Twin oscillator mono synth
The cheapest Moog money can buy and an excellent, straightforward, monophonic follow up to the Prodigy. List price is £335, but it's turning up in the shops for as little as £230.
The first thing you'll notice is that the guy behind the counter will also try to sell you a small black package with some leads. Buy it. It's the power supply. To save space and cost Moog have taken it out of the main body of the synth. The side benefit is you could run the Rogue on batteries at a pinch.
The case is black, part metal, part plastic and doesn't have the flashier wooden styling of the Prodigy, though the two and a half octave keyboard is sturdy enough.
To conserve space the pitch and modulation wheels have been shifted onto the left hand side of the control panel rather than down by the keys, but reaching them presents no problems. The controls are a mixture of knobs and sliders.
Facility-wise, as stateside chaps would say, it has two oscillators, an envelope generator with attack and decay settings, a filter featuring cutoff, resonance and eg amount, overall volume and noise which is tinged pink rather than virgin white.
Patching, while not as versatile as rivals like the Sequential Circuits Pro One, is actually better than the more expensive Moog Source. The LFO has triangular, square and sample and hold waveforms plus an auto trigger for repeating chops. They can be routed to the VCOs, VCF or both, creating a stronger selection of chirps, twiddles and special effects than the Prodigy.
Both of the VCOs supply ramp waveforms and pulse width variations on a square wave — number 1 is a blunt 50/50 while number 2 is a reedier spike waveform, typical of clavinet sounds.
One switch controls the 32, 16 and 8 footages for both VCOs so they can't be separated in pitch, at least not by more than an octave. The interval tuner can take VCO2 an octave above its partner which is enough for most general purpose and if you need more then the filter slips easily into oscillation to produce those clicks and high fifths needed for percussive organ settings.
As usual Moog have turned out a gorgeous filter, perhaps not as gutsy as those in more expensive models, but sweeter than the Prodigy. Piping flutey tones come easier to the Rogue and the filter stays tracked over three quarters of the keyboard.
There's only one envelope for the volume and the VCF and that admirably handles the classic synth sounds... short and punchy or long and languid... but misses the more subtle effects which two ADSR sections can have on the "inside" of a note.
The eg has sliders for attack and decay (the longest decay time being almost 50 seconds) and a neat system of switching to provide fast and convenient control over the essential and most popular envelopes.
On Contour both the filter and volume are controlled by the generator, on Keyed the electronics act like an organ — on when you hit the note, off when the key is released, and on Bypass the VCF still wangs but the volume stays constant.
Syncing is up for grabs in two different ways. First it can be contoured so the sweep of the envelope forces VCO1 to growl through the harmonics. Or it's available via performance control — a flash way of saying you twiddle the knobs because the circuit can't do it for you.
One of the extras Moog have added is the overdrive which is actually mildly misleading. It conjures up visions of HM distortion and shrieking fuzz tones — not so. It's more subtle, appearing as a richening of the waveforms giving them a harsher body and a lift in the middle frequencies.
It comes into play when the slider volumes are pushed past 8 on a 1 to 10 scale and works best loud as do most things.
Physically the Rogue stands (or sits) 21in long, 12in deep and 5in high. Moog are making pretty blue fur lined cases, but they're expensive.
Things I liked — the perfect fat, round and squelchy bass sounds for funk and Depeche Modings, lots of clean, tight lead and rhythm settings and a very smooth top end. Good to see a useful sample and hold on a synth this price and the noise is one of those that appears to talk to you as you play up and down the keyboard. It would also make a reasonable snare with a drop of reverb.
If there's one overall criticism it's in the controls which are sometimes too fine in the wrong places. For example, the difference between no decay and a nice after note bounce measures a gnat's cock on the slider, which then has an inch of room for sustain times of 10 to 50 seconds which are in practical terms, much of a muchness. But I can't fault the sound.
A great, basic, workmanlike synth, highly recommended for any band wanting to invest in a keyboard and still be able to eat.
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