The 11 Best Eurorack Synth Modules Of 2013


Sound designer/composer Richard Devine shared his thoughts yesterday on the eleven best Eurorack synth modules of 2013 on Facebook. 

Why a top eleven list and not a top ten list? Maybe because it was an awesome year for modular gear?

Richard Devine’s Best Eurorack Synth Modules For 2013

  • Intellijel – Shapeshifter
  • Modcan – Quad LFO
  • Mutable Instruments – Braids
  • Macro Machines – Memory Manager (for the Mungo d0/g0)
  • Audio Damage – Freqshift / Grain Shift
  • Intellijel – Metropolis sequencer
  • TipTop – Trigger Riot
  • Harvestman – Piston Honda MK II
  • Antimatter Audio – Brain Seed
  • Livewire – Choas Computer
  • Malekko Heavy Industry – MegaWave

It’s an interesting list, and it highlights the explosion of creativity that’s happening with new modules.

You can read more thoughts on the ‘best of 2013’ from Devine – along with Justin McGrath, Alessandro Cortini & Surachai – at the Trash Audio site.

What do you think? Are these the best Eurorack synth modules of 2013? Got your own favorites? Let us know in the comments!

via Richard Devine

19 thoughts on “The 11 Best Eurorack Synth Modules Of 2013

  1. It’s interesting how all of the modules on the list are digital…

    While the big instrument manufacturers are busy recreating vintage analogs, the MODULAR guys are embracing more and more digital stuff.

    Since most music instrument tech is trickle down (the nerdy stuff usually ends up being mainstream only after the nerds have already moved on to the next under appreciated big thing), it makes me wonder how this new paradigm will present itself in future consumer electronic instruments…

    1. Analog is covered pretty well in the modular – but these digital modules open up so many doors!

      And you’re still patching analog audio, in the end!

    2. give me examples outside of academia, please. I mean GRM is rad, but…

      where are the nerds?

      musical innovations of the last 30ish years happen when expensive tech “accidentally” ends up in the hands of poor people, it’s not that poor people are magic it’s just that there are more of them. we might start hearing really good stuff out of modular when all the boys with their toys move on to the next “big thing” (not under appreciated ,just new) and dump them, just like how the nerds dumped analog for dx7s.

      i mean for better or worse Massive and FM8 – cheap digital versions of once super expensive synths (dx7 and wave) – are a big part of the current sound. Or looking at more “cutting edge” it’s still people using max / supercollider, cheap software on cheap hardware.

      im open to be wrong, but i’ve yet to hear anything from digital modules that hadn’t been innovated first on another platform. the interfaces are a huge step backwards too.

      i agree the big manufactures might get in on it, it’s like uncrackable plugins.

      1. Oh and to be clear I’m not hating on modular (own it, love it), I’m just sick of the hype that buying or using anything makes you innovative.

      2. I’m not sure where you got the idea that anybody’s saying buy something and it makes you innovative.

        These guys are doing amazing stuff and they’re psyched up about having new options. They are also professionals so they know what they’re doing and can afford to buy the gear that they want.

        And modular gear really isn’t that expensive anymore. You can get a start on modular for about $1000 and you don’t need to get the expensive modules unless you really have a good use for them.

      3. By “nerds” I meant the guys MAKING the modules… and I meant it as a compliment. These guys are much smarter than me at least… in terms of circuit and forward thinking instrument design.

        The DX7 analogy doesn’t really work, because Phase Modulation synthesis grew out of radio science and Chowning in the 70s (true FM). A nerdy guy (actually a bunch of them) took commonly used commercial/military/academic tech and re-imagined it for us musicians.

        FM in particular is a weird one because…. despite the DX7 being widely used in the 80s… it took until the late 90s (ish) for digital phase modulation programming to really take off in the form of easily programmable plugin user interfaces, namely NI’s FM7. Although the tech was around in the 80s, it took the nerdy (that word again) guys at NI to make it actually fun for musicians to program.

        The digital modular thing and it’s implementation is innovative. Yes, wavetable synthesis has been around for quite a while…. but with the flexibility or user interface of the intellijel? Or Scott’s Piston Honda? Or the insane number of modules coming out with previously plugin only features, like Modcan’s Quad LFO? Tip Top’s Trigger riot makes the academic concept of algorithmic rhythm programming accessible… and modular.

        Man… it’s a good time for us synth nuts…

        1. the digital modular thing isnt very innovative as you are trying to say. it is very cool, but take a look at even the old vst for the ppg. that software interface is much more “innovative” and intuitive, and literally, yes literally has produced much more useful music and sound than any of these “incredible analog interfaces” which you have invested your emotions into. waldorf nave, wavegenerator for ipad, now these are “innovative” by definition. a repeat of a technology which goes backward is not “innovation” really but you are allowed to loosely use this word.

          we appreciate your invested emotion and personal interest in modular but you must understand that modular interfaces such as the ones you admire and are biased toward are not more innovative or tactile or productive in the real world of music and sound. its just the fact. but they are cool. more of a novelty than a realistic useful tool.

          1. You seem to like quotation marks so here are a few more, around some of your writing:
            “useful music” – what the fuck is “useful music” anyway? Something that gets you laid perhaps? Or something that exists in the “real world of music” probably. Yeh, that’s it.

            Innovative? … well who cares. Fun? … yes defintintely. “Productive” (your term), depends on a lot of factors I guess.

            ooh ooh … “it’s just the fact” !! Wars have been fought over “facts”.

  2. Alessandro Cortini is much more interesting. Gotta love a list that has korg little bits and a synth!

    Justin McGrath’s is good too, but it’s too bad he isn’t using the leatherman and propane tanks to make music.

  3. You can’t apply class warfare nonsense to the analog-vs-digital debate in synthesis, unless you want to make your political science teacher proud. I don’t know what nerds and musicians saw in the DX7, it sounded awful and is only good for Rhodes sounds. Digital DX7’s won’t be selling on eBay for thousands of dollars many years from now. The innovation is coming from manufactures who are taking advantage of the American free market system. If a company makes a module that does something cool, I’m buying it, whether it’s analog or digital, as long as it doesn’t sound like an electric piano.

  4. my top 10 for 2013
    in no order

    make noise Maths 2013 ( not sure how Richard missed this !!)
    make noise STO
    snazzy fx ardcore
    tiptop Z3000 Smart VCO MKII
    WMD Synchrodyne
    4ms quad clock distributor
    AUDIO DAMAGE euroracks make up the rest of the list

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