Thursday, November 11, 2010

Moog Ten Band Graphic Equalizer and Three Band Parametric Equalizer, Contemporary Keyboard, 1978

Moog Ten Band Graphic Equalizer and Three Band Parametric Equalizer from page 9 in Contemporary Keyboard Magazine April 1978.

This ad popped up in Contemporary Keyboard in April 1978. and continued to run in the following two issues. Then it ran again in September 1978. The two equalizers were also featured as CK Giveaway #25 in the April 1978 issue ($600 value!).

Normally I'm not much into vintage signal processors and effects gear, but the first time I really paid attention to this ad, it kinda felt 'weird' to me for some reason. For the first few minutes I couldn't put my finger on it, but then it suddenly hit me in my marketing-type head.

The weirdness had nothing to do with the technology side of things. Or even the design of the ad (although you will notice that the descriptions beside each instrument should have been switched around). No, the thing that bugged me was the fact that neither of these units had a "cool" name. They had model numbers on the back that are often included in online descriptions, but that's just not the same as a cool name that appears on the front panel. And the ad just refers to them as 'Moog Graphic Equalizer" and "Moog Parametric Equalizer".

Moog had a good thing going with their x-moog naming convention around this time period. MiniMoog. MicroMoog. PolyMoog. Minitmoog. Multimoog. You get the idea. Not the most creative, but still, they were descriptive terms and the names just "worked".

Calling them Equamoogs or some such name would have definitely been a bad idea, but surely the marketing team could have come up with something. These two pieces didn't even use simple letter/number combos such as Moog GE-3 and PE-10 (I'll let you figure those ones out). Maybe Moog had figured out they had done the x-moog naming thing to death and they were in a transition period. It would only be a year or so later that they would change their naming convention with the Moog Prodigy. And from then on, it was balls-to-the-walls with gear names such as Liberation, Opus-3, Source, Rogue, and Taurus. Whoa! All favorites. And most are now the names of electronic acts. :o)

Because I'm not really into vintage effects, I decided to flip through a few issues of CK from the same time period just to see what other effects companies were doing in terms of naming conventions. MXR had their Phase 45, Phase 90, and Phase 100 phase shifter pedals. Horner had their Vari-Phaser phase shifter. And Polyfusion had their stereo panner SP-1. All decent enough - but nothing spectacular. And it gets worse. MXR also had a digital delay named the "Digital Delay", And Ross had their digital delay named "Stereo Delay". Booo.

It's not to say there weren't some goodies out there at the time. In fact, what I think was one of the most progressive effects names at the time turned up in an October 1977 CK Spec Sheet promo - the Electro-Harmonix Memory Man Deluxe analog delay. Electro-Harmonix *still* sells a Memory Man Deluxe delay that uses the same font and very similar graphics and controls that they used back in 1978. Nice.

And guess which spec sheet write-up also appeared along side the Electro-Harmonix Memory Man Deluxe. You got it - the write up for these two Moog equalizers also ran in October 1977 - a full six months before the Moog ads started to appear. But the fact the two Moog equalizers appeared together in the Spec Sheet promo was a good indication that the two units would also be advertised together in the future. The spec sheet gives us some good historical reference information I haven't run into very often online:
"Moog parametric and graphic equalizers. The Moog three-band parametric equalizer has a range that is adjustable from 4 octaves to 1/4 octave on all three filters. The maximum available cut/boost on the 4-octave width is +-12dB; on the 1/4-octave width it is +-20dB. Nominal input level over 30 to 15,0000Hz is +4dBm. The overall frequency response with the effect switched in is 30 to 15,000Hz. A status switch controls whether the parametric is in the circuit or not, and an indicator light goes on when the effect is engaged. Power requirements are 100 to 135 volts AC @ 60Hz or 200 to 270 volts AC @ 50Hz, selectable from the rear panel switch. The ten-band graphic equalizer's overall frequency response is 30 to 15,000Hz +-2dB. Maximum available cut and boost on each band is +-15dB, and the insertion gain is adjustable from -10 to +10dB. The unit has nine band-pass filters spaced one octave apart from 31Hz to 8kHz and a shelf-type filter at 16kHz. Like the parametric equalizer, the graphic has a status indicator light that lets the performer know when the effect is in the circuit. Power requirements are the same as those for the parametric. Moog Music, 7373 N. Cicero Ave., Lincolnwood, IL 60646."
Doing this research has given me more appreciation for vintage effects, and has definitely made me more interested in getting more involved in both vintage and current effects gear. I have to confess I do usually have a Boss OS-2 Overdrive/Distortion pedal attached to my 303 (along with a Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor :o) And I have been doing more effects-based experimental-type stuff lately. I'm no where near the point where I can get full-on Chris Carter in my studio, although it is something definitely to strive for. Definitely hit "play" on that video I've linked to.

Oh - and anyone who wants to buy me the book "Analog Man's Guide to Vintage Effects" for Christmas can find it online. Hey lady-friend! I'm talkin' to you...

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