OK, what makes me get all hot and bothered in the constant blizzard of Eurorack modules? Well, there never fails to be something that, just from the description here on l'il ol' ModularGrid, seems like something that people need to be paying attention to. Sometimes these are real game-changer modules. Sometimes they seem to be a total snooze. Either way, there's a lot that goes by on here that potentially gets overlooked...that shouldn't! So, it hit me a few days ago that, well, why not go thru the barrage of STUFF that comes along in the span of a month's time and point out some things that I think are pretty useful, cost-effective, or innovative. Especially considering that January is, of course, NAMM month and that tends to provoke new, neat, and nifty showing up all over.
So, I figured I'll take a little time out and highlight a few things that I think you, the users of this ginormous modular community, might want to poke at a little more closely. And, what the hell, may as well make it a monthly thing. So, without a helluva lot more rambling from me, I present Eurorack's KICK ASS!!! stuff from January 2018(ish). Let's dive into this craziness, shall we?...
[NB: all of these modules have a street price listed and are either available or on the verge of it]
1) River Marble: https://www.modulargrid.net/e/river-marble -- Looks basic, right? Kinda. But this is a 'tilt' EQ, and these are very useful things, not merely for timbral shaping. For those who intend to do a lot of live performance with varying PA circumstances, a simple 'tilt' like this can be a godsend, as it makes it relatively easy to adjust for sonic shortcomings encountered from performance to performance. Bins sounding meh? Well, it's likely that a bit of tweaking of this, right at the end of your signal flow, can correct for that without any need for changing the patch upstream from it. Nice! 'Tilt' control (which doubles as a bell mid EQ, more for shaping sound) is also CVable plus you get a bit of waveshaping for 'beef' factors.
2) Instruo Sinfonion: https://www.modulargrid.net/e/instruo-sinfonion -- Totally off-the-chain capabilities for quantizing, chord sequencing, arpeggiation...holy crap, it even handles just intonation! Used at its max, this thing can kick out eight different lines of polyphony. And waaaaay more besides. No, it's not cheap, but there's some serious microprocessing going on behind its panel, and if you tried to do what it does with discrete modules, you'd spend loads more than it costs...if you COULD do all of this with discrete modules. Which I'm betting probably isn't doable.
3) G-Storm Electro Delta VCF r2: https://www.modulargrid.net/e/other-unknown-delta-vcf-r2 -- I loved this filter in its original Korg incarnation. It's a bit dirty but warm, and G-Storm says they've nailed that. Plus it has a very handy 2-input mixer for both audio and filter cutoff, and some extra settings for bandpass response and filter curve. And that price makes it even cooler! Those looking for a filter with lots of color should look into this one.
4) Arturia RackBrute: https://www.modulargrid.net/e/arturia-rackbrute-6u-3u-power (RackBrute's P/S listing). -- No price here, but that's because this is part of Arturia's new 88 hp format cabs in either one or two row capacities. I've been taking a serious look at these racks. Their included power capacities are really hefty for a small (88 or 176 hp) cab, the form factor that allows them to mechanically link up with the also-new patchable MiniBrute v2s is well-designed, and the price for all of this is a clincher. Arturia seems to be drawing a bead on Moog with these new offerings, given they're priced in the general target range of the Mother32 and DFAM, and they're comparable if not better-featured.
5) TAKAAB 3LFO: https://www.modulargrid.net/e/other-unknown-takaab-3lfo -- Those needing basic modulation sources in a tiny space need to pay attention here. For $45 ($45!?!?), you get three LFO circuits in a descending decade of timings, ranging from low audio range at the top of LFO1 to 76 second periods at LFO3's bottom end. No, no CV ins, but these are clearly more for free-running mod sources. 6 hp is a great size for this level of functionality and the price is STOOPID!
6) Strymon Magneto: https://www.modulargrid.net/e/strymon-magneto -- Not at all cheap, but nothing from Strymon usually is. That being said, you get what you pay for from Strymon as a rule. And if features are any indication, you get that in spades here. It does all of the typical delay tricks, then goes several steps further with a pile of other unexpected functions that make it less like a simple effect and more like something you can interact with like a temporal instrument. Plus it doubles down on their tape emulation tricks (also seen in the El Capistan stompbox). Crave that you-can't-afford-the-original Krautrock Dynacord or Echolette sound? You'll probably find it lurking in here.
7) Intellijel Morgasmatron: https://www.modulargrid.net/e/intellijel-morgasmatron -- OK, David Dixon's take on the Korg MS-20 Sallen-Key filter pair was already insane enough. But Intellijel clearly thought that M0AR was in order! This thing...well, just a cursory glance at the panel reveals lots of extra functionality (some of which you needed the Korgasmatron Expanders for previously), possibly up to and including brewing the perfect espresso. Being a long-time MS-20 user (been through THREE of them across my career) I can assure you that this would be the perfect core filter for any system, especially smaller skiffs. Not only do you get the filtering and all of its voodoo, Intellijel also dropped in some waveshaping and clipping and a ring mod to boot. In short, most anything timbral you might want can likely be cooked up in these 20 hp.
8) Qu-bit Synapse: https://www.modulargrid.net/e/qu-bit-electronix-synapse -- I rip on having lots of VCAs all the time. And this is lots of VCAs, all set up for some signal-routing bad craziness. While it also has its own internal modulation source, imagine this sucker tied in with a MATHS. Does your brain hurt now? Not much to say here, coz the module says it all, and says it in 20 hp.
9) Happy Nerding Isolator: https://www.modulargrid.net/e/happy-nerding-isolator -- Now, I'm going to venture a guess that you probably saw this inconspicuous little, cheap 4 hp thing and didn't give it a thought. Mistake! Not only is this a great value in a stereo output module, it offers transformer-balanced outputs. What's the big deal? Well, transformers in an audio path invariably introduce some nice nonlinearities that nice up your audio quality, tighten up the sound, and what-not. Plus, with the useful ground-lift function, you can kill any hum issues that've crept into your sound via ground-loop problems between your rig and whatever you've got it connected to for mixing/processing/amplification/whatever. There's been other devices like this, but neither as small nor as inexpensive. Win!
...and that gets us up to the start of February's offerings. Whew! As noted, I'll probably boot something like this out each month, so stay tuned (either to pelog or slendro!).