Monday, March 26, 2018

Moog Song Producer sequencer "MIDI In, Out & Thru Just Won't Do" ad #2, Keyboard 1985

Moog Song Producer sequencer "MIDI In, Out & Thru Just Won't Do" 1/4-page black and white advertisement from the top right corner of page 101 in the December 1985 issue of Keyboard Magazine.

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen a recent photo or two of my own Moog Song Producer hardware and software. Over the last little while, I've made it a point to ignore the realities of life while learning the intricacies of this unique machine. It's taken a bit longer than anticipated - the software is a bit of a complicated beast and the fantastically detailed manual is both a godsend and a hindrance in many ways. I'm not afraid to say my tech ego has taken a bit of a beating.

But I am making progress and hope to have a detailed video or two available at some point to give readers a bit more of an understanding on how the Producer worked.

Until then, let's deja vu our way though this second Moog Producer advertisement. I last blogged about the Moog Song Producer in December when I posted the first product ad that appeared in the November 1985 issue Keyboard Magazine. The copy and layout in this slightly chubbier December 1985 version is pretty much the same as in the OG. But, sadly, this last Moog Producer ad appears to be the last Moog ad to appear in Keyboard Magazine before the 1987 sale of the company and a corresponding change in strategy to primarily focus on contract manufacturing, although they did continue servicing Moog Music products.

I mentioned the pricing in my first blog post, but as I read through this version of the ad, the $395.00 price tag jumped out at me a bit more. For comparison, Passport's interface with MIDI IN, OUT and DRUM SYNC went for $99.00, and  Sequential 242's interface with MIDI IN and OUT, Clock IN and Start/Stop went for $129.00. Even when you add in the software (another $100-$150) there is still quite a gap in pricing with the Song Producer.

So, was the extra money worth it?

I'd say yes!

We are talking four MIDI OUTS. Plus MIDI IN and THRU. Clock IN and OUT. Two foot switch inputs. AND those eight drum trigger outs.

Clockwise from left - box, manual with floppy disk on top
Song Producer hardware with connection cable/cartridge attached, 
warranty card, introductory guide, quality control slip, technical 
service info leaflet (including schematics), service location poster
But it wasn't just the hardware that made the Song Producer special. I've included a photo of everything that came with my fully boxed unit, which I believe is what was originally included in the box. This included the 250+ page manual in a quality black three ring binder, the program disk, warranty card, introductory guide, quality control slip, technical service info leaflet (including schematics) and service location poster.

Now compare that to what came with the Passport interface - a small manual, the disk and sometimes a MIDI cable. That's it!

Moog has always done "quality" right.

Anyways, back to some history... although these two small ads appeared at the end of 1985, avid Keyboard readers would have actually learned about the existence of the Song Producer hardware and software more than a year and a half earlier.

The first hint was in Keyboard Magazine's Winter NAMM '84 article that appeared in the April 1984 issue. The reference in that article is small, but gives us a wack of historical info regarding changes to Moog Music at the time.
"With a new name from a recent management buyout, Moog Electronics (formerly Moog Music) showed a prototype sequencer for the Commodore 64...".
As mentioned in my previous blog post on the previous Moog Song Producer ad, the management buyout change mentioned in that little sentence occurred during the slow pivot to put more emphasis on contract manufacturing.

After their appearance at Winter NAMM, Moog Electronics continued the development of the Song Producer and showed up at Summer NAMM as well.  Keyboard Magazine provided readers even more information on Song Producer, including price, in their September 1984 article on the trade show:
"Moog Electronics brought out a Commodore 64-based system called the Song Producer. Along with the sequencing program, the system comes with MIDI star network hardware (one input, four outputs, one thru-put), which eliminates the kinds of time delays you get by hooking up more than three or four MIDI instruments together via the thru-puts. On top of that, the system has a live performance software module that allows you to make any MIDI keyboard a split/layered keyboard with eight definable split/layer points by using a buss system which is designed to get around the whole problem of MIDI channel assignment and the current incompatibilities between various instruments regarding channel assignments. A rather useful device, and it carries a list price of only $395.00, hardware (but no the computer) included."
Those two references were just a small glimpse into what readers would learn about Song Producer. Because it was then in the September 1985 issue of Keyboard that the infamous (kinda) Song Producer Keyboard review appeared.

But that will have to wait...  :)

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