MOOGERFOOGER PLUGINS REVIEW
April 5, 2023 § Leave a comment
Last month, after I posted the short reel introducing the song I had made to betatest the Moogerfooger plugins, “Conditional”, a couple of musician friends wrote to me privately to ask: “Seriously, between us… are they truly good?”, as if I’d be writing one thing about them online, but think something else, so here goes, as unbiased a review I can give, knowing that yes, I did get compensated for betatesting the plugins (more info on the plugins here) and creating a song with them, but no, I haven’t been asked to say anything about them, so both the tutorial on how I made the song and this review are entirely my own initiatives.
To give you a bit of background on where I stand on the hardware vs software spectrum… I worked with both plugins and physical effects on my first 6 albums (2003-2017), but around 2018 stopped using plugins altogether (no plugins on my 7th album from 2021) because I’m now fully committed to hardware gear. I own 5 physical Moogerfoogers, so my aim with this review is to take a balanced view and point out what the plugins bring to the table, and end with where I feel they fall short (but as you’ll see, the pros clearly outweigh the cons…).
In any case I hope this review is useful for those of you wondering whether you should take the plunge…
Let’s get the following out of the way first:
– the hardware Moogerfoogers were discontinued in late 2017. With Moog now concentrating on releasing new synths, making a return to production for the Foogers quite unlikely, anyone who did not acquire Moogerfoogers back in their production days now has two options 1) buying second-hand already used units at sometimes outrageous prices 2) buying these plugins
– A plugin is never going to give you the hands-on experience and feel of a hardware unit. We all agree on this. Instead, it gives you *another* type of experience, and in the case of these plugins, going beyond the hardware vs software “feel” dichotomy is well worth it in terms of creativity.
I honestly think that if I recorded the same song with the physical units and then compared it with the plugin version in a blind test, I wouldn’t know the difference. A sound engineer might, but I think most humans won’t, because the plugins sound so similar to the original units – even more so since the introduction of the MF-109S Saturator. The Foogers have a very characteristic drive and it wasn’t easy at first for me to find the Input sweet spot, but when I tested the MF-109S (which sadly I wasn’t able to use in my song, because it hadn’t been developed yet), I thought that they brilliantly solved the issue.
EASE OF USE IN TERMS OF ROUTING AND MIXING
I dedicated my tutorial to how I set up my session with Sends and Returns so that I have each Moogerfooger on its own separate track, as opposed to just adding the FX as an insert and chaining FX. You end up with complete control over routing and mixing, and – not a detail if your work is on the minimal side like mine – you end up with way more tracks to mix!
The ease of sending one Fooger into another and trying different options at the speed of a click is a huge plus in terms of sound design possibilities. In my song, I stuck to a maximum of 2 consecutive Sends and 3 Sends from one sound source in total, but the possibilities are just endless.
This is where the plugins really shine. Absolutely every parameter can be automated, CV control included, which means that you are able to do things you’d never be able to do with your 2 hands on a physical unit. Obviously, familiarity with the way your DAW handles automation will pay off, and if you use a Sends and Returns approach, you will have all of your automation action neatly laid out on a single track for each Fooger instance.
Also, if like me you were always intrigued about CV control but never dared go for it because you were afraid you might “fry” your unit, this is your chance to do so risk-free.
Having multiples of the same Fooger allows you to blend from one preset or setting to the next on a single track or sound source, and have different settings of the same Fooger for different sound sources.
The plugins offer many more options in terms of output and tone than the originals. I won’t go into details here as other reviews have done so and the manuals are also very clear in this respect, but this means they are more versatile tonally than the originals.
I also didn’t have the time to look into the MuRF pattern editor, but can imagine the rabbit hole this could be…
The presets are an invaluable resource: it takes time to truly learn how each Fooger works, and the settings that give best results will vary drastically depending on your sound source: not just the instrument, but the way you play it, the pitch range you use, etc… The presets are incredibly useful *and* usable as they are or as a starting point. They can even be used as a resource by those owning the physical units.
My DAW Reaper kept up with multiple Fooger use (9 instances) without any problem and I did not experience any single bug even at betatesting stage. I did not “print” anything while working, as I felt that being able to tinker with levels until rendering was an ideal scenario.
Some sounds that come from physical switches cannot be replicated by plugins: the sound of switching from Short to Long setting and back on the MF104M is one of my favorite things in the world, and indeed, the plugin cannot give you that sound.
I do regret that the MF104S does not offer a Delay Out output as in the original: panning the Mix Out and Delay Out is my favorite way of treating signals with that delay. The Stereo does sound beautiful and I ended up not missing my favorite trick that much, and by duplicating the plugin you can achieve a similar effect by setting your Mix settings to fully wet on one of the duplicates, but if you start automating then this workaround gets messy.
If you want to take your work to a live setting, then that will involve having a computer on stage with you, which – granted – is a lot of performers’ choice these days, but if like me you have a computer-free live show, this could be a problem.