It’s been 40 years since Moog last manufactured their 16 Channel Vocoder and they’ve decided the time is right to bring this chunk of vocal filtering magic back to life.
Moog 16 Channel Vocoder
It’s the sort of box that descends into myth and legend that brought a sound and vibe to music that just doesn’t seem to want to dissipate. How is it that now more than ever the world is looking for that classic vocoder sound?
Moog has dug out the original schematics and the reissued 16 Channel Vocoder will be hand-soldered at the Moog Factory in Asheville, North Carolina. They’ve updated the power supply and mechanical connectors to give them a longer life and better reliability without infringing on the instruments unique character and idiosyncrasies.
The 16 Channel Vocoder is essentially a fixed filter bank offering 16 different bands which route through an envelope follower tied to the incoming source material (called “Program”) – usually your voice. The voltage output of the envelope followers run into 16 VCAs which are controlled by your “Carrier” – usually a keyboard. Normally speaking the frequency bands are normalised to the corresponding VCA but the two rows of jacks on the front allows you to completely re-patch the bands in any way you see fit.
Other features include the ability to mix in a little bit of the vocal to add definition to the sound, a balance between the “Buzz” of the low and the “Hiss” of the high end, and a Sample & Hold circuit which will freeze the envelope followers at the push of a button or a footswitch. Footswitches are definitely a bit of a thing with this machine, there are 3 jacks on the back for them.
It’s an iconic sound in a suitably vintage-looking box. I used to find the sound fabulous in the days of the Cylons in Battlestar Galactica and Sparky’s Magic Piano but it’s not really appealed to me as a musical device – which is probably sacrilegious, but that’s just me!
The price is a whopping USD 5,999 and should be available later in the year.