Moog Werkstatt Review – Powerful Synth in a Small Box

moog werkstatt-01Welcome to my Moog Werkstatt review. So, what we have here is a fun synthesizer kit. It is easy to assemble without needing to do any soldering. All you do is slot the circuit board in and then screw the case together. It is designed for educational purposes (the name is German for “workshop”), with its 100% analog circuitry based on classic Moog synthesizers. It is infinitely expandable so for more adventurous nerds you can start adding extra things and connecting it to other devices to further broaden the sounds it can make.


Please note: I will receive a commission if you buy through any links on my website, at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products that I use myself or products that I think are good after doing research.


Contents


PROS & CONS

Pros:

  • Very easy to assemble
  • Fun to use
  • Great sounds
  • Oscillator has a very wide frequency range
  • Big Modulation possibilities for such a small unit
  • Mini patch bay allows you to route it however you want
  • Can be expanded and modified in many ways
  • Does a lot for the price

Cons:

  • Tiny keys
  • Difficult to get standard notes
  • Doesn’t have MIDI

view-price-buttoncutomer-comments-button-blue


Video Review


So as you can see, the Werkstatt is great fun to use, and you can make a lot of crazy sounds with it once you dig in and start really playing around with the filter, LFO, pulse width, etc. It does a lot for the price, and can be used just on its own or can easily be expanded with other analog synthesizers and effects. I have to admit, though, that towards the end of that video I didn’t know what was going on. He was making all these crazy sounds and I completely lost track of what he was doing to produce those sounds.


Who is the Moog Werkstatt-01 Designed For?

I would say that the Moog Werkstatt is ideally best suited to someone who wants to learn about sound synthesis through their own experimentation. It was designed to be an educational tool, so that musical nerds could learn about how a synthesizer works by seeing how the oscillator, filter, and LFO all link up, for example. It’s not intended as a complete musical instrument, but rather as a starting point for your sound experiments. So if you are a self-confessed musical mad scientist or a wannabe synth expert, this is for you.


MODIFYING & EXPANDING THE WERKSTATT

2nd Oscillator Mod

On its own, the Werkstatt only has one oscillator. This video shows you how you can add a 2nd oscillator by patching out the LFO. Unfortunately, this means you can no longer use the LFO as an LFO. Also, the 2nd oscillator bypasses the filter, so you cannot change the sound of it using the filter.

LFO Quantizer Mod

Have you ever wondered how they achieve that awesome “wobble” effect on a lot of modern dubstep music? It’s done using Low-Frequency Oscillation (LFO) to wobble the filter. However, the trick is to get the “wobbles” to be in time with your music. This video shows you just how to do that.

Arduino Arpeggiator Mod

Wouldn’t you love to have an arpeggiator in your Werkstatt? Well, now you can. This video shows you how you can use code to program the arpeggiator however you want.

Arduino Noise Generator Mod

You can get some interesting sounds by using noise, and this video shows you how you can modify the Werkstatt to add a noise signal.

Fine Tune Mod

The Werkstatt has an extremely wide frequency range, which is great, but it means that you can have a hard time trying to get exact notes. This mod enables you to fine tune your Werkstatt to exact notes.

Photo Sensitive Resistor Mod

What if you wanted to expand your synth so that it could be controlled in other ways? This modification enables you to add a photosensitive controller onto the Werkstatt. By linking it up to the filter, you can adjust the filter by moving your hand above the photosensitive resistor. It’s a little bit like using a theremin.

Pressure Sensitive Resistor Mod

Similar to the previous mod, this mod enables you to add a pressure-sensitive resistor to your Werkstatt. This enables you to control it by pressing on the pressure pad. Could be good for getting various rhythmical effects.

Pitch Bend Mod

While most synths and keyboards these days do come with pitch bend wheels, the Werkstatt does not. But by modifying it yourself so that it can do pitch bends, you will learn more about how this function works. You can even change the range of the pitch bender.

Volume Knob Mod

Being able to control the volume in real-time while playing can give you some expressive control over your performance. This video shows you how you can add a volume control to your Werkstatt.

2nd LFO

Low-Frequency Oscillation is a great way to add wobbly effects to your sounds. The Werkstatt has only one LFO, but this mod enables you to add a 2nd LFO. This means you can create some more complex sound effects than you can with just a single LFO.

Push Button Vibrato

Vibrato can add expressive character to your sounds when performing. this video shows you how you can add a push-button vibrato to your Werkstatt.

Accelerometer Motion Control

As if we didn’t already have enough ways to control the sounds on the Werkstatt, you can also add a motion control sensor as shown in this video.


PROS & CONS IN DEPTH

Very easy to assemble

Although this is intended as a learning aid for those interested in understanding how synthesizers work, it’s not difficult to assemble. You don’t need to do any soldering or anything fiddly. You just slot the circuit board into the case and screw the top of the case down. This is great because you can start to make sounds with it immediately, yet if you want to take a look at how the circuit board is laid out, you can easily do that just by unscrewing the four screws and taking the top off the case.

I suppose things get more complicated once you start linking the Werkstatt up to other synthesizers and effects. That’s when you could get yourself in a bit more of a tangle, but that’s half the fun isn’t it?

Fun to use

You can have a lot of fun with this as soon as you have put it together. Start pressing the keys and turning the knobs and see what sounds you can create. The best way to learn is by doing, so what better way to learn about how sound synthesis works than by actually getting stuck in and playing around with it.

Great sounds

You can create some truly weird and wonderful sounds using the Werkstatt. This is even truer once you start connecting it up to other devices. But you can do a lot just by playing around with its onboard controls or by patching it to itself in various ways. If you are looking for the kind of weird sci-fi sounds that you used to get on old episodes of Dr. Who, this is the kind of synth you want to use.

Oscillator has a very wide frequency range

The oscillator on the Werkstatt pretty much covers the entire audible range of sound. That means you can create really low-end bass sounds, high-pitched lead sounds, or anything in between.

Modulation possibilities are impressive for such a small unit

Considering how little space the Werkstatt actually takes up, you can create some truly wild sounds with it. It’s the mini patch bay which makes all the difference because you can route the signals however you want. You can literally just see what happens when you plug different parameters up to each other and then start turning the knobs.

Tiny keys

This would clearly frustrate keyboard players who want to get expressive and play a normal keyboard. However, that is not really who the Werkstatt is designed for. It is meant as an educational aid to help you learn about sound synthesis.

Difficult to get standard notes

One of the great things about the Werkstatt is that its oscillator has such a large frequency range. The downside to this is that it is difficult to tune it to precise notes. However, if you implement the Fine Tune Mod demonstrated in the video above, you will be able to have better control over the tuning of the notes.

Doesn’t have MIDI

I think this is quite a significant oversight. The inability to control the Werkstat via a MIDI controller keyboard or MIDI sequencer is a big flaw. It would certainly make up for the tiny keys that the Werkstatt has. Unfortunately, it looks like you’re just restricted to using CV for linking the Werkstatt up to other equipment.


Conclusion

Well, all things considered, there’s a lot going on here on the Werkstatt. I’ve personally never seen a piece of kit quite like this. For those wanting to get started learning all about how synthesizers work, it is a great choice. There is a lot that can be done with it straight away once you have put it together (which doesn’t take very long at all). Then you can expand it in so many ways that it really is the starting point for infinite sonic possibilities. It also looks like a great deal of fun to mess around with.

view-price-buttoncutomer-comments-button-blue


I hope you found my Moog Werkstatt review helpful, but if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comments section below and I will reply as soon as I can.

All the best,
Marcus.

4 Comments

  1. Travis Smithers

    I’ve always liked a lot of the sound effects that some bands have created in their music from keyboards and of course all the different pedals for guitars.

    The Werkstatt would be an excellent way to learn and start to understand how they accomplish all these sound effects. I suppose if you were heavy into synthesisers you could create quite the unit with what the Werkstatt can do with the ability to incorporate other devices.

    Reply
    1. Marcus (Post author)

      Yes, that’s right, Travis. With the open architecture of the Werkstatt, you can really learn how sounds are created and modified. It is an excellent educational tool.

      Reply
  2. Lewis Orton

    These Moogs do create an interesting sound! I love the use of the videos on this site as I would imagine it would be difficult to describe the sounds coming from this crazy synth!
    Are there any other synths that a similar to this Moog? Are there any that can achieve these sounds for a lower price?

    Reply
    1. Marcus (Post author)

      Thanks Lewis. To be honest, a better option is to get software like Propellerhead Reason and use a MIDI controller to play a wide range of sounds. That is a much mroe cost effective solution.

      Reply

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *