Moog Sonic Six vintage brochure
The Moog Sonic Six was made by Bob Moog from 1974 to 1979. Moog had acquired Musonics, who made the Sonic V synthesizer, and Moog continued the series with the Sonic Six.
The Sonic Six is a pretty interesting machine, with an attache-case style portable body, and it was one of the earlier examples of a duophonic synth. It also had a strange filter design, which was more like an Oberheim SEM than any Moog at the time.
It was built to be light and portable, and also had a built-in speaker and clearly separated sections via graphics, hinting it’s use for educational purposes. In fact, most of Moog’s marketing for the Sonic Six targeted students and educational institutions (Bob Moog himself used to tote one of these around for demonstrations).
It has a few other interesting features – dual LFOs that you can mix together (and modulate their speeds with voltage control!), and you can adjust the temperament to play scales that have less than 12 notes per octave. Tt also has both pink and white noise and a ring modulator.
Here is a scan of the Moog Sonic Six foldout brochure from 1974. Click on each of the pictures to see a larger version:
Personally, I absolutely love the groovy 60’s sort of design – it seems like the synth that Jake would play in the Jetsons!
One of Moog’s main competitors in the educational sector, even before the Sonic Six, was surely EML. In Mark Vail’s Vintage Synthesizers book, one of the founders of EML, Norman Milliard, talks about how EML really got a kick start thanks to Moog. Norman was setting up his booth at a music educator’s convention where Bob Moog was supposed to be the featured speaker. But Bob’s plane was snowed in and convention organizers asked Norman to speak to the 2000+ crowd. The result – a lot of business. The competition is also clearly seen in the design of the ElectroComp 101 – it bears more than a slight resemblance to the Sonic Six with its clearly separated synthesis sections and portable form factor.
These days, the Sonic Six is pretty rare, and although they were unique at the time that they were sold, they are pretty standard fare for synths these days. I’d venture to say that most currently owners keep them for collectability or just because they look so darn cool.
Image kindly provided by RetroSynthAds