Moog Sonic Six

Moog Sonic Six Image

The Sonic Six is an interesting, although obscure synthesizer from the Moog history books. Its predecessor, the Sonic V, was designed by an ex-Moog employee for the muSonics brand. When muSonics eventually bought out R.A. Moog, forming Moog muSonics, the Sonic V’s basic design was moved into a portable brief-case style synthesizer, and with only a few tweaks, the Sonic Six was born.

The fact that the Sonic Six originated from another company’s design not only accounts for why the Sonic Six looks different than any other Moog, but also for some pretty unique differences under the hood as well. To start, it is duo-phonic, utilizing two analog oscillators with three basic waveforms each plus tuning, modulation and scaling controls. There are two independent LFO generators with advanced control options not seen on other Moog synths (for instance, an X/Y knob is used to mix and balance the LFO outputs). Also on-board is a Ring Modulator (that can modulate either Osc. B or external audio) and pink/white noise generators.

Moog synthesizers are known for their filters, and the Sonic Six strays from the usual Moog in this area as well. While it is known that ARP stole a filter design from Moog for use in some of their 2600 and Odyssey models, leading to lawsuits between Moog and ARP, according to Mark Vail in "Vintage Synthesizers," the Sonic Six actually used some circuitry in its filters which were stolen from an ARP design, although ARP never sued Moog over it. However, later models of the Sonic Six were eventually fitted with a more traditional Moog designed filter. In either case, the filter is a low-pass 24dB/oct which offers the usual controls and is capable of self-oscillation. The VCA, however, has a rather limited set of controls - attack and decay plus a sustain on/off switch.

Moog Sonic Six Image

Not commonly seen, they are actually rather durable devices and used ones generally (if proper care was taken of them) are found in good working order. It was originally designed for educational and home use so it is light and portable and even has a built-in amplifier and speaker. It’s a genuine Moog synth that is equally as obscure as useful these days. And its rather simple looking front-panel layout hides the uniquely flexible, powerful and great sounding little beast it truly is! It has been used by Freddy Fresh, Stereolab and Spectrum/EAR.

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22 Visitor comments
Jesper Ranum
January 26, 2012 @ 7:03 am
It can indeed be voltage controlled. I've had mine removed from the suitcase, pimped, customized and integrated into my modular system expanding the limited envelope with those from the modular. You can trigger it by using the special accessory multi-input. Before the mod I just cut a wire and put soldering iron on the copper to make it fit in the holes. I think it is the 2 holes from top left. Worked like a charm. Accepts Roland-type Gate/Trig besides Moog S-Trigger.
I'm about to release new material created on this pimped Sonic and the modular thru my site ranumusic.com. Cheers, Jesper
Alex Hewetson
December 19, 2011 @ 1:28 am
I have one, in Sydney Australia, it's possibly even more obscure over here. I see someone posted there were no accessories made for it, even though there is a port on the synth. Excuse my ignorance, but can the Control inputs be used? They have 1/4 inch jack inputs, might they be voltage controlled?
theremaniacs
August 16, 2011 @ 8:50 pm
One Sonic Six went through a fire destroying everything I owned. (I had borrowed this synth the night before) The top of the case deformed into the circuit boards. A lot of water was poured out of it. Everything still works and it is making a most pleasing sound right now. That fire was 36 years ago!
joe
May 10, 2011 @ 10:04 pm
Hey Bill,

Love your "dreamies album" ! Any vinyl copies left. I would buy one!

Thanks
Joe
Tierra de Antilopes
January 21, 2011 @ 10:30 am
CHROMEO are using one, or at least they did at their Letterman performance:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VO0aQxxGK8
 
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VSE Rating

Excellent

User Rating

Rated 3.84 (225 Votes)

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  • The link above will take you to a search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - Duophonic (2 Voices)
  • Oscillators - 2 VCO's with sawtooth, triangle, pulse waveforms (variable pulse width on Osc B only)
  • LFO - (2) multimode LFO's with variable rate (sawtooth, ramp, triangle and square)
  • Filter - 1 24dB/oct low pass filter
  • VCA - Attack / Decay / Sustain or Release
  • Keyboard - 49 note keyboard
  • Arpeg/Seq - None
  • Control - CV / Gate
  • Date Produced - 1972 - 1979
  • Resources & Credits
  • Images from Perfect Circuit Audio.

    Additional information provided by DAC Crowell.

    Review updated Jan, 2011

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