Review: MOOG's MAVIS goes west! // 18 modular and wavefolding patch ideas explored // Full tutorial
It has two oscillators, a classic moog filter and an envelope generator, as well as a large playground in the form of a 24 jack patchbay, with plenty of opportunities for self patching and patching with other modular gear. In this video ill. Take a very beginner friendly. Look at its various components and then explore a few interesting patch ideas like playing it duophonically extending its oscillation ranges fm and much more. That can help make the most of it. Many of these tips are relevant to other synths. Before i start a quick disclosure moog sent mavis over for review, but, as always, they have no say over the content of this video. This channel is funded by viewers who subscribe to my content and book updates on patreon youtube premium and ads and price check. Affiliate links in the description which help the channel, regardless of the product you choose to buy before my typical overview lets, understand whats this west coast business with the wave folder. Typically, when we sculpt sounds with a moog style synth, we have a few waveforms say from square to saw to square the pulse. We can filter the sound without which subtractive synthesis wouldnt exist. We could add resonance without which acid wouldnt exist. We could also apply high frequency fm, which, with a little bit of effort, could make bell like sounds wave folding associated with bucla synths developed on the west coast of the states, can take a waveform with a few harmonics like a sine or a triangle and lets Patch that in rather than subtract harmonics from a simple waveform with a few harmonics, it can add harmonics to it by folding the waveform on itself.
This kind of wave, folding or distortion is very different, both visibly and audibly, compared to standard subtractive synthesis as harmonics are added and removed and replaced across the spectrum Music. Now the reason i patched the triangle waveform into the wave folder is that wave folders need curved waveform. So if i take, for example, a square wave and patch it into the wave folder, it wont do much regardless of pulse width and it does work on sawtooth. Waveforms, but not as well as triangles or signs ill show you how to fix this problem later, one more small bit of info about the wave folder its not in the default signal path of mavis. So by default, its vco into vcf into vca. When you patch audio into the fold input, it replaces the vco module, with whatever is being fed into the fold in so thats. The main thing thats new to moog, with mavis lets rewind a bit when you open the box. Mavis arrives as three basic parts. You need to assemble its very easy and doesnt require any soldering. Five screws attach the pcb to the panel and then another four screws to connect them both to the case or mount in a eurorack case. It shouldnt take more than five minutes to put together and youll spend most of that time. Putting 24 nuts on the jacks just make sure you dont over, tighten them because they can break also dont forget to insert the light pipe into the hole next to the lfo rate knob and not into the trim pot holes next to pitch and keyboard scale.
And once you have mavis put together, lets take a look at what weve got notice the outlines on the panel. They designate the different modules, but another way to look at it is that the top row of knobs have the primary ways we shape our core sound. Then the bottom row is the set of modulators and the middle rope. More or less is how the modulators modulate the sound parameters. That said, of course, once you start patching things, things arent exactly what they seem, the lfo can be an oscillator. The vco can be a modulator. You could also trigger the envelope generator quickly using the gate input, so this could become sort of like an oscillator. Aside from these modules, mavis has a 13 pad keyboard and a 24 point patch bay, with access to a few of maviss modules and a few utilities like a mixer attenuator, a mult and a full sample and hold circuit mavis is truly all analog. So you cant store presets theres, no arpeggiator, no sequencer, it doesnt accept midi. So if youll want to play it beyond the one, octave range of this keyboard, youll either need some sort of modular sequencer with cv or gate outputs or a keyboard like the key step. With pitch and gate outputs, because midi wont work, you plug pitch cv into here and gate triggers into here. Lets dive a little bit deeper and take a listen to its raw sounds ill start with a vco module.
Its got a nice and deep sawtooth wave and, like i mentioned earlier, this morphs into a square with modulatable pulse width, ill talk about modulation in a bit, but yes, you can get these deep. Pwm sounds from it. Pwm doesnt impact the sawtooth waveform, but you can crossfade between the two next up in our tour is the filter, its a 24 db per octave low, pass filter with resonance like i mentioned earlier, that does lower the bass and will self oscillate Music, so uh. If we plug a dummy cable into the fold, input remember that effectively takes the vco out of the signal path. We still get a self oscillating filter. It does track the keyboard by the way, not perfectly but quite nicely, so you can play it. If you want and then finishing our signal chain, tour weve got a vca with volume control and you can either let it drone or have the adsr envelope control it. Unlike workstat, where you had a switch or choice between either the lfo or the envelope generator as a mod source for the vco and the vcf, just like you can crossfade between the oscillator waveforms, you can also crossfade between the lfo waveforms and you can also cross Fade between the envelope generator and the lfo as a mod source, so lets take a look at how this would work right now. The lfo, the triangle waveform, is modulating pulse width, but i could change it gradually to a square wave.
So pulse width would just jump back and forth. Then i can morph between the lfo and the envelope generator gradually and lets say we have this go up and down slowly and increase the more depth all the way to the envelope. So now the pulse width is moving back and forth. Based on this envelope. Same goes by the way, not just for pulse width, but also for pitch using this knob. So slow modulation of pitch gets us well on our way to making a hoover sound and if we crank up the lfo rate well start getting into fm territory this time of the oscillator as opposed to the filter, cut off Music anyway. So either the envelope generator or the lfo go into both the pitch and pulse width modulation with a positive mod depth. So if we turn the amount knobs fully counterclockwise, theres, no modulation and as we turn them clockwise we get more. Modulation lets turn these down. The filter, modulation is a little bit different, so here too, we can choose between the lfo and envelope generator or anything in between as a source, but the mod amount or depth is bipolar, meaning you can have it modulate either: Music wow, a positive, mod depth or Negative mod depth without the patch bay jack, the lfo is bipolar, but i think here smoke added an offset so that it modulates different things in either direction and were still looking to audio rates as well.
Music. You can use the envelope as a mod source as well or crossfade, with the other phone lets. Take a listen to that. So weve got decay here with a positive, mod depth. It sounds like this kind of like a 303 and with a negative mod depth. It sounds like this Music and uh yeah mixing this with the lfo can lead to quite interesting results, so a very nice new addition to more for crossfade between mod sources. The only downside of this is that its a little bit hard to find the center spot for no modulation at all Music lets, move on and talk about the keyboard. It has two simple controls: one for glide glide time can get pretty long. If you want and another knob for keyboard scale by default, the keyboard plays a range of one octave designed to be sent into volt for octave inputs like this one. But you can increase that to up to 5 volts. So a five octave range, in which case the pads in between represent equal intervals as opposed to a chromatic scale, so thats it for the keyboard uh. You cant uh transpose octaves here. Unless you use the offset function, which ill show you in the patchbay, which is a nice segue into the patch ideas section of this video coming up now, so when you look at the reasons for getting a semi modular synth, one of them is sound. Obviously this sounds like a mogu, and now it even sounds like a booklet, but no less important, i think, is how you can rewire it to make it do things outside the box that the normal routing will allow you, the patchbay on mavis has both inputs and Outputs inputs are labeled in regular text, and outputs are labeled with inverse text.
I think one of the nicest quote unquote hidden features of mavis is that the lfo can be used as an oscillator and that you can push the vco down and use it as an lfo. The lfo doesnt track, as precisely as the vco, at least not in this unit, but i think its good enough for a lot of purposes to get that going. All you need to do is if you want to use the keyboard patch keyboard cv into the lfo rate input, and just so that we hear the lfo well plug that into the fold, input and heres our lfo. So we can offset tune it like this Music. Its almost a perfect octave, not quite just a bit out of tune depending on on oh here we go on where you play so almost an octave, and you can actually nudge the keyboard scale knob just a bit to make it into a perfect octave. Maybe a little bit more and like i mentioned one of the main reasons youll want to use the lfo as an oscillator is because it folds much better than Music, the uh regular vco. Unless you have this laying around the house which ill get to later anyway. Now that we have two oscillators, you know that uh we got to play them duophonically or paraphonically. Now you may recall that plugging the lfo into the fold input replaces the vco you cant hear them both at once and thats, where the built in mixer is very handy.
So its got two inputs input one and input two and then a single output output, one plus two, and you can also output one independently anyway lets plug this into two and then plug the vco into one and then finally, we need to take the output of The mixer and plug that into the fold input lets reduce wave folding for a bit. So this is our lfo and we can gradually bring in the vco. And now i hear you say: well, we can control the level of input one. But how do we control the level of input two, however, there is a convenient attenuator here and we can take the output of the attenuator and take that into input. Two and weve now created a dual oscillator synth, where we can control both the interval and the level of each oscillator now playing them together at an interval is one option, of course Music, but you can sequence, say the lfo, totally separately from the keyboard, using an External sequencer, like i did in the intro to this video, where i used the keyboard to control the bass and a knob on ocp ornament and crime to play a generative melody Music by the way before i move on a word about the cables. Mavis comes with a few of these green cables, but its much easier to understand complex patches with color cables. These are a few i had around the house now playing the vco and lfo duophonically isnt.
The only reason youd want to patch mavis, like this, actually theres a better one. The fold unit is a kind of distortion which means that, as you ramp levels into it, its character changes substantially. So, for example, this is our simple duophonic patch. If we increase wave folding, it starts to get nasty and if we increase levels going into the wave folder starts getting even nastier but in a very good way lets maybe add some reverb and chorus to kick it up a notch Music. So the first moral of the story is that mixing two oscillators into the wave folder is better than one now. Turning this knob back and forth is nice, but what if we want to modulate fold? Unfortunately, theres no cv control for fold in mavis and actually no cv control for levels either, but if we take an envelope into the mixer or just slow down the lfo itll push the vco into the fold unit really nicely kind of like modulating fault depth. So this is our audio rate lfo, but if we reduce its rate, then were now pushing the vco into the fold unit Music, effectively getting modulated fold lets clear this up and move on. We saw how we can use the lfo as an oscillator. What if we want to use the vco as an lfo now the reason wed want to do this is because the vco has shapes that the lfo doesnt so lets say.
For example, we wanted a sharp rhythmic modulation to the um to the filter, cut off, not a triangle, but just a sharp down ramping saw so first, we need to make a tone some other way. We already know we can connect the keyboard cv to the lf 48 and the other foe into the fold. Input Music, so thats our tone modulating the filter with the vco should be as simple as plugging the vco into the filter cutoff. However, the vco oscillates pretty rapidly, even if we turn it down still a bit too fast for the kind of rhythmic pulse that i was looking for now. Luckily, theres a way around this so often in modular synths, you can push a parameter, lower or higher beyond its advertised rate on the panel by feeding it either positive or negative voltage. Now weve got a few of those sources here. If you look at the one input, hopefully you can see this theres a minus 5 in parentheses, next to it, if we dont plug anything into this input, its sending out minus five volts both into the mixer and out the one output. So we can take this minus five volts from one send it to the pitch of the vco and then, as we increase one level, we go from zero to minus five, so this is as slow as the vco will go, but we can push it further by Increasing one level and now Music, its a proper lfo Music, you can go as slow as this if you want, which is pretty slow Music, so a pretty cool way to push parameters beyond the panel rate and eagle eyed viewers may have seen the plus 5 next To the attenuator, so we can use the attenuator output if nothing is plugged into the attenuator input to send out up to five volts from zero to five volts to any destination.
Wed like, for example, to push the lfo rate even higher than what you can reach. Just by turning this knob lets clear this out and move on to the next tip. I already mentioned earlier that you can play the filter by plugging the keyboard cv output into it, for example. Now there are a few reasons you might want to do this. One would be just to play a sine wave chromatically, but there are a few other, less obvious reasons. The slope of the ladder filter is pretty sharp. So if i unplug this for a second and dont play, the filter just play the the vco youll notice that, as pitch, gets higher notes, get swallowed by the filter because theyre filtered out because the filter cutoff is always the same thing. So the higher up. I play the more quiet and dark the notes get. This is why synths typically have a filter tracking function, so, as the keyboard scales up notes, dont die down and, of course i can change the relative difference between the two. If i want to add more harmonics to my sound, this is obviously more evident if you play across a larger scale than just uh a single octave. Another reason to play the filter is that if you crank resonance up not all the way till self oscillation, but just to pick off a harmonic like playing two note chords or an organ like sound Laughter Music. As if you had two oscillators.
But you really have only one: if you didnt have filter tracking on Music, you would lose the cord, so filter tracking is a nice way to get a two oscillator effect with just one oscillator Music. Another take on the same idea: if youre willing to explore a few happy accidents. Dont have the filter track, the oscillator, keep it at the same frequency and let the harmonics change under it. So, as i play different notes on the keyboard, i get different notes emphasized by the filter, depending on the harmonics it latches onto and this grit im. Adding is rapid modulation generated by the envelope generator, so the vca is constantly open, which frees up the envelope generator. To add this grit, i created a looping envelope by re, triggering the envelope generator using the vco thats, the green cable in the patchbay on the left, and then the envelope generator is patched into the vca for high frequency amplitude modulation to keep things interesting. The square lfo is pointed to the pitch of the filter, so were picking off different harmonics Music, creating an interesting and semi random arpeggiated pattern. Next up long time, viewers of the channel would know why this radio is here. Mavis doesnt have a noise generator, but any untuned radio station will give you noise. So we could mix this into the mixer or lets just replace the oscillator with fold in to keep things simple and why not crank up resonance so thats a nice way to add texture to a sound and you can add it to an oscillator using the onboard Mixer in the patchway now well get back to this in a bit.
Lets talk about the sample and hold circuit sample and hold is what youll typically see as a feature for lfos for random values at certain intervals by default, the sample and hold circuit here works a little bit differently, so lets say plug it into the filter cutoff. So this is going to make our filter cut off jump around at the rate of the lfo, but youll notice its not entirely random. Its sort of repetitive and the reason for that is because were not sampling noise, which we could using this radio, but rather the sample and hold circuit is sampling the vco. So this gives us different patterns based on the ratio between the lfo and the vco. So the lfo rate is basically chopping up the vco every cycle, every cycle of the lfo and meeting it at different levels, but that can create recurring patterns. If we wanted something more crazy and random, we could patch into the pitch of the oscillator Music. This turns out more chaotic because were changing the pitch of vcl based on its own frequency every time the lfo samples it anyway. If we wanted total randomness wed need to replace the vco going into the sample and hold input here with a noise source, either from a radio or from another noise generator by the way, if you wanted to moderate the effect of the sample and hold you dont Have mod amounts here so you need to pass it through the attenuator and then into the destination lets say the filter cut off, so you can use the attenuator as a mod depth control if your source signal is too high or too loud.
So what else can we do with the sample and hold circuit if we kicked up the lfo rate to higher than whats available on the panel? Remember we do that by taking the attenuator output and plugging that into the lfo rate, we could now sample at really high audio rates, meaning both high lfo and high attenuator pushing the lfo. We basically get whatever vco1 spits out, but if we start reducing the lfo rate, so using the attenuator youll start to see the stepping here on the vco waveform. By the way i dont know, if its my unit, i think this is a prototype or all mavis is, but the sample and hold circuit also inverts the waveform. So this is the sawtooth, but if you remember previously its a ramp down sawtooth, if i disconnect this youll, see the waveform invert so sample and hold at least in this unit is also an inverter anyway. This is nice, but were only downsampling. The oscillator analog bit crushing gets even cooler when we do it to a resonating filter, since the only output we have from the filter is into the vca and out. The vca output here well need to unplug this and pick up audio from the sample and hold circuit, but not before we take the vca output and plug it in to here so well be sampling, the vca output and then picking up our audio from the output Of the sample and hold circuit, so if youre into yai style sounds we crank up the resonance and get these nice bit crushed or down.
Sampled formant sounds Music, which we can modulate either manually or say with the envelope anyway. The goal and the outcome of all these shenanigans is hopefully to make Music. Nice sounds Music next little patch tip lets. Take a quick look at fm. Technically, you dont need any patching to get one of the oscillators modulating the other at audio rates just take say, for example, the lfo increase the mod amount, Music and youve got nice. Fm sounds, but fm is easier to play up and down the keyboard and not just sound like noise if the mod source and the destination oscillator, filter or oscillator stay in sync. So you can do that by patching the keyboard output into the malt, which acts as a splitter and since im modulating both the lfo and the filter well plug into both of those. So now were splitting keyboard cv to both those destinations. Now, since were modulating, the filter cut off with high resonance with the lfo as an audio source. The vco only gets in the way so ill plug a dummy cable in to disable it, and we get these nice bell. Like sounds and the relative tuning of the oscillators matters Music, as do effects which cant hurt so certainly not always chromatically playable, but still interesting tones from mavis, then the final tip or idea is uh. This little hack that i mentioned earlier. So there are obviously endless pairing ideas from mavis with modules you can spend a lot of money on, but one of the things that i think pairs very well with mavis is a simple passive low pass filter.
You can build yourself now. Remember i mentioned earlier. The sawtooth and square waveforms of the vco dont fold well because they have sharp edges. Now you can patch the triangle lfo into the wave folder, which sounds great, but that might not track well across multiple octaves, especially if youre using an external keyboard. However, if you pass the main vco through a simple passive, resistor, capacitor low, pass filter circuit to round off its edges, a whole new world of wave folding just might open up so ill. Take the vco output plug that into the input of my low pass filter and then patch. The output into the fold input now lets first, listen to this without any folding. I hope you dont mind that i left the chorus and reverb on anyway. Filtered you can see how its rounding off the vco both saw and square Music, fully open and closed down. Now. This is something we can waveford so again. Lets start with totally um regular square Music doesnt fold too nicely. But if we filter it and now fold it Music thats one nasty square Music same for the sawtooth, so unfiltered it folds, but we can get a whole different range of sounds if we filter it before we fold it. Music now, dont think its all pros. With my filter theres a con to it that it does reduce levels, if you filter out a lot, it gets pretty quiet, even though you almost couldnt tell but lets, say you fold a little bit less.
It gets pretty quiet anyway, a little trick for the patch bay. If you take any source plug it into the one input, then take the one output and plug that into two youre. Basically, multiplying that uh that output, adding it to itself basically and patching that back into the fold input lets you increase its levels and pushing audio into a wave. Folder is just like increasing the wave folding, so either one will get us more wave, folding Music for extra credit. Try this with a square or pulse wave which has pulse wave modulation going on inside heres the circuit layout for this filter. It doesnt require any soldering. If you use a breadboard ill list, the components in the description below, so those are a few of the ideas i wanted to share. Besides these, there are many more in my book and mavis also comes with a patchbook with plenty of additional patch ideas. You should really try out. Here are just a few that i explored Music, Music, so Music do Music. Okay lets talk about the pros and cons for mavis on the pros side, its probably the lowest cost set of moog, oscillators and filter you can buy in desktop or eurorack form and the only moog you can buy with a wave folder which, in my opinion, sounds Really good, it has a respectably large patchbay, considering its size, its all analog. Of course, if thats important to you its also knob per function, which is great, you can see whats going on immediately, just by looking at it, it cant save presets.
Unless you have a camera nearby, but what you see is always what you get and there are no menus to dive through so whether its just to add a moog voice to a larger modular setup or to begin exploring modular and semi modular. Patching mavis is well worth a look on the cons side. There are non moog alternatives to this anywhere from software synths and vcv rack to volcas, like the volca modular to the new, create audio semi modulars and over to larger semi, modular synths by arturia or behringer competition aside in terms of things, i would have liked to See here there can obviously be an endless number of features added to this, which would have also made it cost more. The addition of the wave folder is a very welcome bit of west coast synth tech. However, it would have been even better if you could modulate the full depth right now. You can only change it manually or if you use the mixer hack, i showed you earlier. You can kind of get the same effect using the lfo or envelope. Aside from that, the knobs arent too small, i would have liked bigger knobs, maybe for the filter cut off and pitch for finer control. You can probably buy caps to put on these now. I cant compare this to the entire small synth world in this video, but overall, aside from cons like the inability to save presets and no midi, this doesnt have a sequencer or arpeggiator and cant play beyond one octave, which means that to have proper fun with it.
Youll likely want to pair it with a keystep sq1 or some other cv capable sequencer, so thats it for mavis. If you liked the insights in this video, there are plenty more in my ever expanding book available to the good people who support this channel on patreon hit like if this was useful, ring the youtube bell below.