Do We Need More Style In Modular Synths?

Do we need more style in modular synths?

That’s the question raised by the latest design from designer and craftsman Love Hultén.

Hultén creates custom one-of-a-kind designs that be builds himself and sells via his site.

The MDLR-37 is a custom portable modular synthesizer, divided into four sections. The hand-crafted system folds into a carrier when not in use.

The MDLR-37 is based on existing synths, including: Korg Minilogue, Korg Microkey 37, Meris ENZO, T-Rex Replicator & Doepfer A-199. Hultén completely tranforms them, though, creating a system that looks like more than the sum of its parts.

In comparison, most modular Eurorack systems look like a mish-mash of competing ideas from different people.

Do we need more style in modular synths? Check out the Hultén’s MDLR-37 demo video and share your thoughts in the comments!

39 thoughts on “Do We Need More Style In Modular Synths?

  1. A few decades ago, how many people thought that modular synths would ever be a thing again.

    And vinyl records made their way back too.

    That’s why I’m taking correspondence courses now to learn how to repair VCRs. In a few short years, I’ll be rolling in the dough doing repairs.

  2. If it’s simple and tidy isn’t modular.
    In Fact that is just a composition of a synth and some effects.
    Design is always cool (especially if you’re an hypster…) but if makes everything uselessly expensive and limited, the answer is a big NO.

  3. Eurorack designers should also have to run all their designs through the Axel Hartmann engine. Such mish mash, mon dieu!

  4. Wow, beautiful design! And I checked out his website as well, amazing craftsmanship. I can appreciate the work that goes into these, and I think those musicians/artists who value that clean retro/modern aesthetic would be the right audience. On the flip side, I don’t think this would appeal to maybe the more serious modular crowd, who don’t care how their rack looks, or actually like the mish-mash, or might be swapping modules in and out on weekly basis. So clearly this is not your typical euro rack, but it looks awesome!

  5. > Do We Need More Style In Modular Synths?

    Nope.
    Not only that.
    We also need no more articles about modular synths.

    Kind regards
    A proud workstation user

  6. This thing looks nice but it is not a modular synth. No swapping of modules, no reconnection of modules. This is just a nice looking, portable and foldable synth.

  7. take a look at the Make Noise systems, the Erica systems, the Moog 3 tier DFAM M32 SH system, just to name a few i would say those are pretty stylish systems. there’s no question what this guy has crafted is totally beautiful, but there’s quite a bit of oversight asking that question. someone give this guy a design award though, wow.

  8. It’s pretty, but $4k for a pretty minilogue? Pass. First of all, a minilogue plus a few effects is not a modular synth. Second of all, think of the modular you could build or other synths you could buy for the same money.
    This is impressive, but only aesthetically… like everything else this guy does.

      1. “Plus a few effects,” which are modules one could buy separately and plug their mini into for still way less than $4k. I do not have a minilogue.

  9. The patch points aren’t labelled!
    How on earth is anyone coming at this fresh going to know what’s what?
    Form over function. And I’m not too keen on the form anyway.

  10. It’s like the wood cabinet of an Atari 2600. Or your grandparents stereo in a oversized wooden cabinet. I mean it’s nice to look at, but looking at it, doesn’t seem to do much:

  11. I can’t speak for others, but I personally value good design in musical instruments. As someone who spends his day creating thinks of (arguably) aesthetic value, I enjoy using tools that not only get the job done, but give me pleasure while doing it. As for Love Hulten, I am a great fan of his work and even have one of his prints in my studio, but I really don’t think his mods are meant as daily drivers for everyone. They are custom, made-by-order pieces of art for those who enjoy them.

    1. fully agree – honestly I would love to see a modular with no wires and it is totally doable, where you can have virtual patching rather than physical wires

  12. I think the benefit of this kind of thing is not “you need to buy it right now”. Rather it’s giving new and fresh creative ideas to the industry, some of which might filter down to mass production items at some point.

  13. When I first saw it I thought it was kind of cool… but the more I look at it the uglier it gets, and impractical design too. Is that faux wood paneling? The tiny little text burned into it. Black buttons with the dark “wood” but those hideous yellow knobs, with no visible pointers. Little silver screws sticking out.

    I’d rather have my Eurorack hodgepodge of styles, thanks.

  14. “creating a system that looks like more than the sum of its parts”

    Looks like. Not is, more than the sum of its parts

    “In comparison, most modular Eurorack systems look like a mish-mash of competing ideas from different people”

    Says guy who designs wooden panels and not synthesizers

    Totally missing the point of eurorack – half the fun and arguably most happy accidents come from the same mish-mash

    This guy should work with Teenage Engineering – Instruments for people who care more about how an instrument looks than how it actually functions

      1. Yeah I’ve owned an OP-1 for about two years
        Infuriating device
        A perfect example of how the UI favours form over function
        Kooky graphics that give very little useful feedback about what’s actually going on
        It bricked after an OS update so I returned it
        I have a few Pocket Operators also which are much better in my opinion

        1. …and it took Teenage Engineering 22 weeks to respond to my support ticket. They said my ticket somehow ended up in the trash. Great bunch of lads

  15. There’s lots of style in eurorack, you just have to stick to one or two companies to show it.

    That… Is not modular. It’s a minilogue and a couple fx in a pretty case.

  16. If we just look at visual design… yeah. Nice eye candy. Definitely matches some coffee table and gets likes on insta. Coo visual design project, executed well and with a nice video.

    If we’re looking at it as a product, its purpose and usability, it’s a joke. Missing the whole point.

    It’s basically an overdesigned live rig for the designer. If that’s the purpose, I guess it works.

    The click-baity headline is worth no comment. Clearly someone doesn’t know a difference between a modular synth and a bunch of ready-made pieces patched together.

  17. If we just look at visual design… yeah. Nice eye candy. Definitely matches some coffee table and gets likes on insta. Coo visual design project, executed well and with a nice video.

    If we’re looking at it as a product, its purpose and usability, it’s a joke. Missing the whole point.

    It’s basically an overdesigned live rig for the designer. If that’s the purpose, I guess it works.

    The click-baity headline is worth no comment. Clearly someone doesn’t know a difference between a modular synth and a bunch of ready-made pieces patched together.

  18. I think it’s time for an Ugliest Modular Synth contest.
    Perhaps (for extra points) it should require a sample of what the configuration can produce.

  19. “…its just…” what? A totally custom piece of what is essentially high end furniture?

    Its not “just” this synth and that synth. The guy spends time actually, ya know, developing and making these things. Its not like he’s flipping a minilouge on reverb for x5 the price or whatever.

    “…but I could do that…” then do it. Go ahead. Do it. Show me how easy it is to not just make something like this, but make it look as *good* as he has.

    Whenever this guys work shows up, there are always the most stupid comments that follow. This is like buying custom, one of a kind furniture. Yeah, its going to be expensive. Look at the Atari cabinets he makes. Is it “just” an atari? Is it “exactly the same” as you running emulators off your old grubby laptop?

    This is a very pretty object. I’m not nearly rich enough to justify the purchase but it looks lovely and I hope he keeps making them. And I hope the next release people don’t continue to completely miss the point. Again.

    1. It’s not really synth news, is it? It’s more custom case news. I’m sure some people are interested but is this the forum for it, really it belongs more on Deezen/Wallpaper or other pop design sites.

      1. it has synths combined together in a very special case/cabinet…so what is not synth about it?
        sure it is not “synth news” but it is synths..i wouldn´t have heard about it if it wasn´t here on synthopia..so thanks synthopia for featuring this!
        what is wrong when people do what they love doing?
        the question if this should be called a modular synth is something else…;-)
        keep smiling…

  20. YMMV; it’s a very pretty design, but it seems to miss the “modular” part of the question – not many modulation destinations or sources in this setup, so the patching is really just hard-wiring with extra steps.

    The “four skiffs hinged together that unfold” part could be useful with real modules.

  21. The fact that he used a minilogue as the sound source for this “high end” project says way too much already.
    Imnho this makes the whole endeavour a classic case of confounding/ridiculous/pathetic.

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