Kilpatrick Audio Intros Phenol Patchable Analog Synthesizer


Kilpatrick Audio has introduced the Phenol patchable analog synthesizer – ‘a new type of musical instrument’, according to the company.

Inspired by modular synthesizers, Phenol offers the creative potential, sound and hands-on experience of a modular synth, in a sleek, compact package. Kilpatrick says that Phenol is 100% compatible with modular systems, because it uses the same voltages and banana connectors as the Kilpatrick Format modular system and other banana format modulars as well.

Here’s a demo of the Phenol in action:

Here’s another demo video, demoing multi-tracking the Phenol:

And here’s a more video of audio experiments with the Phenol:

Here’s Kat Burns (Kashka) sharing her thoughts on it:

Here’s what Kilpatrick has to say about the new synth:

This is the first time Kilpatrick Audio has shown a prototype or announced a product prior to availability. But Phenol is not just another module. It’s an entirely new instrument with expensive development challenges.

In early December 2014 we will be launching a crowd-funding campaign where you can pre-order your own Phenol at a hefty discount. Please check back soon and help us make Phenol a reality!

Whether you already love modular synthesizers and want a smaller instrument for portability, or whether you’ve heard about modular synths and want to get your feet wet, Phenol offers an incredible experience at a great price!

Here are a couple of audio demos:


  • Two analog VCOs
  • Two analog filters (low pass and high pass)
  • Two analog VCAs
  • Two envelope generator / LFO combos with many features
  • An LFO with sine and random output
  • Internal MIDI to CV converter with DIN and USB MIDI interfaces
  • Compact mixer with digital delay
  • Digital pulse divider
  • Buffered mixer / mult / inverter
  • Warranty: 1 year

Details on pricing and availability are to be announced.

42 thoughts on “Kilpatrick Audio Intros Phenol Patchable Analog Synthesizer

    1. I’m all about this sentiment. Analog synths can be so much more than what they are, especially in the modular format. It’s great that we’re given avenues in and out (cv) on this product, but things could be so wonderfully different! I mean, synthesizers are weird! And they could be so much stranger than LPFs, standard ADSRs and the standard ingredients we’re so used to by now. Where is that old spirit of the synthesist? Is the most exotic flavor we’re going to see on new synthesizers a delay or a ring mod? Give us formant filters, give us spring reverbs, comb filters, CV quantizers. Really, these things can be used creatively and productively by those other than modular cable wiggling nuts!

  1. I think patch cables mounted on the front of synths, obscures the details,
    Maybe one day rather than retro fetishism, a new design will come about .
    I really do not rate modulars, inspite of loving synths .
    I have used a moog modular etc thought wow what a heap of junk?
    Just got a mopho keyboard………….wow

    1. The patches are the details, but if you think modulars are a heap of junk then yeah, not the instrument for you. Dave Smith is very good with getting a semi-modular vibe in just knobs

    2. There is a lot more going on in the modular world that ‘retro fetishism’. How many integrated synths allow you to go from an FM patch to a random algorithmic self-playing patch to an arrayed sample patch to (fill in the blank). PM, FM, AM, ‘random’ events, quantized or non-quantized values, linear and/or exponential curves, sampling, external inputs, external processing, all these elements and more can all be incorporated into a single patch. Show me any integrated synth that offers ALL of those option.

      If you spent some time with a Moog Modular and had a less than rewarding experience, either: A. the Moog was poorly maintained/malfunctioning or B: you were not prepared to deal with the actual reality of patching something from the ‘building blocks’ of subtractive synthesis. Even if you do program your own patches on your Mopho, you are still dependant on Dave Smith’s design – your patches are fitting into the structures put in place when that synth was designed. (not to detract from Dave Smith, the guy is a genius)

      The available options in the modular world means you can build the potential synth of your dreams – just because the average ‘starter’ modular doesn’t offer polyphony or simple patch recall doesn’t diminish it: if anything, it is more powerful, because you are not limited by what some designer thought you would/should use. Don’t like modulars? Fine. But preference doesn’t denote value. Don’t confuse the two.

      1. “Don’t like modulars? Fine. But preference doesn’t denote value. Don’t confuse the two.”

        Exactly. Seems like a lot of people don’t understand that modulars are systems for making new instruments, new sounds and new types of music. If the end result is a typical synth sound, you missed the point.

        Morton Subotnick’s modular music from 50 years ago still sounds alien to most people, because he didn’t try to make it sound or work like a traditional instrument.

  2. Price on this will be key: if it is competitive with a comparable mono, it may catch on as a portable/entry modular. The use of bananas is both good and bad: stackable and cheap, yes, but hinders compatibility with other systems.

    1. Kilpatrick’s modules, like Cwejman or Macbeth modules, are built to a higher spec than a lot of other stuff on the market, but considering the features packed in to each module I’d say Kilpatrick’s modules are actually a little cheaper compared to the (direct) competition.

      1. Very true. Look at the dual envelope generator module, for example. You’d need a pair envelopes, a pair of exponential/linear VCAs, and pair of slew modules to achieve a similar effect, plus there’s hi/lo switches and retrig in too. Most of these modules seem to have a lot of unusual functions, or more under the hood than it seems.

    1. The audio player links point to the Kilpatrick site. Sometimes the volume of traffic that Synthtopia gets can hammer a company site’s web server.

  3. I love the design. But i know the price will be in line with kilpatricks other stuff. Will also need some banana lead convertors to patch into eurorack.
    Overall, looks good and according to tue soundclips it sounds nice and clean and precise. Its just the anticipation of the price point that disapoints.

      1. Christian

        FYI – comments with links in them are more likely to get queued for moderation by our comment system, because a high proportion of comments that contain links are spam.

  4. Looks a bit like one of those old-style ‘150-in-1’ electronics kits… which I suppose perhaps all modular synths do to some extent, but this more so since its in one plate.

  5. Looks beautiful and i generally like his stuff. However there is some stiff competition out there and if not cwejman for sure the macbeth elements is very difficult to beat.
    It sounds amazing.
    Anyway i would prefer to see him develop more his format, it would be nice if it took of the ground, with other manufacturers building stuff for his as well

  6. wouaw!!!!!!!! can’t wait to get this beauty !!! However, we must wait to see the price, I hope it will not be as expensive as the line of kilpatrick modules, if that’s the case, I would buy this phenol eyes closed, kilpatrick components are of very good quality and sounds great , for me it is closest to serge modules ( without having the exact same grain of course) and I am a big fan of banana format! please andrew kilpatrick made ??that the phenol is affordable I would really like to have it in my studio to make great music !!! 😉

    1. What’s bullshit is your post. Kilpatrick has a PROTOTYPE, but that doesn’t mean he’s got an idea of how long it would take him to build one of these to order or that he’s worked out all the components / features that will be in the final product, both of which would influence the final price.

  7. If you are looking at this, you should also take a look at Ken Stone’s Cat Girls synths. he has licnsed the original Serge Synthesizer and has made up boards for sale that will get you onto the same game as Buchla and Kilpatrick at a greatly reduced pruce. It is a DIY thing or you can have the boards built up and make it a Fab I Y project where you can creat your own form factor.

    Serges were orignally kits.

    I went for ¼” i/o at numeous critcal points and moved the patching and controls around a little to make it flow to my internal tastes.

  8. this guy is knocking it out of the park in his demoes

    is there really no sequencer or external track or anything coming into this? just VCAs left on and FM madness getting mined? you could do that on a lot of boxes tho too, like Future Retro XS especially comes to mind for me

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