Four of to­day’s best hard­ware ana­logue semi-mod­u­lar synths

Future Music - - FEATURE -

Ar­turia MiniBrute 2/2S 1

Com­ing in two flavours, one with a key­board (2) and one with a step se­quencer (2S), the sec­ond gen­er­a­tion of MiniBrutes are ob­vi­ous choices for start­ing a mod­u­lar setup. For the main os­cil­la­tor, blend three wave­forms to taste: a saw­tooth with Ul­tra­saw; pulse with PWM; and tri­an­gle with gnarly Me­tal­izer. There’s now a sec­ond os­cil­la­tor, too, which can op­er­ate at ex­treme tun­ings, LFO-style. Then you’ve got dual LFOs, an ADSR en­ve­lope, plus an AD en­ve­lope that can be looped for ec­cen­tric glitch ef­fects.

How­ever, it’s the 48-point patch­bay that opens up more cre­ative doors, serv­ing up CV in­puts and out­puts for al­most all pa­ram­e­ters. And if that’s not enough, the 3u or 6u Rack­Brute mod­u­lar cases can be pur­chased and bolted on, giv­ing you a ready-to-go mod­u­lar ecosys­tem with min­i­mum fuss.

MFB Do­min­ion 1 2

Ar­guably one of the most fully-fea­tured ana­logue mono­phonic/para­phonic ana­logue synths, the Do­min­ion 1 sports three os­cil­la­tors with wave­shap­ing, sync, ring mod and FM; noise gen­er­a­tor; a res­o­nant SED fil­ter switch­able be­tween 12 modes; three en­velopes; a trio of LFOs; arp/se­quencer and tons more. Phew!

All these fea­tures can – yep, you guessed it – be ex­panded thanks to the in­clu­sion of a patch­bay with a to­tal of 26 ins and outs, ar­ranged in two rows along the top of the synth. Par­tic­u­larly useful for per­form­ers are CV outs for the two rib­bon con­trollers, while a ded­i­cated FM in­put fa­cil­i­tates tim­bral ex­per­i­men­ta­tion.

Moog Grand­mother 3

With its ag­gres­sive sound, retro style and a spring re­verb, Moog’s quirky two-os­cil­la­tor monosynth is an amaz­ing stand­alone in­stru­ment – but its 41 in­put/out­put ports make it ex­po­nen­tially more pow­er­ful for both in­ter­nal rewiring and in­ter­fac­ing with other CV-ca­pa­ble kit. Un­like semi-mod­u­lar synths that fea­ture a ded­i­cated patch­bay area, the Grand­mother’s CV ports are lo­cated di­rectly on the mod­ules in ques­tion. This makes sound de­sign more in­tu­itive when you’re link­ing mod­ules to each other, but com­plex patches can re­sult in a tan­gle of ca­bles ob­struct­ing the synth’s front panel.

Moog Mother-32 and Drum­mer From Another Mother (DFAM) 4

These two com­pact, (mostly) MIDI-less ana­logue in­stru­ments – the former a sin­gle-voice synth, the lat­ter a kick/per­cus­sion gen­er­a­tor – are de­signed to be used to­gether and as part of a wider Euro­rack/CV ecosys­tem. Both work with­out any patch­ing, but the fun starts once you head over to the Mother’s 32-point patch­bay and the DFAM’s 24-point job – use one’s se­quencer to con­trol pa­ram­e­ters on the other, for ex­am­ple. Com­mit to a setup like this and you can buy cus­tom two- or three-tier rack cases to store your mini Moogs.

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