Mod Duo Ef­fect Pro­ces­sor

A sim­ple ex­te­rior hides the pow­er­ful DSP core of this multi-pur­pose, open source sig­nal pro­ces­sor. Rob­bie Stamp finds out what’s pos­si­ble in­side the MOD Box

Future Music - - CONTENTS - CON­TACT WHO: MOD De­vices GmbH WEB: www.mod­de­ KEY FEA­TURES CPU: Dual core ARM A7 1GHz, Stor­age: 4GB flash, 1GB RAM, AD/DA Type: Cir­rus Logic 24-bit 48kHz, AD/DA Spec: 104dB dy­namic range, -90dB THD+N, In­put: 1/4” TS jack x2, Out­put: 1/4” TRS jack

The MOD Duo’s stylishly min­i­mal stage-proof cas­ing houses two back­lit LCD screens, two footswitches, two se­lec­tor knobs, two ana­logue in­puts/out­puts, MIDI In/Out, USB and an eth­er­net socket for the pro­pri­etary Con­trol Chain sys­tem. In essence this is a DSP en­gine (ARM A7) run­ning a stripped-down ver­sion of Linux for a range of au­dio gen­er­at­ing/pro­cess­ing tasks. The sound edit­ing is car­ried out via an in­ter­net browser us­ing a lo­cal IP ad­dress over USB, ei­ther wired or wire­less. Per­for­mance con­trol is via the two footswitches and ro­tary se­lec­tor knobs as well as MIDI.

MOD Duo is sim­ple to op­er­ate and pro­gram. Edit­ing ped­al­boards (ie pro­gram/patch) through the graphic browser in­ter­face is a stan­dard drag-drop-wire af­fair with quick ac­cess to a whole library of mostly free plug­ins, which as an open source sys­tem is ex­ten­sive but well cu­rated. The com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment as­pect is strong with the MOD prod­uct line, mak­ing in­for­ma­tion and help easy to find via the fo­rum and wiki man­ual. Back at the in­ter­face, ped­al­boards are easy to edit, save and ar­range into banks, while set­ting up con­trollers (phys­i­cal/MIDI) is pleas­ingly in­tu­itive.

With plenty of CPU power, ped­al­boards can be as com­plex as you like. Along­side ef­fects are a range of sound gen­er­a­tors, from synth os­cil­la­tor types to sampled vir­tual in­stru­ments. With a va­ri­ety of MIDI util­ity plug­ins, all sorts of sound gen­er­a­tors can be con­structed, rather like Reak­tor, in­clud­ing drum ma­chines. The gain stag­ing, ad­justable only on the hard­ware set­tings menu and sub­ject to an over-sen­si­tive ro­tary knob, helps tai­lor the MOD Duo to a va­ri­ety of sit­u­a­tions, from guitar/bass pedal to act­ing as a mixed vo­cal/keys/synth/ drum­box per­for­mance tool, or even a stu­dio stereo/dual mono ef­fects pro­ces­sor. The only draw­back for the lat­ter use is that the in­put sig­nal must be well be­low a nom­i­nal line level to pre­vent clip­ping; a -20dB in­put pad would be wel­come. The flip­side is that the MOD Duo can work with dy­namic mic in­puts, al­low­ing a per­former to have a vo­cal/in­stru­ment mic, a range of MIDI con­trolled in­stru­ments and a guitar/bass with in­ter­nal mix­ing to com­bine th­ese sources across the two out­put ports.

Sound qual­ity is good, as is the (cur­rent) range of ef­fects and in­stru­ments, from guitar/bass ped­als to elec­tric pi­anos. Each build­ing block is easy to ad­just, most fea­tur­ing an eco­nom­i­cal set of pa­ram­e­ters. The drag-plug in­ter­face wiring is in­tu­itive and pro­vides a huge range of cross-cou­pling pos­si­bil­i­ties that just aren’t prac­ti­cal in ana­logue realm.

The MOD Duo is a great base for a wide range of mu­si­cians and pro­duc­ers, and the scope of sonic pos­si­bil­i­ties make it a play­ground for ex­per­i­menters/de­vel­op­ers. The flex­i­bil­ity and qual­ity are re­flected in the price. As with any multi-func­tion prod­uct one has to com­pare the out­lay against the cost of com­po­nents to match. The clos­est com­par­i­son is a tablet-based sys­tem with the ad­di­tional au­dio/MIDI in­ter­face, and of course the plea­sure/risk of an Ap­ple/Mi­crosoft OS! For per­form­ers who de­mand a rich palette of source and pro­cess­ing the MOD Duo is a wor­thy in­vest­ment, and one that will evolve thanks to its open source ar­chi­tec­ture.

A great base for a wide range of mu­si­cians

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