Ok, it been a few weeks so I feel I can safely express my opinion on the Phatty without coming across like it’s the best thing on the planet five minutes after unboxing it (a common phenomenon of synth forums).
Being of a generally positive persuasion, I’ll start with my likes:
This is probably the LP’s greatest achievement. Despite having only 4 knobs, you don’t feel like you are playing with a compromised set of controls. Just about any parameter can be accessed with a push button, which changes the focus of the knob above it. The knobs are large and feel smooth although they do wobble a bit more than I had expected.
A nice touch is that the four parameters which have focus on the knobs are saved with the preset, so you can setup appropriate performance parameters per preset.
So many synths have unmusical envelopes. They’re either slow or too linear. Bob Moog seemed to understand the importance of a good envelope – tight and snappy when they need to be.
OK, this is a given. You buy a Moog, you get the Moog sound. I was pleasantly surprised by how grungy the sound can get by using the Filter’s overdrive. Having played with a Moog Voyager a few times, the Little Phatty seems ruder somehow, more grungy and in-your-face and I like that. The low end is extremely solid and seems to fit into a mix without too much EQ or other processing.
Now for the less positive stuff:
Yes, I knew this when I bought it but it’s worth pointing out. You can only apply a single modulation source to up to two destinations. Modulation only applies when the modwheel is raised. There is only one filter type, one LFO and no noise source, although you can use noise as a modulation source. Compared to say, a Dave Smith Evolver Keyboard which is a similarly priced analogue mono-synth, the Moog seems light on features. The Evolver will give you 4 oscillators, 4 LFOs, 4 sequencers and a huge list of modulation sources and destinations. This is probably the most important factor to weigh up when considering a purchase. The Moog will give you that sound but another synth might give you a broader palette. I’m in a lucky enough position to own both the Evolver Keyboard and the Little Phatty, but if you only have funds for one, then think about it carefully.
It’s not a huge problem, but I was surprised to find a bit of wobble in those nice big knobs. I feel like they would break if knocked with reasonable force. At the Little Phatty’s price pont I wasn’t expecting that.
I prefer to use aftertouch over mod wheel for expression and it’s a shame the Little Phatty doesn’t support it.
Overall, I think the Little Phatty is a fine instrument. It’s great for classic style bass and lead sounds and you can push it into crazy territory with a little programming. It’s ergonomics are wonderful and it plays like a real instrument. It doesn’t have as many bells and whistles as some of the competition, but what it does do, it does with style. If you know you like the sound and you want a well designed, eminently playable instrument, then the Little Phatty is hard to overlook.
The demo above is a short demo mainly showing the modulation capabilities of the LFO when pushed into audio rates. If you want more traditional Moog sounds played by a musician infinitely more talented than I, check out Jordan Rudess’s Little Phatty tutorials.