If you’d like to learn everything about the Moog Sub37, make sure to check out the official Masterclass - “Creative Sound Design with the Moog Sub37”.
After this class with Berlin-based Melodic House Artist Yannek Maunz, you will be more proficient, professional and creative in your synthesis - on analog AND digital synths! Demonstrated on the Sub37, Yannek shows you hacks & tricks to achieve thriving, dynamic and facetted sounds faster & better and in your own style.
The Moog Sub37 is a hardware analog synthesizer with 40 knobs and 74 switches released in 2014. It includes a vast array of analog sound design tools and onboard sequencing options. The synth has a built-in 37-note keyboard that has both velocity sensitivity and aftertouch.
What’s great about the synth is not only its fat, signature Moog sound (particularly thanks to its special Ladder Filter), but the fact that most of its controls correspond with single parameters. It means that controlling different features can be done very fast, without having to scroll through different sections. In this way it brings to mind the workflow of the original 1970 Minimoog Model D. The Sub37 however has a bunch of modern, very handy features which makes working with it a real pleasure.
Let’s start by plugging in the Moog.
We have a bunch of ports on the side of the device:
- Power Supply,
- External Audio Input,
- Audio Output,
- Inputs: Pitch, Filter, Volume, KB Gate,
- MIDI In & Out,
(Image source: Sub37 Manual)
We won’t get too much in depth about all the ports, but you’ll find more about them in the Full Masterclass.
The two main ways of using the synthesizer with a DAW (like Ableton Live) are:
- Plugging it in straight via USB
- Using a MIDI Interface and plugging it in via MIDI In & Out cables.
What’s great about the USB connection is that it gets two jobs done with one cable: it transfers the MIDI information as well as the sound into the computer. Once it’s plugged in you should be able to see your Moog as both an audio device and MIDI device in Live’s preferences.
For the purpose of this tutorial we’re mostly going to focus on method 1 (USB).
Once the synth is plugged into the computer, in order to access the synth in Ableton, we need to go into the preferences of the Moog itself first.
(Image source: Sub37 Manual)
On the synthesizer there’s this MIDI dropdown menu which you can access by clicking the MIDI button.
It's crucial to choose the same "In channel" as we're going to be choosing later in Ableton Live. There are multiple "In channels" for easier switching if you have a setup of multiple hardware synths.
Let's set the Moog to receive MIDI from Channel 1.
Let's go back to Ableton next.
Let’s create a new MIDI channel with (Shift + Cmd/ctrl + T). Now you want to choose your MIDI device - if your Moog is connected via USB, you should see it in the dropdown menu, and if you’re connected via a MIDI interface, you need to select that interface here.
In the second dropdown menu we want to choose the channel for our synth - let's also choose 1.
Note: You need to watch out that if you’re sending information to your Moog, it will automatically send information back to your DAW. To avoid this, you need to disable the MIDI From (set it to No Input).
Try a test MIDI clip to see if you’re receiving MIDI correctly.
In order to hear audio from the Moog in Ableton, you can set up an Audio Track (cmd/ctrl + T) and select the Moog or Audio Interface it’s plugged into as an Audio In (make sure it’s enabled in the Live Preferences beforehand).
Once that’s done you should be able to sequence notes right from the DAW, hear the synth properly from the audio track, as well as manipulate the synth’s hardware controls on the fly!
Let’s quickly summarize the process of setting up the Sub37:
- Locate the inputs on the side,
- Plug in the synth with the power cord,
- Connect to the computer via USB or MIDI interface,
- If connecting via MIDI interface, use an Audio Interface to transfer audio,
- Set up a MIDI track to send out MIDI information
- Set the correct Channel in the Moog’s MIDI Menu
- Add an Audio Track to receive Audio from the Moog
- Setup Complete!
If you’d like to learn everything about the Moog Sub37 including every little detail of the sound design process, make sure to check out the official Masterclass - “Creative Sound Design with the Moog Sub37”.