Moog Subsequent 25

Moog has announced the Sub 25. Let’s talk. And drool. And send me one?

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Currently drooling. I’m getting pretty excited about it. This thing looks pretty powerful.

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Having owned (and sold) a Subsequent 37 and still owning a Minitaur, I’ve got some thoughts about this one. First of all, it sounds just like the Subsequent 37 from what I’ve heard of it so far - it’s probably more or less the same sound architecture internally. If you like the Subsequent 37 sound, you’ll like this one - I see them as both being Phatty series Moogs - but far more versatile and ranging from delicate almost-minimoog style work up to the dirty growly jazz riffs you expect from a Phatty.

That said, they have a very distinct sound - and it’s something they really almost never lose except at the extreme ranges of their capabilities. It’s not anything like the sound of the Mother/Grandmother/Matriarch series Moogs, nor is it the sound of the Taurus, Mini, or other series. Without using useless adjectives, I think it comes down to this: if you love the classic Moog sound, this isn’t it. But if you love the sound of the Subsequent series so far, this is that. These synths require much more care to bring out really incredible sounds - they sound pretty “bland” (for a Moog) to my ears on their face, and it’s difficult to pull them out of their own “same old Sub sound” in a sense. That’s both good and bad - again, I’m being redundant, but if you like that sound a lot, you’ll find it easily. If you want more versatility, you’ll have to work harder at it, and you still won’t come close to what a Grandmother will do in the hands of a novice. Different strokes, and all that.

This is clearly designed as the “beside a computer” version of the Subsequent 37 and it’s probably as close to a desktop module as Moog is going to go with this line (though I’m happy to be proven wrong). It lacks an arpeggiator, a sequencer (let alone a sequencer with CV tracks too like the S*37s), direct access to some critical functions such as filter slope and envelope looping, and the shift combos it offers in lieu are bizarrely arcane - not even as graceful as the hidden-but-simple shift combos of the Minitaur. It’s clearly intended to be mostly used with the (VERY good) VST or standalone editors, in which case it’s trivial to access and MIDI map these essential components of sound design.

That said, it’s a very nice price for a cut-down S*37 if you’re a mostly-ITB composer/sound designer, want the Subsequent sound, and don’t mind the lack of a second LFO and any of the amazingly useful modulation routings. It’ll play a little bit with CV for you, and it won’t take up a shitload of desk space (the main reason I sold the Subsequent 37 CV was because of how friggen huge it was for its one/two voices). If that’s your wheelhouse, then the only other synth I would suggest looking at is the Sequential Pro3 which isn’t THAT much more and kicks this guy around like a toy. In my opinion, of the newer monosynths of the computer-integrated variety, this represents a sweet spot in the compact, affordable, more-a-module-than-a-keyboard synth and the Pro3 represents the epitome of what a hardware monosynth is in the digital age.

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This is a really great perspective.

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As a casual observer it looks so similar to many of the older models.

I was actually in the market for a sub phatty, but took the December price drop as an omen and decided to see what was coming. As my needs are primarily for lower register stuff, I might stick with the sub phatty. Personally, I’m really drawn to the subsequent sound. I like the grandmother too. So much synth. So little time.

Thanks for posting that.

I was surprised to see Peter Kirn calling the Sub 25 as the best starter Moog for someone who really wants a Moog but hasn’t jumped in yet. To my mind that’s more the Grandmother or Sirin.

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Agreed. I’d suggest the Grandmother in particular as the Sirin still needs the vst or combos to get to some of the good stuff.

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i recently played one at the factory, and can confirm it’s the same subsequent engine / architecture / sound, but in a “sub phatty” form factor. sounded fine, but definitely not voyager / taurus / mother sound.

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Not really. You can access most of the functions from the front panel with the Glide button acting as a shift key. All of the secondary functions make sense too: glide + LFO rate change the LFO shape, glide + oscillator 2 level activate hard sync, glide + amp sustain activated drone mode, saving a preset, switching a preset etc.

The only things you would need the software for would be for assigning the cv inputs to different destinations, storing and recalling presets to and from the hardware, etc.

There are a few others that cant be done by the front panel but can be done via CC, like syncing LFO to midi clock along with specifying time division, etc

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This is what I mean by combos, yes. I own a Minitaur. It has the same interface as the Sirin. And I don’t think the Sirin is a good “first synth” for exactly this reason - most beginners don’t comprehend what those functions do intuitively and so won’t use them or really reach for them to find out - especially if they’re hidden behind combos.

These combo shortcuts only make “sense” if you’re already familiar with subtractive synthesis. The Grandmother puts things like hard sync, LFO shape, and drone mode right up front with dedicated switches for playing around with. In my opinion, this makes it a superior choice for a beginner than either the Subsequent 25 or the Sirin/Minitaur.

I was actually replying to the comment saying the Sirin requires the software. It does not. Your first comment was well thought out and broke it down fantastically

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I agree with your recommendation of the grandma as a much better first synth though. If I had more studio space I’d totally want one.

I think you are spot on. I have the original Sub Phatty & was a little surprised after watching the Loopop video that apart from the very welcome paraphonic duophony it (and the app) is exactly the same. There is mention of a retuned filter but listening closely I can’t hear any difference there. It’s as limited as the SP synthesis wise but I am one of those people that love that sound and find it inspiring to work with. Like you say I tend to have a range of external CC modulation coming from the computer into it to expand the synthesis. One upgrade I wish they’d made is to enable those looping envelopes to respond to clock or sync.

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My favourite thing from the Mylar Melodies video was “the middle settings are good too” in regards to the mixer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmSelaSdyPc

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That video was impressive. My mind was kinda blown when he was sequencing with the Cirklon. Woah!

This is exactly right.

On the “blandness” of the Sub/Subsequent sound, I wonder if this comes from the fact that the oscillators are rock solid, with no drift againt each other I have been able to discern. Moog sell that as a plus point, but I think it does mean there is little unpredictability or interest in the raw sound of the oscillators. Maybe I shouldn’t open that can of worms!

On the Sub/Subsequent 37 you can disguise that blandness either with amazing musicianship (see the brilliant Cory Henry promo videos and stage shows), or to a certain extent by using the undoubted strength of the instrument, which is the easy capacity for complex modulation, with two looping envelopes plus two LFOs each with a very wide choice of modulation source, plus multiple modulators for each modulator, plus three modulation destinations per LFO.

My first thought on seeing the 25 is that by removing an octave of keyboard and a lot of the easily accessible modulation, they have made it a lot harder to disguise the “blandness”. But you make a good point here about who this instrument is really aimed at and for those effectively using this as a module from a computer or some sort of midi controller it could make a lot of sense.

In my opinion, that’s not likely it. I’m quite adept at using modulation to detune and drift oscillators, as well as having many other synths like the Prophet Rev2 and my digital Nords which have very precisely stable oscillators which sound to my ears more versatile and differentiable. Detune and drift and modulate it all you want, it still sounds like a Sub.

Part of it, I think, is the waveshape from the continuously variable oscillators as opposed to the traditional Moog multi-tapped discrete oscillator architectures, a large part of it is the filter which has a very opinionated character of its own, and another part of it are the distortion and feedback circuits which have some sort of a resonant bandlimited feel to them - I describe here what they sound like, not what they necessarily are. Taken as a whole, there’s a very significant departure from the classical Moog architecture. Again not bad, not good, just different.

Yes maybe you’re right.

It’s an instrument of paradoxes, bland yet distinctive, it can sound wild yet it always feels like it’s always under very tight digital control.

I have a love/meh relationship with mine. Mostly meh when it’s sitting on the shelf taking up a lot of space for its two VCOs; mostly love when I’m actually playing it though.

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One thing I love about the Subsequent 37 which I suspect will be true about the Subsequent 25 is the overall feel of the instrument - the wooden ends, the knob resistance, the general panel layout, it’s all really a cohesive, fun to play whole that invites tweaking, knob turning, and generally getting “into” it. You’re spot-on about the space the '37 took up, though - these are fairly deep for their width.