Every year modular developers are faced with the challenge of outdoing themselves with ever more inventive and useful modules. Some opt for tried and tested functions but with a certain angle or special sauce drizzled on top, some aim to encourage fresh approaches and some seek to expand the capabilities of a system into other realms completely.
The last year has been a difficult one, with parts shortages, economic woes and political upheaval — not to mention the fallout from the Covid pandemic either exacerbating or precipitating all of the above. Nevertheless, 2022 has seen some fantastic products released from developers the world over. From 3D audio to sequencing powerhouses and ratcheting madness, here is a rundown of the best modules we covered in 2022.
ALM/Busy Circuits have certainly lived up to their name, with a host of excellent modules released this year. The Tyso Daiko is an exceptionally flexible drum module capable of pulsing kick drums, clanging metallic tones, punchy snares and even melodic synth lines. It can fold, filter, accent or ‘choke’ its output, create a faux‑delay effect and much more. Excellent stuff.
SOS said: “The Tyso Daiko is fantastic. It presents a sophisticated palette of drum synthesis excellence while keeping the crucial element of fun completely intact; one small parameter change might reveal characteristics you never knew were there and open up worlds of sonic possibility.”
One of a flurry of all‑analogue modules released by Expert Sleepers this year, which also included a mightily impressive filter, phaser and oscillator, the Persephone is a VCA that you will go back to again and again. Not only does it feature a beautiful‑sounding, highly drivable discrete JFET circuit, it also boasts an onboard asymmetry switch and a zero‑cross detector, which serves to musically eliminate clicks and pops when modulating signals.
SOS said: “I genuinely cannot fault the Persephone for its functionality or for its scope [...]. Overall, and I do not say this lightly, the Persephone is probably the best small‑format VCA I have come across in Eurorack.”
Modbap Modular’s oscillator manages to cram an astonishing amount of wavetabling goodness into a modest 16HP. Boasting four banks of 32 wavetables, each containing 32 waveforms, it also offers a Timbre Mode to bend, fold and sync your wavetable however you wish. A sub‑oscillator with its own volt‑per‑octave input expands the Osiris’ functionality considerably, while a Fidelity knob, also CV‑controllable, allows its output signal to be turned from crisp 96Hz all the way down to junkyard lo‑fi.
SOS said: “Osiris is a different class of Eurorack oscillator. It somehow manages to sound fabulous whatever you try to do with it. What really impressed me though was how creatively expressive it can be without being remotely complicated. Bravo.”
Another developer to bring forth not just one but several impressive contributions this year, California’s Qu‑Bit Electronix outdid themselves with the Cascade, a ratcheting envelope generator, VCA and sound source all packed into a neat 10HP. Be it rhythmic repeats, multimode enveloping or even 808‑style drum sounds, the Cascade packs a punch.
SOS said: “A perfect demonstration of neat and clever design. Add in the additional sound sources, compression and envelope follower, and you’ve got a useful multi‑function module, which does not feel bloated or cumbersome in operation.”
The kind of module that can turn your system’s mildly interesting stereo image into a swirling, whirling experience of immersive audio, the Quasar can augment the sonic image of your patches in incredible ways. A pretty‑looking module to boot, it uses a combination of panning, level, frequency content, phase‑shifting and reverberation to give the impression of sounds moving around the listener’s head in a three‑dimensional, binaural space.
SOS said: “Having analogue synth leads fly around your head is quite intoxicating. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I do. It’s one of those modules that can add some special sauce to just about any signal ‑ highly recommended.”
Barcelona‑based Endorphin.es has had a lot to deal with over 2022, with Ukrainian co‑founder Julia Bondar no doubt feeling the weight of concern for her home country amid its current ordeal. The developers have nonetheless produced some phenomenal modules of late, not least their flagship sequencer, the Ground Control, which, despite being announced as far back as 2019, hit its stride this year. With three separate gate and pitch tracks and a drum track with eight separate trigger outputs and its own keyboard — not to mention MIDI and USB compatibility — the Ground Control is begging to be the hub for your entire system.
SOS said: “Very impressive indeed. Endorphin.es have endeavoured to come up with a module that capably rubs shoulders with Eurorack’s star sequencers, and they have succeeded. After leaving it patched in even for a short while, I honestly wasn’t sure how I ever worked without it.”