In praise of big single-mode modules

Realized my unasked for pontificating in the hype thread better suited its own discussion.

What are your favorite modules that don’t follow the dense multifunction trend?

Rough debatable criteria

  1. 10hp or wider. It is as big as it needed to be. Small size optimization is not a goal.
  2. Knobs aren’t cramped
  3. Not a Swiss army knife. A Dual Universal Slope Generator counts (as does most Serge) because, while it can do many things by patch programmability, what the labels on the knobs say stands. If there are modes which change what knobs do or screen diving then it isn’t it.

Think classic Doepfer modules, Serge modules, filter banks, sequencers.

Let’s refine the criteria. Let’s share the big honking modules that don’t give our pointer/index pincers RSI.

12 Likes

Cosmotronic Vortex, great design for a complex oscillator - clear labeling, sliders, big knobs, octave switches. The only thing I’d improve on is a coarse tuning lock for the oscillators like the Frap Tools Brenso. You do have mini pots for attenuating the sliders/internal modulation but they’re not too cramped and don’t get lost because of the location of the jacks and the sliders above them.

Verbos Multi-Delay - sliders, nothing tricky, big knobs

Sputnik Spectral Processor - my slider fetish again, of its type of thing it’s way more pleasant to use than the ResEq (which would be better with more space) and sounds less, uh, clinical than the Fumana. The Bark Filter might be equivalent but the one I bought used didn’t work.

2 Likes

I’m glad I finally get to talk about my fetish in public. But seriously, I learnt to appreciate a module that isn’t shy to occupy the room it deserves. My favourite one is the Doepfer A-101-3, which is ridiculously wide (and deep!) by today’s youth’s standards, and it’s just a phaser - a heck of a phaser. It signifies the true meaning of modular for me, being open-ended in every way.

Another more recent release I enjoy a lot is the Sonocurrent M C3A - three intertwined crossfaders in 18HP. I don’t love everything about it, some of the knobs are too small, ironically. But it feels like a part of a grown up instrument, not a toy.

5 Likes

A lot of analog complex / quirky oscs fall into this category for me. I’ll be the first to mention the Verbos Harmonic Oscillator. Yes, the faders and knobs are quite close to each other, but I think that makes sense as they’re related harmonics and there’s a big honkin’ frequency tuning knob just as [insert deity] intended.

3 Likes

DPO / Maths / QMMG trilogy are great examples of this. Being mode-less removes so much cognitive load.

I designed a module called Control which is supposed to be a macro version of this - take any module and map 4 functions to 4 big knobs, so you play by listening, rather than thinking

31 Likes

I like this topic!

I will throw Vermona’s meloDICER on here because I’ve read frequent critique of its size-to-function ratio. Sitting at 34 hp, it drives a single melody and rhythm sequence, and that’s often been the main criticism I’ve read, something along the lines of (to paraphrase), “all that space for a single melody sequencer!?”

But its singleness of purpose is what I love so much about it. All of the knobs and sliders turn it into a performance device rather than something to be programmed to death and then left alone.

1 Like

This is the thread for me. I basically only use modules like this now, with one or two exceptions (an important one being the Vector Sequencer and expander, which takes up lots of space and is not cramped to use). I have no interest in remembering button combinations.

Besides the obvious like Maths…

WMD Sequential Switch Matrix. A programmable sequential switch. Very easy to use, very satisfying.
Joranalog Filter 8 – so many uses! All of Joran’s modules qualify except for on space grounds. Some are a little thin.
I feel like most things from Doepfer and Make Noise qualify, at least older things. I have an A-138m, Wogglebug, Maths, Echophon.
I also prefer MI Braids to Plaits, though Braids isn’t currently racked.

Currently not racked: the Grendel Drone Commander and expander. The best built Eurorack module I own, but all my “voices” are outside the rack now, which is dedicated to control and signal processing. The only thing is I think I prefer the triangle core of the ammo can to the saw core of the Euro unit.

I just ordered a Frap Tools Fumana, which will either qualify based on space or fail because it has trimmers. We’ll see.

5 Likes

I don’t have a ton of experience with massive modules, but my latest case addition is the fairly large Schlappi Three Body. It has a ton of patching options, but the knob layout and intuitive normalizations makes it highly playable, easy to understand and is not cramped in any way. It’s definitely going to live in my case for a long time to come.

Side note, I have debated sacrificing the space many times to add @TomWhitwell’s 4-knob Control - it looks so fun to have those massive knobs as an open option!

3 Likes

I’ll throw the TipTop Buchla 281t in here - big layout, but super fun to have enough space to get full control over everything. Mine is slightly less accessible at the moment due the way I have it patched up (sending CV to both attack and decay for all 4 functions means more cables in the way) but it’s still awesome.

3 Likes

My Vermona Fourmulator has always stood out to me in this regard. 34hp for four LFOs is absolute luxury. Nothing about it is fiddly to use. Almost feels like it’s not Euro form factor!

8 Likes

I love Intellijel’s Rubicon 2, Morgasmatron, and Quad VCA, clocking in at 20, 20, and 12hp respectively. These modules are really great at what they do and allow for a very wide amount of flexibility and control.

I was tripping myself up around the idea of saving up for a Buchla 200e system a while ago, and while I was piecing modules together and calculating costs, I saw that I could achieve some similar (though different) results with what I already had in eurorack. These Intellijel modules have built the basis of a system that I keep coming back to, despite the fact the I have newer, shinier, multifunctional modules as well. They are so immediately gratifying though. I turn on my machine and play without having to double check manuals or update firmwares, and the knobs are evenly spaced and clear.

Breathe, take stock of all that you already have, and go deeper!

5 Likes

Im a big fan of Akemie’s Castle. Knobs galor that do what they say and a universe of sounds.

9 Likes

I suggest everyone check out the Blukac Endless Processor. It is a very minimal and beautifully designed module that leads to a beautiful sound, while leaning in on a very simple and elegant experience. It does what it does beautifully without having 200 functions.

Another reason to support and look into this module, they are in Ukraine and are releasing this module at a time where the attacks are leaving them with no electricity and no water. Truth is from what I hear they are struggling to even get this out the door - focusing on small batches when they actually have power to do anything. You’ll need to email them if interested but I figured I’d share their story because it’s a beautiful module that’s in the spirit of what OP is looking for but also I feel important to share for other reasons even if it doesn’t check all OP’s boxes.

18 Likes

One of my favorite modules, I might add. A wonderful addition to any system. It’s hard to understate how it changes the feel of building up a patch.

7 Likes

My Control is on the way to me (didn’t want to build it myself).

I’m also waiting for the Endless to become available again.

3 Likes

Some cool designs posted here! I love the topic. Larry Tesler would approve (this was his license plate)

Screenshot_1

16 Likes

@billvanloo already mentioned the Tiptop/Buchla 281t, but I’ll add the full lineup of the Tiptop Buchla modules. There’s countless Buchla-inspired euro modules, but the 200t series retains as much of the playable layout of the originals as possible in 3U.

I find most XAOC modules are nicely designed and easily playable–especially the more recent releases Sofia and Koszalin. Sofia is downright luxuriously sized for (essentially) a single oscillator.

7 Likes

I second this, and having spent a pleasant afternoon patching it into a Soma Lyra-FX module, that goes straight into the same group of modules that leave plenty of room for playing rather than fiddling between the cables. The Lyra-FX is pretty much like using a pedal for immediacy in the way it is laid out, and of course also sounds great alongside (and when patched by) the DC-2e.

4 Likes

I’m happy to see Vermona getting some love in here. The first module that comes to mind for me from the brief is their Amplinuator. Can attenuate a signal or boost it by two while offering an inverted output and a summing mixer also with an inverted output. I frequently use it as the main interface to interact with a patch through.

3 Likes

I like the designs Ritual Electronics puts out. Most parameters feature dedicated, full-size attenuverters, which was honestly a huge selling point for me. That and the big chunky knobs smack dab in the center of their filter and distortion modules.

I also want to throw Mungo d0 into the mix. I find the Mungo design philosophy in general to be really cool, although I’ve only ever actually used the d0. It isn’t huge, but it feels huge. It can be a shift register, looper, phase modulation hub, physical modelling station and of course, a delay (audio or CV), all while keeping everything on the panel. The zoom functionality means it isn’t exactly modeless - sometimes knob positions don’t reflect actual settings. But not if you just leave it zoomed out all the time like me!

And I love vector space.

2 Likes