Werkstatt DIY Synth Born from The MOOGFEST 2014
MoogFest brought a gang of synth geeks out to Asheville, South Carolina in pursuit of the unnamed and mysteriously unreleased synth. The VIP Engineers pass promised VIP access to every event but more importantly, it included an engineers synth workshop. Led by Moog Engineers, the workshop was designed to allow VIP Engineer guests to build a synth kit.
Fun fact, this is first Moog Music workshop since 1997 where Bob Moog himself had a theremin workshop for a Theremin workshop in Portland, Maine.
The synth’s name is Werkstatt or Werkstatt-01. According to the Moog Engineer the word Werkstatt is a German word meaning Garage. Perhaps the more literal translation is workshop. Either way, its a nod to “our German friends and their contribution to electronic music” according to the Moog Engineer leading the workshop. The name Werkstatt seemed apropos in the spirit of building and diy hacking. After ally hackability and DIY is the spirit of the Werkstatt synth.
So, about the actual Werkstatt… It’s a small mono synth with only one audio out and a power connection on the back of it. I’ve not measured it yet but sitting atop my iPad 2 the Werkstatt is about 3/4′s of it’s size with regards to it’s footprint. It stands about 1 1/2 to 2 inches tall and for all intents and purposes, it is a Moog Synth with the classic ladder filter.
In the workshop 30 of us unboxed the Werkstatt kit to find a number of potentiometers, jumpers, switches, slider switches, the Werkstatt board with top mounted components, an LED and various other parts. Our workstations were complete with a dual input amp, Moog branded safety glasses, a soldering iron, solder, screw driver, a wire cutter and a pair of needle nose pliers. We soon learned that there were all together 199 solder points to solder before we could hear what our new synth sounded like.
Once the project was underway and we had all placed our components on the Werkstatt board, we proceeded to soldering. Since we’d reviewed some electronics basics in the early part of the workshop we soldered for the last two hours or so. We were guided by the instructor and his handy powepoint presentation which parts to place where on the board and proper soldering technique. “It’s a rhythmic dance” is what the engineers said as we got down to the act of soldering.
All in all, the workshop was an obvious success. I believe everyone was done soldering by the time the end of the first day arrived. There were a couple of guys that were done long before some of us. But that was dope… it served as good motivation to get it done soon enough to still plug them into the amp and rattle the walls with the rest of the MoogFest VIP Engineers.
A super fun aspect to the Werkstatt is its patchability using the small patch cables where you can do things liked take the LFO out and patch it to the VCO Lin In. twist a few knobs and see what happens.
As I believe I mentioned above, there were a number of jumper spots on the Werkstatt board that we soldered as well. This is expressly for the purpose of hacking later if one should feel so inclined. An example of the sort of things that can be hacked, added, modded or removed / replaced are;
- fine tune control because the Werkstatt’s VCO frequency ranges from approximately 8hz to 16khz,
- Resonance pot is passive and can be modded to add a volume control
- Resonance pot can be replaced with a VCA to have voltage controlled resonance
- a noise circuit can be added
- inputs and outputs can be added (may require drilling into the back of the case)
Long story short, this damn thing is fun and it sounds great. There is a lot that can be done with this Werkstatt. Most of which I have no clue of just yet. One of the cool things about the workshop is that there will be more forthcoming info on hacks, additions and mods as the Moog engineers have time to post mod details. Not to mention, I’m certain there will be more to come from the guys in the workgroup as we all get under way with the Werkstatt.
And so, I know there a re a few burning questions. Let’s see if we can address any of them. Will the Werkstatt be available to the public? The short answer is, No. The longer answer is, there is no plan at the moment to manufacturer the Werkstatt as a new product available to the public. This synth was meant to be a special project for the Moogfest 2014, as is evident from the silkscreening of Moogfest 2014 directly onto the casing. However, the workshop instructor did concede that if there was enough interest in such a thing “Well, you never know.” I did make mention to him that I think they would sell like hot cakes, that is if hot cakes where hackable analog monosynths in the midst of a sea of analog synth crazed beat making synth geeks.
As I’m sure there will be a good number of demos out there soon enough, I’m certain you’ll have seen and heard the Werkstatt by the time I get back from Moogfest but I’ll leave you with the promise that I will do a few video demos of the Werkstatt as son as I return to the lab. Stay tuned… I have a few Minifoogers that are begging for the Werkstatt to come home to play.
Specs and Features
0 to +5V Signal, 8Hz to 16KHz range from front panel
- Frequency Pot – sweeps VCO over 8 Octaves
- KB CV – 1 Octave with Glide
- Modulation Input with selectable source (LFO/EG)
- Exponential FM Input – 1V/Octave nominal, trimmable
- Linear FM Input
- Selectable Waveform: Saw or Pulse
- PWM control: PWM Pot or Mod Source
- VCO CV Out
- 4-pole Ladder VCF with Resonance
- Control Inputs
- Filter Cutoff Pot – Sweeps VCF from 20Hz to 20KHz
- Modulation Input with selectable source (LFO/EG) and Polarity (+/-)
- Filter Cutoff Input
- VCF Output (+/- 2V Signal Usable as CV or Sound Source)
- Control Inputs:
- Fixed (ON) mode
- VCA Control Input
- +/- 2.5V Signal
- Rate Control: .2Hz to 600Hz
- Selectable Waveform: Triangle/Square
- LFO CV Output
- LFO Rate CV Input
- 0 to +5V Signal
- Attack Control
- Decay Control
- Sustain On/Off Switch
- 13-note 1-Octave Low-Note priority, Legato Keyboard
- Glide Control
- Gate Output (0 to +5V Signal)
- Trig Output (5 msec pulse, 0 to +5 V signal)
- KB CV Out 3.6V/Octave Nominal Out.
Patchable IO Header
- VCA Input: 0V to +5V in VCA EG Mode, +/-2.5V in VCA ON Mode
- VCF Input: -5V to +5
- VCO LINEAR FM Input: +/-2.5V (Note this is an inverting control input)
- VCO EXPONENTIAL FM Input: -5V to +5V, 1V/Octave, trimmable
- LFO CV Input: – 5V to +5V. (Note Negative CV slows LFO more than available on panel)
- VCF AUDIO Input: Unbuffered/Unmixed AC coupled input to VCF.
- KB CV Output x 2: .3V/semitone from 1 octave keyboard (Note: Attenuate for 1 V/Octave)
- TRIG Output x 2: 5 msec, 0v to +5V pulse generated from low note priority/legato Keyboard circuit.
- GATE Outputx 2: 0V (off) )to +5V (on) gate signal generated from low note priority/legato Keyboard circuit.
- EG Output x 2: Simple ASD or AD type Envelope Generator, 0 to +5V signal
- LFO Output x 2: -2.5 to +2.5V Triangle or Square wave, selected from LFO Wave Slide Switch.
- VCF Ouput x 2: -2V to +2 V signal for audio or CV uses.
- VCO Output x 2: 0V to +5V VCO signal, wave shape selected by VCO Wave Slide Switch.
Nominal +/-3.5V Signal. It’s Hot!
- +12VDC, Center Positive, 1.2A Wall transformer.
- Typical average power consumption: 1.8 Watt
- Experimenter’s pads: 16 x 6 0.100″ grid of pads for custom circuits.
- Test Points: Test Points available for breaking out signals or adding additional inputs.
- Jumpers: Audio Signal and some Control Signal Topology is “jumpered” meaning the jumpers can be removed for modifying the topology. Jumpers also exist for unused Gates of ICs, for ease of incorporating into mods.
Check this video from our friends at Sonic State as he discusses the Werkstatt with our workshop instructor and Engineer Steve from Moog Music.