Review: MFB Nanozwerg

Don’t let this synthesizer’s size or single oscillator put you off, this synth has quite a lot of tricks up it’s sleeve!

MFB NanozwergManfred Fricke Berlin, a modular synth producing company that in the last years has joined the modular-synth market by creating modules like we know and love from Doepfer and similar companies like Analogue Systems, has been releasing some semi-modular synths like the Microzwerg, Megazwerg and the smallest and lightest of the bunch; The Nanozwerg. The Nanozwerg has a single oscillator (triangle, saw, square, pulse), a switchable filter (low-pass, band-pass, Notch, High-Pass), a single LFO (triangle, saw, square, sample & hold), a knob to modulate the filter with either LFO or VCO, a knob to modulate the oscillator by itself (VCO) or LFO, some patch points and a sub-oscillator to fatten-up your sound. The Sub OSC also includes a Noise generator which makes it possible to synthesize non-harmonic sounds like drums. Pretty standard synth stuff, and the reason why I bought the thing in the first place. But here comes the fun part..

The patchable ports on the device (CV in, Gate in, VCF in, VCA in, LFO in, LFO out and audio in) offer more options you’d ever expect from such a small and perhaps simple synth. The LFO in accepts CV messages to oscillate the LFO along with your notes, making it possible to use it as a second oscillator (via audio in), which is a fantastic idea in itself, but it’s also possible to use it as a high speed modulator for the oscillator giving the Nanozwerg simple FM capacities. (Analog FM synths, do such things even exist?) Patch the LFO into the VCA and you have AM, into gate for interesting rhythmic gating effect and patch it into VCF and the filter will move along with your LFO. (Yes, simple FM filter capacities as well!) There are more options, but if I spoil all the fun there’s nothing to discover for you…

.. OK! One more! Use the Sample and hold from the LFO as a sound-source (LFO out -> Audio in) for that 8-bit burning sound from the old days.

In short, if you have a modular system this might not be interesting for you: The filter is only 12dB per octave, there’s only one (normal) oscillator, it’s monophonic. But if, like me, you’ve just started making your journey into analog, this is a great place to start. It’s pretty cheap (Around €215,-), it’s more powerful than any competitor (Dark Energy, Mopho etc.) and KORG DS-10 users will feel right at home using this synthesizer. Somehow it even reminds me of the software.

One last thing; The power-plug is amazing! It’s small, lean and light like a mobile-phone charger. Kudos for that! Why do we have to have so many wall-warts huh? (I’m looking at you, Roland, Korg, Kawai, and EVERYONE ELSE!)


MFB Nanozwerg Patch Sheet

MFB Microzwerg Review



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