the industry.