It had PWM, oscillator sync,
a super-fat Unison mode where all 18 oscillators were played from
one key, various monophonic and polyphonic playing and triggering
options - a later model even had a sequencer! On paper it was like
six super-charged MiniMoogs in one polyphonic box ... a recipe for
sonic heaven you would have thought. In practice, the experience
was very different.....
It was thoroughly unreliable. It sounded absolutely stunning
on a good day but those days were few and far between and more often
than not, voices were out of tune with each other, the filters didn't
track between voices and envelope times were sometimes different
on different voices so you had to keep using the 'auto-tune' function
in between takes (how people managed with them live is a mystery!).
Build quality was generally excellent (and it looked beautiful with
its wooden casework) but the switches were unreliable.
But when it was working, it was wonderful - big, fat
and brash but also capable of subtlety. It could do everything from
truly fat basses, cutting leadlines, warm pads, lush strings, punchy
brass, spiky clavs and more. Its versatile cross-modulation facilities
also allowed sounds that would normally only be possible on a modular
system as Oscillator 3 modulated Oscillators 1 and/or 2 and/or the
filter in a variety of different ways.
But it was all too late for Moog who had thrown everything
at the MemoryMoog. It was released in 1982 with initial teething
problems and it was expensive. Of course, a year later, Yamaha released
the DX7 and suddenly, analogue synths were about as popular as a
pork sausage at a bahmitzvah! Moog struggled on with the MemoryMoog
adding a sequencer and MIDI (MemoryMoog+) but to no avail - the
company folded several years later unable to compete with the domination
of FM synthesis and the new breed of affordable samplers.
I bought a MemoryMoog in 1988 for just a few hundred
pounds. It was versatile enough to replace several analogue synths
I had been forced to sell earlier and I enjoyed owning it enormously,
despite its reliability problems. Sadly, it was blown up (almost
literally) shortly afterwards by an unexpected power surge that
fried the internal electronics - I managed to get it repaired after
a fashion but it had been rendered even more unreliable! I did manage
to grab some sounds off it though.