So, what’s the device for us people wanting the features of the Volca Modular and the design of the PO Modular ? This is the most wonky dual announcement of gear I’ve ever seen, I guess I’ll have to go function over looks, what an horrible choice I have to make.
On the last page of the manual it says:
“upgrade to the open frame chassis when you are ready to expand your sonic universe beyond all limits.”
So I assume an “open frame chassis” will appear along with individual modules.
I can’t justify buying an entirely new modular synth when I already have an amazing (and constantly evolving) modular synth. Think it’s true that this is perhaps not directed towards people like me (not really knowing what that means), but I have to admit to finding this whole thing really inspiring. (And liking that I don’t need to own it to be inspired by it.)
Tangible Waves AE modular
Its cheaper, complete systems are an absolute bargain!,
its fully modular (i.e. you can replace the modules), the modules are generally more functional, modules are mostly 20-30/euro per module…
its not only cheap, it sounds great, and it’s a lovely size, portable will run off a usb battery (with adapter) ,
and Robert (Tangible Waves) has been doing a great job of improving modules, and introducing new ones
- uses patch wires, but Ive had mine for nearly 2 years, with no issues , they have been durable and i find very useable. also they dont cost 2euros each
- not eurorack, but does have 2 CV IO in basic system, and you can add more with 4IO modules.
other less obvious upsides
- diy friendly - very easy to create new modules
- community minded (with forum)
- compatible with many others patchwires synths (bastl, minisizer, folktek) … though not volca who diverge from 5v
if you want budget modular its fantastic…
It really isn’t as good looking as PO modular at all though (although not terribly ugly either), and then it lacks the super small footprint form factor of the volca (which for people with not a lot of space like me is nice), and it’s 130€ more expensive, but it looks really nice anyway so thanks for adding another GAS inducing device to my nightmare, although it’s just another option and not a solution ^^
Also the “expansible” aspect is not really super interesting to me, that’s really not what interests me most about modular, I much prefer having one contained system and learning it for years (it’s how I’ve worked with all the gear I’ve ever owned). So while I’m fascinated by modular and how people change their systems all the time, it’s really really not for me.
Edit : Also in the advantage ; I’d much rather consider giving my money to a small manufacturer than to Korg.
sorry for the GAS
yeah, I guess AE is somewhere ‘in between’ and also different, but in same price bracket as POM 400, and certainly in the category ‘budget modular’ which these are marketing as.
oh, me too…
I don’t want to change the system continually, but there is something to be said when building it initially to have choice … modular can be many things, to many people - the beauty is, you buy what you need/want, take it in the direction you have in mind. (and of course retain the possibility to change your mind later if you wish)
the AE complete systems are cool for that, like the POM, they provide all the basics (*) , so if your new you dont have to worry about what is required to work, its a balanced/thought out setup - but they still leave space to tailor them, if you wish.
I personally got the 2-row system on KS, and didn’t add any new modules for over a year, it was in the summer that I then decided i wanted to use it outside, so added the headphone module and multi-fx.
(ok, I admit , Iater added even more, but thats was my choice, I just wanted to explore more voices etc… )
(*) the complete systems are sold as package, but if you chat to Robert before buying he can be willing to switch things around, e.g. if you know you don’t need something in particular - though honestly, they are well balanced systems imo.
form factor, an interesting note… AE are going to be updating the case design, so you can get both bigger and smaller form factors - I don’t know when, but Robert is pretty quick at getting new stuff out after announcing
Swedish design pretzels that is…so much so they should throw some hip sustainable snus in the package
tl;dr: It’s all good… if it floats your musical boat, rock it! But for the money, you could buy a better instrument, depending on what you were after.
digression: I started making electronic music in the 70s in a room with several large moog and Buchla modular systems. Over the next two decades no one ever used the terms “east coast” or “west coast”, and no one saw such a distinction, only the tenor of the instruments. Even the terms “additive” and “subtractive” were seen as mostly pedagogic, as surely any patch would have elements of both - and plenty of elements that aren’t characterizable as either.
A simple VCO(s) - VCF - VCA + ENV, LFO patch is a lovely, musical thing. But these instruments seem a very limited form of it:
The 170 has few patch decisions one can usefully make, as very little is voltage controllable. The options given are essentially what one has on switches in non-modular mono-synth. It seems a waste, as just a few more C.V. points (rate on the LFO and env, resonance on the filter, perhaps a C.V. multiplier, end gate out on the env) would have made this much more flexible. A Bass Station II, for example, offers a similar structure and options, but 2x of everything - at about the same price.
The 400 is only a little bit more flexible, as most of the modules have only little or no patchable control: mix, lfo, and env have none, vca and rand only minimal. There are no hard specs, so we don’t know of the oscillators can go into the sub-audio range, which would open up some options. Again, I would steer someone to other options in the same price rage: Phenol, Lifeforms, microvolt 3000, Mother 32, or even two Volca Modulars: All have more patchable options.
For the record: I think the product design is gorgeous, the yellow delicious, and I’m really sad that they aren’t more capable.
wow so many strong opinions in this thread about what modular is or should be
I think it’s got a lot to do with modular being one of the buzzwords of nowaday’s synth world, and, therefore, a huge marketting point (ie. patchpoints everywhere ! Behringer makes modules at 30$ (someday!) ! Volca Modular ! CV modules ! TE PO Modular ! Modulomodularomodulation everyyywherreee, that’s modernity for you right there !). So in this current ecosystem, I think it’s fundamental we try to define some basic concepts for ourselves to make choices not based on the state of fashion and pretty products but core ideas like :
- What modular does that non-modular don’t.
- What’s basic in modular but complicated in non-modular system.
- What’s complicated in modular that’s basic in non-modular system.
- Is there a kind of synthesis that lends itself to modular better or is it ok for everything
- What’s a modern take on modular and what’s been available for years more easily / efficiently.
Edit : One last big question ; - “Does modular necessarily = patch cables ??”
And so on.
This way, we can maybe get away from wanting to buy everything new and beautiful that has patchpoints. I for one am happy to read everyone’s opinion of why they’re interested or not, be it “it looks prettier than other things that do the same or less” or anything else, helps me think about the state of the synth creation craftsmanship.
Good points all around. The panels themselves sure are pretty, I’m a big fan of a nicely powdercoated glossy paint job.
I haven’t looked deep enough into the manual for any of the ins/outs/cv points to have an opinion of what is or isn’t limited. The170 system definitely has the feeling of a classic patchable keyboard (like an ms20 mini?) from the looks of it. There might be plenty of people on here that are into the lego knobs, but that has always been something about the TE stuff that just seems like a cooler in concept than practice kind of thing. Trimmer pots already feel less playable than I’d like, and a tiny technics axel knob seems even more finicky…
i understand like aesthetic/functional difference between east and west coast stuff but like you can still patch a east coast synth into a west coast one and vice versa imo. you can make a fucked up krell patch on any synth if you try hard enough.
EOC gates on your modulators are pretty key, but yes, it’s the patch I like to do on any unfamiliar synth to get familiar with it.
I like the 2U ‘pocket rack’ format and hope that future modules will contain options for CV processing and scaling, etc. I’d like clock dividers, comparators, and hold inputs. I can’t help but notice the CH-16 keyboard/sequencer is like a mini Serge TKB, but for only $150.
The pocket operators have evolved over time. So will the individual pocket operator modules. Maybe other makers will offer modules in 2U? What would Serge designs look like, with their function blocks broken down into smaller components?
That needs to go on the unwanted band names thread.
This is the thing that jumped out at me, too (after the other thing… the Animal Chin thing…)
Of course. I was just imagining Eric entertainingly griping about it in his inimitable style.
Where’s this picture from?
I was hoping it was a small cable organizer, but it appears to be an incense holder (with special TE incense)
(Personally, I’m looking forward to finding out more about the keyboard.)