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on Tuesday, 11 Mar 2014
- What does this mean?
The Moog Minitaur Analogue Bass Synth is the perfect entry into the world of Analogue synthesis for lovers of phat bass. Comprised of two oscillators, the Minitaur offers a tactile control interface which is almost entirely rotary-knob based. It presents the parameters on a fundamental level which allows learners to use the Minitaur knowing that they will be able to take what they learn onto other synthesizers.
The best thing about the Minitaur is its size and format. It allows both experienced and budding synth enthusaists to get awesome analogue bass sounds, but it doesn't cost the earth, and it doesn't take over the room like an original Moog might have done!
This hands on bass synth is great fun, achieves versatility without gimmicks, and sounds trouser-flappingly good!
Here's what Moog say about the Minitaur Synthesizer
Minitaur is a powerful, compact Analog Bass Synthesizer that features a classic one knob per function design. It is the first instrument in the Taurus family that does not have foot pedals. At only 8.5" x 5.25" and less than 3lbs, the Minitaur puts legendary analog Moog bass into a package designed to fit seamlessly into today's performance and production environments. There are no confusing or convoluted menus to dig through. Plug in a MIDI controller or hook it up to your computer and start playing immediately.
Don't be fooled by it's size. Minitaur delivers all the growl, snarl and low end assosiciated with the Taurus family of Bass Synthesizers in a rugged performance package that is small enough to take with you anywhere.
- One knob per function interface for tweaking and creating new sounds on the fly. It also makes live performance a blast
- Two oscillators with Sawtooth (Original Taurus) and Square wave-shapes for each VCO. Recreate sounds of the original Taurus with sawtooth waves, or create new sounds with square waves or a combination of both
- 2 Mixer VCAs for VCO levels control of Oscillators 1 and 2
- Moog Ladder Filter with adjustable resonance delivers classic Taurus 1 and 3 bass and boom
- Two Minimoog style ADSR Envelope Generators for modulating VCF and VCA. The Decay and Release segments are controlled by the Decay knob, while the Release segment is enabled or disabled via Release On/Off switch
- Midi-syncable LFO with Controls for Rate, VCO LFO Amount, and VCF LFO Amount
- DIN MIDI and MIDI over USB offer complete control of the Minitaur's sound engine
- Analog Control inputs for Pitch, Filter, Volume and Gate. Use an EP2 or CV to connect and control MInitaur with everything from Modulars to Moogerfoogers
- External audio input for processing external audio through the Mixer and Filter section of Minitaur
- Headphone output with 1/8" connection
- Compact rugged steel chassis that is built like a tank
Front Panel Controls
- VCO2 Frequency - Sets the frequency offset of VCO2 from VCO1 from -1 Octave to +1 Octave. Center is unison with VCO1.
- Oscillator 1 & 2 Saw/Square Waveform Selector - Selects a Sawtooth wave (LED OFF) or Square wave (LED ON) Signal for VCO1 and 2.
- VCO1 Level - Sets the level of VCO1
- VCO2 Level - Sets the level of VCO2
- VCF Cutoff - Sets the Cutoff Frequency of the 4-pole Moog Lowpass VCF from 20Hz to 20KHz
- VCF Resonance - This sets the gain for the amount of signal from the output of the VCF fed back to the input of the VCF. This creates a peak in Frequency response at the Cutoff Frequency that can be increased all the way to self-oscillation.
- VCF EG Amount - Bi-polar control sets the (+) or (-) Amount of Envelope Generator modulation of the VCF. Center is no Envelope Generator modulation.
- LFO Rate - Sets the frequency of the LFO. Range is from 0.01Hz to 100Hz
- LFO VCO Amount - Sets the Amount that the LFO modulates the VCO
- LFO VCF Amount - Sets the Amount that the LFO modulates VCF
- VCA EG Attack - Sets the attack Time of a Minimoog-Style ADSR Envelope Generator used to modulate the VCA. Time ranges from 1 msec to 30 seconds
- VCA EG Decay/Release - Sets both the decay time to the sustain level and release time of a Minimoog-Style ADSR Envelope Generator used to modulate the VCA. Time ranges from 1 msec to 30 seconds. The Release segment of the EG is enabled by the Release On/Off switch
- VCA EG Sustain - Sets the sustain level of a Minimoog-Style ADSR Envelope Generator used to modulate the VCA
- VCF EG Attack - Sets the attack Time of a Minimoog-Style ADSR Envelope Generator used to modulate the VCF. Time ranges from 1 msec to 30 seconds
- VCF EG Decay/Release - Sets both the decay Time to the sustain level and release time of a Minimoog-Style ADSR Envelope Generator used to modulate the VCF. Time ranges from 1 msec to 30 seconds. The Release segment of the EG is enabled by the Release On/Off switch
- VCF EG Sustain - Sets the sustain level of a Minimoog-Style ADSR Envelope Generator used to modulate the VCF
- Release On/Off Switch - Enables (LED On_ or Disables (LED Off) the Release segments of both Envelope Generators
- Glide On/Off Switch - Enables/ Disables the Glide function
- Glide - Sets the rate of Glide when the note controlling the MINITAUR changes
- Volume - The Master Volume of the MINITAUR's synth Engine
- Fine Tune - Adjusts the frequency of the VCOs +/- 1 semitone
- MIDI Indicator LED - Indicates incoming MIDI activity
- LFO Rate Indicator LED - Indicates the rate of the LFO
- Audio Out - 1/4" Unbalanced jack
- Headphones -- Jack for stereo headphone output
- Audio In - 1/4" Unbalanced jack accepts line-level input
Analog CV Inputs
- Pitch CV - 1/4" TRS Jack accepts 0 to +5V signal (internally processed for 1 V/Octave) via passive Expression Pedals or CVs
- Filter CV - 1/4" TRS Jack accepts 0 to +5Vsignal via passive Expression Pedals or CVs
- Volume CV - 1/4" TRS Jack accepts 0 to +5Vsignal via passive Expression Pedals or CVs
- Gate - 1/4" Jack accepts a 0 (Off)/ +5V(On) Gate signal to trigger the unit's EGs
- MIDI (DIN) - Standard DIN MIDI input for MIDI Control of the MINITAUR
- MIDI (USB) - Type B USB connector for connecting MINITAUR to host for USB MIDI
Andrew | Purchase date: 03 June 2013
Even great-sounding synths often take tweaking to get the best out of them. Not so with the MiniTaur; it always sounds great! It has a beautiful, warm, thick analogue sound, and the build quality is great, with knobs akin to late 70s gear.
Note that the synth is designed for bass, and doesn't generate notes above C5, but it's ideal for bass parts, low leads, and it can even do some great retro drum sounds.
Nearly every control has its own knob, which is great, but a few options can only be set from the PC software, so I recommend downloading that. Also note that the current firmware lets you store and manage patches in the synth's onboard memory; these can then be loaded directly from the unit's front panel. This means you can load patches without always being connected to the computer.
I wouldn't necessarily recommend it for live work in combination with a DAW/sequencer MIDI in, as the firmware doesn't seem terribly stable: I have had a few crashes, requiring the MiniTaur to be powered off/on, and you wouldn't want this happening on stage. That's a shame, and the only real shortcoming I've found.
Overall, if you want an analogue monosynth for basslines or low leads in the studio, then you really can't go wrong with this.
Mark | Purchase date: 04 January 2013
This little monster is very robust, the solid metal casing has a matte black finish covered in top-grade knobs that travel very smoothly without any lateral movement - it just oozes quality.
The knobby interface might look fairly basic, but once you register and download the software you can set a lot more parameters Under-The-Hood like 'Note Sync' (Osc Sync), Legato settings and you can even set how it reacts to the Mod-Wheel (up & down independently from 2 to 24 semitones).
From the software you can access the Presets or create your own and upload them to the Minitaur. You can access the presets when the it's not connected to the computer by holding down Glide and scrolling through it's internal bank of 100 using the Osc 1 & 2 buttons.
This is where it becomes apparent that there is some 'Phatty-Tech' involved as the knobs don't suddenly jump to their new values, but you can set it so that if you do start tweaking a knob when it's physical position doesn't relate to the preset it can either jump straight to the new value or gradually & smoothly catch up with it's new position. Genius!
Soundwise this beast has bass covered, it can make even inanimate objects dance. Of course it can do that round-bottomed Moog bass but also gorgeous Oberheim phasey horns, thick n squelchy TB-303 acid, face-ripping Electro, heavy Dubstep wobble, cinematic low-end rumbles, classic House bass and even zaps and FX. Some of the presets really compel you to play with a bit more funk.
The lack of a sine wave osc might seem like a glaring omission at first, but closing the filter to remove the harmonics on either the square and triangle waves reveals a healthy fundamental sine. The note range is capped at CC 72 (1 octave above Middle C, I think) but, as it's a bass machine, it's not a problem - it still reaches into the mids range, especially with patches that utilise the Resonance.
Whilst we're on Resonance, engaging it scoops out a lot of lower frequencies (when the filter is also closed somewhat) so it kind of acts like a high/band pass filter, up to the point where it starts self-resonating - here it doesn't blend very well (maybe I just haven't found the sweet-spot yet) but for FX/Zaps it's very useable.
I originally bought this to go with my Minibrute. It's worth noting that even though Moog SAY on their website their gear operates at 1 volt per octave over CV it actually operates at around 0.96/0.97 volts per octave. What this means is that the Minibrute IS outputting 1 volt po, which translates on the Minitaur as each octave has 13 notes! D'oh!. This also means that the arpeggiator over CV is also wrong. Changing back to Midi the keys work fine, but the arpeggiator only repeats the lowest note and not the whole arp sequence. Audio-In is fantastic though, running stuff through the Minitaurs Filter and Envelopes can impart punch and weight.
This was a bit of an impulse buy (a treat for stopping smoking) but it's found a permanent place in my set-up. If you're unhappy with your synth bass then this is a no-brainer! Small enough to fit into any set-up, tough enough to survive 10 years of gigging with a gorgeous tone that slays any other synth or soft-synth that pretends to 'do' bass :)