Announced just a couple of days after Hydrasynth, Modal's new Argon8 is another digital wavetable-based eight-voice performance polysynth with a real-time waveform display, built-in arpeggiator, effects and mod matrix — but with its 37-note keyboard, it's slightly more compact and portable, and at £579$699, it will also retail for less than half the cost of ASM's synth, and thus caters to a slightly different market.
For Modal, too, Argon8 fills a price point gap in their range, which has hitherto covered the top end of the polysynth market fairly well with 2015's all-analogue 008 (£4000$5000), 2014's analogue/digital hybrid the 002 (£3500$4500), and its follow-up the cutdown 001 (£1600$2000). Since earlier this year, Modal have also been stirring up the entry-level synth market with the low-cost Skulpt (£269$299) and the staggeringly affordable CraftSynth2.0 (£129$149). According to company co-founder Philip Taysom, Argon8 also sits neatly in the middle of Modal's growing range in design terms, as it is based on the same core synth engine as Skulpt and CraftSynth2.0, and also incorporates some elements from the 00-series synths, such as the real-time sequencer, four-axis modulation joystick and some of the internal processing.
Despite the extensive features list (see the link below for detailed info), for Taysom, the important thing is the balance between capability and accessibility. “The Modal plan is to build innovative products that can be used to make soundscapes unlike anything you’ve ever heard... while still feeling like instruments,” he explains — and the new synth certainly looks very deep but still approachable, thanks to its control‑heavy user interface and the promised ModalApp (above), a software Editor that runs on Macs, PCs, Android or iOS phones or tablets — or as a plug-in under your DAW. Argon8 should be shipping before Christmas.