Another year draws to a close and with it, so many lists of the favourite 'this' or 'that' hitting your feeds. Here at MusicRadar we love a listicle but are chronically incapable of deciding on what to populate them with, which is where you, the wonderful 'Radar readers come in.
For many years now, we have asked you to vote for your favourite bits of gear that, for the most part, we have reviewed (with the odd exception) over the past 12 months. So while there may be the odd item to have been released before 2022, we didn't get out hands on it until this year.
- Take your pick of the 20 best cheap synthesizers
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- The 10 best synth presets in history - and where to hear them
Excuses aside, what we have here are the results of your favourite Eurorack modules of 2022 so enjoy, or disagree, whatever suits. Better still, use it as a last-minute Xmas list for yourself to make a few key additions to that ever-expanding modular system lurking in your home-studio.
1. Empress Effects Zoia Euroburo
This year's winner, by an absolute mile needs no introduction. The original Zoia was pitched at guitarists but soon gained a faithful following within the synth community.
Based on modular principles it was little wonder that Empress has taken the natural step of repackaging its power in a ‘real’ modular format – Eurorack. Not only that, but you can also get it in a 0HP/workbench/desktop format.
Zoia is a well-thought-out unit capable of excellent results which makes creating your own sound generators and processors a speedy process.
2. Eventide Misha
Breaking new ground in 2022 was Eventide entering the Eurorack fray, which, of course, got the collective synth-glands salivating. Misha is an experimentation dream. It forces different thinking and playing approaches that, while they can be learned, encourage a different type of creativity.
It’s a perfect tool for generative music, jam sessions and fun explorations into new musical territories, which makes this interval-based instrument and sequencer a must-have for those modular setups
3. Qu-Bit Aurora
Aurora is one of those modules that far exceeds its original remit. If you think you’re getting just a reverb then think again. This 12HP unit pulls you into a spatial vortex of inspiration and fun that can last for hours before you reemerge blissfully unaware of the passing time.
So, what makes this reverb so special? It’s the sheer joy of playing it along with the vast array of sounds that can be coaxed from it.
Not many modules of this type offer such an enjoyable experience as Aurora. This is in part down to the lushness of the trails, which, even at their iciest, most crystalline settings, somehow stay warm and not piercing.
4. Erica Synths Black K-Phaser
The humble phaser might not get all the attention that it deserves, but Erica Synths are looking to give it some love with the Black K-Phaser.
Aligning itself with its Black Series brethren, the K-Phaser dutifully follows suit in the design stakes and adds more CV control, even allowing for LFO to be outputted separately, adding some extra modulation to other parts of your rig or patch.
5. Knobula Poly Cinematic
Poly Cinematic from Kobula is an 8-voice synth voice that fits into just 12HP and will still give you change from £350.
No, your eyes don't deceive you. This exceedingly affordable polysynth module is yet another standout performer of 2022.
It gets better, as it’s technically a complete synthesizer and not just a synth voice with filter and envelope controls, all of which are intuitively laid out for ease of use.
6. Herb and Stones Liquid Foam
Making the jump from desktop unit to Eurorack is the Liquid Foam from North Italian builders Herb and Stones.
Liquid Foam is a single VCO module that can output PWM, variable saw and triangle, all of which can be output singularly or together.
There’s plenty of quirk here, especially when the envelope generator and sequencer are concerned. There’s plenty of fun to be had with LF once you’ve worked out what all the features do.
7. Sebsongs Euclidean
Not for the faint-hearted, Euclidean is a DIY module and while that might not be everyone’s cup of tea, it does allow you to really find out the inner workings of a module, just as long as you're ok with wielding a soldering iron.
This is a trigger sequencer and clock divider, and while it might have a fixed internal clock, can easily take triggers from external devices.
Sebsongs Euclidean is a nice option for clocking and pattern generating if you don’t mind building it. The LED matrix is ace and sequence-setting is easy.
8. Knobula Kickain
If there was a league table for those modules that come along and make you think “damn, I wish I thought of that!”, Kickain would be at the top. Its simplicity is only outshone by the fact that it pulls off its job very well.
Kickain has the perfect sidechain workflow, combining an excellent kick drum and compression tools, with single-knob reverb. A simple but genius idea that works flawlessly
9. ALM Busy Circuits Beast’s Chalkboard
ALM Busy Circuits’ Beast’s Chalkboard is a two-channel octave controller for modular systems. Its use as an octave switcher is an obvious one, but of course, this is Eurorack where anything can happen.
What is worth remembering is that octave ranges are simply voltages and in Eurorack, most of the time, modules that can affect voltages for pitch can be applied for other uses. If this is kept in mind, it’s easy to see how this module could find its way into use for other purposes.
10. Befaco AC/DC
For every patch, there is the final question; how to send the signal for output? Use a mixer then head for a desk, headphones, or speakers? Multitrack into your DAW of choice? Or both?
While there are some single module options for this, they tend toward the larger, more costly devices, which may not suit the rig or budget of all users. Befaco’s AC/DC may just be the solution for many modularists.
For everything from simple audio I/O duties to more extravagant musical situations, the AC/DC really is a fine module.