modulus002

We have mono synths galore, but true polyphonic instruments are rarer. And while the images are blurry and details are vague, an upcoming English instrument has just the kind of pedigree to grab our attention. SonicState broke the story yesterday, but additional details have been dripping out on social media.

It’s called the modulus.002. What we know: it’s a polysynth. It comes from Bristol. It’s got a rather large keyboard with loads of controls. We know it makes rather thick sounds – listen below. And we know that driving that polyphony is a hybrid analog / digital design. (Sorry, it’s English – make that an analogue / digital design.)

And we know Paul Maddox must be involved. The company is called Modulus Music; Paul’s previous builder was Modulus (though he has also shipped hardware as Vaco Loco). One of Paul’s creations, the MonoWave, graces the site.

Looking at Paul’s previous builds gives some clues to what to expect from the modulus.002, even if this keyboard is a more ambitious – and no doubt luxury-priced – outing. The MonoWave was a 2U rack-mount bass-focused monosynth, built in a whopping run of twenty five, no more. And the architecture of that instrument was also digital/analog hybrid, with digital oscillators feeding all-analog amplitude, filter, and envelope. Now, applying this approach to something polyphonic is obviously a different job entirely, but it seems safe to assume the philosophy of “all analog post-processing” as Paul described it might hold.

This is the MonoWave. Only 25 were ever built - pity, as it sounds the business. But it might well be a spiritual father to this new kit - and we can hope there's more of it this time round.

This is the MonoWave. Only 25 were ever built – pity, as it sounds the business. But it might well be a spiritual father to this new kit – and we can hope there’s more of it this time round.

Equally interesting, since MonoWave Paul has also been building sequencers – Tron (for drum patterns) and GorF (a step sequencer). That’s relevant, as it looks like there might well be some arpeggiator and/or sequencer action on that front panel.

For you engineers out there, you can at least have a close-up look at the voice board.

For you engineers out there, you can at least have a close-up look at the voice board.

Here’s Paul talking about synths at Cheltenham Geek Nights’ Synth Night. He gets a bit into the new synth, and the tradeoffs necessary to go from mono- to polysynth … just watching this now, but he gets into quite a lot of details (with drawings!). Thank you Rob, aka @creativegeek, for the tip!

It all has our attention piqued. The big question is, will this be another extremely-limited run for those with deep pockets only – particularly with the words “analog” and “polyphony” involved? Or is there a clever way of making all this more reasonable? With Dave Smith embarking on the spendy Pro 2, we might otherwise be bracing for more over-designed luxury instruments. (Not that that’s a bad thing – I rather enjoy seeing them. They just aren’t what you’d call practically-minded.)

It seems we’ll soon find out.

http://www.modulusmusic.me

previous incarnations: http://www.vacoloco.net

  • http://www.fyrd-instruments.com Fyrd Instruments

    Here is another polyphonic synth: http://www.audiothingies.com/
    Not analog but sounds good for the price. Kind of digital poly-Shruthi.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Yeah, keenly interested – should have it soon. Full review, for sure.

    • http://www.audiothingies.com/ elektrosamplist

      Thanks for mentioning my little synth Julien ;)
      Cheers!

  • Guest

    It’s been 10 years now… My X-Station is the best piece of gear I ever bought.

    • redgreenblue

      I love mine, use it all of the time both as a synth and as a controller. I especially love the arpeggiator.

  • J

    I suspect it’s using the analogue synth chips of George Hearn, also in Bristol :

    https://sites.google.com/site/hearnmorley/