The Modal Electronics 002 Synthesizer At NAMM 2015


At the 2015 NAMM Show, Modal Electronics was making the NAMM debut of their 002 synthesizer.

It was also the debut of Modal Electronics, formerly known as Modulus

Here’s an overview video of the 002 synthesizer from the Show, via Nova Musik:

In the video, company co-founder and principal designer Paul Maddox walks through the features of his Modal Electronics 002 analog/digital hybrid polysynth.

After the overview, Maddox demos some example patches (with direct-in stereo sound).

The Modal Electronics 002 is a premium product designed to be the flagship in the Modal Electronics range. The keyboard layout includes a semi-weighted, five octave key mechanism and has been designed with the goal that that your hands will fall naturally and intuitively to the controls.

The 002 provides twelve discrete voices of polyphony, fully multi-timbral, if required.

It also features a large display screen that is context sensitive, i.e. it displays the control parameters of any control knobs immediately when touched by the user. Quick recall banks enable preset sequences and settings to be stored for instant use such as during a live performance. NCOs (numerically controlled oscillators) are used for stability and accuracy while an analogue transistor ladder filter provides classic ‘warm’ sounds.

The Modal Electronics 002 is priced at US $5,200. For more information, see the Modal Electronics site.

43 thoughts on “The Modal Electronics 002 Synthesizer At NAMM 2015

    1. Hahaha, how’s it feel for synth prices to get jacked up going the OTHER way across the ocean for a change! The UK price of £3000 makes way more sense compared to the price of DSI gear here. Honestly not sure what their logic on US pricing was. 5200 is still 700 more than the exchange rate, and there shouldn’t even be vat…

  1. on which point designers says: ‘Yes, this synth should have a ladder filter”, do you think they test the different stages and when it is time to decide the filter type, do you think they test it with different types of filters (ladder, steiner, curtis, etc)?. I think that a synth of this characteristics, does not need to include a ladder filter (for commercial purposes per se). I’m intrigue on why they selected the analogue transistor ladder filter which provides classic ‘warm’ sounds. thoughts?

  2. It’s a very nice synth. However, for what it costs, it’s going to be difficult to convince people to buy this instead of a Prophet 6 AND a family vacation.

  3. I really want this thing so badly. The sound is amazing the look, the guy has poured his heart and soul into it he must be really proud of product.

  4. XLR outs and 12 voices individually available is really cool

    “analogue signal path from the oscillators right the way through to the combined XLR/TRS
    balanced/unbalanced outputs (with all 12 voices individually available for external processing via a dedicated D-Sub connector)”

  5. It has a rich, creditable sound, but let’s step back and consider whether or not its innovative enough to justify five large. For every person who would seriously dive into it for a couple of years, there are probably 20 studios who need tax write-offs and 10 trust-fund babies who will use it for dance bass. Dave Smith’s books are not my business, but I wonder what the units-sold sales curve is like for the Tetra vs. the Tempest vs. the Prophet-12? What looks great and may indeed be a powerhouse synth also won’t sell madly when boutique-priced. More to the point, that level of sound quality can be had from numerous sources now, so its PPG-like clarity isn’t unique. When $5k can net you a computer, a Sledge and a killer softsynth that does great wavetables, a little cost/benefit analysis is called for. It has a quality voice and the online updating is a clever idea, but I have to wonder where it’ll wind up in the climb against the Prophet-6, the sampling Volca and Serum.

      1. not sure what the p6 vs p12 is about. I believe the point was that more tetras are sold than p12s. honestly, I think a lot of the people that bought a p12 will pick up a p6 as well. whether they sell their p12 to get the p6 doesn’t matter. fwiw, i’m picking up a p6 and like hell will i part with my p12. too many modulation possibilities to give it up.

  6. This synths Oscillators are amazing. They use a variable sample rate so they do not alias. This is a very big deal for those that are interested in sound quality. Also the Oscillators are discrete chips onstead of dsp so they float a bit in phase with each other for extra lushness. It’s the synth I want the most and I hope they make a module version of it that is much cheaper.

    1. yes the variable sample rate is smart !!!! of few years ago I thought about this technology appiied to DJ software so you can slow down or speed up exactly like a vinyl…
      Mister Maddox may recycle his technology into DJ soft/hardware….

    2. Ya, a 6-voice tabletop version would be appealing, but it would require a different form of re-tooling to manufacture and part of its appeal IS the GUI. Modules classically toss out some of their best bits for the sake of size. I’m not trying to be a crank, either, because that wavetable sweep is something superior to behold. That’s a lot of why its a $5k instrument. Howevah, I once had a bigger stack and started discarding pieces of it because there were too many options *and* too much cabling. I started having more fun when I let the Why of playing run things more than the How of my gear. You can use a number of softsynths pretty casually, but hardware demands a different kind of slotting-in. A synth this potent deserves to be your centerpiece. If its in a stack of 2 or more others like it, um, can you say “Diminishing Returns?”

      1. A $1999 version would sell exponentially more than a $5200 version. If they stay in the $5200 synth business, the company won’t be around very long. The list of guys who will buy a synth of that price is short. Yes there were high-priced synths in the past, but you didn’t have much choice in 1984.

  7. @R7– where did you get the info regarding the oscillators and discrete chips? I’ve listened to all of the sound demos and that’s one thing that sticks out– the oscillators are almost too “right on”. I’d like a little more slop or drift (whatever you want to call it). Even some of these new analog machines with analog OSCs (think Elektron’s A4/AK) sound too “right on” compared to a Jupiter-4. I wonder if it has to do with surface mount components. I mean, I just read a post by Brian Castro of Abstrakt Instruments in which he said he used through-hole components in his new Avalon synth to replicate the true sound if the TB-303, something that could not be achieved with surface-mount.
    The 002 looks like a primo synth, I’d just like more info regarding the NCOs and achieving that analog (Jupiter-4) VCO sound.

  8. @gridsleep– ya, I know. Like Ken Macbeth’s stuff, the circuit boards are a work of art.
    I also noticed the lack of piano hinge on the back, so no easy peek under the hood(?)

  9. The time that the “very good-Pro” synthesizers (prophet 12 / 8 / 6 / 2, Kronos, Moog modular …and maybe something new from Yamaha) was addressed only to professional musicians, It returned again. Only someone who has income from concerts/gigs or big music productions, can recklessly to purchase these synthesizers. All the rest of us will simply dreaming and will be talking about the expensive costs.

    As for the issue of filters and other features, the problem is not the synthesizers but the money. Each time, for each new synth, we talk about the high prices, but the prices do not fall over.
    If you have money all synths are good. If not then nothing is good. If you have money you can go and buy it, otherwise you can sit in an armchair and dream.

    My personal opinion is. The best that we can do is to think about a job that would increase our income, to be able to obtain these synths. Because as well as to discuss the prices did not reduce.

    1. Sometimes you have to save up for a few years, but a good instrument that you play all the time can be a worthwhile investment. Quality pianos aren’t inexpensive, but many regular people manage to buy them anyway because they want a good instrument that they will play and enjoy for many years.

  10. I think the point is that this is high-end analog synth, except that the oscillators are digital because you need that to provide the sonic variety people expect these days. The only equivalent is the Prophet 12, but that has the characteristic DSI filter sound which is not everybody’s cup of tea.

    I had a brief opportunity to play the Modulus 002 and it sounds amazing, I’ll happily sell my P12 to buy one.

    Hands-on it is immediately obvious that this is massively better build-quality instrument, a long-term classic that will keep its value.

    As to the US pricing, I’m sure they’ll revise that, but it is funny to see the the usual USA/UK price differential inverted just for once 😀

    And I was also told (from a reliable source) that a rack version was in the works.

  11. PROS: Sounds like a PPG
    CONS: No aftertouch, price compared to Prophet 12, mystery chips when DSI has 6 SHARC processors under the hood and will share that fact, unnecessary internet connectivity you are paying for, cloud-shaped graphics, white color,

    1. The main difference between tho P12 oscillators and the 002 is that the P12 is running at a fixed sample rate low enough that aliasing occures. Aliasing is a ugly digital byproduct of working at low and fixed sample rates. The Modal 002 has a variable sample rate that is always mathematically related to the fundamental note being played and does not produce inharmonic aliasing like P12 does.

      Here is a thread over at the Dave Smith forums complaining about the aliasing in the P12.

  12. It’s certainly not cheap, but let’s face it: It isn’t that much money if you have a decent job. The way the interest rates are developing in Europe it’s probably not the worst idea to just spend money instead of hold on to it. Dunno, if saving money still makes economic sense in the US of A or other non-European (Union) countries.

  13. Having read the GS page about a possible module / rack mount version, I’ve gotta say that such a thing would really interest me. If they produced a stripped down version (say, no keyboard, no effects, no sequencer, six voices, patch storage via computer – that sorta thing) that any old broke Joe Schmo could buy into, it would undoubtedly support the sales of their ‘Rolls Royce’ product and widen their market. The other factor in my case is a woeful lack of space in my tiny office/studio so, apart from the keyboards I’ve already squeezed in there, modules are pretty much mandatory. 🙂

  14. Wavestrike is not correct in saying that the Modulus lacks aftertouch. In fact, it comes with a superb semi-weighted keyboard with monophonic aftertouch.

  15. Watching this video I am reminded of powerful my $200 alesis ion is. Granted, it does not have an analog filter, wavetable osc, nor a few other features, but for the most part does many of the same things as this synth and then a bunch more. Of course I would happily trade the Ion for a Modulus if given the chance.

  16. I really like this. I can’t afford it, and have made the commitment to myself that I will not spend anything over 3k on Music gear. At least in the next 5 years. I’m just glad to read that there might be some second hand P12 on the market soon. =)

  17. I didn’t find anywhhere how many presets it does come with and how many total available memory banks of how many slots each. I only found about the recall banks.

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