Monday, January 28, 2008

Future of large-format modulars?

I've noticed that over the past two years, most of the action in new and different modules for modular synthesizers has been in the small formats, particularly Eurorack. In addition to the ever-growing Doepfer line, the past two years have seen the emergence of Plan B, Livewire, and Harvestman, plus the beginnings of the Cwejman modular line. Analogue Systems continues to grow its impressive product line too.

On the other hand, in the most widely adopted large formats, there isn't nearly as much going on. has focused most of its development effort for the past couple of years on re-creating the Moog 960 sequencer modules -- a worthwhile effort, as far as it goes, but not exactly new. Cynthia has introduced two modules, but is concentrating mostly on offering its existing line in multiple formats, and they have dropped several older modules from their line (was I the only person who bought the StereOSpace?). Synth Tech had big plans a couple of years ago, but the business suffered a setback with the incapacitation of one of the principals (plus the tragic death of Stooge Panels co-founder Larry Hendry). They introduced the MOTM-480 and 485 filters, the very under-appreciated 510 WaveWarper, and the 650 MIDI interface. But a number of other planned modules, including a cloud generator and a fixed filter bank, had to be put on the shelf.

It's not all gloom and doom for large format manufacturers. Modcan continues to grow its line, particularly the MOTM-compatible B-series. Bridechamber's offerings also continue to grow (mostly in the MOTM format), and include a number of kits. However, there is nothing like, say, Harvestman's digital mangling modules being offered by any large-format manufacturer.

So is small-format the future of modulars? Are those of us with fat fingers facing a future of twiddling tiny knobs and breaking off teensy weensy 3.5mm jacks?

No comments: