Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later, wasn’t it …

I’ve been desperately avoiding modular synths for a long time now even though I’ve found myself drawn to them as have many of my friends been. But when I was in Berlin at Ableton’s Loop festival in November I bumped into an old friend, Tom Whitwell. You might remember Tom from Music Thing, and now Music Thing Modular. Tom had this device with him.

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Not the bela being presented, but the tiny little lunchbox modular on the table. Here’s a close up.

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This little device totally captivated me. I thought it was awesome, and it’s battery powered too. Tom very kindly put me in touch with the maker of the lunchbox modular. You can find his site here. It’s well worth a look.

Very kindly, the maker of the lunchbox modular has sent me one, and now I’m on the start of what I’m told will be a very long journey.

The lunchbox modular is a beautiful little device and I’m looking forward to adding my first modules to it soon.

I’ll be sharing my journey as I go. Wish me luck!

Are modulars getting smaller, and is it important?

Modulars are hugely popular right now, but, so far, as far as I’m aware, there isn’t a really mobile version, and you might ask, why you would you want one. That’s probably a good question, and one that could only really be answered once someone has created a really compelling mobile modular.

For now I’m interested in talking about some of the smaller modulars that are appearing at the moment. Like the AE Modular on Kickstarter right now.

This is a smaller format than Eurorack and is not compatible either, so it’ll be interesting to see if it takes off and gets adopted by other manufacturers. It’s passed its funding goal so it’s going to happen, but where it goes from there will be the real test.

Another similar development is the Erica Synths Pico Modular System, which is Eurorack compatible, but is just nice and small and tidy. This actually looks pretty cool and quite a lot of fun, and also as a nice way to get into modular in a compact format.

Of course there are other ways to get into modular. You could just use one of the many excellent modular apps for iOS, like Audulus, Model 15, Reactable ROTOR, or the excellent zMors Modular for example. If nothing else then these are very good ways to keep a modular synth in your pocket at all times.

But for many the app route isn’t quite enough, and they’d prefer a real modular that can be portable. Well, there is one. When I was at Loop earlier in the month I bumped into Tom Whitwell from Music Thing Modular, and he showed me this.

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And this is battery powered and very portable. He called it a lunchbox modular, and it was very cool.

Is it the shape of things to come? I’m not sure. I think that there’s still a space for a modular that is battery powered and portable but perhaps that doesn’t look like what we have now.

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