In the increasingly popular world of modular synths, it’s almost impossible to keep up with all the releases from myriad boutique makers. We take you by the hand and bring you six of our top picks from the year. Now we’re giving you the chance to vote for your favourite.
Scroll to the bottom of this article to cast your vote on which should be crowned the winner.
This multidimensional signal processor has a number of useful effects up its sleeve in the shape of filtering, delay and decimation. You can use these separately, get them to play really well together and quickly go from pure loveliness to complete carnage with ease. The integration of a stereo input and output makes it perfect to place on the back end of your signal chain. While it’s not exactly a generic effects module, it’s super usable and great fun. It’s a great module whether you’re crunching up signals or looking for beautiful delayed timbres.
2AJH V Shape
if you like to mangle your sounds, then V Shape is for you. It’s technical a wave twister and wave-folding/distortion unit but in reality it’s an inspiring processor that’s something along the lines of a Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) device for saws, triangles and the like.
Add soft and hard clipping into the mix and this is a powerful little tonal shaper.
3AJH Next Phase
Most users were delighted with this original Mega Phase 12, but this update adds a number of refinements and enhancements. Based on the original Electro-Harmonix Small Stone Phaser, with its signature Jean-Michel Jarre Oxygene tone, the Mega Phase 12 can carve light and dark from whatever you feed into it. It’s particularly satisfying on white noise, string machines, and other synths.
4AJH Synth Fixed Filter Bank 914
Filter Banks aren’t particularly common in modular synthesis, mainly on account of the prevalence of filters – at least in the world of subtractive synthesis. However, it allows a rather different and rewarding style of sound sculpting. Building up your timbre, rather than simply filtering elements out, offers plenty of creative possibilities while allowing you to play around with the stereo field, which is often an area of Eurorack which is not exploited enough.
The 30HP monster from British Eurorack stalwart AJH Synth is a cross between a conventional filter and an EQ. It draws on Moog’s 900 series heritage to offer 12 fixed-frequency pots, which allow you to exaggerate specific frequencies in a source signal. And, thanks to its active inductor circuitry also imparts a characterful tone with a vintage flavour. We loved it because of its tonal colouration, fine degree of control and its ability to process two sources simultaneously. Will it get your vote?
5Qu-Bit Electronix Scanned
QU-Bit’s Scanned module might be a first in the hardware synth world, employing a type of sound generation called ‘organic wavetable synthesis’. The interface asks you to think of the sound as four Objects, tied together on a virtual string. The objects are ascribed physical properties, such as Mass, Stiffness and Damping, all of which have an effect on the sound that’s produced.
In practice, it can sound very digital and subtle, often like a tamed-circa-1983 FM-styled machine, but it can also get distorted and out of control. What’s really interesting about it is the organic element which sees a random interplay between parameters, introducing an element of movement. Our reviewer described it as having as “almost like having an analogue oscillator, with digital tones.” It could well be the most interesting module we’ve reviewed this year.
6Erica Synths Black Stereo Delay
Distilling the core features of a delay into a single Eurorack device, the Black Stereo Delay also provides three distinct flavours. These are Tape, Digital and Ping Pong, but its the extra controls that make this module a stand-out a Eurorack environment already awash with delays. Among these are Hold and Add, the latter of which turns the delay into a 20-second looper.
We loved its minimal charm, sleek interface and sophisticated sound. “The module sounds like a stereo delay, but plays like an instrument,” said our reviewer. Can it earn your vote?
Cast your vote here:
Check out all the Gear Of The Year 2019 categories here.