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electronic MUSICIAN

Effects Processors, Analog (Hardware)

By the EM Staff | January 1, 2000



Deciding to give an award to a Bob Moog-designed Moogerfooger was easy; the hard part was deciding which Moogerfooger effect would be the winner. We picked the Big Briar MF-102 ring modulator primarily because several of our editors have been waiting years for a ring modulator of this quality.

Although they resemble stompboxes, Moogerfooger effects are more like analog synthesizer modules with voltage-controllable parameters. This is great news whether you have a CV pedal, an analog synth, or a digital audio sequencer with MIDI-CV output.

In case you're unfamiliar with how it operates, a ring modulator gives you the sum and difference of two frequencies: the carrier (often provided by an internal oscillator) and the modulator. The combination of the sum and difference tones, with the two original sounds absent, gives the ring modulator its distinctive clangorous, metallic sound. With a true ring modulator, ideally you should not hear the two source signals; this, combined with the number of parameters you can control, determines the quality of the effect. The MF-102 is a winner on both counts.

The MF-102 has an internal carrier oscillator with a frequency range of 0.5 Hz to 4 kHz, but it includes a jack so you can substitute an external carrier signal. The dual-waveform LFO (your choice of sine or square wave) has a variable range of 0.1 Hz to 25 Hz. The carrier frequency, effect mix, LFO rate, and LFO amount are voltage controllable via 11/44-inch TRS jacks. The unit also has a Drive control for introducing saturation into the sound. And for the musician who enjoys hands-on operation, the MF-102 features big, Minimoog-style knobs and switches.

Ring modulators create unique sounds that aren't for everyone. But for some electronic musicians, they're exactly what the doctor ordered. For those folks, the MF-102 is a must-have.

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