Moog VST

Best Virtual Minimoogs

The Moog Minimoog somehow manages to capture the essence of the synthesizer like no other sound generating device. It’s not particularly complicated or laden with features but it has a sound that resonates with us. Some might say there’s soul in the sound of the Minimoog. Is it because it was the original accessible synthesizer instrument? Or maybe because it formed the soundtrack of the ’70s and ’80s?

Whatever it is, the Minimoog has a certain amount of magic that brought it back briefly into production in 2016, thirty-five years after the last one rolled out of the Moog workshop. And while companies like Behringer are investing in new hardware versions of the original technology, Software Developers have been attempting to emulate this sound for years. A handful of them have gotten really close. If you are after the Minimoog sound and want it directly in your DAW without all the fuss and expense of hardware then these are the best MOOG VSTs to consider.

Our 2018 Picks

Arturia Mini V

Street Price: $149 (at time of writing)

Arturia’s Mini V is remarkable in being the only software emulation officially endorsed by Bob Moog. It was this partnership in 2003 that really launched Arturia into the software emulation game, resulting originally in the Modular V, an emulation of the Moog 3C and Moog 55 modular system. They developed TAE (or True Analog Emulation), which is the technology by which they model analog circuitry in order to capture every nuance of this sound. The Mini V came out a couple of years later and really stunned people with its authenticity.

The Mini V is modeled using a combination of mathematical models, physical models, and simulations of the circuitry. They then spend a lot of time comparing the emulation with the original hardware and work out ways to reproduce the behavior.

All the original features, controls, and characteristics are present, even down to a photo-realistic interface. That includes 3 VCOs with 5 waveforms, the legendary 24 dB/octave filter, 2 envelopes, an FLO with 7 waveforms, a noise generator, a VCA, and a mixer with an external input. Because it seems no Developer can leave well alone, Arturia added a bunch of stuff: a modulation matrix with up to 8 connections, an arpeggiator, a vocal filter with its own LFO, unison mode, chorus and delay, soft clipping and 32 voices of polyphony. It is sacrilegious to do this to a classic monosynth but we all like more stuff. And this extra stuff is awesome.

The Mini V is on version 3 and has continued to develop and improve. It now comes with 450 specially crafted presets and full automation over every parameter. But it has been around a while, which makes you wonder what other Developers could bring to the party with more recent products.

Important Data

Format: VST, AAX, AU, NKS and standalone
Platforms: MacOS, Windows
Link to Website: www.arturia.com

Native Instruments Monark

Street Price: $99 (at time of writing)

Without official Moog recognition, most other developers have to drop to those clichéd superlatives of “legendary” and “classic.” For Monark, Native Instruments go for “King Analog.” Their intention is to capture every nuance in spectacular detail because this is the holy grail of analog modeling.

With Monark, they’ve stuck true to the monophonic nature of the original. Everything about it is designed to give a bold, fat, single note tone. The Minimoog hardware was studied in meticulous detail and recreated using cutting-edge DSP technology. It uses the low-level modular DSP framework of the Native Instruments Reaktor virtual synthesis engine, employing Zero-Delay Feedback to eliminate sample delay normally produced when digitally modeling analog circuits. The modeling is then refined through multiple stages of listening and adjustment.

The result is a virtual Minimoog with a signature tone and an uncommonly rich character. The interface is clear and simple to navigate with all the expected controls available to mouse, touch or automation. It doesn’t try to be anything else and is remarkably good at what it does.

Important Data

Format: Runs inside the free Reaktor Player – VST, AU, AAX
Platforms: MacOS, Windows
Link to Website: www.native-instruments.com

Minimonsta has another trick up its sleeve. It can morph between 12 different patches using an extra octave of keys on the keyboard. This makes for very cool patch changes during live performance. And just for good measure they dropped a delay effect on the end of the signal chain.

Gforce Minimonsta

Street Price: $163 (at time of writing)

Gforce software takes a different approach with the Minimonsta. Sure, it’s a painstakingly detailed and highly accurate emulation of a Minimoog. But it’s also got a “Monsta” side which explodes the functionality into something quite different.

It has all the functionality we’ve come to expect: the 3 oscillators and that 24dB/octave filter, but then they start to build. They describe it as turning the Model D into a modular synthesizer without the worry of patch cords. This means each parameter can have its own envelope and LFO so the modulation possibilities are endless. All this control and modulation can be automated and mapped over MIDI, making it very versatile and infinitely tweakable.

Minimonsta has another trick up its sleeve. It can morph between 12 different patches using an extra octave of keys on the keyboard. This makes for very cool patch changes during live performance. And just for good measure, they dropped a delay effect on the end of the signal chain.

It doesn’t quite have the looks of Mini V but they do follow their lead into the realms of polyphony. And with over 6,000 preset patches, there’s a never-ending supply of sonic potential. Download the trial version to see for yourself.

Important Data

Format: VST, AU, RTAS
Platforms: MacOS, Windows
Link to Website: www.gforcesoftware.com

Synapse The Legend

Street Price: $99 (at time of writing)

Synapse invites us to “feel the magic of analog sound” with The Legend, a faithful emulation of our old friend the Minimoog with a fair bit of enhancement built in. Apparently, this time it was modeled to an accuracy never seen before in software. Everything was considered, including temperature drift and power supply interference. So it also includes everything that was annoying about the original hardware.

Like the Monark, it has a good well laid out front end, but unlike the Monark, it then starts traveling into all sorts of enhanced areas and extra control panels. The back panel of The Legend allows you to switch between two model revisions. It gives you some fine-tuning options over the hardware tolerances of pitch, drift, and saturation. Synapse wants to make their emulation as real for you as you want it to be, from pristine and perfectly controlled to sloppy and characterful.

Along with polyphonic and unison modes, they’ve added some delay and reverb but that’s more or less it. There’s nothing too radical to take it too far from the roots that are so important. There’s a demo version so you can try it out for yourself.

Important Data

Format: VST, AU, Re, NKS
Platforms: MacOS, Windows
Link to Website: www.synapse-audio.com

Now let’s move away from pure Minimoog into a couple of virtual instruments combining a wider range of synthesizers able to offer the same feel but in a broader context.

IK Multimedia Minimod

Street Price: $49 (at time of writing)

This used to be called the SampleMoog and was based on samples of Moog synthesizers. The latest version has been upgraded to be part of the Syntronik Instruments collection but is available separately as Minimod. It’s the only sample-based instrument on our list.

Minimod brings together sounds from the Minimoog, Modular Moog, and Moog Voyager. It throws them together in 143 presets using over 5,000 samples from 2GB of library. This is not giving you the basis of synthesis, it’s providing you with some awesome sounds you can then tweak and shape to your own devices. The Minimod front panel removes the oscillator section and puts a multi-mode filter front and center. With 7 filter types, lowpass, highpass, bandpass and notch modes, drive and velocity there’s a lot to play with.

The Minimod is not claiming to have captured the essence of the Minimoog synthesis engine but they have produced an excellent library of very usable sounds which show off the power of these amazing synths. It’s also the cheapest of the instruments in our list and ideal for people wanting the sound rather than the synthesis.

Important Data

Format: VST, AU and standalone
Platforms: MacOS, Windows
Link to Website: www.ikmultimedia.com

If you could take the oscillator from a Minimoog, through a modular filter, shaped by the envelope from a Prophet with an Oberheim LFO then this is what it would sound like — probably.

U-He Diva

Street Price: $179 (at time of writing)

Rounding off our selection is the alarmingly named Dinosaur Impersonating Virtual Analog Synthesizer, or DIVA for short. Taking the component parts of many monophonic and polyphonic synths Diva claims “sheer authenticity” as the thing setting them apart from the others on the list. Diva applies methods from industrial circuit simulators in real-time. Using zero-delay feedback (as found in the Monark) they push it to the limits of current processing power. And they admit Diva is heavy on the CPU — it’s supposed to be.

The Diva approach is to let you build your own synthesizer using the parts from any of the emulated models. So any oscillator can be run through any filter and modulated with any envelope or LFO. The result is perhaps less true to the reality of the hardware but very authentic to the sound of analog circuitry. If you could take the oscillator from a Minimoog, through a modular filter, shaped by the envelope from a Prophet with an Oberheim LFO then this is what it would sound like — probably.

It comes with a large library of presets and several awards from 2012 and 2013 when it was released. U-He makes some extraordinarily detailed virtual instruments and Diva is no different. Download the demo to make sure your computer can handle this monster.

Important Data

Format: VST, AU, AAX, NKS
Platforms: MacOS, Windows
Link to Website: www.u-he.com

Conclusion

We do love the sound of a solid analog synth and the Minimoog is unmistakable in its ability to please. All of the virtual instruments on this list were put together with the care and attention you’d expect for a classic synthesizer of such legendary status. None of them will disappoint. For simplicity, consider the IK Minimod. For lack of distraction, the Monark is going to serve you well. For Minimoog with a little extra, the Mini V and Minimonsta give some enormous possibilities and if you want to get crazy then the Diva is ready to party. (Although you do have to consider only $299 will get you a Behringer Model D Minimoog clone in authentic hardware.)

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