Hands-on review: Moog Moogerfooger audio plug-ins

Hands-on review: Moog Moogerfooger audio plug-ins

Moog’s legendary Moogerfooger effects pedals return, in virtual form.

The original hardware Moogerfooger pedals were some of the last designs by Bob Moog himself, along with his engineering team, and were first released in the late 1990s through to the early 2000s.

The Moogerfooger effects pedals drew on the same principles as the original Moog modular synthesisers that had made the company name famous worldwide in the preceding decades. The pedals were something of a response to the changing musical landscape of the times, with their classic guitar foot pedal housing and circuitry and behaviour adapted to process a wide range of signals and inputs, including guitar, bass, synth and voice. 

Built to the same high standards as other Moog products, the pedals were brilliant and beautiful, but expensive to buy at the time – and that still hasn’t changed today. The sale of a used original early Moogerfooger now regularly commands a four-figure sum.

We can recall staring longingly – wistfully, almost – at the original Moogerfooger hardware units, tantalisingly displayed together in a dedicated Moog corner of the sprawling Turnkey music store on London’s Charing Cross Road in the late 1990s. Beyond the reach of many poor musicians, the Moogerfoogers remained hugely desirable, yet largely unattainable.

Accordingly, all hail these software plug-in versions! A faithful and precise virtual emulation of seven original hardware units, skeumorphically replicating their black metal casing, white legending, iconic Moog silver knurled knobs and even the wood-panel sides, the full suite of Moogerfoogers can now be yours for a mere $279.

Moog Moogerfooger Plugins Inline 4

Image credit: Moog

With the analogue hardware components and circuitry having been exhaustively studied and recreated in the digital domain as software by the engineers at Moog, these plug-ins incorporate all the power and flexibility of the originals and then take it further. 

All parameters can be automated, presets can be saved and managed, stereo in/out is present across the board, and the control voltage (CV) inputs and outputs of the pedals – for creative connection to produce unique inter-related effects – is also replicated here in software. This allows the signal path to be patched between any of the Moog plug-in effects, modulating the parameters of each as you see fit, as well as interacting with other digital CV systems, such as Ableton Live’s CV Tools. 

All this digital flexibility opens up entirely new Moogerfooger worlds even further beyond the mind-bending possibilities already offered by the original analogue hardware. While we didn’t have a set of hardware pedals to which to compare the plug-ins (more’s the pity), the sound of these virtual Moogerfoogers is undeniably and distinctly Moog. Rich, lush and seductive, drawing you in, encouraging deeper and crazier experimentation. It’s a lot of creative and musical fun. Nothing ever sounds ‘bad’. You can gently tickle your signal or mangle it beyond recognition with any of the Moogerfoogers – it always sounds cool.

Moog Moogerfooger Plugins Inline 2

Image credit: Moog

Each plug-in has its own niche and focus. The MF-101S Lowpass Filter is the classic (and sole Bob Moog-patented) Moog ladder filter, coupled with an envelope follower for dynamic control, great for fixed filtering or doing the sweep. 

The MF-102S Ring Modulator is a wide-range carrier oscillator paired with a low-frequency oscillator (LFO), capable of producing anything from a soft shimmering tremolo to burbling sci-fi ring modulation tones. 

The MF-103S 12-Stage Phaser (switchable to 6-Stage) is a gloriously creamy psychedelic reincarnation of the 1999-via-the-1970s original, with an LFO adding to the sense of depth and movement, ranging from mesmeric to disorienting.

The MF-104S Analog Delay is a beautiful, entrancing delay based on the original’s dual-range bucket brigade device (BBD) delay, offering delay times from 40 milliseconds to 800 milliseconds. This digital version sounds amazing, with an LFO modulation circuit plus time sync and the new-found ability to switch between regular echo or stereo ping-pong (L/R) delay, new Tone and Timing options (to dirty and loosen up the delays) and more. 

Moog Moogerfooger Plugins Inline 5

Image credit: Moog

The MF-105S MuRF (Multiple Resonant Filter Array) is a very intriguing effect, combining a resonant filter bank with a pattern generator and ‘skewing envelope’ (yes!), intended to add a sense of Animation (as per the legending) to the incoming signal. Each one of the eight-band array of resonant filters can be independently set, after which the pre-programmed Animation module generates sequences of envelopes that modulate the levels of each of the eight filters. In this way, even the most basic signal can be quickly transformed into a choppy, hypnotic, glimmering and pulsating beat. 

The MF-107S FreqBox is arguably the most “jagged, freaky” (Moog’s own description) and aggressive of all the Moogerfoogers. With a range of waveshapes and a voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO) being hard-synced and frequency modulated by the audio input, plus an envelope follower modulating the frequency of the VCO courtesy of the varying dynamics of the input signal, it’s capable of some really nasty, apocalyptic noises – again, starting with the simplest of input signals. This can be both a good thing, as well as a ‘WTF??’ thing, depending on your expectations. The FreqBox is a real ‘free your mind/blow your mind’ effect.

The amusingly named (in the grand comedic tradition of Moog product and preset names) MF-108S Cluster Flux is another effect based on a dual-range BBD delay line, like the MF-104S Analog Delay. However, the MF-108S is concerned more with the subtleties of chorusing modulation than echoes and repeats, with the addition of a multi-waveform LFO taking the effect into chorus, flange and vibrato territory. It is capable of producing some lovely, subtle movement and thickening to a signal, but is also happy to venture further out into the stratosphere when pushed. Again, as with all the Moogerfoogers, there is new functionality here over and above the hardware original, including some similar to the MF-104S. 

We’ve only scratched the surface here of each of the Moogerfooger’s capabilities and new features, and attempting to describe the sound of each one is akin, as the saying goes, to dancing about architecture. We suggest you click the links for each product name to go to the Moog site, where you can read full details about each plug-in and listen to some illuminating sound samples. 

Suffice to say, these Moogerfoogers are some of the best-sounding and most creatively inspiring plug-ins we’ve used in quite a while. The sound quality is top-notch, the level of control builds successfully and organically on from the original hardware, and the flexibility and inter-connectivity between each ‘pedal’ and your wider DAW environment opens up innumerable new sonic avenues. You can use them as subtly as you like or be as ‘mad scientist’ as you like: the choice is yours and it all sounds lush.

Moog Moogerfooger Plugins Inline 3

Image credit: Moog

Since we first got these plug-ins late last year, there have been a couple of significant developments. Firstly, the original collection has been joined by a new plug-in, the MF-109S Saturator. This is a digital exclusive, as it was never one of the original hardware pedals.

It uses the same input Drive circuit found on all the Moogerfooger pedals in its Noise section (you can choose between white or red noise) to add warmth, distortion and compression to the incoming signal at a variable intensity, then adds an Envelope section. The latter enables you to modulate the saturation, for a pulsating effect. This can also be automated. It’s one of the simplest Moogerfoogers, but no less effective because of this. It’s ideal for slipping inline ahead of, or after, another plug-in or virtual instrument to beef up and enrich the output. Nice.

Secondly, the purchase options have also changed, for much the better for cash-strapped musicians. A lot of people won’t necessarily want the entire collection: the Phaser and Delay, for example, might appeal instinctively to guitarists more than the FreqBox or Ring Modulator, which might be more attractive to creators of synth-based sounds. Any of the Moogerfoogers can be used with any type of signal, though – all things acoustic and electric – so don’t pigeonhole or dismiss any of them based on name or effect type. A trial download is available for the full suite. 

Since the Moogerfoogers’ launch, Moog has introduced a commendably flexible choice of purchase options, ranging from individual plug-ins (prices vary, either $59, $69 or $79), to build-your-own-set options (four plug-ins for $149; two for $99), up to the full suite for $279. Obviously, the full suite is the most cost-effective if you’re tempted by all eight plug-ins (and seriously, why wouldn’t you be?), but it’s great to have the option to steadily build up your collection piece by piece.

Moog Moogerfooger plug-ins 

Prices vary: $59-279

System requirements

Mac: macOS 10.13, Intel or Apple Silicon. 

PC: Windows 10, 64-bit Intel systems or newer.

Supported plug-in formats: VST3, AudioUnits, ProTools AAX.

Licensing: PACE iLok, three activations per license, host computer and iLok Cloud supported, physical iLok dongle not required.

Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.