A pretty compelling case can be made that the most important synthesizer in history is the Minimoog Model D. When it was released in 1970 it was considered the first “portable” synth and it was among the first to distill the core tenants of what we consider modern synthesis into a self-contained, pre-wired package. It’s been used by everyone from Kraftwerk, to Sun Ra, to P-Funk, to Giorgio Moroder, to Nine Inch Nails and Dr Dre. It is, in many ways, the platonic ideal of a synthesizer.
This is why vintage ’70s models can fetch up to $10,000. And even the reissue from 2016 routinely goes for over $7,000. It’s also why Moog is bringing the iconic instrument back, again, more than fifty years after it originally debuted.
Just like the original, the latest reissue is hand-built in the company’s Asheville, NC factory with through-hole components housed in an aluminum and hard wood chassis. While it retains the original’s sound and feel, it does include a number of modern amenities that debuted on the 2016 version, like an analog LFO with triangle and square eaves; an improved Fatar Keybed with aftertouch and velocity sensitivity; and MIDI integration. The new version also adds a spring-loaded pitch wheel that snaps back to the center on release — which it pretty much how pitch wheels work on every other synth.
You still get the same massive three-oscillator monophonic sound and iconic ladder filter. Plus the mixer offers thick saturation and screaming feedback for when you need to get a little more aggressive with your timbres.
While the Minimoog is back in production for now, it’s not clearly how long that will remain the case. The company isn’t calling it a limited run, but the previous reissue was only built for about a year before issues finding the necessary components caused the Model D to be discontinued once again. Hopefully this batch will last a little longer on the market. But there is some bad news — the price has gone up. A lot. While the last run of Model Ds would have set you back $3,749, the newest is going for $4,999. It’s not cheap — but at least it’s less expensive than a vintage version. The Minimoog Model D is available now worldwide.