The Moog Moogerfooger MF-108M Cluster Flux is an analogue chorus/flanger pedal that can be used to add amazing analogue effects to virtually any electronic instrument, be it a guitar, a synth, a drum machine, etc.
The pedal itself is a direct descendant of the original Moog modular synthesisers and rack effects units and in true modular fashion, you can combine multiple Moogerfooger pedals together to create even more complex and interesting effects (Deadmau5 style - have you seen that guys studio??? Check out the Moogerfoogers under his desk!) There’s a large range of Moogerfooger effects out there - click here to see them all!
Anyway, for now I’m just going to be looking at the MF-108M Cluster Flux…
MOOGERFOOGER CLUSTER FLUX – BRIEF INTRODUCTION
The analogue Cluster Flux pedal has two main parts – a delay line to create the flanger or chorus effect and an LFO.
For such a small device, there's actually a lot of tweakability on offer – you get a switch to flick between chorus and flanger effects, a delay time control, a feedback control (this can go between positive and negative levels), 6 different waveshapes for the LFO (sine, triangle, pulse, ramp, reverse ramp and sample and hold), an LFO rate control and an LFO amount control. In addition there are also controls for adjusting the analogue Drive amount, the output level and the output mix between the delay line effect and the LFO, and there are two switches for tapping the tempo (to set the rate of the LFO) and for toggling the bypass state of the pedal.
In terms of design and build quality, this thing is right up my street – rugged metal chassis, vintage wooden ends and best of all, the same style knobs and switches that you would find on the legendary Minimoog! Very classy!
It’s also worth noting that the Cluster Flux features a number of input connections for connecting a CV device or expression pedal (e.g. the Moog EP2) for controlling all of its main parameters (Feedback, Time, LFO Rate, LFO Amount and Mix). This is an extremely cool feature, especially if you are using the pedal for live performance purposes as it allows for hands free control, which means that you can play your instrument more naturally.
On the back of the Cluster Flux, you also get a MIDI input, which allows you to sync the LFO to an external MIDI clock source, and there’s even a Feedback Insert for inserting other effects into the feedback loop of the delay chain.
MOOGERFOOGER CLUSTER FLUX – IN USE
I had a little play around with the Cluster Flux pedal with both a synthesiser and an electric guitar (you can see me using it with a Waldorf Blofeld in the video below) and on the whole I was very impressed with it. It certainly gave a lovely analogue warmth to the sounds that I was running through it, even on subtle settings. In fact, I found that with some sounds, subtle settings worked best, adding just a hint of analogue loveliness to a signal without changing the tone too much – just a tiny lick of chorus and a bit of drive often worked rather nicely.
However, I personally think that you’d be crazy to fork out for a Cluster Flux and just use it subtly because in my opinion, it really comes alive when you start going a bit more crazy with the controls!
My favourite control of the Cluster Flux was the Feedback dial! The range of tones that it could produce was awesome and in many instances it helped add a fantastic thick quality with a touch of bite to a sound! In fact, if you crank it to its extremes, it even starts to self-oscillate, to give a sound that only true analogue equipment can! Sure, you’re probably not going to want to leave the Cluster Flux feedback self-oscillating for too long (unless you’re in some kind of Leftfield Death Metal Industrial Hardcore Underground Techno Gabba-type group, where the object of all your songs is to make as much offensive noise as you can in 5 minutes), but occasionally sweeping the feedback to one of its extremes until it hints at self oscillation, before sweeping it down and back into a more musically useful tone sounds absolutely out of this world!
In fact, saying that its extreme feedback settings are not 'musically useful' is probably a tad unfair as the self-oscillation of the Cluster Flux is tuned – it just becomes a bit overpowering in a mix, especially if you have previously been tootling along nicely on a low feedback setting.
I’d love to sample some of the sounds that it makes in its self-oscillation state with a variety of different instruments and sounds routed through it. I bet that I would get some very interesting results and some huge bass sounds! I could then put the samples into something like iZotope’s Iris software to completely customise the harmonic content of the sound, then load the samples into Melodyne to create melodic phrase and then maybe re-route the audio back out and through the Cluster Flux again for more tweaking! Now there’s an idea!
The chorus and flanger effects that the Cluster Flux produced were excellent and very analogue, although it did require a bit of tweaking to get the best results. It’s not one of those things that you can just plug something into and it will instantly sound great, at least not at extreme settings.
I also found that settings were very specific to the sound that you were applying the effects to – one group of settings may sound amazing on a pad-type sound, but route a stabby synth sound through it and things may quickly start to sound far too wild. Having said that, it does lead me onto something else that I really like about the Cluster Flux – it can be unpredicatable!
Now this may not always be a good thing and sure, if you’re performing live, you're probably going to want to know what it’s going to do, which is fine – just work out what settings work on what sounds and don’t go too crazy with those controls. However, if you’re an electronic or experimental artist, this unpredictability can be an amazing gift. I spent ages just randomly setting the Cluster Flux up with extreme settings and then pumping a variety of different sounds from a synth through it. Sometimes the results were awful, sometimes they worked and sometimes they were just amazing! If only I’d had a sampler on me!
MOOGERFOOGER CLUSTER FLUX – SUMMARY
So, to sum up, the Cluster Flux sounds great on a variety of sounds, whether you’re adding a sweeping flanger effect over some long, drawn-out guitar chords, going crazy with some chorused LFO settings (try the sample and hold waveform for even more randomness), or just adding some subtle analogue chorus and drive. It also sounds great on synth sounds and I’d love to try it with some percussive noises as well as I bet that it would produce some really crazy results!
The Cluster Flux MF-108M would make a great addition to any live or studio set-up. I found that in many cases, messing around with the controls whilst playing a sound produced some of the most interesting results as it allowed me to add even more layers of movement to those that were already created by the flanger/chorus and LFO. If you’re performing live then I’d certainly recommend getting at least one footpedal with it to control your favourite parameter(s). I don’t imagine that you’d constantly want to be making extreme changes, but every now and again, for example in a chorus, you may want to suddenly ramp up the drive or feedback, or drop off/increase the effect of the flanger/LFO – you get the idea!
I had great fun setting up an arpeggiated sequence on a synthesiser and then just playing around with both the controls of the Cluster Flux and the synth simultaneously – this would be an amazing thing to do if you’re in some kind of electronic band!
So, was there anything that I didn’t like about the Cluster Flux? Nothing drastic – the only thing that I can think to mention is that when the LFO 'Amount' control is cranked up and you aren’t playing any sounds through the pedal, you can hear a dull thud as the LFO performs each cycle. It’s not too loud and if any other sounds are playing (either from an instrument connected to the Cluster Flux or from anywhere else in the room), you aren’t going to hear it and besides, you can always hit the bypass switch to stop it.
Now the big question – is it worth the money? If you’re after an analogue chorus or flanger effect, then it certainly is! The Cluster Flux definitely doesn’t sound like your average chorus/flanger pedal and the fact that it is so tweakable and often unpredicatable makes it even more appealing… well, it does to me!
If you’re after something that’s simple to use and always sounds good, I’d suggest getting a standard chorus/flanger effect with two or three controls. However, if you want something with unique analogue character that can sound either awful, good, amazing, or out-of-this-world, something that gives you an enormous sense of achievement when you hit on some settings that blow your mind, and something that offers amazing tweakability for creating completely custom sounds, then your reading about it right now.
For more information on the Moog Moogerfooger Cluster Flux MF-108M pedal click the link below or give us a call on 01202 597180.
You can also click the link below to view our entire range of Moogerfooger pedals – remember, you can link multiple units together to create even more complex effects. Anyone else drooling just thinking about that possibility?
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