Moog Music, makers of some of the finest synthesizers on the planet, also have a line of effects pedals called Moogerfoogers. These quality analog effects are as useful in studio setups as they are on a guitarist's pedal board. Their latest creation, the MF-104M, is a revamp of their old bucket brigade-style delay. The M stands for "MIDI," and this pedal is as much an instrument as it is an effect, with expressive playability and user control way beyond that of any ordinary stomp box. And with the Moog logo on its casing, it's a pretty safe bet that it sounds great and is built to last.
The front panel is broken into three panels—delay line controls, level controls and an LFO. Input begins with a drive knob. Using the LED at the bottom as a visual guide, you determine how loud incoming signal hits, with the ability to go from clean to saturated as the LED turns from green to orange to red. Even at the input stage, the 104M presents a wide range of tones, and there's a lot more to come. Below that is an output level control and a knob for dry/wet mix. The back panel, which is loaded with 1/4-inch jacks, has an output for both the mix out and the 100% wet delay out. These can be used creatively for stereo effects or any other processing schemes you can dream up.
The delay section has a switch that toggles between short (40ms to 400ms) and long (80ms to 800ms) settings, with a large knob to fine-tune the delay time. The short delay has a higher frequency response than the long, making it brighter-sounding. There's plenty of overlap of the two ranges, giving users the power to really fine-tune their tone. At the bottom is the feedback control, which sends audio back to the drive stage. Turning this knob to eight and beyond makes the unit self-oscillate. With this capability, you can create an incredibly wide range of sonic mayhem, and that's with nothing plugged into the input. You can only imagine what's possible with music as a source. By feeding the unit a single note from a Rhodes or a synth, I was able to jam out soundscapes for minutes on end.
The beauty of this pedal receiving MIDI beat clock is immediately apparent considering that the delay time and LFO can be synced to any tempo. A handy chart in the well-written manual gives CC values for times from four bars to 1/32-note triplets, with all subdivisions in between. By using MIDI messages, all of the front panel controls can be virtually turned. Beyond those, there are several other options only available via MIDI, a common feature with some of the new Moog devices. A delay time multiplier greatly extends delay times by multiplying the current setting by two, four or eight times for some rather unusual sounds. You can even use a standard MIDI keyboard to play delay and LFO times, or use a mod wheel to increase LFO amount. The latter is a pretty standard modulation destination on many synths, proving this delay encourages performance, not just a "set it and forget it" mentality. A footswitch tap tempo is also available for synchronization. Although not as tight as it would be with a host BPM, it gets the job done in a hurry, and you might prefer it if you like the delay time a little loose. If you tap really fast or really slow, you can achieve tempos outside of the range available through the controls and generate unique timbres similar to ring modulation, adding to the unit's extremely wide sound palette.
The LFO section comprises a waveform selector, a rate knob and an amount control. There are six selectable waveforms—sine, triangle, square, saw, ramp, and sample & hold, AKA random. The rate has a range of .05Hz to approximately 50Hz. The multicolored LFO rate LED helps make both the rate and waveform apparent, and colors also indicate if your tempo is set from the front panel, the tap tempo or MIDI beat clock. Finally, the LFO amount sets what some synthesizers refer to as depth or intensity of the modulation effect. Basically, the LFO changes the delay time and therefore the pitch of the delay taps. This can range from a subtle phasing, flanging or chorus effect to full-on warping and mangling. Once again, I was very impressed with wide range of sounds I could achieve with the LFO.
The back panel sports five CV jacks and one feedback insert. By connecting an insert Y cable to this TRS jack, the delay feedback signal path can be processed separately from the dry signal by another stomp box or any effect device. The five CV jacks—available for for feedback, time, LFO rate, LFO amount and mix—can be used with a Moog expression pedal or any CV source with a 0V to +5V range. Modular enthusiasts and guitar players alike will find much use from this wealth of CV options.
Beyond all of the powerful control, the MF-104M has a warm and beautiful sound, something to be expected of a Moog. It doesn't come cheap, but as with most things, you get what you pay for. And with this unit, you get a powerful and incredible-sounding effect that is remarkably well built.