Greetings from "that guy" in the 2nd trailer.
Since it's hard to get a "feel" of my background and perspective from an 8 second clip, here is a brief rundown.
I hve been interested in synths eversince I heard "Knife Edge" at a small pizza joint's juke box around 1972. My father was a nuclear physicist and I was into chemistry. I wasn't that much into electronics except liked stereos/speakers/listening to music. I had a chemistry scholarship entering college, but since an entry-level job required a PhD, switched to EE. I had gone to a very small high school that had a *terrible* math department, and the only way I was able to tolerate EE and finally understand what was going on was via the great 'Electronotes' newsletter. This was 1974-1979, and during that time wrote to every synth manufacturer in 'Keyboard' and asked for literature. One packet arrived from Moog, and I'll be damned if Bob himself didn't write a little letter and enclose a business card. I tinkered around with the Electronotes stuff, bought some EMu potted modules, etc.
After I graduated, I went to work for Tandy, the R&D arm of Radio Shack (before everyone gets all high and mighty, we designed most of Alpine, Kenwood and Blaupunkt car stereos). During this time I joined AES, and started annoying Bob at the AES conventions. We hit it off, and I worked on the Tandy MG-1 monosynth along with Rich Walburn (one of the MemoryMoog designers). One of my favorite memories was going to AES around 1986 and I was sitting in this large meeting room (probably 350 empty chairs) waiting for the next session and I hear this distinct, quiet voice going "Hello, Paul" and there is Bob sitting 2 seats over.
We started talking about the Moog modular at the University of Texas (Austin) studio, where I was the lab tech working for the McLeans (Barton and Priscilla) that ran the studio. It was serial #6 and over 1/2 of the circuits were on *perf board*. I mentioned I had a h**l of a time getting schematics, Bob laughed and said "What schematics?". About 3 weeks later he sends me hand drawn blueprints of various things, I guess he and Roger Luther looked up the system. I wish I still had them, I sent them to the studio.
Another great Bob story is the year the Voyager was introducted at NAMM. I had a booth 2 over from Moog's and on Wednesday afternoon while setting up, Bob shuffles over and asks to borrow my DVM. I asked if he needed a soldering iron and he said sure. I said that this will cost you, I don't just let anyone borrow my stuff. He said not to worry. So there is Bob-freaking-Moog sprawled on the floor, trying to fix the Voyager prototype WITH MY s**t. About an hour later, Bob comes over with a sack, and in the sack is a hat, a sweatshirt and and Moog cloth bag that he wrote "I hope this bag is enough" - Bob Moog. How awesome it that?
So, as you can see I have nothing but admiration and respect, not for the synth side of me (MOTM/Synthesis Technology) but ENTIRELY because of Bob Moog I have a MSEE, 9 US patents, and 34 years of (mostly) steady EE employment. ANd I'm not a chemist making generic shampoo for Walmart.
It is safe to say that I have a very different approach/design perspective than most current modular synth manufacturers. I am a full-time EE (not self-taught) that over my career have designed over 100 products and those products range from military missile launch systems to talking doorbells to the Blackberry 9850 cell phone. My designs have sold *millions* of units. So, I am far from a "casual" or "avid hobbiest" designer. This is somewhat ironic in that SynthTech is a "hobby" done in my spare time (cough). BTW: SynthTech was started to do voice compression ASIC design for Texas Instruments (post Speak-n-Spell, for talking books and toys).
Also, I have a limited "formal" music background: I was an organist and was just fair (not even average) and decided the practice time was too involved and would rather study the pipe organs themselves (that is another long post it it's own).
When I decide to start the MOTM kits, I took a large sheet of drafting paper and across the top wrote "What Moog Did Not Have". What I was referring to were technology tools, parts, etc. The list was in no particualr order, just whatever I could think of. It started off like this:
1) CAD for pc boards
3) heat shrink tubing
4) fast processors
5) cheap 0.1% resistors, cheap 2% film caps
and so on.
I did not focus on the modules, I focused on the *technology*. Hence, my comment in the video: Bob did the best he could with what he had at the time (1967-1974). And let's face it: silicon was pretty sucky, capacitors were VERY expensive and double-sided pc boards were for the military/NASA (4-layer boards like all my Euro modules use were unheard of). Think of it another way: how many people reading this still use a Pioneer 1970 amplifier as their main stereo?
[now I will start stepping on a few toes, if not already]
I personally have never understood the romantic attachment to electronics. The beauty of electronics (and chemistry, and most science) is that things are predictable and can be calculated and analyzed. Chances are very remote that someone can grab 20 random parts, solder them up and something useful happens. Rather, there is MUCH to learn, the math WILL back you up and if you do your homework, the 1st unit shipped and the 12millionth unit will be *identical*. Because engineers like order.
But in the musical electronics genre, there is an interesting (cough) give-and-take. Many end-users interact with the equipment much differently than other electronic users do (I have never seen a blog post extolling the wonders of vintage microwave ovens). Musicians frequently will attach mythical/romantic/insert-whatever-here feelings to certain pieces of equipment. So-and-so's mic pre is wonderful while this one over here "lacks spatial depth". This '67 Tele is better than that '88 Tele BECAUSE IT's A '67 Tele!!!
It places designers in a strange position: on one hand we can just approach a new module strictly as "just a thing that does this" and is made up of inate parts no more interesting than what is in your electric wattmeter on the house. Or we can try to figure out (translate?) what users are saying to some sort of finite "thing". And it's always somewhere in the middle.
In my case, what I do is let the musicians do the listening. I am proud to say that MOTM users are quite good at feeding back comments. I use an extensive beta testing program. Early on, many Internet analog synth pundits really dog-piled me over this fact (one favorite comment was to the effect of I wasn't "hip" enough to be in the 'community' because I was this old guy from Beaumont, TX and what the F did I know about anything).
I have gone on the record saying arguing about synths is like arguing over the taste of beer. I still think that. How can anyone "make their case" about preferring Sound A over B? Certainly not because I tell you so. Rather, what I focus on is what I *can control*: the physical design itself. I can pick the parts, the pc board layout, the firmware. I can choose crappy parts or the best available. I can charge whatever the h**l I want to. If no one buys the damn things, my family does not starve or go homeless. I don't layoff people, close the doors and blow my brains out. I just have a garage full of eBay scrap.
I am proud of my designs. I pick only the top people to work with. As far as I know, I am the only manufacturer offering a *LIFETIME* warranty. I have never denied anyone a schematic, I don't sand the tops off ICs or blob epoxy on my boards.
If anyone has made it this far: just because I am a bit (a lot??!?) more 'boring' in my background doesn't mean I am not just as (if not more) passionate about my modules. When you hear the whole DVD, you will hear *many* similar story arcs, and mine will be different. Not 'better' or 'worse', just 'different'.