Following on from the previous article, here are the other major modular synthesizer companies worth considering:
- Modcan – modcan.com: Beautifully designed and extremely expensive, the Modcan modular system is a delightful selection of ever-so-slightly eccentric modules which generally sound excellent. The product range is divided into the older ‘A’ range and the newer, prettier ‘B’ range depending on your taste. Despite the nice looks, superb sounds and top-notch build quality, the Modcan modular system is not cheap, and with the relatively newly released analogue sequencer setting you back over one-and-a-half grand, the Modcan is only for those prepared to pay for extremely high quality gear.
- MOTM – synthtech.com: ‘Mother Of All Modulars’ are an established current producer of modular gear, providing modules pre-built (expensive) or as DIY packages (not quite so expensive). Complete systems are not sold as a whole, encouraging users to build and customize their own systems. The equipment itself is of good quality and sounds excellent, but the narrow selection of modules is somewhat limiting – making MOTM a good starting place for a modular synth, but a large system would soon need to expand into other module manufacturer for more features.
- Oakley – oakleysound.com: UK-based homebrew manufacturer ‘Oakley Modular’ have established themselves as a semi-popular provider of DIY modules for users to build themselves. As of late 2007, the company is releasing new modules for their current series, which look excellent and highly creative, including a discrete analogue filter, and an overdrive module. In future they should become a more popular supplier of modular synths, and increase their currently rather small user base.
- Synthesizers.com – synthesizers.com: At the start of the millennium, robotics genius Roger Arrick decided it would be a good idea to start producing imitation Moog Modular synth gear for everyone who missed it the first time. After a slightly shaky start, the ‘.com’ series of synthesizer modules has taken off, and have become the quintessential choice for those who want the sound and feel of classic Moog gear.
A somewhat uninspiring selection of modules are available at reasonable prices, but it would be nice to see some more exotic modules that weren’t part of the original Moog Modular range available – although the superb sequencer modules make up for this somewhat. Despite this, the systems are reliable and well-built, and include a great monthly payment plan for an introductory system if you’re a broke student like me.
- Wiard – wiard.com: ‘Wiard’ modular synthesizers have been around for a while now, and have established a reputation for sounding good, and being difficult to get hold of. They sport some creative modules on offer, and look stunning in PPG-style blue, but are very expensive – limited to the high-end market only unfortunately. Regardless, they are an excellent maker of modules to choose for a top quality system.
In conclusion, I would like to add that although there are more modular manufacturers out there, if you’re aware and conscious with intent to buy from them then you don’t really need to be reading this. These modular synths are all reliable, well–built, have excellent customer service, and above all sound good. For those who are new to the world of modular synths, I would recommend sticking to well-known companies such as ‘synthesizers.com’ and ‘Doepfer’, as they are an excellent basis for a solid foundation as a modular synthesizer due to having pre-built systems ready to go.