Junkie XL Explains His Large-Format Monster Synthesizer Wall

Junkie XL (Tom Holkenborg) has a successful career scoring Hollywood films, and can outfit his studio with just about any gear that he would want.

The centerpiece of his studio , though, is his ‘modular wall’  – a wall filled with a massive collection of 5U synth modules. 

In this video, Holkenborg explains why he’s invested in a large-format modular synthesizer, discusses some of his favorite modules and gives props to some of the key manufacturers of 5U modular synth gear, including Synthesizers.com, STG, Cynthia, Free State FXMoon Modular, Mos-Lab, Krisp1Corsynth, SynthCube, Rob Hordijk, Analog Craftsman and Synthetic Sound Labs.

In this episode, his focus is on explaining which modules he’s chosen for his system and why. Future videos will demonstrate how he uses the mosular wall in his work.

Note: Roger Arrick is the designer of Synthesizers.com modules.

26 thoughts on “Junkie XL Explains His Large-Format Monster Synthesizer Wall

  1. I think its vague because its an introduction/ overview of the wall. I think the details will follow in future tutorial video’s

    I guess Tom has big plans in making more video’s. He’s even speaking of expert tutorials 🙂

  2. I’ve made the best (most creative) music with the cheapest and simplest gear. More income, and thus better gear I could afford, didn’t necessarily improve my musicality or creativity. That’s exactly what I see with most musicians… To the point, this is overkill…

  3. I would actually like to see the thing, the whole thing, in use to compare what it can achieve above/beyond some far more compact. I bet the thing collects dust,,,,,

  4. Not to disrespect but I wonder how many jacks have never been inserted anything and in the future as well. I mean, one can’t have enough time to fully explore such a monster system.

  5. I use to own a large Euro rack. Rack was custom made for me. Rack stood 6’ft tall and was 5 ft wide. Had 8 rows. It was okay but after a few years of usage I realized that more didn’t mean better in my case… The Euro standard modules did not offer the options for what I wanted to do. I was not realizing what sound I wanted on it. I guess I learned that I wanted something smaller n was more Buchla’esque. So I went that route. Nirvana for me now.

    For something this large, ref this article, I would say this standard/configuration is enabling his sound…what he wants and needs…for his sound tracks.

    More power to him!!

  6. If you watch any of his other videos from the past, often nothing on that wall is patched. Every modular guy I know always has their system patched with something going. More money that talent on display here.

    1. Jealous much? I use my modular professionally almost every day, and I never leave a patch, because I’m constantly moving and changing things. I’ll leave something as its in progress, but generally everything gets pulled 2-5 times a day. some modules I have two of, so a patch can be left while a client approves of something, and I can continue. Tom has all this stuff and uses it, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing him work in person and he is a kind, fun dude who probably loves this stuff more than anyone. When I see noobs or hobbyists talk about “nothing patched” in photos or videos, it’s a sign they don’t really understand what professional audio work actually entails, you can’t leave your “sick beatz brah” patch up constantly if you have to actually work.

  7. I think this guy is great. People in film need a large palette of sounds available at all times because their needs can change quickly. I think more detail will be forthcoming and in the meantime, I’m deeply grateful for the videos he makes.

  8. It looks like that some of us are very envious. Work better and you will allow to buy such systems. It’s great to have an opportunity of all sounds pallette even without using each module every day. I hope Junkie will create some clips how this 5U system sounds not only looks)

    Junkie is a good man who changed his music from clubbish style to soundtracks.

  9. Patching a modular equals time. Once you start patching you usually end up in a different place from where you started. Some like this, some don’t. When I see an unpatched modular I see someone who usually only wants what they know they can immediately get out of it. Ie. plug in three cables and you get a nice bass sound. Nothing wrong with that, but i personally find myself NEVER unpatching my modular and only do when I have pushed the current patch further than it had gone before. Again that is only my opinion and my own way that I use my own modular.

    1. In my opinion, this is a ridiculous notion. To assume all these things, because the modular was unpatched. And why leave it patched all the time, doing the same things over and over. As I said above, this idea of “never unpatching” is impractical when you actually have to use these things to make your living! When you’re not working at a cafe you do have time to try things out. And for noobs maybe it takes a few hours to try a couple of things, but after years of experience and a good selection of modules, you can try 4-5 different ideas in a few minutes. I don’t need 8hrs to get a patch going, that’s beginners stuff dude. When I start a session I don’t want to waste time unpatching the last sound! this idea that “unpatched modular = don’t know what you’re doing” needs to end. Unless the chef has a white hat on in the picture, he sucks, right? Cmon

        1. How many cables? I don’t count those. It wouldn’t take 20min. 10min tops for a multi-case large patch. Think about how long it takes to zero out a 24channel mixer. About the same on my system when I lived in the US. When I work on something and theres a deadline, I don’t do a 200 point patch! A 20 point, 50 point patch sure. I don’t even think about it on these terms. You don’t use every module in every patch LOL

          1. I’m not in to it for production, it is not about punching a clock for me. I respect those who can balance it as work. I can not. That is why on average most of my patches are 100+ more cables. The one I currently am working on is close to 200. …and I am not using every module. It can be fun just to remember where I was and what I was doing the night before:)

            1. Really? Nice attempt to throw shade my way. Me being a professional musician doesn’t make you being hobby. You would be the 1st modular user Ive ever met who counts cables and I doubt you even have a modular. The number of cables used in a patch is not important. You’d know this if you actually had even a small system

              1. http://www.MillionMachineMarch.com

                Some of us know what we are talking about. When I don’t get what I want I will go behind the panel and permanently patch what I am after and create completely custom modules. Some of my work has even been posted here on this blog. Check my website to verify. Don’t be too quick to judge. It just comes back on you!

              2. Incidentally, the only reason I started counting cables is because I kept running out. And you know there is nothing worse than running out of cables while you are in the middle of a good patch. So I started making my own, I know a ‘high quality problem’ to have, but still a problem:)

  10. Overkill yes. But a big part of this is the mystique element. If you’re a producer walking in to his studio for a sound track that makes your project unique, the wall does speak volumes. Its kind of like a Dr or Lawyer having a lot of degrees and articles about them on their wall. Does it mean they’re better? No. But it’s probably better that they are there and are rarely something you’d leave their office over.

    1. Sad that so many are hung up on the size of their rigs.

      He’s a pro, he knows his gear and if having a wall of gear saves him a day or two on a soundtrack, it probably pays for itself.

  11. While I admire the collection and look forward to watching the follow-up videos, this one was a bit painful to watch. It would be nice if he learned to speak without all the “ums” and “ahs”. There is nothing wrong with a little bit of silence.

    For anyone thinking about watching, the video is simply an overview of the collection of modules he owns. Not much in there about how he uses them. That’s coming in follow up videos.

  12. Tom is a really nice guy, has lots of skill and talent, and has been very successful in his career. It seems odd to me that people get so critical and defensive when he generously takes his personal time to provide good information and insider instruction on what he does, free of charge! (and he may be paying out of pocket for people to handle camera, sound and editing, etc?)

    Regarding the question of “why so much?”, he addressed this in one of the comments on YouTube and also shared the same with me a couple years ago at NAMM. Unlike most of us, he works on big budget motion pictures and typically submits many possible pieces of music and sounds to the directors and producers etc for approval. Having a very large system with multiple sequencers allows him to set up several different patches and leave them up until he hears back from those in charge. He may get approval for the patches but be asked to deepen the filter sweep on patch 1, double time the sequencer rate on patch two, and combine patches 3 and 4 in a certain way. Since it is all still setup, he can quickly provide revised sounds and music. I have to think besides all of his other positive attributes, being flexible and delivering revisions quickly has to be a big part of his growing success? 😉

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