The MicroMoog was Moog's first truly budget synth.

Bob Moog had proved that pre-patched synths were a going commercial concern following the success of the MiniMoog (and, of course, its rival, the ARP Odyssey) but despite the relative affordability of these two instruments (around $1,500 compared with the $15,000 of their modular predecessors!), it was clear that there were still musicians gagging to get their hands on a synth but who simply couldn't afford one and so, in much the same way he stripped his modular synths down to the bare basics to make the Mini, Dr Moog stripped the Mini down to the bare basics to make the Micro.

Featuring just one oscillator, it was clear that you were faced with compromise but to counter this, the MicroMoog did offer various sub-octave footages to beef the sound up. However, these were phase-locked to the master oscillator and didn't offer the rich detune one might expect of a synth from the Moog stable.

The filter was, of course, classic Moog and the envelopes were lifted directly from the Mini being of the ADS type with a switchable R stage that took its time from the setting of the Decay control.

New to the Micro was a simple LFO for vibrato and filter modulation. Interestingly, the Micro also allowed cross modulation of the filter by the audio oscillator which offered some interesting possibilities. Unfortunately, as the oscillator was the only audio source, all it could do in most circumstances was to add a certain 'rasp' to the sound. However, when the filter was self-oscillating, some interesting pseudo ring modulation sounds could be created.

The Micro was a departure from the Mini as well in that it employed a ribbon controller for pitchbend instead of the Mini's wheel (there was still a wheel for modulation though and this was quite versatile in what it could control).

To get costs down further, the casework was moulded plastic with fake wooden end-cheeks bound with an aluminium strip. Whilst it looked nice enough, unfortunately, this gave the MicroMoog a rather cheap and flimsy feel and many never withstood the rigours of life on the road. The keyboard was also a 32-note affair (2.5 octave) which was a bit restricting.

Whilst the MicroMoog was undoubtedly a decent enough synth capable of a good range of (albeit limted) sounds, it had a rival in the form of the ARP Axxe. Whether the Axxe was a reaction to the MicroMoog or something that ARP developed independently (and coincidentally) is not known but ARP's budget single-oscillator offering was an altogether more versatile synth in that it offered far more in the way of synthesis facilities (almost anything could be routed to anything thanks to its pre-patched semi-modular design), it had a 'proper' ADSR envelope, a sample+hold unit, waveform mixing, PWM and more besides. It was also far more sturdily built with a solid, metal panel (and real walnut end-cheeks!). It also had a three octave keyboard.

The MicroMoog was high on my shopping list way back in the mid-70s when it was released but, after much deliberation, I settled on the Axxe.

That said, there is no denying that the MicroMoog was a capable little synth and I am glad to offer some samples here that have been donated by John from Inverse Room who has carefully multi-sampled and looped his own MicroMoog.