NAMM 2020: As is the case for the entire electronic music industry, modular and Eurorack has been a growing presence at NAMM in recent years.
While the Anaheim show still isn’t the modular hub that Berlin’s Superbooth is – after all, a lot of prominent modular brands are small European outfits, and attending NAMM is an expensive business – increasingly some of the most interesting new synth and effects offerings at the show are arriving in Eurorack format.
We scoured the show floor for hot new modules, cases and more. Let’s kick things off with our modular award winner...
WINNER: 4ms Ensemble Oscillator
4ms’s latest oscillator module looks like exactly the kind of weird and wonderful sound source that modular systems are great for.
This polyphonic complex oscillator voice combines additive synthesis, FM, wave-folding, phase distortion and more to create harmonically rich, evolving sounds and genuinely unique textures. An onboard scale mode and memory should make this a great tool for inspiring melodic patterns and triggering chord progressions.
Most importantly though, it sounds great!
Read more: Find out more at the 4ms site.
Pittsburgh Modular Cascading Delay Network
We’ve been impressed by almost everything we’ve tried from US brand Pittsburgh Modular. The company’s desktop synths and Eurorack gear tend to walk a fine line between eccentric, West Coast-inspired weirdness and general flexibility, and its latest seems to continue that trend.
Described as a labour of love two years in the making, the Cascading Delay Network is effectively a cluster of four delay units with a ton of options on how they can be connected, routed and fed back into one another.
From reverb-like effects through to chaotic stereo delays, multi-tap echoes and much more, this looks like it can do a lot. It's sure to be a really inspiring and creative tool in any rack it's added to.
Behringer’s Moog and Roland clones
It seems that barely a day goes past without Behringer announcing some form of synth clone, and at this year’s NAMM the German brand unveiled an absolute shed load of Eurorack modules that take their cues from vintage Roland and Moog gear.
First up, the company’s new System 100 line, which emulates various elements from Roland’s classic System 100M. The eleven modules in the range include a dual oscillator, dual filter, a full synth voice, a sequencer, plus multiple other synth elements and utilities.
These are set to be joined in the near future by the new 55, 35 and 15 Series - a collection of 20 modules that take inspiration from Bob Moog’s classic Moog 55, 35 and 15 systems. For a company that only got into the Eurorack game last year, it’s pretty ambitious stuff!
One of the cutest Eurorack units we’ve seen in a while, this 42HP case comes fully powered and with a latchable lid, and thanks to its carry handle, can easily be played with pretty much anywhere.
If you want something that’ll run out of the box, you can choose to have one of 2HP’s Picnic Basket, Synth Voice, Drum Machine or Effects Box systems installed. Otherwise, you can fill the Lunchbox with your own modules.
Empress Effects ZOIA Euroburo
Released back in 2018, Empress Effects’ ZOIA is a unique modular take on the classic multi-effects pedal format. Essentially, instead of offering as choice of effects, ZOIA gives users 80 plus synth, effect and processor elements to combine however they like. There are also over 25 pre-made effects available.
Given its modular nature, it makes a lot of sense that Empress would bring ZOIA to the modular world, and that’s exactly what it’s doing with the ZOIA Euroburo. Effectively, it gives you the option of having a compact modular system within your modular system. A rabbit hole down the rabbit hole, if you will.
It all sounds rather meta, but we’re into it… No word on price or availability as yet.
Read more: Keep an eye on the Empress Effects site for pre-order info
Earthquaker Devices Afterneath
As well as releasing a new version of its Sunn 0)))-branded Life Pedal at this year's show, Earthquaker has updated its monstrous ‘otherworldy reverb’ Afterneath – and it’s coming to Eurorack too!
This soundscape-generating effect is wonderful at weird ambient sounds and drones, so should make a great addition to modular system. Its four main parameters get CV inputs too, so you can modulate the results from elsewhere in your rack. The module is due for release this March
Read more: Find out more at the Earthquaker Devices site
Animal Factory Amplification Orobas
Indian effects pedal and module brand Animal Factory has impressed us in recent months, and the company seems to be making increasing waves on the modular market as a whole. Its latest, named Orobas, is a dual vacuum tube VCA and saturator with a mean-looking interface and plenty of connectivity.
The initial production run is limited to 80 units – 40 of which are going through European retailers – so act fast if you want to add this one to your rack!
Read more: Check out the Animal Factory Amplification site for more
Qu-Bit Electronix modules
Qu-Bit has not one but four new modules to show off on this year’s NAMM booth. First up is Aurora, a stereo spectral reverb equipped with a phase vocoder engine. With a freeze function and reverb that goes to infinite feedback, this promises to be a great tool for shimmering effects and drawn-out textures.
Next up is Data Bender, which is described as “a circuit bent digital audio buffer.” This offers up to five minutes of stereo sampling time, and can liven up audio with effects such as tape machine glitches, CD-style skipping, software crashes and more.
Surface, meanwhile, is a multi-timbral, eight-voice poly physical modeling voice. According to Qu-Bit, sounds produced range “from plucked strings and marimbas, all the way to FM drums.” Finally, Cascade is a ‘ratcheting envelope generator’ with dual outputs, multiple envelope types and a “gravity-based bouncy-ball mode.”
All four are listed as ‘coming soon’. Prices range from $199 for Cascade up to $349 for Data Bender.
Read more: Find out more at the Qu-Bit Electronix site