Modular Profile: Matthijs Munnik

By William Stokes

Since founding Cosmotronic along with Detlef Villerius in 2020, Dutch designer Matthijs Munnik has developed his products with all the diligent care and unerring passion one would hope for from a boutique Eurorack company. Cosmotronic’s designs often take the form of elegant sound‑sculpting tools, yet just as frequently deploy gloriously off‑kilter circuits to catapult patches into altogether uncharted territory. The company’s folio includes the side‑chained distortion Peradam, described by Cosmotronic as “a compressor’s twisted brother,” the formidable Vortex complex oscillator and most recently the generously functional Cosmix Pro mixer (reviewed last month), which ably demonstrates how Eurorack developers must stay both creative and light on their feet in the face of today’s onslaught of uncertainty; from component shortages to economic flux.

On his entry into modular

I was introduced to Eurorack some years ago by Jan Willem who runs Ginkosynthese, as we both have our workshops in the same building. He showed me the modules he had designed, and I soon ordered a couple of kits myself. That was the start of my first small system. At the time I was already building small drone pedals, circuit‑bending toys and tinkering with Lunetta circuits, but Eurorack opened up a whole new space of creative possibilities.

On the story of Cosmotronic

After a while I started designing my own modules; really bread and butter stuff, but it was super exciting to be able to make a module from scratch. I never designed these with the intention of releasing them, it was really just for fun and to learn about analogue electronics, and synthesis in general. The first module I designed that I felt confident enough about releasing was Delta‑V, a dual function generator with built‑in VCAs. Luckily the release got a good response — except for the panel design! Admittedly the panel was a love‑it‑or‑hate‑it type deal, and I’ve since adopted a more minimal aesthetic. From there I’ve been slowly designing and releasing new modules. I feel like there’s still a ton to learn and discover. Lately I’ve also been playing with the idea of releasing small runs of more experimental modules, since there are a lot of fun circuits I’ve designed that are currently still in the sketchbooks.

On his go‑to modules (aside from his own!)

I really admire Mutable Instruments, not only for the great modules — which I use quite a lot in my rack — but also because of Émilie Gillet’s amazing contributions to the DIY community. In a similar way I really enjoy NLC [Non Linear Circuits]: what an amazing collection of crazy ideas! I have built a small collection of NLC modules, and they are a lot of fun to patch. For sequencing I love the Westlicht Performer, which is just an incredible sequencer. I’m all for analogue design, but I enjoy having digital modules in the rack as well. For example the E‑RM Polygogo; that’s a great‑sounding module in my opinion, and a really interesting interface.

On the new Cosmix Pro mixer

The first version of Cosmix was quite popular, but unfortunately became another victim of the great chip shortage. That’s why I wanted to design a new mixer as its successor, and to add on some of the most requested features. This design adds performance‑friendly mute buttons, a stereo aux bus and return and has the jacks moved to the top. There are also expander connectors on the back to allow for future expanders, and I hope to add even more functions later that way.

I feel the modular scene is such a diverse and welcoming community. Within the Eurorack system there is space for all kinds of ideas and experiments, and creativity is rewarded.

On the culture of modular

I feel the modular scene is such a diverse and welcoming community. Within the Eurorack system there is space for all kinds of ideas and experiments, and creativity is rewarded. I think one of the key reasons is the comparatively low barrier of entry, because as a designer you don’t need to worry about an enclosure and a power supply. It’s possible to run a small batch of a module to see if it catches on, and that gives you a lot of design freedom.

I really feel like the Eurorack format is where most synthesis innovation is happening these days. And once things bloom there they start showing up in other hardware synths as well. It has been an interesting development as well to see Eurorack companies moving into hardware synths, for example the Intellijel Cascadia.

Published July 2023

From the same manufacturer