The future of Eurorack

What is the future of Eurorack in these uncertain times?

Let’s consider the slow planned retirement of Mutable Instruments, the recent announcement of WMD closing and the paucity of new modules on the market over the past 3 years due largely to chip shortages and changing financial conditions?

Add to this, the explosion of Eurorack has flooded us with every conceivable utility, filter clone, etc… the low hanging fruit is gone from an expansion point of view.

Is there much room for innovative new products in Eurorack or has it already reached its pinnacle?

I have never really explored modern DAW’s, so I’d be interested if there are currently any innovative things there that haven’t yet found their way to Eurorack?

Any ideas or insights?

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I don’t think that eurorack has hit a pinnacle, but I think there’s a few trends popping up recently, beyond people closing shop due to supply chain frustrations (among other things):

  • Developers like Toppobrillo and Monomer have been doing limited runs of their modules - not special editions, but presales on designs that there’s demand for, but maybe not a ton of it. We’re seeing this with companies like Moffenzeef and Chase Bliss, too, who are switching to this direct-to-consumer, tighter supply method of running their business. I think we’re going to see more of this from smaller developers in the short term
  • Behringer is still doing its Behringer thing, and I don’t see this ending anytime soon. But I wouldn’t be surprised if more of these lots-of-basic-modules-at-cheap-prices also keep popping up, like Cre8audio’s stuff. Not that that’s inherently a bad thing (Behringer’s questionable practices aside) - Cre8audio’s recent collabs with Pittsburgh are a great example of this. Pittsburgh, curiously, has also been doing more of the first bullet point, too
  • Stereo modules are in right now. I don’t feel like this has a ton of longevity from the standpoint of synthesis
  • Quietly, I think we’re seeing patch-programmability creeping back in, between Mutable’s Stages and Journalogue’s modules, the Sport Mod 2… This is almost an “extended technique” of the modular synthesizer in a way, and I think we’re going to see more of it

Where I think we’ll see eurorack improve or grow:

  • I think the attention on stereo processing could see eurorack transforming into an all-in-one recording rig that happens to be synth-focused, especially if the tools to work with stereo audio improve. There’s not a lot of, for example, affordable stereo EQ, for example. Mic preamps could use some revisiting, too. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say this could happen in a few years, and the modulation capabilities of a eurorack system could make some huge, meaningful contributions to music production overall
  • Logic could use more attention. There’s plenty of interesting modules out there, but the market is so focused on effects and oscillators and filters that control logic is a little overlooked. But there are plenty of great modules available, and there’s plenty of innovation in that space that can do way more than quantized random and drum triggers, not to mention giving a lunetta spin to eurorack
  • Looking back at historical module has actually brought us some cool new developments, whether it’s the Subharmonicon or Setonix’s variable bandwidth filter, Synthi oscillators coming to Buchla, Buchla coming to eurorack… This is probably the most exciting new development, not only because of the sudden accessibility of rare foundational instruments, but because so much innovation can be found by traveling a path passed in the past, and some people are actually exploring those paths

Keep in mind, I’m no industry expert by any means. I’ve just been here for a while and I read a lot

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hi and thank you for your insightful analysis. But for me the most important thing is the music and what the technology allows to compose.

From the point of view of synthesis maybe not. But from the point of view of sound and music, certainly.

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I guess the question regarding stereo is where in the chain is is best or appropriate to introduce stereo processing: the beginning, middle or the end?

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Yes, you are right. But I’m sorry I answered like that on this forum. This is more of a compositional issue than a technical issue. Maybe this is not the place to discuss this.
Anyway, thank you for the richness of the exchanges.

Compositionally speaking, logic, CMOS-style circuits, and patch programming have a tremendous amount of untapped and misunderstood potential. That ability to throw together patterns that can be anticipated but not thoroughly predicted, and then create ways to interrupt or interject, them is powerful and very useful, and attempts to improve access or performance of those approaches to the instrument could lead to a lot of interesting new musical ideas

Yes i think too.

Well there are certain formalities to be adhered to if you want to ensure stereo fidelity throughout your chain

I’m interested in where people think logic could be advanced beyond where it already stands in Eurorack?

Given that there are already modules which offer OR / NOR / AND / NAND / XOR / XNOR / MIN / MAX / flip flop / as well as various comparator functions and probability functions such as MI Branches (and some modules, eg: Plog, which allow you to switch between these logic types).

Aside from the way we personally implement logic in our patching, where do people think there is room to improve or innovate in logic modules?

Personally, my favourite is MI Branches in Latch mode.

I don’t have a lot of experience regarding the formalities of stereo processing. Are you referring here to the tendency of some ‘stereo’ modules to sum incoming stereo signals to mono and then create their own stereo signal. Or are you referring to something else?

So most analogue sound sources (oscillators) are inherently mono for the most part

There’s a ton of ways you can make a mono source stereo

Simply mono source (like a saw) into a stereo module like Beads for example creates a stereo output

So to sum Beads into a mono filter would lose all the stereo

But place the filter before beads and it will preserve the stereo chain

Or use a stereo filter after beads and preserve the stereo chain that way

I mean there’s lots of ways to “stereoise” but as soon as you initiate stereo in your chain it makes sense to maintain it

I hope that’s makes sense - I’m rambling and also a bit drunk :woozy_face:

Edit: I’m presuming you have a stereo output mixer. I have a Befaco hexmix. It’s six mono channel inputs but also three stereo inputs (alternate channels panned hard left and right) and most importantly a stereo master output

I agree, once you create a stereo image it makes no sense to sum it back to mono.

There has been a move towards stereo for some time now and therefore quite a lot of options for stereo processing already exist. I’d be interested to find out if there are any new stereo potentials in Eurorack that aren’t already catered for?

The experience of Stereo is many things

It could just mean panning certain things left or right to hear “less” or “more” of a certain instrument straight down the middle

Like in a classical band with a PA scenario where each instrument “has its place” in the stereo field

But that is quite an old concept

Even plain EQ is really interesting on a sound recorded in stereo when you treat either the left and right or more importantly the mid and sides differently

In stereo EQ and mid side balance come into play. You can do parallel processing and other really interesting things that you cannot do with a mono source and mono processing

When left and right channels are different sounds derived from the same source (eg. using a stereo mic technique) and being processed independently by a stereo effect (Beads, Rainmaker, Magneto… any stereo FX) then you hear the stereo

This gives a richness of depth, quality and organic nature that approximates how your ears “perceive” stereo

Do some stereo micing - it’s both revealing and rewarding

Just remember if you start in stereo it makes good sense to keep going with that in mind

Total rant… really drunk

What about quadraphonic? Is that a thing in Eurorack? It’s my understanding it’s big in Buchla, but I don’t know too much about that.

(Also a bit drunk)

There’s more than one thread about this on moddwiggler to be sure

Off the top of my head I know of two euro quad mixers

The discontinued Koma thing and the Erica Synths quad system

Quad certainly sounds cool but for anything other than ambient or “installation” music it can be messy

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I’m reminded of a band I saw once, can’t remember the name but they shared members with the mathrock band Cinemechanica. They would set up a guitar amp in each corner of a venue, drums in the center of the room, crowd like a doughnut around the drums. It was nuts.

I imagine something similar could be done with four PAs and a modularist or two in the center. The crowd in this hypothetical would also be able to see the front of the rigs which is cool.

A newer quadraphonic option in Eurorack is the Shakmat Aeolus line. The Aeolus Seeds provides mono-to-quad panning with modulation options, and the Aeolus Mixer mixes up to 3 quad and 2 stereo signals (or 5 stereo or mono signals) to quad and to 5.1.

And if you want basic synthesis operations applied to 4 signals, maybe take a look at the Doepfer “polyphonic” line of quad VCA, VCF, ADSR and oscillator, with common controls for all four channels.

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Regarding the future of Eurorack, this brings up a good point: polyphony. While there are currently many options for processing polyphony in Eurorack, those options are either:

  • patch intensive: effectively processing 3, 4, 5 etc. signals of oscillator, vcf, vca, etc. in parallel which is very tedious, time consuming and consumes a lot of module resources.

OR

  • basic: polyphony is achieved with less modules but with less control over parameters.

It would be nice to see an all in one polyphonic module similar to a polyphonic Plaits which has been discussed previously on this forum. It would be nice if it had in-built midi, filter, harmonic saturation, cv over parameters and individual outputs per voice.

Alternate firmware flashable modules definitely is a trend that is happening (and I like). The Versio, Legio and Starling platforms are three I can think of. This might slightly circumvent the chip issue as ‘new’ modules can be made using existing components.

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In my view the really big players, like Doepfer, will continue as they are, given that they have history and a large selection of products.

As for the rest I don’t see much future for any company that just churns out more-of-the-same. The innovators will innovate, but sadly the prices that they have to charge for their wares will skyrocket.