Moog Factory Tour: Testing and Calibration
In this part of our Moog Factory Tour series, Jim Debardi discusses the testing and calibration process involved after the manufacturing of the Minimoog synthesizer. The testing and calibration process described here is not just for Minimoogs, but it’s a careful and precise process that is done to every instrument before it leaves the factory. Having every instrument go through a rigorous quality control process is something Moog prides itself on and is a great peace of mind for Moog instrument users. This process is often times very specific to a certain instrument so Moog tapped their engineering department to develop testing devices that exist solely for the purpose of testing Moog instrument functions. Because Moog is dedicated to manufacturing their instruments by hand, they similarly dedicate time and effort into having a human element involved when testing the quality of an instrument’s build. This shouldn’t be a surprise to some when considering the high price tag on particular Moog instruments, but its nice to know that even the more affordable Moog Minitaur Analog Bass Synthesizer and their line of expressive MoogerFooger Pedals still get the same treatment as the Minimoog Voyager XL Analog Keyboard Synthesizer and the Little Phatty Stage II Analog Synthesizer when it comes to their design, construction, and quality control.
Be sure to check out the other videos in our Moog Factory Tour Series
- An Introduction
- Etherwave Theremin
- Slim Phatty, Little Phatty, and Moog Guitar
- Minimoog Voyager
- New Technology Preview
We have more news to report from the world of Moog Music as well. Moog leaked a video of their new analog synthesizer aptly named the Moog Sub Phatty. Here are the features expected to be offered on the new analog synthesizer:
- Two stable oscillators
- A suboscillator
- Noise generator
- Twin ADSRs envelope generators
- Multidrive circuit
- Traditional Moog VCF
- 25-note keyboard
- Pitch bend & mod wheels
In the video, the Sub Phatty is being demoed by Herb Deutsch who has a long history with Bob Moog and Moog Music Inc. He was a long time collaborator with Bob Moog, co-inventor of the Moog keyboard, and is now professor emeritus of electronic music and composition at Hofstra University. The feature that has Deutsch the most excited is the Multidrive which drives the filter and enriches the sound in a way that the Minimoog Overload feature couldn’t quite achieve. From the way things sound, and the excitement on Deutsch’s face, the filters and the sub oscillator have an updated and improved sonic quality for a modern analog synthesizer. Another feature that Deutsch points out is the noise generator. While not a new innovation on synthesizers, the noise generator on the Sub Phatty has a very large and expansive set of controls to craft some interesting sounds and effects.
As the video and Moog’s press release proclaims, there should be a finished, working model of the Sub Phatty at this years Winter NAMM show in Anaheim, CA. Moog also announced that they are currently manufacturing the Sub Phatty so we could see a release date and purchase availability within the next few months if not sooner. We will stop by the Moog booth at NAMM 2013 to bring you all the details on the Sub Phatty as well as its target release date and expected retail price.
What do you think of the Sub Phatty? Do you have any questions about Moog’s testing and calibration process? Post all of your comments and questions below.
Hey guys I’m Morgan with UniqueSquared.com. We are here in Asheville, North Carolina at the Moog Factory. Jim Debardi is going to show us how they test and calibrate the machines before they send them out.
So after going through the initial build process, everything that has been done to the instrument up to this point has just been a physical, mechanical build. We have been putting the pieces together, now we actually have to go in and calibrate the circuit, where we go in to the instrument and essentially we are tuning up the analog circuit and really breathing life into the synthesizer. In this room you can see that our calibration technician has a number of different measuring devices all on display. There’s an oscilloscope that gives a visual representation of voltage and in this case sound as well. There’s a multimeter that gives a numerical representation. The computer screen is displaying all of the MIDI data that is going into and coming out of the synthesizer so we can insure that we are getting the correct information and the correct values of information on every part of the instrument. We even have a few custom made measuring devices that our engineers designed here in the factory because there don’t exist a lot of measuring devices in production for the specific needs that we have. So we actually have to go in and custom design certain pieces to be able to perform the very specific tests that we need to run on these instruments.
The first thing that happens is our technicians will open up the back panel, expose the circuit board, and connect all of these different measuring devices directly to the circuit board. At that point they have a complete sort of visual read out of everything that’s going on inside the circuit. From this point they’ll begin the calibration process. On a Minimoog Synthesizer there are 30 different calibration points. Each one of them needs to be adjusted accurately down to the millivolt for everything to be working perfectly. At this point once all of that has been done technically everything should be running perfectly. We should be able to box up the instrument, put it on a truck, send it out to our customers, but for us here in the factory, thats not quite enough. Just because everything looks good on paper, doesn’t mean that the experience will be exactly correct every time. The human brain and the human ear are very sophisticated measuring devices and the relationship that exists between a player and the instrument is a very symbiotic, a very close personal relationship, and we want to ensure that that experience is perfect every time.
So here in the factory, once we’ve finished all of our calibrations, we do what’s called a final check. Our calibration technicians are trained to know how every knob should feel, how every key should react, what every waveform should look like and sound like and they literally will go through top to bottom, perform every function that this instrument was designed to do, to ensure that that experience is correct. The entire process from calibration to final check takes about two hours for a Minimoog Synthesizer and we do it to every single one that leaves the factory. We don’t just spot check the fifth one off the line. Every instrument that leaves this building will have a full top to bottom final check with a human being to ensure that from the smallest detail, everything is precisely perfect.