What is making modular synthesisers so unique?

Since the hay-day of Modular synthesiser of 1960s until this very year, 2022, a modular synthesiser has remained the same in demand with variations of changes and upgrades. Modular synthesiser shook the scene of particularly 1960s and 1970s way more than it did in 1980s from various top notch bands and artists like Emerson lake & Palmer, Yes, Klaush Schulze, Jean Michel Jarre, Vangelis, Suzzane Ciani, Don Buchla to modern and underrated musicians made and still make the most use of Modular synthesisers.

So, what keeps these artists known and unknown coming to modular and never get rid of it? This article will help you to answer these questions.

The opportunities for customisation

Modular synthesisers are massively customizable when it comes to design sound. Also, modular synthesisers are perfect for various of experimentation with synthesis since virtually there is no limit of the kind of sound you can create with these magnificent beasts!

Essentially, modular synthesisers work by making connections with various of components that either you may find the rack mounted from the manufacturers or you have the flexibility to add or mount more components that is supported by the board. You make the connections by means of patching various components of your choice as you go. This is called a patch system.

Sound control

Typically, the types of modules that are found in a modular synthesisers are as – signal, logic/timing, control and the input and output medium are an electric voltage. The primary difference is apparent when you get the fundamental idea right getting into modular synthesisers.

For instance, let’s say we have a standalone version effect, where the primary connections that exist is one input and one output, signals come in and out according to the exact routing. There is nothing more to it unless you chain multiple other stand-alone effects. What differs from a module effect is, you do have an input and output but that is not only it, you will have multiple other ways to send or manipulate signals coming and going to various other components.

This gives you greater control over the sound than a fixated stand-alone version of synthesisers or effects.

Crucial components of modular synthesisers

There are tons of modules you can find now, in fact you can order a customized one. But to our typical findings, we will see that most of the modular has some form VCO (Voltage Controlled Oscillators), a sync option for the oscillators with various kinds of modulation like linear or exponential. Some sort of waveforms. Things like VCF (Voltage Controlled Filter) are pretty common as well as filters like High pass, Low pass, Bandpass, formant etc.

An envelope generator that allows you to shape the sound over time. For instance, you can make sounds like pluck-in instruments such as the ones created by pizzicato, guitar, bass etc or string-like sounds like violin, cello that rise over time. There is of course, some sort of LFO (low frequency oscillators) which are pretty common to notice in a modular synthesisers. It could be one or multiple of your choice. Some sort of Noise generator with pink, white noise. Another common thing seen is a step sequencer. There are also RM as ring modulator, mixer, slew limiter, S&h as in ‘Sample and hold’ and custom control inputs. These are the most typical components that is more apparent.

The components are not limited to these and have a vast variety of other options you can find and install as you go on.

Most of the modular synthesisers are addictive once you get a good hang of one, this can lead to a wall of your room occupied by this giant frame of modules.