Interestingly, modular synthesis is not a new thing at all, but in fact the initial way of how synthesizers are technically made, with Moog and Buchla modular systems being the first commercial ones to be available.
Contrary to the hardwired one-piece unit with an attached keyboard we usually visualize in our heads when hearing the word synthesizer, modular synths, simply put, consist of individual modules that can be patched or routed together in countless different ways. But enough with the theory, let’s get creative with the following modular creations from the REAKTOR User Library.
The drone machine
Jan Ola Korte, the creator of this modular ensemble describes it as: “A drone machine – four Bento Box VCOs with a touch of sync and FM are fed into two instances of Michael Hetrick’s ‘Logic Mix’, creating beatings and lively disturbances with a wide stereo effect.”
Check out Lizard’s Logic here.
Abstract Wavetable synth
Richard Devine initially programmed this ensemble for a presentation at Native Sessions at Amsterdam Dance Event. It features multiple instances of wavetable generators paired with sequenced delay, reverb, and filter runs. A beautiful modular system “for creating melodic ‘other worldly’ textures”.
Check out DevineWaveTable Synth here.
A homage to Buchla
Trevor Gavilan based this ensemble’s layout on the famous Buchla 200 and 200e modular systems. “This ensemble has been created for fun having a Buchla resemblance and workflow for inspirational and educational purposes”. So it is not aiming to be a digital copy of it, but more kind of an homage to it and the inherent workflow.
Check Cloudlab 200t V2 here.
A Monark modular
A very hands-on and easy to understand modular set-up that also includes four external inputs for sequencers, audio, and external modulators.
The sound clip below is made using Oscillators from the MoMo Mk2, and the Noise generator connected to an ADSR, filter, VCA, and LFO – all tweaked live and being sequenced by a simple arpeggio from Logic, but it obviously works with any other source as well.
Check out MoMo Mk2 here.
Endless FM appreciation
Not exactly a modular synth, but very much sounding like a modular effect flagship is the FM Modular created by Doron Sadja. FM Modular is based on a Nord Modular synth patch and basically consists of two FM synths that are feedbacking into each other. The ultimate space and time soundtracking tool.
Check out FM Modular here.
Polyphonic monster machine
Due to being controlled by voltages instead of MIDI note inputs, real-life polyphonic synths are a rare breed amongst modular systems. Fortunately, we’re not bound to the limitations of the analogue world and can create polyphonic modular synths as well as para- or monophonic ones.
Check out RUHR here.
The new age ambient machine
Shiro Fujioka’s VoltageCntrl-We Rise is an instant sonic dreamland, modular patch created using REAKTOR Blocks. It includes ten snapshots (presets) to get you started and also offers the possibility to control your outboard gear with the included pitch and gate controls. Watch Fujioka control his 6U Eurorack with this patch here.
Check out VoltageCntrl-We Rise here.