A Pittsburgh Modular Appreciation and Question Spot

Hi,
super old school Pitt Mod user and friend of the company here.
I thought it might be nice to make a place for stuff pertaining to Pittsburgh Modular.
I’ve used, owned or played with every module that’s ever been and some not out yet.
I even proposed the idea for the Chain Reactor!
Ask any questions you may have and if I can’t answer, I’m in regular touch with Richard
and Michael and can get an answer pretty quick. Here’s my current 3 voice percussion system:

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My very first modular rig was the now discontinued Cell 48 System 3, the west coast iteration.

I still have all the modules although I sold the case a while back. I probably should have kept it!

It’s still nice stuff despite being a little larger in hp than I prefer, but it was a fun start to the journey.

Their customer service is fast and friendly…

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I had heard there were some issues with it… I think maybe it was something to do with noise in the signal chain or something, I can’t remember… but the Patch Box came and went so fast. I’ve always wondered if they might produce them again. I’ve been hunting for one for years because it actually in principle is exactly what I’ve been after at various points. I don’t know if it was because of issues or manufacturing difficulty or lack of demand or what but I’d love to get to try one out some time. (if anyone here has one they don’t want - give me a shout!)

I have one of their 104hp road style cases- has held up well including some time on the road, never any issues, fits perfectly on the lap. simple, does what it needs to, so always been happy with it.

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I am a huge Pittsburgh Modular fan. I have both the Microvolt and the full Voltage Research Lab. Absolutely fantastic instruments, and the VRL is IMO the best self contained west coast system in Euro, and when using the Microvolt as an expander, the possibilities are endless. They also have by far the best costumer service I’ve ever dealt with, and Richard is unbelievably nice.

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Im not sure how the new stuff is but the old modules werent really good in terms of quality (noise in outputs, lack of circuit protection, mA draw), so I stood away from them.
I was excited for their digital lpg, but haven’t heard much.
I do enjoy the looks on their analog lab.

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Yeah, I was in the mix when they did the Patch Box.
It was tricky to get right. There were a lot twists to conditioning
a guitar signal to respond well in the modular environment. Vernon Reid
reached out when he heard about it and came to Pittsburgh to do a video
at my studio. Great concept, maybe wasn’t the right moment for that one.

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Of course there were occasional technical issues along the way, but they always made it right with their customers IMO. The Dynamic Impulse Filter is fully analog. Michael Johnsen designed a circuit to emulate the behavior of a low pass gate. I still have 2 of the original vactrol versions. It’s my ultimate kick drum.

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When I firs met Richard he was using MOTM and MFOS 5U stuff.
So I think early on he was leaning towards a little more roomy.
But early on stuff was bigger, look at the old Livewire stuff,
it was huge by today’s standards.

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I always thought it was digital, my bad.

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Remember these? http://www.pittsburghmodularrecords.com/news/pittsburgh-modular-announces-a-new-line-of-limited-edition-m.html

Honestly, I can’t recall exactly which module it was that Pittsburgh said would be a Ltd Edition of 50 and then released more, but it happened, and it was the last module of theirs that I bought.

I’d be happy to hear that their business practices have improved, and I don’t wish them ill, but I can’t go there.

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How is the controller for the Research Lab? I’m thinking of buying one. Thanks!

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That doesn’t sound like poor business practice to me. They put those out in tiny editions because a market didn’t then exist for more. These aren’t vintage Picasso prints getting hoarded by dealers and appreciating due to scarcity. They’re machines that people want to use, and if more users get them and a small company can get by, that’s all for the good, in my opinion.

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Then why not just release them as regular modules?
I’m not going deep on this as it was years ago and water under said bridge. But if you call something a ltd edition, and then release more, you’re a liar.

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Yeah, I remember that fray on Muffs.
Geez, Richard made 50 because he thought it’d be fun and there were a lot of requests for more of one of the modules so he made another 50 or something like that. They were fairly priced and novel designs, a chance to experiment.

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It is totally amazing! There’s so many different ways to use it, and so many sources for sequenced modulation, that you really never get bored. The built in clock divider, and the option to split the “keyboard” is really cool, though I will point out that the cv lanes have different responses in duo and mono modes. As a touch controller, I have to say it is absolutely brilliant, and the Y-axis control is super responsive.

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part of me thought that maybe it was ‘too soon’ in a way… I never have used any of their actual modules but to me Pittsburgh at least when I was paying attention was kind of trying to model themselves as US version of Doepfer - inexpensive and functional basics. While modular was already much bigger and had more users at that point it was still small compared to where we are now, and I think a lot of guitarists maybe didn’t get what it was or why it would be useful. Granted they are a bit different and maybe less gig/pedalboard fragile in some way but the popularity of digital modular pedals now makes me think it just wasn’t time yet. I wonder how it would go over now.

I hadn’t thought about the whole guitar/line level issue since I’m not a guitarist and I’d actually want it for use with keyboard synths or other set-ups. well… if you find out they ever have any in storage somewhere :wink:

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I’m sure there may be a patchbox in the basement of the shop somewhere, but honestly at this point you’d be a lot better off with some small format euro case option and just filling it with modules that suit your needs. I think the ergonomics of the guitar pedal format are somewhat in opposition to the EuroRack format. Those modules felt odd to me sitting on the floor with little patch cables hanging out of them.

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Fellow Pittsburgher here. I really loved the older series of modules they did which included the Timerunner, Game System, Switch, Crush, v2 Filter, and Verbtronic. I hope that they pursue more modules like that in the future. The Florist seems like a step in that stranger direction.

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Also regarding this talk of being angry they made more of a limited module, there are bigger problems in this world. Seems like enough people wanted to get one and they had a change of heart. Small companies have limited resources.

Look at the generation loss cooper fx/chase bliss pedal, very annoying that it was limited and now prices are absolutely ridiculous.

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I still have my Timerunner and despite it being functionally replaced by Pam’s New there’s an immediacy and novelty in the design that I’m having a hard time saying “yeah I’m never gonna want this again.” I never grabbed Game System but I feel like if i saw one at the right price now (and felt like affording that) I’d grab it. Pitts definitely dropped some pretty novel modules that they don’t sustain as a product line.

I don’t have a reason in 2020 to afford their new lil desktop jams but that is a genre of electronic music instrument I always love to see work happening in.

I had a Cell90 case that transitioned me to a Move208 that I swapped a 'Jel power board into. were/are these perfect? nah but they were in my budget and have gotten me where I am.

the mk of Outs I had was noisy but I think I paid $50 for it. Just feel like Pitts never had a “hit” module despite having a lot of pretty good work out there. Whatever they are still in business and responded promptly to a couple Q’s I had about swapping the power on my 208 case.

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