The 5U or “Moog Unit” (MU) modular format does not get much representation at NAMM, with Moog, Moon Modular and STG Soundlabs being the usual stalwarts. Moog skipped NAMM this year, but an unexpected source – Noise Engineering – stepped into the breech with three new 5U modules – as well as a few new Eurorack ones too, of course. I should also note that Buchla returned to the show floor, recently being bought by Foxtone Music – many have applauded this move as putting it in the hands of someone who truly cares about their history and synthesis in general, rather than just making a profit.
It’s nice to see sound source ideas beyond our beloved sawtooth and square waves become more common in the modular world. In the next two installments I’m going to focus on a pair of these trends: plucked sounds and granular synthesis. Other mini-trends include the Eurorack world going Goth, and further proliferation of CEM3340-based VCOs.
A few of those themes that emerged during this year’s NAMM show included CEM 3340-based VCOs (as there are now two sources for this classic, previously-unavailable chip), granular synthesis, semi-modulars, and multiple voices. I touched on that last one in the first installment, with 4ms’ Spherical Waveform Navigator being capable of 6-voice polyphony; in general, more companies are looking at configuring a modular to produce more than one sound at the same time – and we’ll look at a few of them here.