Realistic Concertmate MG-1
Realistic Concertmate MG-1

Concertmate MG-1, Analog Synth from Realistic.

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stiiiiiiive 07/15/2013

Realistic Concertmate MG-1 : stiiiiiiive's user review

« Original and fun. »

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The MG-1 is an analog synthesizer designed by Moog Tandy, owner of the RadioShack brand in the United States and who sold labeled Realistic material. My father bought all kinds of hacks out there.

A small keyboard of two octaves and a half, without velocity or aftertouch, allows 6 kg (barely) MG-1 to be carried everywhere.

Next generation ...

A mono part resting on two voltage-controlled oscillators whose frequency is adjustable on 3 octaves (-2, -1, and 0 for one and -1, 0 and 1 for the other). Both allow you to choose between a sawtooth wave or a square wave with different duty cycles, not modular. A potentiometer is used to tune the oscillator 2 as a function of 1. Finally, the two oscillators are synchronized. We just regret that no modulation source, except the dedicated potentiometer, permits to modulate the frequency of the oscillator 2 only.

A second part consists of a polyphonic square wave generator which passes through the dividers octave. We thus find an organ sound transistor general public, of course, but not only, I will return. This function allows you to blow the benefit of a third oscillator, but beware: no possible transposition, each key triggers a rating.

Each part has its own global tuning.

A noise generator is used to mix it with other sources. For more technical among us, there are interesting to know that the noise is based on a digital pseudo-random generator.

Finally, a ring-modulator based on an "exclusive-or" gives an additional source for inharmonic sounds or to give a little grain at all.

A Mixer section allows dosing everything beautiful world before sending in the filter.

The filter is a conventional filter went Moog lowpass 24 dB / Oct, resonant, self-oscillating if pushed. Track keyboard is switchable between 0, 50% and 100%.

Modulation side ...

LFO generates waveforms square, triangular and random walk. His speed is not peaked but not bad enough to give expressiveness. The frequency modulation of the two VCOs and the filter can be assayed using two potentiometers. The frequency of polyphonic part is not flexible.
An envelope with two parameters, switchable between AD and ASR, can control the volume and / or the cutoff frequency of the filter.
Regarding the volume, there is the alternative of using a rectangular enclosure base or leave the VCA always open to make drones.
Moreover, as there is an envelope, polyphonic part is subject to the attack phase but the release phase is absent for some settings: this is the paraphonie several notes but only one filter and one envelope.

Note also that the LFO to cyclically trigger the envelope and it also has a portamento.

Side routing ...

All the sources pass through the filter and envelope, with the sole exception of paraphonie described above. Suddenly, the modulations of the filters in the envelope or LFO completely sculpt the sound.

Side connections ...

The outputs are phono / RCA size: for the general public. There is also a pair of entries in the same format to bring the signal from the turntable to play Granny and over :) But beware, these inputs are not routed through the filter.
A headphone jack is available ... front: good.
A trigger input and a pitch into 1V/Oct possible to control the MG-1 from the outside. The service manual suggests that with proper jack cable, keyboard MG-1 can control another instrument through the same connection.

Changes exist that allow him to add a MIDI input, standard output jack or to past entries in the filters. Among other ...

His twin brother is almost the Moog The Rogue. It is distinguished by the absence of pitch and modulation, the ability to select the octave and waveform oscillators independently polyphonic part and the ring-modulator, a less straightforward keyboard action the absence of modulation of the frequency of the oscillator 2, for these typical sync leads. Some details are available on the pages of Vintage Synth Explorer.


The MG-1 is a very fun instrument. It has a charm and it's a real pleasure to walk on its front panel and listen to him sing. The sound is rather crude, and its possibilities are rather unusual.

By mixing the polyphonic part VCOs and a semblance of layers is obtained. The keyboard gives priority to the highest note. So, when a plate agreement, VCOs play this note. And that's good because the ear better distinguish the highest score in an agreement, and gives the illusion to the ears of non-geek that all the chord is played with the sound of VCOs. Well thought out.

So, despite its limitations, the MG-1 is more versatile in terms of playing technique

With almost 30 years under their belt, the potentiometers can withstand a bit and make the tuning of the oscillator 2 approximate. To my mind, this is the charm of analog: the inaccuracy in the service of thickness. By the way, my own breath a little.

The name parameter is consumer oriented because this instrument was dedicated to this market. So, real geeks can find disconcerting at first, but will make their marks quickly. And then the issue is simple: there is not much and everything is at your fingertips.

The lack of wheels can cool in a few. For my part, I started playing and I put my hand on the left side reflex. Surprise. But originality is so endearing that we want to play differently.


I use the MG-1 for a week. I will not venture to spread sound comparisons because I think the experience of an instrument is not limited to sound, but also to the interface and the possibilities it offers. For once, the MG-1 a little out of the ordinary and I think few synths offer the same gaming experience

Its strengths are in my opinion the mono / paraphonique originality. Compactness can make "small wins that everywhere."
None of his weakness has really handicapped me. If I really had to choose two, it would be ... go to: lack of modulation of the frequency of the oscillator 2 only, and we would still transpose an octave lower.

I recommend watching the video of Mark Doty (aka AutomaticGainsay) which brilliantly describe the details of the instrument and how it can benefit from its limitations.