September 27, 2022

While my main coverage at Forbes is computing and artificial intelligence, I occasionally write about sound and music. This time I had the opportunity to test a new analog synthesizer from Moog Music designed as a great entry device for the aspiring musician or enthusiast. The new product is called Mavis, and it delivers classic Moog product sound but in a very compact and portable form that is also compatible with the standard Eurorack system.

To reduce costs and offset some manufacturing and supply constraints, Mavis is all analog (although there are some new twists). You also do the final assembly yourself.

The result is a genuine Analog Moog Synthesizer for $349.

open mavis box

Like the Subharmonic I tested two years ago, the Mavis comes packaged in a natural-colored carton. Instructions are folded to label size. All Moog products are assembled in Asheville, NC, but in this case, the final assembly is provided by the new owner (you can even “sign up” the final assembly). The front panel is metallic with the usual high-quality Moog components. After checking the “Easter egg” under the keyboard flex rubber I was told, the final assembly took less than 30 minutes using tools provided by Moog and a small Philips screwdriver. Even taking a while for some pictures. assembly does not require special skills; No soldering iron needed.

I immediately set up some suggested patches that came with the unit and started playing around. Moog recommends letting the Mavis analog circuits heat up a bit, but as a standalone device, the changes weren’t noticeable. As I mentioned in the Moog Subharmonicon article, I’m not a musician, but I love fiddling with synthesizers. Once you get started, there’s no end to the sound experience spinning around the handle. Let the experience begin!

Due to their lower cost and small size, Moog used smaller “sticky” potentiometers (rheostats) that are not easy to handle, but the large spacing between the potentiometers certainly helps. There are even a few graphics on the board to guide you which function each potentiometer controls.

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Just on its own, Mavis is a capable, expressive analog synthesizer with rubable modularity. It is ready to work with a small one-octave keyboard and is a great starting point for learning about synthesizers and comes with detailed documentation. Mavis also adds a new audio fold (for Moog), in place of clipping cues, for a new wood component and expands the acoustic panel.

Mavis can also be installed in a Eurorack setup or a semi-modular Moog system. The Mavis then becomes a 24-point (44HP) CV-controlled unit that can be combined with other voltage-controlled machines. Moog provides support for its other semi-modular tools: DFAM, Mother-32, and Subharmonicon. For some professional applications, you may want to set the factory calibration yourself and Moog includes a tool for that as well.

Moog pays a lot of attention to keeping operating power low because they want the unit to be passively cooled (no fans) and compact. The power brick that comes with the two units is small and delivers 12 volts at 0.5 amps. Moog puts the average power consumption around 1.8W, so it should be possible to run the Mavis from a battery for portable use.

Mavis main features:

  • 24 patch bay points
  • Full range analog voltage controlled oscillator with pulse width modulation (PWM)
  • Voltage Control – 24dB Moog Low Pass Ladder Filter
  • Low frequency oscillator (LFO) and four-stage envelope generator with cross dimmers
  • The first ever Moog wave circuit that allows add-on installation
  • Modular utility section with attenuators, offsets, strikes, and a flexible DC-connected mixer.
  • Testable sample and holding circuit (S + H)

Mavis kit comes with:

  • Assembly guide
  • assembly tool
  • tuning tool
  • Suggest patch overlays
  • Protective cover for storage and travel
  • Power supply with international plugs
  • patch cables (5)

Summary

At $349, the unit isn’t the cheapest analog synthesizer, but a Moog Music product, it’s a great entry-level synthesizer that can continue to be used for years to come. Mavis owners have access to a range of creative materials specifically designed to help guide them in their exploration of the product and how to patch with other semi-modular Moog tools. It is available from authorized Moog distributors worldwide. To locate one, visit moogmusic.com/dealers.

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