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Moog Mother-32 wants to be your intro to modular synthesis

Thursday, October 1st, 2015


Moog Music was already there for you with modular products if you wanted to live out a Keith Emerson fantasy and had thousands of dollars burning a hole in your pocket. For some, that may read like learning the Leerjet company is happy to indulge your dream of flying — so long as you’ve got a few million dollars and time for pilot lessons.

Okay, so what about everyone else? Hot on the heels of the discontinuation of the Minimoog Voyager, the Mother-32 might just be Moog’s new answer to what synthesis lovers everywhere might crave. It’s a desktop (but also rack-able) semi-modular synth, and at just US$ 599.

The Moog Mother-32 isn’t massively expensive. It doesn’t need other modules to go with it. (This is Moog’s long-awaited entry into Eurorack, in case you were wondering — but it also stands happily on its own.) It doesn’t even insist that you connect a single patch cord: it’s a very sensible semi-modular design, with loads of patching options when you like them, but also the ability to start making sound right away.

So, if you have caught Eurorack fever, this will fit right in. But if you haven’t, it’s finally an instrument that brings back some of the appeal of semi-modular design.


In fact, while it’s semi-modular, it approximates a lot of starter modular rigs. What’s onboard:

  • 10-octave analog oscillator with variable pulse width
  • Analog white noise generator
  • Voltage-controlled mixer
  • Moog Ladder Filter (low/high-pass types) — of course, it’s a Moog (accept no substitutes and whatnot)
  • 32-step sequencer, with 64 pattern recall. (Weirdly, that looks a bit Elektron-like because of the buttons!)
  • External MIDI control

You combine that with a 32-point analog patchbay.

It also looks beautiful, with black, laser-etched extruded aluminum and (it’s a Moog!) wooden sidepieces.

Moog is also fully accessorizing this, with 2- or 3-tier rack kits and a nice soft carry case. If you do want to use this as the beginning of a slow descent into the wallet-draining, life-destroying power of Eurorack — uh, I mean the “joys of modular synthesis” — there’s a 60 HP Eurorack case — power supply not included.


Actually, if I had any kneejerk concern about this, it’s that I would look hard at what the Eurorack community can offer, since part of the appeal of modular is customizability. This is by contrast a very Moog-y offering, the vanilla stuff. If you fancy vanilla, this is, well, premium vanilla. If you fancy rum raisin, you might look at other builders. (Full disclosure: yes, I eat ice cream in the long Berlin winter. So sue me. It’s delicious. Love both those flavors. I… lost track of what I was writing about.)

But it’s tough for small builders to compete with Moog’s $ 599 price — and some will find the Moog character (in aesthetics, build, and sound) a big draw.

For a sense of the sound, Moog invited synthesists Erika, Max Ravitz, and Bana Haffer to contribute video. (Erika can absolutely kill it doing techno, too, by the way, with her Ectomorph all-hardware show at Panorama Bar last month — more on that on CDM soon.)


The post Moog Mother-32 wants to be your intro to modular synthesis appeared first on Create Digital Music.


Sound Dust updates “Modular Chaos Engine#2.1” analog/digital hybrid drum device for Kontakt – celebrates with 25% off intro offer

Friday, September 25th, 2015

Sound Dust have released version 2.1 of its ‘Evolved’ Modular Chaos Engine drum device for Kontakt. New features: New sounds sampled from DSi Poly Evolver making a total of over 1500 samples. [Read More]

AudioThing releases “Vinyl Strip” modular multi-effect plugin for Mac & Win, VST, AU, and AAX

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

AudioThing has released Vinyl Strip, a modular multi-effect plugin for PC and Mac. Vinyl Strip is a multi-effect plugin featuring 6 modules: Distortion, Compressor, Bit Crusher, Tilt EQ, Vintage [Read More]

Sound Dust updates its ‘found sound drum machine’ Modular Chaos Engine#1 and celebrates with a 20% off offer

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Sound Dust has announced that Modular Chaos Engine#1.1 for Kontakt now has two powerful sequencing engines, Boom and Snap, which allow complex sequenced control of 9 parameters per sound for [Read More]

Play, patch, and hack this palmtop analog modular synth: NS1nanosynth

Thursday, September 10th, 2015


Synths: they’re fun to tweak and play. Modulars: they’re fun to patch. Arduinos: they’re fun to hack. Small things: they’re fun to carry around.

Now, what if you got all of those things at the same time?

That’s the thought behind the NS1nanosynth analog synthesizer. It’s either vying for the prize of tiniest modular synth ever, or most hackable tiny synth ever.

If you saw one from across the room, you might just assume this was just another little project synth. And lately, that category, while generating lots of decent oddities, hasn’t had something that could stick as a hit. But creator Davide Mancini of soundmachines really has a nifty idea with this one, and I do want to try it.

First, there’s the synth itself. Davide shows his Eurorack background with an analog synth with some decent specs. The components are all analog. There’s a VCO (saw core, thermally stabilized), 12 dB lowpass and bandpass filter, two LFOs, one loopable ADSR envelope, and a standard VCA, too. That means it’s already a decent synth to begin with.



It’s playable, too: there’s an onboard ribbon controller and loads of knobs.

And from there, you get an impressive number of modules crammed onto the board. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say this is the equivalent of a starter Eurorack. (Hmmm, we’re squeezing modulars everywhere. Earlier this week, you got it as $ 200 software that takes up no physical space; now you get similarly inexpensive modular hardware in the size of one 5U panel.)




There’s mixing, multiplying, adding, logic (AND / OR / NAND / NOT), analog division. There’s a sample and hold block. You’re not plugging jack cables into this, obviously: instead, you patch with jumper wires and header. With these, though, you have a very flexible modular synth rig with lots of sound design possibilities.

I’d be sold at that point, but Davide also put an Arduino Leonardo-compatible control board on here, too. The Leonardo, a higher-end Arduino variant, delivers USB connectivity, with features like HID (for emulating devices like keyboards, mice, and joysticks), and, via an additional software library, MIDI over USB. So while there aren’t MIDI jacks on this, you can use it with MIDI provided you’ve got a USB host.

NS1 Italy


And then you can do anything an Arduino can: you can do digital sound generation and processing, connect to other bits and bobs via wireless or wired connections, and so on.

Basically, you get analog synthesis combined with Arduino-compatible digital interfacing. And soundmachines promises more modules of their own to extend the system.

It’s all really cool. We’ll get to see more when we get our own unit in for testing. Pricing and availability TBA.

More videos:

More wonderful and wacky stuff from this inventor:


The post Play, patch, and hack this palmtop analog modular synth: NS1nanosynth appeared first on Create Digital Music.


Reaktor 6 Is Here – More Modular & Powerful Than Ever

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

The folks at Native Instruments have just released the new version of one of their flagship products, REAKTOR 6. In NI’s words this new release “makes advanced sonic experimentation more accessible than ever”.

Let’s see what’s new for Reaktor builders and fans…

* Primary and Core Macro libraries are refined for ease of use with new categories and intuitive folder structure. The Core library macros have been re-written for a more efficient use of CPU, letting you build more complex devices with a higher sound quality.

* More efficient workflows due to a to an updated interface. Expect better readability (yay!) and an easier management of wires and connections.

* For the power developer in you, new features like Table Framework, Bundles, and Scoped Buses take Reaktor 6 modules creation to a whole new level.

Modular synth buffs will love one of the main new features, Blocks. Taking its cue from the huge success of today’s analog modular synth market, Reaktor 6 includes over 30 Blocks and allows you to create the craziest modular rigs, with as many oscillators, filters, effects, modulators, and sequencers as you need. Native Instruments provided different analog flavors (that go under the name of Bento, Modern, Digilog, Boutique) and added a sort of best-of from their existing synth products (like Monark, etc.).

Excited? We are, and we will have more about Reaktor 6 soon. Price? $ 199/$ 99 for the update. For further info, please check the NI website.


Reaktor 6 Blocks are like getting a modular in your laptop for $199

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015


What if I told you you could have a modular with what would feel like limitless possibilities — and it’d cost just a couple hundred bucks. Oh, yeah, and if you got bored of the existing modules, you could make new ones.

Well, that’s exactly what you get with Blocks in Reaktor 6. And, while, sure, you could say the same of past versions of Reaktor could say that, too, as could tools like Max or SuperCollider or Pd, here we mean literally a set of modules that inter-connect in real-time, act as self-contained units, and allow designers to create their own sonic innards and front panels. And that hasn’t been true before — not quite like this.

Let’s back up. Part of the promise of modular synthesizers is supposed to be unlimited freedom. But in reality, modulars aren’t quite that. You need space. You need money. And even assuming you’ve got electronics chops, dreaming up new modules is not something you can do on the spot.

It might seem like I’m exaggerating, but here’s a quick spin through just the presets for the example patches built with the Blocks modules already included in Reaktor. (Read that last sentence again: that’s not including the other presets for those example patches, the combinations of modules you can quickly assemble yourself, or the flood of Blocks modules that might soon come to the Reaktor User Library.)

Reaktor has clearly learned something from Eurorack modular. Like the hardware, Blocks are standard modules with specific purposes in mind. Like hardware, they have a particular look, feel, and personality — they aren’t just generic signal operators, but feel like the components of an instrument.

Of course, these do some things that modules can’t. You can open them up and change any part of the innards, down to the DSP level. You can spawn any number of modules (until your CPU — or your brain — tell you otherwise). And you get all the usual power of your computer.

Also, it’s well worth saying: Blocks are a terrific showpiece (um, soundpiece?) for just how good Blocks sound. Having spent some time with them, they’re just stunning. NI’s work on details like filter modeling, which included new analog models already heard in Monark, mean that these things feel somehow alive. And because you don’t have to delve into making your own patches just to add useful synth structures, you can get at those sounds more quickly. NI has a tour:

If you get Reaktor 6 today, you get a reasonable set of Blocks to start — some 30 of them, in different categories:
Bento Box: The core components of a modular synth.
Boutique: Inspired by custom hardware, with various more bleeding-edge sound shaping powers.
Digilog: Rhythms, note processors, and structures — like the step sequencers.
All-Star Blocks: These actually take your favorite bits of Reaktor synths like Rounds and Monark and turn them into modules, too.

That’s all very cool, already, and recalls environments like AAS’ underrated, underused Tassman modular software.

But the most important lesson Blocks may learn from Eurorack is making a format that other inventive folks can use themselves. “Blocks” isn’t just some marketing speak for these included modules: it’s also a new template for how to make your own Reaktor stuff. It divides your work into Panel and Structure, but also specifies standardized panel sizes (as you would with hardware), and prescribed structural conventions. That’s huge, as previously working with bits and bobs from the Reaktor library would mean mismatched panel sizes and confusion about how to navigate the inner workings of a creation.

Also, Blocks are easier to inter-connect. Scaling, audio and control rate, and signal conventions are standard, too. That means as an end user, you can freely plug different modules into others and always get some musical result, in real-time — perfect for happy accidents. I think this is actually part of what sometimes makes computers less fun to patch than hardware. Patching is only fun if you feel free to patch where you like.

CDM was provided advance guidelines for how the format would work, and it’s very cool — it could really make the Reaktor User Library a whole lot more powerful. Do a little reading of how to follow the guidelines, and make use of NI’s template file, and builders can make their own Blocks. That means as powerful as Blocks is today, it’s likely to be a whole lot crazier in a matter of … well, weeks, even?

If you’re a builder, it’s big news, and even if you’re not, you’re likely to find new goodies to download from other users.

Here’s a look at that template:


Blocks aren’t the only thing new in Reaktor 6 (see our separate visual tour for more on that). But they neatly embody the vision of this new generation of Reaktor.

If you’ve already got Eurorack hardware, you can integrate a Reaktor setup with it (even routing signal back and forth if you choose). And if you don’t, creative modular sound design just got a whole lot more accessible. You won’t even have to clear your desk.

More on this soon.

Product info:

And get started with a free course on Reaktor 6 from Kadenze

We covered that platform earlier this summer:
A New Online Platform Gives You Expert Music Tech Training, Free

The post Reaktor 6 Blocks are like getting a modular in your laptop for $ 199 appeared first on Create Digital Music.


MuTools updates MuLab and MUX Modular to v6.5.35

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

MuTools has updated MuLab and MUX Modular to version 6.5.35. Changes: MUX VST: Added protection against improper host function calls resulting in improved stability eg in Ableton Live. OSX: During [Read More]

This young Czech lady wants to teach you modular synthesis, and Bastl have a granular update

Friday, August 21st, 2015

Our friends at Bastl Instruments / Noise Kitchen are preparing a modular synth tutorial with their usual charm, friendliness, and directness.

And, if your native language happens to be Czech, this is absolutely the video tutorial you’ve been waiting for! If you don’t, though, there are English subtitles. (And, of course, the occasional recognition of a word or two by hearing.)

The name sounds cool in Czech, too: Patcheni!

And host Nikol already has an advantage over … well, almost every other tutorial on modular synthesis I’ve seen:
1. The tutorials are beginner-friendly.
2. They’re short.
3. They’re cheery.
4. They don’t ramble on and on and on… (hey, to be fair, making tutorials is hard!)

Teaser at top, and on to the first video — which is superb:

Now, modular is all well and good, but sometimes it’s fun to have an all-in-one box — and it can often fit the budget nicely.

So, don’t feel left out if you’re not taking the modular plunge. Bastl also have a terrific update to the firmware of their grungy, glitchy, good-time granular giant the MicroGranny:

More on this great box:


Lots of variants, and now you can buy them all direct:

East coast synthesis? West coast synthesis?

Czech synthesis.

Next week, we’ll have a photo journal of our trip to Brno, CZ, home of Bastl and their new Noise Kitchen store. And don’t miss this amazing drum machine organ thing, a Communist-era relic that can nonetheless amaze any synth builder today.

The post This young Czech lady wants to teach you modular synthesis, and Bastl have a granular update appeared first on Create Digital Music.


MuTools updates MuLab and MUX Modular to v6.5.32

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

MuTools has updated MuLab and MUX Modular to version 6.5.32. MUX Modular VST: Fixed a bug that caused parameter changes not being reported to the host. If there is a “Startup Effect.Mux” / “Startup [Read More]