Moog System 55 Modular Synth Overview

In this video, Sweetwater’s Daniel Fisher fires up the new Moog System 55 modular synth.

At the 2015 NAMM Show, Moog reintroduced the classic Moog Modular Synthesizer, reissuing three iconic systems: the System 55, the System 35 and the Model 15.

These three modular synthesizer systems were originally created and manufactured by Moog in 1973. Moog plans limited run manufacturing of the three systems, using the same parts and techniques that were used to build the originals.

Moog plans to build 55 units of the System 55, priced at $35,000 per instrument; 35 of units of the System 35, priced at $22,000 per instrument; and 150 units of the Model 15, priced at $10,000 per instrument.

Alongside these Moog Modular Systems will be the Sequencer Complement B Expansion Cabinet, a dual 960 Sequential Controller, an accompaniment to the System 35 and System 55, that has been out of production for over 30 years– as well as an optional 5-Octave duo phonic keyboard.

See the Moog site for details.

96 thoughts on “Moog System 55 Modular Synth Overview

      1. I think you are missing the sarcasm. Here, let me explain it to you. For this ridiculous price you CAN’T play chords and you CAN’T choose which modules you want. Get it now?

        1. I think you are missing the clue,

          Here, let me explain it to you. People that buy modular synthesizers don’t buy them to play chords. And anyone that can afford a $35K recreation of a classic synth is going to want it to be faithful to the original.

          This is a $35K reissue of a classic modular synthesizer, faithful down to the circuit boards, parts and hand assembly.

          You can get a modern take on this from Synthesizers.com for about a quarter of the price of this one. Just don’t buy one to play chords.

            1. Please explain to me how anything I said was a personal attack. How is pointing out that when the first modular Moogs came out, they were expensive because they were cutting edge, an attack on anyone here? And add to that that this is not cutting edge any more. If people want to spend money on a classic, then buy a Jag E type. How is that a personal attack? How is pointing out that when Moog first offered modulars, that buyer could construct their own systems, but now they can’t. be viewed as a personal attack? Please explain.

              1. Bill

                We always encourage active discussion of our posts, including sharing your opinions, positive or critical, of any products discussed. This comment thread and many others attest to that.

                Comments that cross the line over to attacking other readers or the people that make products discussed, though, will be deleted. We only delete comments that clearly cross that line from criticizing products to attacking other people, so it’s not something that we will discuss or debate.

                Keep your comments on topic and constructive, and this should never be an issue for you.

          1. I’m well familiar with the subject of this post. That said, the term ‘mod synth’ means nothing to me, which is why I asked.

            “For I am a bear of very little brain and long words bother me.” —Winnie the Pooh

    1. Brass and Woodwind players can pay an easy $10k on an instrument that doesn’t play chords. Also, if you dont like the price I do believe Moog offers the option to not purchase it.

        1. comparing this to an Stradivarius is just ridiculous
          the production cost of the system 35 is around one grand, but then again they have to sell it to snobbish people that think they are buying a Stradivarius

          1. a grand, depends on parts and labor, if you use cheap parts you may hit a grand, but quality may make it higher, and there is the labor cost, testing and such.
            Then making it a limited production run limits profit margin which large runs help.

            Always love hearing the cost of parts line and the other factors get missed out in it.
            Just do research on manufacturing and you see there is allot in it

            1. that grand line is priceless.
              thats what? profit margin of…3400%? yeah thats how business works.
              price the product 35 times the production cost because “fugk it”.
              “why make it affordable amirite” says the product manager.

          2. “A grand” ? Really? You seriously have no idea. Do you think they throw all the parts in a pile and cast some sort Moog magic spell and it assembles itself? Of course they’re making a great profit, as they should, these are limited models for people with a lot money to spend. The way people are reacting to these you’d think this was a permanent production model that Moog actually expected normal people to buy. These are going to go to Universities, people like Trent Reznor, and goddamn Deadmau5.

          3. “the production cost of the system 35 is around one grand”

            If you could do it for that, I’d be glad to pay you double!

            You may not realize, though, that the Synthesizers.com version of this, which is made with modern production practices and inexpensive modern electrical components, costs $9-10,000.

            Moog’s using hard to source vintage components and vintage production methods to build these. And a lot of the work’s got to be done by skilled people that know some pretty obscure stuff.

            A more realistic production cost is probably closer to $20K, which allows for both dealer markup and Moog’s profit.

            If you look at what they are doing, the work they are putting into this definitely shows.

            I’m just not convinced, though, that using the old parts and construction techniques is going to result in a better synth than the approach that Synthesizers.com is taking.

            Roger Arrick at Synthesizers.com put a lot of thought into making a modern version of the classic Moogs, and he fixed a lot of compromises in the original Moog designs.

            Remember that, when Moog was working, the electronics were extremely expensive and this meant that Bob Moog had to make some intelligent design compromises, in order to keep cost in check. Arrick is working at a time when the electronics are a pretty small part of a synthesizer’s cost, so his designs aren’t limited by the things Moog had to deal with.

            1. My god , someone else gets it
              Congrats.
              By the ways one thing you missed though was the tuning process, the point in which you balance the load in the circuit to get the correct waveform

          4. Actually I think the comparison to a Stradivarius is quite accurate in some ways. That violin doesn’t cost near as much to make as its selling price. Both it and the Moog Modulars have competition that may sound equal but are NOT the same. In the end prices will reflect supply and demand. If Moog didn’t think people would pay that price and could afford to go lower, they would. However, with limited production runs of 55, 25 and 100 they probably won’t have trouble selling them. Just because you don’t think it is worth the money doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t. Frankly, I’m half tempted to dig into the retirement fund for a 25 + sequencer but then I’d have to adjust my intended lifeline a bit too much but I sure would enjoy my time with it.

            P.S. I seriously doubt there is less than $1000 in parts, labor and overhead in the 55.

  1. People need to get over the price. What you’re asking for is available from other manufacturers. It’s not what Moog chooses to do, you may find it silly. The lack of access to Moog modules is a bummer because we all would like access to that gear, but just make a euro rack system for 5,000 and put a Moog sticker on it and quit complaining.

    1. What Moog module do you not have access to in Eurorack or 5U form?

      The one with the Moog logo on it.

      Everything else is available in a modern equivalent already. Do you really need a Moog logo on it to appreciate it?

      1. That was my point. That being said I’m sure people would’ve been excited by Moog doing what DSI is doing. It really doesn’t make much difference to the consumer beyond a brand name.

      2. far as i know, old-stock synth components actually contain metals no longer priced to be used in manufacturing, and so the sound is really not the same. Designs have changed over time to make what is thought the best use of currently-available materials. In the old days, the more ‘ideal’ metals are used in all parts of the circuits.

        That’s also why You simply CAN’T simply re-produce a vintage synth’s design, since the old circuits simply don’t work without the intended metals at all connection points and transistors resistors etc. It takes a team to re-develop it in emulation of the intended function of each circuit path and so on.

  2. For the price they are asking, I would rather get a mega system from PAIA (where I can choose which modules I want) and spend the rest on a down payment for a nice house.

    1. Yes, but some people already have a home, already have the retirement funded and have cash leftover to spend as they wish and they actually want a Moog product. Why every insists on evaluating every price in terms of their their personal value is beyond me. Don’t buy it.

    2. PAIA? Yes, the ‘Poor Man’s Kit’. Are you serious? You’ve disgraced and embarrassed yourself. Go ahead. You’ll be the laughing stock! And sound like shit to boot.

    3. When keeping it real goes wrong….

      Honestly, the only reason any of this banter is going on as a negative, is clearly do to jealousy/ lack of funds!
      There are so many options for DIY kits and production “Analog Modules” and lots of new style “Hybrid Digital/Analog Modules”. Many of which are really interesting. If you are truly interested in making unique sounds rather than, the sound of breaking your keyboard while you type and shout at your computer (a digital device;) I suggest you look into what you can afford and stop ranting like a lune!

      I quite like my new system and must say i feel honored and fortunate to have been able to even order one. After 20yrs for being an “Analog Enthusiast” you better believe i jumped on that!

      Thank you Moog Music for taking the time to do this. the 35/B-compliment sounds amazing! I feel sorry for the haters! You may want to try investing your energy into some more productive endeavors that will get you on the path to a sonically happy place!

      Good luck and enjoy the life you have to live… If it doesn’t serve you the why do you do it..?

  3. There’s a reason why Wendy Carlos, who was a pioneer on a modular Moog, and made many recordings with one, got bored with analog synthesis and went digital.

    1. Yeah, one day I got so bored with analog synthesis that I went and downloaded Vengeance sample pack “Ultimate Fills” instead.

    2. Bill – she moved on to digital synthesis because she was interested in doing imitative synthesis and orchestration, and at that point in time, digital synths were a more cost-effective platform.

      Unfortunately, her attempts at imitative synthesis on things like Digital Moonscapes have not aged well at all – they sound thin and cheesy. Her analog work has stood the test of time, especially her Brandenbergs, and that is what she will be remembered for.

  4. I understand the appeal of the Model 55, but I don’t understand why anybody would want a Model 15. It is a 3 oscillator synth with a low pass (only) filter for $10,000. The only items that set it outside the norm for a single synth voice is the two amplifiers and a fixed filter bank. You’d do better with a MiniMoog Voyager at $4,000.

  5. We have more cost effective ways of getting a hernia than buying a System 55 – but if I had the readies I’d so get a system 55, then I’d make a lovely Youtube vid of it playing a squelchy sequence as I set the thing on fire, and as it burns away just flash up the caption, ‘relic from the past’. One day I hope to have the money to squander on such bold statements, just to piss people off engaging in such lame activities – I can but dream.

    1. What’s stopping you? This is what kickstarter was made for. Together we can fulfill the dream of utterly destroying the most expensive synth in history.

      1. These Moog systems are far from the most expensive in history.

        All the early great digital synthesizers – like the Fairlight CMI, Yamaha FX-1 and DX-1 and the GDS – were WAY more expensive. A lot of these synths cost as much as a small house at the time.

        Still – way out of my price range. If money were no object, the Voyager XL looks like it is one of the best combinations of great hardware and power in an analog synth.

        But there are suddenly lots of great synths – at all price ranges – so why so much whining?

      2. With the expense being an issue to this project, I like the idea of a kickstarter project, but I reckon I got more chance getting arts funding for this if I talk enough bull. Paradoxically, for myself, the cost isn’t the issue, it is the sheer pointlessness of the thing. I was thinking it would be like Rolls Royce bringing out a perfect replica of a 1970’s car – silliness, only a nutjob would pay big money for something that stupid – a limited relic from the past at a premium cost! If you buy a luxury car today it needs luxury features but it also needs basic mod-cons – power steering, A/C, computer, sat nav, hands free, efficiency, etc… That is why I think killing a system 55 on video is the only adequate response to such a pointless piece of kit. I’d even be surprised if these things hold any value as an investment, in the short to medium term – I don’t think they will lose value, but they will always be worth what it costs, as why would someone give you more money for something that is a modern copy of something that holds real value – a system 55 copy doesn’t have the history or heritage to increase value over a short time – unless someone uses one in a deeply important why? And that isn’t going to happen? I think we are 30 years too late for that, it is really that pointless – Moog could have spent some time and money to do something truly beautiful.

  6. There is no other way to see this, they are either completely out of their mind or their planning to have these systems replace the grand piano’s that some people have in their home, solely as a status symbol.

    It is as if they were locked in a time closet and just came out bypassing, besides anything else, 10 years of eurorack developments..

    The ssf/wmd system in the post above ,probably costs around 2000 eu and is more capable than a system 15. And this is one of the 100th of options available today..

    1. Moog already has all these modulars called for – so they are ‘out of their mind’ all the way to the bank.

      There’s a lot of demand for these synths. That’s hard to understand, if you’re a hobbyist, but not if you’re working at a university or someone that’s makes a good living from synthesis.

      If you’re looking for bang for the buck in an analog synth, though, it’s the Sub 37. It will do just about anything these modulars will do, plus a lot more, it’s got great build quality and it’s only $1,500.

      1. well I am not a hobbyist, and for sure a moog system wouldn’t offer something different to the student attending a program, actually it can only offer less.

        1. I think this is a brilliant, if cynical, move by Moog. We live in a world where the 1% own 50% of wealth. The wealthy don’t think about whether they’re getting good value when they make a purchase like this. It’s called conspicuous consumption (or conspicuous waste).

        2. John

          I can’t comment for Tara, but when we talked to Moog at NAMM, they did say that they had commitments, already, for the planned production run for these new synths.

          This doesn’t mean that the new systems are sold out – it just means that Moog dealers are confident enough in making sales that they want to commit to getting systems to sell.

  7. People really do miss the point with these re=issues. It’s not about functionality or bang for $ compared to what you might be able to do with Eurorack or a Korg Workstation or an Ipad, it’s aimed at people with money who would like to own a classic and iconic instrument.

    If you don’t like what you see, or can’t afford it, then you are not who Moog is aiming this at, and nobody is forcing anybody to spend that kind of money on anything. Moog do cater for all price ranges.I really don’t understand all of the complaining and bitching about these beautiful instruments.

  8. Even if I was independently wealthy and had $35,000 to burn on gear, I wouldn’t buy this thing. I’d create a few massive “mod synth” systems from various other manufacturers, hand picking my own modules, and then I’d buy a Prophet 6, Prophet 12, Moog Sub 37, and every other new synth on my hardware wish list. Then I’d take my family on a nice vacation and donate the thousands left over to my local food pantry.

    Oh, that’s right. I’m “missing the point” with these new old Moog systems. LOL

    1. “Then I’d take my family on a nice vacation and donate the thousands left over to my local food pantry.”

      Wow, such selflessness. I bet if you told Moog Music this they’d just send you a System 55 along with The Most Selfless Citizen of Earth Award.

  9. That fixed filter does sound immense. Thats some big money. around 2.7 million quid if they shift the lot, and its big money for few units. If they wanted to make the same from euro modules it would take ages. Of course, in this day and age selling something so ridiculously expensive, is quite vulgar. But i would hazard a guess that the target market is the wealthy or retired sucessfull musician as opposed to your average synthtopia reader or muso trying to earn a crust. We can moan about the price, but im pretty sure moog couldnt give a sh*t!

  10. I find the response to these systems hilarious … “How dare this exist!!! its not my favorite and i cant afford it!!.. so nobody should have it!”. Can we move on now? theres a million synth contraptions out there. Buy something else.. talk about something else.

      1. Difference is a Bugatti Veyron is state of the art technology, it isn’t a perfect copy of a 1970’s car. You’d be an idiot to spend big money on a modern built luxury car that didn’t have basic modern features – like this synth is, stupid.

  11. Again, I see the appeal of the Model 55 both as a status symbol and as an inspirational piece of gear. It’s no accidents that the high end synthesizer market has reawakened at the same time as the global economic recovery has put a lot of new money into the hands of the 1%ers. There are enough 1%ers to buy all of these limited edition units. They will be cheaper to own than any luxury automobile. Much less depreciation and lower insurance costs. I don’t see how the Model 15 has much functional or snob appeal, but I guess it is still a Moog, and if that’s all you can afford. . .

  12. Like the man said, he initially played with one in his college days. If all of the colleges today would buy one, just to have the students learn then I think we all would agree this would be awesome. The hefty price tag would insure support for them throughout the years. I think it’s great Moog has gone back to their roots. I also am excited to see what is on the drawing board moving forward.

      1. Funny. You know what students get taught synthesis on now?
        NI Massive and that AVID Vacuum crap. Think I’d rather have the 55.

      2. oh so you are the expert on education too? nice. love your insights btw.
        they tell the tale of a very sad existence filled with envy and rage.

  13. Anyone know how many original Moog modulars were sold?

    I wonder if they will sell as many of the modern reissues as they did back in the 70s.

    1. moogarchives.com shows quarterly sales of modular systems from 1967-1971. 243 total over that early 5-year period, the ones made in the original factory in Trumansburg, NY, with sales peaking in 1969 and really dwindling upon release of the Minimoog. This total is interestingly close to the 240-245 (depending on if you include the five Keith Emerson models) of the new reissues. I did not find info on 1972-1981 sales.

  14. Whistle real loud
    I see a problem here, it is the fact you have persons here who are not into the modular culture and there are some who are and trying each other to understand the other is moot.
    There are those who do nothing but computer base, there are those who want noise boxes ( ataripunk consule, sleepdrone, WSG) circuit benders, even those no electric types.
    It like a coke , pepsi challenge and the grape soda drinkers are going “HUH”

    Either you are into big modular or not and if not sure understand with modular,, it will NOT be cheap due to just the parts cost alone (for those DIY) so keep that in mind

    1. Oh by the ways wonder who would use something like this??
      Like R2-D2??????????????
      What do you think made those sounds, or better yet allot of those strange sounds you hear in movies

  15. I think the market for something like this is much bigger than many of the people posting here realize and those same people are not it. Me included.

    1. So, it costs about $500 per kilo (at 73 kgs).

      That’s a lot more than you pay for most cars (which go around $10-20 / kg),
      but way cheaper than your cellphone, which goes at $1500/kg (cheap) – $5000/kg (iphone).

      It’s exactly the street price for the Korg Monotron, which now costs $50 and weighs 0.1 kgs.

    2. Do a search for “frac-rac” and watch the massive return of pages.
      It is at least past 100 and possible maybe 300-400.
      And this does not include noisemakers boxes.
      Then look at homebrew equipment and you mind will really get blown

  16. I actually heard that Moog is offering several polyphonic options right now. Want two voices? Buy two! 10 voices? Buy 10! Maximum polyphony is 55, unfortunately 🙁

    1. trouble is you have apple fanatics on here clashing with cheapskates and the headbutting against reality is all the posting you see

  17. A lot of people these days tend to complain about nearly every synth that hits the market over $500. I’m not sure why it’s easy for people to understand the budget-high end car market, or the fact a more exclusive house will cost you more than a small terraced house in a row of 50, or the fact a Stradivarius violin will cost you more than a student model (even if it has “pro” in the model title) but for some reason cannot fathom the possibility that high end synths exist , whether that be high end in functionality or expensive parts, or simply rarity and desirability.
    My opinion is the digital generation have come to expect too much for nothing, or too much for very little

    1. The sadder part is what some don’t realize what it will cost to even make something like a 55, just parts alone probably a couple thousand, then to put together, testing, tuning (yes they have to be tuned just like a piano and if you see how long that takes) and there is support staff and there will be a markup (hey they are not doing this for free)
      They should look at the PAIA basic frac rac, 600 for just parts and it small compared to the 55

      Another thing is the 55 is not aimed at performers at all (most modular are not) unlike standard keyboards so most will not understand the who concept of modular synthesizer

  18. whats with the rage. dont get it. it used to be with elektrons, then the op-1, moog is a mainstay though.
    why do people get personally offended by a product outside their price point?

    these thing are 100% tax deductible. but i guess by the comments over here most people are basement dwellers and not industry professionals.

    i personally get miffed when a product is marketed to my as if i were an idiot. that does bother me a bit. akai does this exemplary.
    but this? its a premium product. cant afford it? move on.

    1. I can’t afford it and don’t know many who actually can and still afford their mortgage/rent. Doesn’t mean I can’t stand back and appreciate it. I’m not argue no about the price, it’s a moog and its classic gear, the price is rightfully high. I’m personally a “basement producer” or bedroom, whatever you want to call it and I’m sure a lot of us here are. So what? I’ve been mucking with synths for 18 years and I’m not a “pro”. Sorry dude but this market would not even exist without basement and bedroom guys. We’re the ones making it what it is today and I can almost guarantee you wouldn’t have even half the gear with out us “amateurs”…… Wah, wah, wah….

      1. basement dwellers as in “never left moms and dads or had a job in his life” affair.
        not basement producers, which are the backbone of any music genre pretty much.

  19. People spent this kind of money on cars all the time and hardly anyone blinks an eye. Guess what, there are plenty of people who get by WITHOUT a car. So, if one of them chooses to use their money of a System 25 instead of a car, gets years of enjoyment out of it and possibly makes money with music produced from it, is the decision to by the Moog any worse than the car?

    Now fast forward 10 years after purchase. Typically the car is worth nothing or next to nothing. On the other hand, the owner of the Moog can almost certain get at least half his investment back, maybe even his full investment. Now which purchase is better?

    Some people buy Volkswagens, some people buy Mercedes Benz. There is nothing wrong with having manufacturers filling both “needs”.

  20. I can appreciate the frustration with the price. There is no way I could blow $30,000 on a synth, even if I had such a sum in my bank account. But I can also appreciate that these are collector’s items more so than an ‘everyperson’s synth’. If you want the latter there are some good monophonic analogs out there – I have three – the Arturia Minibrute, the Novation Bass Station 2 and the Korg MS-20 Mini. That’s enough for me in terms of analog monophonic synths.

    But what Moog SHOULD be doing is offering the System 55 and its other modulars rather than pre-built only, as individual modules, allowing you to build up a top quality modular over a period of time, and spread the financial pain. Synthersizers.com do this very well, as do every other modular company, and I don’t understand why Moog don’t. It would open up their modulars to far greater market than the few, exclusive and wealthy collectors and professional musicians.

    I’d love to have a System 55 sitting in my studio, but it will never happen. The best chance I have is slowly build up a modular, module by module, from synthersizers.com or Doepfer. So Moog have lost my business because they do not cater for the majority of synth owners and electronic musicians out there.

  21. well whatever..i’m just amused in seeing how much of a joy it is for him to play! like a child with its long lost favorite toy. cheer up guys! luckily we can at least SEE one of this monster come back to life! 🙂 and in great glory too

  22. The gearhead in me wants one of these to monkey with. In the 70s I was fortunate enough to have access to some really good modular and semi-modular synths at university. I’d get lost in patch cord heaven and often 8-10 hours would go by before I finally came up for air. Once an administrator had to tap on the glass door of the electronic music studio to get my attention because she and I were the last people in the building at 10 PM and she needed to lock up. To me, only a few minutes had passed, but for the rest of the world, most of a day. It was my personal experience of relativity and time dilation.

    So, I think I get analog synths. It’s great fun to experiment and “improvise” with them. I’m also a student of technology, having used computers to make a living and synths to make life more worth living. While not completely fair, or completely valid, I ask you to compare a Korg Radias with a Moog 55.

    To craft any particular sound:

    Moog 55:7 VCOs, Radias:8 VCOs
    Moog 55:2 filters (HP + LP), Radias: 8 variable filters
    Moog 55:fixed filter bank, Radias: no such animal
    Moog 55:24 step sequencer, Radias:64 step sequencer
    Moog 55:5 ADSR EGs, Radias:12 ADSR EGs
    Moog 55:$35,000, Radias:$700 on used market

    And so on . . .

    I would imagine anyone can see where this is going. Improvements in technology have put enormous synthesis capabilities in the hands of virtually everyone. What is much more rare is truly groundbreaking, beautiful music made with all this gear.

    Don’t get me wrong, there’s some great stuff out there. But it remains true that it’s less important what you’ve got than it is what you do with what you’ve got.

  23. Not sure why this pisses people off. Sure it’s expensive, but not if you are Hans Zimmer or Trent Reznor. Also an original one could set you back close to 100k. I had the pleasure of hearing this thing in person this week and I have to say it’s pretty damned impressive. not sure you could get there with .com or motm or euro or whatever. “cutting edge” technology isn’t everything. Generally it just means a march towards mediocrity (See mp3, digital photography etc).

  24. A couple comments:

    1. The larger systems really consisted of the modules you choose. So, for the price, it would be nice to still pick them, parts availability not withstanding.

    2. Drift was a problem with the early oscillators. I believe that Bob Moog commented there were three inside of each “one” that he provided for Wendy Carlos to provide the desired level of stability. I understand part of the cachet here is reproducing the original instruments, but I would hope that they are not always wart-for-wart compatible.

    Cheers!

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