Dear AE Modular community,
While so many businesses struggled during the pandemic I am happy to report that tangible waves has not just survived, but flourished. The demand for AE Modular systems and modules is steadily increasing and the business has now become “big” enough to not only pay for my own wage, but also for two employees. Both Benedikt and Antonia are now full time employees and are busy every day, assembling modules and packing and shipping orders. That leaves me some time again to design and build new modules and today I release another batch which you can read all about further below. We also work as hard as we can to shorten the long waiting times which have been exacerbated this year as global air mail services struggled to deliver packages in the usual time. Nonetheless, we have now reduced the wait times for most orders to between 6 - 8 weeks, which is an improvement, but of course we want to decrease this even further over the next few months as our processes improve. But it’s not all work and drudgery, as you can see in the photo below we also have a lot of fun while working.
But as our business grows so does the community. It fills me with so much joy to see the AE system being used with so much skill and enthusiasm and very supportive messages from so many of my customers. Another, still incredible support I must mention here is Carsten aka “The 5th Volt”; without his incredible contribution to the forum, his demo videos, his tremendous organizational support -to name a few - AE modular wouldn’t be where it is now. THANKS CARSTEN! It’s this enthusiasm and positivity in our AE community that makes this my best job ever and I am so thankful to all of you that make it possible for me to live my dream!
- Greetings from Robert, Antonia and Benedikt
Special Christmas Discount
To celebrate the end of a difficult year and to reward all of you who have stayed with us and have encouraged us to keep going, we want to offer a special Christmas discount.
Please use the following code XMAES-2020 to receive 10% off your order (does not include shipping).
This discount code is valid from today the 18th through to the 31st of December!
Amidst all the work of getting orders out of the door and into so many new hands, there was still time to design, prototype and finish many new modules just in time for Christmas. Some of those have been teased before on Facebook, but now they are here and you can order them from the online store!
This module not only shows you the level of an incoming signal, but also serves as an oscilloscope which displays the waveform of a continuous signal, eg. from an oscillator. It’s perfect for learning synthesis and looks cool in your case. Beyond the oscilloscope function, it has a few other operation modes:
The METER module is now available here in our online store.
Finally we can produce that sound of the 70’s with this module which gives any sound this unique phase shifting effect.
The PHASER module is now available here in our online store.
This module has been long anticipated and is a crucial piece for performing artists using the AE Modular in a live session or recording. This mixer has 4 channels with individual volume and panning. The 2 send and returns for effects can go out to external effect pedals and can be adjusted independently for each channel. This mixer is also a 4 channel VCA because the volume for each channel can be controlled via CV.
The MIXCONSOLE module is now available here in our online store.
This is an extension module which connects to the MIXCONSOLE via a special cable at the back. It adds 3 additional channels to the MIXCONSOLE. The best part is that you can chain as many of these modules as you want!
The MIXCONSOLE/3CH module is now available here in our online store.
This module has two unbalanced ¼ inch TRS sockets for sending audio out to a mixing desk or recording device.
The OUTPUT module is available in our online store very soon!
This module is very similar to the OUTPUT module, but instead of unbalanced TRS jacks it comes with balanced XLR output ports.
The XLROUT module is available in our online store very soon!
For lovers of faders instead of knobs - this module has the exact same functionality as the 4ATT/MIX module but instead of 4 knobs it comes with faders!
The 4ATTMIX/FDR module is now available here in our online store.
We now offer the rack cases of all sizes with optional wooden sides/fronts! You can choose between a dark Walnut or a light Bamboo.
Availeble here in our online store.
Also, the 4-row case is now available! Room for 80 units of AE modules in one box. Available in the standard version with red sides and also in two types of wood.
Availble in the shop very soon.
As the AE systems are growing more and more, the longer patchwires are necessary. To take this into account, we have added a new type with 80cm length.
now available here in our online store
And … New Knobs!!
Some have complained in the past about the tiny, fiddly knobs and there were a few suggestions on the forum about knob cabs that can be found on ebay and other such places. Robert went on an exploration himself and has finally decided to design his own knobs which are now produced en masse in China especially for the AE Modular format!
From now on all modules will come with these knobs pre-installed! But you can also order the knobs separately and upgrade your existing system; available in packs of 10 or 50.
Available in our store: pack of 10 KNOBS or pack of 50 KNOBS
Tobias was helping me out with the fulfilment of orders last year and he has started to design hand painted faceplates, which will be available in very limited numbers in the shop. You can see some here:
Third Party Modules
This year has also seen the first modules from independent manufacturer Wonkystuff. The matrix mixer mm33 and random sequencer rbss are two wonderful modules that should be in everyone’s case. John from Wonkystuff chose to make the faceplates from PCB material which allowed him to choose different colours.
You can buy those modules directly at the Wonkystuff website: https://wonkystuff.net/product-category/hardware/ae-modular/
2nd Community Album - AEtherwaves vol. 2
After the success of the first community album in 2019 the community made it happen again and released AEtherwaves vol. 2, this time with only 100% AE Modular sounds and a whopping total of 26 tracks. It’s amazing to hear so much talent on one album. Big thank you to everyone who participated!
If you haven’t heard it yet, please check it out at
Again all proceeds from sales to a not for profit organisation. This year it goes to Musicians without Borders, a fantastic group that organises youth music programs in regions that are dealing with the aftermath of war and violence, Rwanda, Palestine, Northern Ireland, Kosovo. The vision is to heal the spiritual wounds through music! Please visit their website to learn more about their programs and how to support them:
AE Modular at Synthbooth 2020
While tangible waves couldn’t be at Superbooth this year we were really happy to be invited to the all virtual online SynthBooth 2020 event in October. It was superbly organised with a host of very informative and engaging online discussions, online performances and times for chatting with people on the built-in chat rooms.
We also streamed a live presentation via Zoom which was well received. You can watch the recording here:
News from the AE Modular Community
The AE Modular community is just amazing! Not only is the forum growing every month and new and regular members come and share their thoughts, their ideas and their music, but two other communication channels became really busy as well, the Discord channel and Facebook, but more about those further below.
A huge THANK YOU to everyone who has been part of the AE community, however long or short. Your presence and participation, your ideas and enthusiasm is what makes all of this so special. The AE Modular system would not be where it is today without you!
We thought and hoped that 2020 would be the year for DIY with the introduction of the BRAEDBOARD and the DIY module. While these modules did see some sales throughout the year, we haven’t yet seen anyone do something with it. Probably next year we’ll kick things into gear with a competition to get people thinking about cool circuits that can be implemented with the BRAEDBOARD.
However the AE community has always been fond of tinkering and DIY and the corresponding sub-board on the forum is abuzz with crazy and beautiful ideas:https://forum.aemodular.com/board/8/diy-building
Faceplates decorated with paper are taking us back to the 70’s where the early Serge systems used this cheap and easy method. But these designs look really beautiful:
This total conversion project by Bradaddle has been going on for quite some time, but it is now relatively complete and looks absolutely amazing, again with some very special faceplate designs:
Simple DIY Low Pass Gate - User tarcreeper has shared the prototype of his design which might be a cool idea to try with the BRAEDBOARD module:
A very accurate BPM clock - this was just posted yesterday by new forum member Onkelhoste. It is a BPM clock run by an Arduino which gives out clock speeds from 20-400 BPM! Check it out: https://forum.aemodular.com/thread/1132/bpm-masterclock
Tea-Light controlled randomness - this looks like a fun project that turns the AE Modular into a light show just in time for the season:
New Talent and Music
So many new artists have emerged on to the AE “Scene” with new Youtube videos, hour long live sessions and full albums .. all done with the AE Modular. New music is now being published daily and it’s hard to keep up as it’s being released on Instagram, Facebook, Discord and the Forum.
Here is a selection of recent releases, in no particular order and as always, this is really only a small collection and I leave it to you to discover the other many great contributions that have been advertised on the forum.
Please visit https://forum.aemodular.com/board/5/ae-music-performances to see and hear more of the incredible talent that is present in our community!
Discord and Facebook
Slowscape has set up and is now managing the “official” AE Modular Discord server and it is growing daily. There are now many different sub channels to cater for topics like DIY, Inspiration, General Chat and also a Sell & Trade channel.
It is much faster paced than the forum and if you’re not participating daily you may miss out on a few discussions, but it’s a great place to hang out and chat or get answers quickly.
To everyone who’s on Discord I would like to ask you though, please also post your creations or cool things that you do with the AE back in the forum. Discord is not for everyone and the forum is a more permanent medium with a wider reach.
You can join the Discord channel by following the invite link in this post:
What will 2021 bring?
The AE System is now entering its 4th year of existence and is slowly “growing up” to become a “proper” musical instrument which can take it up with Eurorack and other modular and semi modular synthesizers. Although there are now almost 60 different modules available and the first third-party modules appear on the market, there is no end in sight of what needs to be developed. It will take years before all the modules are built that we want to build.
Hopefully the pandemic will be reined in with the availability of a vaccine and live meetups will be allowed again. It would be fantastic to meet some of you at Superbooth 2021, if this will actually happen!
Whatever happens, please stay safe, stay healthy and keep patching!
All the best,
Robert and Carsten.
I was very surprised and pleased when I received an email late last year from one of my favourite synthesizer creators, Paula Maddox, enquiring information about the AE Modular system. Paula is an incredible synth designer and is probably best known for starting the Modal company and creating the much coveted synthesizers, the Modal 002, Modal 001 and Modal 008 which were years ahead of the competition in terms of capabilities at the time.
Being no longer involved with Modal, she started another company Dove-Audio which has released two amazing Wavetable modules for Eurorack and 5U formats, the WTF (Window Transform Function oscillator) and the Waveplane oscillator. It was this technology that she wanted to bring to the AE Modular system and I was thrilled to be working with her on this vision. You can find more information about Paula and Dove-Audio on her website at https://dove-audio.com/
I am now very happy to release the new WAVETABLES module, the product of a very fruitful cooperation between tangible waves and Dove-Audio.
The WAVETABLES module is a high quality sound module based on the wavetable technology first heard on the PPG range of synthesisers. There are a number of different tables each with their own unique sound, from very gentle, though vocal sounds, into rich bell like tones to harsh digital tones.
It offers the following features:
This is the first of a series of modules that introduce a high level of digital synthesis to the AE modular palette. WAVETABLES works with a 32-bit microcontroller and 16-bit audio output. Therefore the price is higher than the average AE module, but still very affordable for the quality.
Many thanks for Felix from The Tuesday Night Machines for making the following amazing and comprehensive introduction video:
This module is now available for purchase in the shop.
I seem to be apologizing in almost every post about the wait times, and again I can only say that I’m sorry that it takes so long for some of your orders to get assembled and delivered. Especially now that the shipping is often delayed as well due to the global restrictions. Antonia, Benedikt and I have certainly been very busy going through the hundreds of orders and sending out dozens every day, but there is only so much we can do, so I really appreciate your patience.
I have also been busy developing a row of new modules, some of which of you have been eagerly anticipating for quite some time. All of these new modules are in the shop, in stock and ready to ship!
The number of available modules for the AE system has now grown to 52!
The 2CVTOOL offers two units for offset and -/+ attenuation for CV signals, also known as “attenuverter”. This can be useful for all kinds of modulation purposes.
More information can be found in the shop.
The POLAMIX is similar to the 2CVTOOL in that you can offset and -/+ attenuate CV signals, but it also acts as a 3 channel mixer. Try to use this with 3 LFOs for modulation mayhem!
More information can be found in the shop.
The FMOS is a new digital oscillator that brings FM synthesis to the AE modular! It offers the basic FM synthesis with one oscillator and one modulator, running both with sine waves or triangle waves. The modulation depth and frequency ratio of the modulator can be set with a knob and additionally by CV control. If you want pure sine waves, this is for you too - simply set the modulation level to 0.
More information can be found in the shop.
The SAWVOX module is a “complete” synth voice with two sawtooth oscillators, a filter and a VCA, all realised digitally with a tiny 8-bit microcontroller. The oscillators are detuned by a fixed rate to get a fatter sound, and can be switched to a single oscillator. Of course, due to the limited resources of the processor, the sound has the typical 8-bit lofi charm… But the CV tracking is quite fine, and it can find its place in a lot of patches. All parameters can be CV controlled, like filter frequency and resonance.
More information can be found in the shop.
The long anticipated ADSR module offers a 4 stage envelope that is not only loopable (patch the end output into gate input) but also accepts CV control over each of the stages!
More information can be found in the shop.
The QUANTIZER has also been long in the making and finally it’s available! There are 4 independent channels that are quantized to the same scale that is selected by an encoder and shown in a text display. As an additional feature, the module provides a trigger signal for each channel on every change on the output CV.
More information can be found in the shop.
The SEQ8 is very similar to the SEQ16, but instead of 16 steps it only has 8 steps, is half the size and doesn’t have the note repeat function. Otherwise it functions the same way and is a great companion to the new QUANTIZER module.
More information can be found in the shop.
The 4BUFFER module is a buffered multiple of 1 in to 2 out, with the option to chain the 4 channels together to create a total of 8 outputs for one input. Buffered multiples have the advantage over the normal passive mults in that there are no voltage drops across the signal path. As the AE system matures into more precision regarding oscillator tracking etc. this is a helpful utility for various situations.
More information can be found in the shop.
News from the Forum
The forum has become a very busy place and it’s really great to see new people joining almost every other day and being welcomed and assisted with their queries by the accommodating “old-timers” of the forum.
There is a big focus on the DIY section with some very interesting projects:
Stands and Cases
There seemed to be a drive to either improve on the existing AE cases or to build stands that would hold bigger systems. Here are the most prominent examples.
Rodney's mobile carry case
Bert’s cardboard stand
Krakenkraft’s Funky Acrylic Stand
New GRAINS Firmware
The GRAINS module is a clone of the Eurorack module of the same name by Jan Willem from Ginkosynthese and as such can use the firmwares that are available from that website.
However Mathias (aka VisuelleMusik) is a gifted software developer and dove straight in to develop his own firmwares specifically for the AE GRAINS module. These are now available from a dedicated Github repository: https://github.com/aemodular/GRAINS
If you have the GRAINS module, you should definitely check them out, they are really fun and interesting to play with. And looking at the code, who knows. You might want to develop your own firmwares soon? If you do, please let Carsten (@admin) know!
AE Modular Discord Chat Server
Thanks to Slowscape there is now a chat server where you can chat with other AE Modular fans in real time (if you are in the right timezone). The discussions there are not replacing the forum at all, but are of more ephemeral in nature and therefore a great complement and service to the AE Modular community.
You can find out all about it here:
AE Modular Performances
The most amazing part of the AE Modular community is its artists. Almost every day there is a new video or Soundcloud link to another fabulous track made mostly with the AE Modular system and this is what inspires me most in my daily work to get those systems delivered to you.
Carsten has started a dedicated page on the Wiki to promote all of you who are making music with the AE Modular. Please get in contact with him for details on how you can be listed on that page:
There are also some “newcomers” that are contributing now regularly to this list of performances. Here is only a short selection, but please do go to the forum and savour all the posts, they are all delicious!
Black Warrior Lures
User @funbun has only recently acquired his AE system and is now using it to score his incredible and successful videos about his fishing adventures on his YouTube channel. Even if you’re not into fishing, these videos are beautifully made and give you some time to breathe and reflect.
Collaborative works from Four57 & Slowscape
Users @slowscape and @four57 have started an online collaboration in which one sent the other a track and the other had to finish it and vice versa. This might be the beginning of more such collaborations and also now has its own channel on the new Discord Chat server.
Also new to the forum and the AE system, user @martynaudio has debuted his first tracks which are very musical and demonstrate how the AE can be sequenced from the Reaper DAW. The second track features the Solina module which is modulated by the SEQ16, a very neat trick!
Both user @101 and @four57 are experts at making breakbeats and breakcore with the AE system, albeit with different twists:
User @bradaddle aka DBSCM who has also been a part of the AEtherwaves album last year, has delivered a really nice track again after a longer hiatus. A great comeback!
Microscopic Polar Bears
User @gaetan, who is also the developer of the wonderful AE Modular Grid has taken samples from Hainbach’s “Isolation Loops” and processed them through the AE Modular in this track:
Dear AE Modular friends,
The last two months have been a strange and challenging time for all of us as we are locked in our homes in our respective countries and watch as this unprecedented global crisis unfolds around and among us. I hope that you are doing well and my best wishes go out to all of you for the health of yourselves and your loved ones!
But being stuck at home can be a chance as well to pursue your passion or learn new things. One thing that I’ve noticed on the forum lately is, that the DIY section has become incredibly more active over the last few weeks and I’m amazed by the inventiveness of the presented designs.
So, just in time for Superbooth@home 2020, I am very happy to announce a new line of modules that I have wanted to make for a long time, but somehow never got around to as I was expanding the sonic range of the AE Modular system. However the main reason I started this whole project was because I love to build circuits in 0-5V and I wanted to make a system where anyone, who knows a bit of electronics, can get in and make their own modules easily. The DIY-Module has been listed on the page of upcoming modules since the start of the tangible waves website and has served as a constant reminder of the roots of this system, but sometimes you have to come back home via a long detour and that’s how it went with this module.
Introducing the BRAEDBOARD Module
First let’s cover the prototyping stage of module design. As we develop circuits we don’t want to solder things together from the start, as it would be very time consuming to fix any mistakes. Instead we usually prototype a circuit on a breadboard and only when the circuit is working fine, do we solder it in place.
To make it even more easy for you to prototype your DIY designs, there is now the BRAEDBOARD Module! In the package there is a bunch of electronic components (resistors and capacitors of different values, LEDs, different ICs that are common in synth circuits, transistors, diodes, potentiometers, switches) that you can use for a few simple projects to get you going with building analog music circuits. And if you have mastered the beginnings, you can start building more complex designs. I’m hoping to have a catalog of various DIY projects listed with build instructions on the Wiki in the near future.
This module is now available for purchase in the online shop here.
Progress your designs with the DIY Module
Once you are happy with a design on the breadboard you might want to take it to the next level and turn it into a “proper” module. This is where the new DIY module comes handy. It is a kit consisting of faceplate, potentiometers,, switches, LEDs, sockets, spacers and two blank PCBs that you can solder onto any circuit you want.
So you can make your own AE style module; just bring your own solder iron and a wire cutter to the party!
The DIY kit is available for purchase here.
I hope you will enjoy these two modules and I’m looking forward to your creations, please post them on the forum!
With warm greetings from me and the team here at tangible waves, please stay indoors, stay safe and produce great music or another module!
The newest edition of the German synthesizer magazine SynMag has a very detailed article the AE Modular system and interview with me. Please check it out!
This is an interview in the series of "Content Spotlights" which used to be infrequent and longer posts on the AE Modular Forum that showcase an artist's work and their thoughts about the AE Modular Synthesizer. Due to the length and formatting challenges of the forum editor I have decided to rather post them here on the tangible waves blog from now on.
- Carsten (forum @admin)
The community of AE Modular enthusiasts is quite diverse and it shows in the different topics that are being discussed in the forum. The community is also in constant flux as is normal with online communities in this age of fast flowing information and a myriad of competing streams clamouring for our attention. The membership of the Forum can be roughly categorised into the following groups (even though this is by no means a complete list of categories and most people fall into more than one category):
Andy is one of those Wizards and this spotlight is long overdue!
In his forum signature Andy proclaims to have been a lifelong student of Berlin School music, which is reflected in his towering presence in the forum and authority of all aspects of electronic music. Just by looking at the sheer volume of his contributions you can see that the forum wouldn’t be the same without him.
It’s not just quantity, but he answers questions in great detail, puts out ideas and challenges our conceptions. Here is a tiny and almost random selection of his contributions to the forum:
He also took part in creating some of the Patch Challenges, to which I would invite all of our newer members to participate even though they are now “over” they are still good exercises to get out of your comfort zone and try something new with your gear. You can find the list of all patch challenges here: http://forum.aemodular.com/board/14/patch-challenges
But his greatest contribution to our community would be his work on the mastering and subsequent release and administration of our very first collaborative Album “AEther Waves Vol.1” which featured 14 tracks from 14 artists from our community each with very different styles and approaches. Andy made sure that each track sounded great not just individually but also in the whole of the mix.
I have no idea where he finds the time, but after writing on the forum he still creates music in two related but still quite different genres.
He makes solo music via The Soviet Space Dog Project, which started as a way for him to explore his desire to make music in a very confined space and with a new set of instruments. Having built and used two large studios, he wanted to see what he could do with less equipment and in a faster, more live environment.
Soon, he was making a lot of longer-form ambient pieces, so he started to put those out (anonymously) via The Ambient Fish Society. This really did feature a lot of what the AE Modular could do live and was fun to make and he hopes that it’s also fun to listen to.
But enough of singing his praises … let’s let Andy speak for himself!
How did you hear about AE Modular for the first time?
Around June 2018, my mind got to thinking about how nice it would be to have a modular synthesizer for some super-fun noodling. I was at a point in my life where I was only buying equipment that could give me something different within a very small studio setup. I’d had larger setups at various times in my life, but now it was time for something small, effective and fun. A small modular setup looked like it would fit the bill, although I had prepared myself for it to be expensive.
A quick bit of googling and soon I had located some articles about this Tangible Waves format, a “Modular for the Masses” no less. Looking back at the articles now I can see that they featured demonstrations by no less than Tuesday Night Machines himself. http://www.synthtopia.com/content/2018/06/27/tangible-waves-intros-modular-for-the-masses/
After a bit more reading and looking at what I could get for my money compared to a Eurorack system, the decision was quite easy. The AE Modular appeared to tick the small, effective and fun boxes. The order went in and the waiting began.
When it arrived, it came on the same day, and via the same carrier, as the autobiography by Edgar Froese (deceased Tangerine Dream founder). As I said when I introduced myself on the Forum, the two packages were the same physical size and weight. This says a lot about the portability of the AE Modular and the quality of the book.
What is your favourite style of music? Would the AE system fit this style?
I like many different styles of music, although my real love is definitely what’s often called Berlin School Electronic Music. Whilst I’m not keen on the classification of music, that’s the name it’s usually given. I don’t particularly like classification as not only is it often artificial but it also can stifle growth and innovation when something no longer fits the imposed straitjacket – in my opinion, of course.
[Aside: I used to be involved in an online discussion forum called GoldTri, which was a contraction of Golden Triangle. The concept was that “good” music sat within a Golden Triangle, with a specific definition at each point of the triangle. Music could only be “good” if it was contained within those tight definitions. As you can imagine, it didn’t take too long before the arguments raged… and raged. Somehow we managed to issue two compilation albums before the whole thing imploded, with quite a lot of acrimony. So, I’m not keen on classifying music after that. We moved on and created another discussion space called Beyond_EM that accepted that there could be music beyond those boundaries. You can find more information about the two compilation albums here: https://www.discogs.com/label/234451-Stonker-Productions]
With that in mind, I would consider Berlin School Electronic Music to be what artists such as Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze were creating in the early 1970’s in West Berlin as they moved away from traditional instruments (guitar, bass & drums) and towards these new synthesizers that were being created. The traditional instruments were still there for a while, but augmented. It’s interesting that two of the greatest exponents of the sequencer (a key part of Berlin School) were both drummers – Klaus Schulze for Tangerine Dream and Ash Ra Tempel, and Chris Franke for Agitation Free.
Another key player for me was Manuel Gottsching, who is a guitar player (Ash Ra Tempel) who ventured into the wonderful world of synthesizers, but not without first creating “Inventions for Electric Guitar” on the way in 1974; an album that hugely influenced what I wanted to do with a guitar.
Not only did the technology drive the music that was being created, allowing the creation of inter-weaving sequencer lines to create some driving rhythms, it was also being driven by the people who wanted more from the technology. There was a symbiosis being created between the technology and the music.
I first heard Berlin School Electronic Music in about 1977 when a friend lent me his big brother’s copy of “Rubycon” by Tangerine Dream. The sound and the feelings that the music evoked have never left me. Does the AE Modular fit this style of music…? Absolutely and completely. When I sit down with my AE Modular, I feel the spirit of adventure that must have filled those early pioneers.
I find the The AE Modular to be a blank canvas with many possibilities – it can create ambience, it can create sequences, it can even create some great lead lines. Being monophonic, I still rely on a few other instruments to bring that wider polyphonic sound into play, much like those early players did using organs, pianos and the proto-sampler, the Mellotron (although sadly not a real one).
Even the initial range of modules that came with my two-row starter rack was more than enough to get sounds that equalled some of those being created in the early- to mid-70’s. With the addition of the on-board SEQ16, I was able to do almost everything within the modular. As the range of filters continues to grow (I like filters), we have a continually increasing palette of analogue manipulation in a very small package.
To gain access to a greater range of oscillator base sounds I have added a Bastl Kastle to my setup, which has opened a door onto some fantastic ambient soundscapes - it is like adding a complex oscillator. Being fully compatible with the AE Modular, the Bastl Kastle interfaces at the patch lead level, enabling cross-patching and a lot of control.
In summary, with careful sound creation, combined with sequencing, the AE Modular is immensely capable of sitting at the centre of a setup for Berlin School music - and most styles of Electronic Music, to be honest..
How did you get started with making electronic music?
After hearing, and loving, music like Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze, as well as more “mainstream” music like Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, I had a yearning to make my own version of it. I bought a cheap guitar, amp and a couple of pedals and also eventually an ARP synth (from the London Synthesiser Centre) at the very end of the 70’s and I started making some noise. I didn’t understand about things like reverb, but I quickly learned that one of those tape-based delay machines (mine was a Wem Copicat bought second-hand) made a big difference to sounding more like what I heard on the records.
I would simply play along to all of my favourite records, sometimes even in the right key…!!! I also had a friend who had ARP and Yamaha synths, so we started making our own Tangerine-flavoured Dreams in his garage. Somewhere there are some dreadful cassette tapes waiting to embarrass me.
Moving into the 80’s, I was able to buy some of the excellent Roland equipment that was coming out (SH-101, TR-606, TB-303, MC-202, etc.). I was a student, but I got a job both to help fund my studies and also to feed my addiction to synths. In the end, I sold all but the TR-606 (not sure why I kept that one, but I still have it, in pristine condition) and bought a Roland polysynth – the JX3P. I used this for my final year degree project, where I built my own MIDI interface that fitted inside a giant S-100 bus, Z80-based crate in the laboratory, just like the Crumar GDS system that my hero Klaus Schulze was using (although I didn’t know that at the time). Having got the hardware working, I set about writing a simple sequencer in Z80 Assembly Language (that dates me). Somehow, I got it all working and demonstrated it to the amusement of the academics assessing me.
Towards the end of the 80’s I lost some faith in the style of Electronic Music that I loved. It just wasn’t sounding the way I liked it, it was becoming much more computer-based repetitive and a bit samey (not in the good way that it had been). So, at this time, I switched to just guitar for a while, playing in a Blues band around London. Luckily, I didn’t have much of a worry about improvising – something that has stayed with me.
This is about getting started, so I’ll stop there. This all lead me into playing with some like-minded European friends in a band called Kubusschnitt and together we had some fun (and not so fun) times.
Your name is also connected to the band Kubusschnitt who are also present on Bandcamp and at some time toured and played live. Could you tell us a bit more about your involvement with the band and how that influenced your musical “career”?
Back in the mid-90’s, there was a mailing list devoted to Tangerine Dream discussion (Tadream), which was originally hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Parkside (UWP). This list was the place to discuss Tangerine Dream and also the music being created by a number of gifted newcomers, who were creating the new wave of Berlin School, which had pretty much blended into New Age music by then. In 1996, there was even a members’ cassette put together, “Network-388”.
It was through this mailing list that I met (physically) a lot of people with whom I’m still in contact now – this included the other three members of what would become Kubusschnitt. There were four of us: Tom Coppens (from Belgium), Ruud Heij (from The Netherlands), Jens Peschke (from Germany) and me, Andy Bloyce, (from the UK). Our backgrounds were very different, as was our musical equipment and we started to share ideas via CDRs posted to each other.
We still had to actually meet, of course and the Electronic Music Festivals in The Netherlands provided an excellent way of meeting face-to-face and the first meeting was at what was to be the final KLEMdag in 1997. It was a fantastic day, with Ashra topping the bill in an excellent fashion. Chuck Van Zyl (the host of the long running radio show "Star's End") was also at that one, and I remember him being treated like a Rock Star as he was walking around, with the hushed talk of, “That’s Chuck Van Zyl”. He was, and is, a lovely guy, but he was a name and we were in awe.
As I said, we shared ideas and rough sketches by sending CDRs through the post and then playing with them to build up ideas, but it really came alive when we managed to get together in the same room and we could improvise with the DAT running.
Our first real musical meeting was in 1998, when three out of the four of us met in Utrecht and created the basis of what would become our first album “The Case”. It was never meant to be anything other than improvising and fun, but when the UK label Neu Harmony heard some of our early drafts we were asked to turn it into an album.
At the same time, I was also working up some solo material that turned into duo material when I was visited by the German contingent for a week. This became the Neu Harmony album, “A Different Kind of Normal”, issued under the name wEirD (the “E” being for England and the D for Deutschland). As a fan of Manuel Gottsching, there was quite a lot of guitar on this album. The track “Manuel Gearchange” was the just about the last track I recorded in my original studio, which had an 8-track reel-to-reel, after which I built a new studio based around a PC running Cubase.
Both of those albums sold reasonably well (very minor fish in an exceptionally small pond), so we carried on for a bit and made a further two studio albums, “The Cube” and “The Singularity”. At the same time we were playing a few gigs around Europe, which included the Jodrell Bank Observatory (in the UK), the Alfa Centauri Festival (in the Netherlands), the Krautrock Karnival (in the UK) and the National Space Centre (in the UK).
As we improvised, based on initial ideas, we recorded almost everything, all of the sessions and the rehearsals and the gigs themselves. Up until recently, the Kubusschnitt albums had become hard to find and, in some cases, a little expensive. As I really wanted to share the music for a reasonable price, I remastered all of the issued material and I collated the best of the various sessions and rehearsals and I started to put everything on Bandcamp for reasonable prices.
Ruud, Tom and I are now in the process of making some new music together for the first time in 18 years, and I fully expect the AE Modular to stand up well in the presence of a lot of vintage, new and generally interesting equipment.
Besides AE Modular, what is your favourite equipment?
I like equipment that inspires me, equipment that makes me enjoy the sound that I hear. Being a fan of the music, it’s really important that the sounds inspire me. So I like equipment that I can play live and is easy to control - for me that means that I can get those sounds that are buried inside it into the real world. An interesting piece of real hands-on equipment that I bought nearly 25 years ago is the Latronic Notron sequencer (the Mark I version as well, of which only 100 were made).
I still have it and I was amazed to find out just how rare it is. Of course, its similarity to a toilet seat couldn’t go unnoticed when Kubusschnitt got together for the Krautrock Karnival.
Over the last 40 years, I’ve been through quite a lot of synthesizer equipment, analogue and digital, a lot of which I still have buried in original boxes. One of my recent favourite is the Arturia MicroFreak, simply because it’s capable of producing some off-the-wall sounds - and it has some interesting randomisation features. The presets are awful, in my opinion, but sitting quietly with the machine does pay dividends with some sounds that are hard to get elsewhere. I also have a Make Noise 0-Coast, which is wonderfully complex for something about the size of a paperback book. Again, spending time quietly sitting and experimenting pays huge dividends with this synth, it’s my version of a mini-Buchla.
There was a phase in synthesisers where everything was hidden behind a large number of menus, with a small display acting as your guide. Whilst these were undoubtedly very powerful and quite often innovative synthesizers, they were quite soul-destroying to play and program. There existed great sounds within them, but they needed to be teased out and then carefully stored as user presets.
To me, these were dark days and I didn’t really buy much equipment at all during that period. I still have a Waldorf MicroWave 2 that I did buy, which brought Wavetable synthesis to within reach of normal musicians. As a result of enjoying that synth, I did buy a Waldorf Blofeld more recently and that still sees a lot of use in my setup. It’s a remarkably powerful (the modulation possibilities are mind-blowing), although it does need patience to coax the sounds out of it.
Overall, my favourite equipment will have an appealing interface that invites sound exploration. Whilst I’ve been through a lot of equipment, the AE Modular does present that opportunity for exploration in one of the most persuasive sizes I’ve seen.
How do you integrate the AE system into your music production workflow?
I have a very simple workflow - or so I think. I set up equipment, with effects, into my mixer and I send that to Reaper as a stereo pair. I have all of my recording equipment behind me and when I start I hit record, turn around, and then just start playing. This process can generate ambient sections or sequencer parts, which are captured and if needed then played in whilst I improvise the next part.
I try to do as much as possible in one pass, but sometimes that just isn’t possible as I have quite a small music area. So, if I’m creating a longer piece with a number of 20-30 minutes live sections, I’ll record them live, set them up to play from Reaper and then I’ll improvise and record some bridging pieces live to create the overall longer tracks. It can get a bit exciting if I have to remember tempo or key changes, but that’s part of the fun - and I try to do it without turning around to look at Reaper, I prefer to use my ears.
The AE Modular is one of my improvising synths, I use it mainly for ambient sections as the huge amount of live tweaking available can produce some very complex sounds. These are great when combined with some effects routing live into the mixer. For effects I now use my ever-growing pedal farm that started purely for guitars, but I soon realised just how much fun it was configuring these into various serial/parallel routings. I do “play” my effects at the same time as the synthesizers when I’m improvising.
What are you missing from AE Modular, how can it be improved, and which modules would you like to see in the future?
I really like filters and sequencers, and a nice sequencer pattern, with a modulated filter overlay is always a nice feeling. So, I would like to see more filters (e.g. a Moog-style ladder filter) and a sequencer with a deeper set of controls. I would be willing to give up a considerable amount of rack space for a more controllable sequencer.
I’m also very interested in manipulation of real world sounds (i.e. musique concrete), so a set of modules that allowed voltage-controlled manipulations of samples would be an amazing addition.
In terms of any improvements on the existing system, either offering a buffered CV input on the oscillators (or a buffering module to interface would help when tuning the oscillators in more critical applications. When you’re aware of the effect of a drop in voltage (and hence pitch), you can compensate for it - and knowledge of this is key at that point. It does mean that live performance patching can be a dangerous practice.
Finally, I really like randomisation, so an interesting source of randomness would be a great addition, especially if it could be tamed into repeatability (e.g. MI Marbles). Is that really random…? Yes, in spirit ?
Oh yes, and a Quantizer, but I think that’s on the cards anyway.
Notes and links
Creative Londoners, an Interview with Andy Bloyce:
The Kubusschnitt Blog:
The Kubusschnitt Bandcamp Page:
The Soviet Space Dog Project Blog
The Soviet Space Dog Project Bandcamp Page:
The Soviet Space Dog Project YouTube Video for “The Dark”:
The Soviet Space Dog Project Experimental SoundCloud areas (including Patch Challenges):
The Ambient Fish Society Bandcamp Page:
TANGERINE DREAM - FORCE MAJEURE, written and compiled by EDGAR FROESE. https://www.edgarfroese.de/shop/products.php?g1=e0ab31&g2=a99cac
Happy Birthday AE Modular!
Today is the 3rd anniversary of the AE Modular System. The Kickstarter Campaign ended successfully funded on the 16th December 2016 and with that this new system was born and changed my life. Now three years later the user base has more than quadrupled, the number of modules has increased from the initial 14 to over 40 different modules for all styles of music! This year has also seen a huge growth in the community and the number of performances that people have released on Youtube, Instagram and other social media. I have heard from many of you that this system has changed your life as well and that makes me incredibly happy.
What started as a hobby project which I was able to pursue in my spare time while working a job as a software developer has now become my sole focus and source of income. The demand has increased incredibly especially after Superbooth and I had to make substantial changes to the production process as well as hiring additional staff in order to keep up with the volume of orders that started flooding in. This increase in demand has led to an embarrassingly long wait time (for some up to 3 months!) and although you all have a right to be frustrated with this, I am also extremely humbled by the overwhelming good will and many messages of support from you, my customers and the community especially during the time when I was very ill.
Whereas the last three years have been focused on upgrading the original modules (better sockets, better patch wires, some fixes and improvements of the circuits) this year has seen a shift towards upgrading my production processes and while there’s still much to improve, I believe that I’m getting on the right track to deliver more orders in a much shorter time.
We can never be sure about the future, but I believe that 2020 will be another incredible year for tangible waves and the AE Modular system and community. The main focus will be to first get on top of the outstanding orders, but once this process is more streamlined I can focus again on the development of more and exciting new modules. The system will also be visible more globally as well, not just at Superbooth, but potentially also at next year’s NAMM, and hopefully in Japan and Australia as well.
Merry Christmas: 5% off all products!
I have decided to give you all this year’s Christmas presents early to thank you all for your continued support!
Please use the code XMAES2019 to receive 5% off any purchase on the tangible waves online store!
This code is valid until the 15th of January!
New Module Releases
These modules were silently cooking in the background and now I’ve finally managed to move them into production just in time for Christmas … you may buy them today but they won’t ship until next year as I’m still working on reducing the backlog!
The following modules have been updated:
Changes at tangible waves!
Tangible waves had to move to a bigger room as we’ve grown to keep up with demand and Antonia and I have now been joined by Tobias who is doing an internship and already showing his enthusiasm for synths and electronics with his involvement in the development of an interface module for the Volca modular.
(Greetings from the tangible waves team)
Documentation and the Wiki
With the fabulous help from Roger (aka @pol in the forum) the wiki now has documentation for most modules as well as a very promising getting started section. Please check it out and send any ideas of improvements to Carsten at the forum.
News from the Forum
Here are only some of the many new and interesting threads:
AE Modular Performances
The amount of new tracks that are being created with the AE Modular is truly breathtaking and it’s really heartening to see and hear so many new artists appearing on the scene every month! Every track is great to listen to, here’s a sample of last month:
And this video of me playing at the Ambient Waves event in Munich earlier this year has finally found its way to YouTube. I hope you enjoy my little performance on the AE Modular:
The DIY section is where the forum got really busy over the last few months and it’s really great to see that the 0-5v format inspires and enables so many interesting projects.
Tangible Waves was present at 4 music trade shows and meets this year at MEFF, Superbooth, Dutch Modular and Knobcon which was already twice as much as the year before. But next year we will double that again and try to show this new format to the world as far and wide as we can!
NAMM Anaheim CA, USA 16th - 19th January 2020
This is the King (or Queen) of all music conventions, the biggest and loudest and the one where most music hardware companies show off new gear. Although not 100% confirmed, it could be that an AE Modular system might be present and one or two completely new modules could be revealed at that show! Stay tuned.
Synthplex, Burbank CA, USA 26th - 29th March 2020
This is like NAMM, but more specifically geared towards synthesizers, modulars, pedals and controllers. An AE Modular system might be present there, but again, not 100% confirmed!
Superbooth Berlin, Germany 23rd - 25th April 2020
I’m looking forward to again present the AE Modular system at this event, which is growing ever bigger and more amazing each year. Please join me again if you can make it to Berlin, I’m keen to meet you and to hear how you are using the AE Modular or to answer any questions you may have.
Dear AE modular Community,
After all the ups and downs of the last few months, October feels like things are finally getting settled again. My health is now back to normal, and with my new helper I am getting on top of the production and will hopefully start to ship systems out much earlier than before. I really feel ashamed that some of you had to wait for over 2 months to get your system! It is now my main focus to bring this wait time down to a more acceptable time frame!
Upcoming Module Releases
The following modules were planned for release last month, but I just couldn’t find the time. But now they are finally ready and available in the shop immediately
I’m planning to release the following modules in November:
Changes at tangible waves!
As some of you might have seen from my post on Facebook a week ago, I am no longer working alone on the production of modules, but I now have assistance from Antonia, who is the first employee of tangible waves and has been taking to assembly of modules and starter racks like a fish to water! She really enjoys the work, as you can see from the picture below.
The workshop is also expanding! We will be moving to a bigger room at the technology hub where we are at the moment and that will make it much easier to get more people on board in the future to help with the assembly if the demand is increasing as it is!
There are only so many things that can be done in a day, and the main focus these last 12 months was on improving the modules, the patch connections, releasing new modules and above all, fulfilling the growing list of orders. Unfortunately some things fell off the side and one of those is a proper and centralised documentation for all the modules and other parts of the AE Modular system. When it was suggested in the forum to “crowd-source” this in the form of a wiki, Carsten jumped right on it and created a wiki and a structure where this documentation can take shape with the help of the AE Modular community!
From now on, all documentation and other articles will take shape and live at
Already a few people from the forum have declared an interest to take part in the shaping of this new and exciting resource for beginners and seasoned AE users alike.
Please note that it is still very light on content, but if the forum is any indication for the strength and passion of the AE community, I’m certain it will fill up with high quality information very quickly.
There is also a new section on the forum where anyone can post questions or suggestions about the content of the wiki.
News from the Forum
The forum has never been this active and this is mostly due to many new members that have just recently joined and adding their take on the system. The questions that are being asked are very useful and many of those and the answers that were provided by other members of the forum, will be the basis of the beginner’s guide on the new Wiki.
Here are only some of the many new and interesting threads:
The creativity of artists in our community is unbelievable and not a day goes by that doesn’t see a new entry on Soundcloud or a new video on Youtube where the AE Modular is being used in so many different ways that it’s hard to keep up! Here is just the recent sample of what was posted on the forum lately:
And Arti has not stopped a beat and delivered track after track after track of pure AE Modular goodness! Please listen to his collective works here:
The DIY crowd in the forum is growing stronger and stronger, sometimes I feel that there are more DIY modules out there than official ones and I’m absolutely loving what you are creating! Here is a list of the most recent projects:
Digital Analog Munich - 19th October 2019
I will be playing the AE Modular system as part of the Dark Waves ambient performances track at this year’s Digital Analog event in Munich. This is a mega event with artists coming from a wide spectrum of audio and visual arts. Please join me if you happen to be nearby. More information about this event:
Synth Festival in Australia - 19th October 2019
Carsten is organising the first ever Synth Festival on the Far South Coast of NSW in Australia and will demo the AE Modular system and use it in a live performance that night. For most of us that’s probably too far away, but if you live in Sydney or Canberra, you should definitely check it out:
Superbooth Berlin 2020 - 23rd - 25th April 2020
Early bird tickets are now available until the 31st of October, so act quickly! Although it feels like this year’s Superbooth was just yesterday, I’m really looking forward to next year. This event is getting bigger and better every year and it is incredibly fulfilling to be able to meet with so many of you in person. I wouldn’t miss it for the world!
Do you know of any other Synth Events?
Please let me know. Especially if you show off your AE Modular in public, I would love to know more about it.
Dear AE modular Community,
The last two months were not easy for me because of the health issues, but I have been uplifted by the positive and well meaning messages that I received from many of you. In fact I am really feeling much better now, and although I’m still not at 100% I have the feeling that I’m over the worst of whatever this was (there’s still no clear diagnosis what it could have been).
Thank you all for your support and understanding!
With the help of my assistant Antonia we hope to get back on track with manufacturing and sending out those long overdue orders. We are also preparing for an increase in demand now that Noisebug is promoting and selling AE Modular over in the US. In fact they have presented the system at Knobcon in Chicago and the response was overall very positive.
Upcoming Module Releases
My main focus last month was on getting systems and modules shipped so unfortunately the work on the new modules took a bit of a back seat. However I’m planning to release the following modules this month:
I’m planning to release the following modules in October:
As always, please check the status of new development on the Sunrise Page.
AEther Waves Vol. 1
This album is a phenomenal collaboration of many members of the forum and presents the variety of sound that the AE Modular system can produce. The quality of the tracks and the joy in which those artists of the forum have participated in this project show how remarkable this community is.
If you haven’t already, please check out the album on bandcamp and consider purchasing it for less than a cup of coffee. All proceeds go to the non profit organisation Sea Watch who is rescuing refugees that are in danger of drowning while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea.
Upcoming Events in September 2019
Knobcon in Chicago has just come and gone and was a great success for Noisebug who were presenting the AE Modular system.
Tangible Waves will be present at this year’s Dutch Modular in The Hague on the 27th and 28th. If you are nearby, please come and visit us!
Dear Customers and Friends of AE Modular,
As many of you have noticed, there have been considerable delays in the fulfilment of orders and also a slowing down of the release of new modules. This has partly to do with the incredible influx of new orders that I’ve received since Superbooth. Although I always hoped that this business could grow to be my sole income, I have been caught by this a bit by surprise. But it’s a good surprise and I’m so happy that I can do something full time that inspires so many people! To get on top of the orders I have employed someone who is helping me with the production and after an initial few weeks of training she is now proficient in the assembly and packaging that is required to fulfil the orders. So I was hoping that the situation could improve.
Unfortunately however, my health is currently not good and that’s why even with my new assistant we are lagging more and more behind in production. It started a few weeks ago that I had pain in my neck and legs that just wouldn’t go away so I went to see a doctor who couldn’t find anything. Now the pains are worse and even after many visits to various doctors they still can’t figure out what’s wrong. So I’m spending a lot of time in doctors offices instead in the workshop and also the pain makes it a lot harder for me to concentrate on the work.
I’m really sorry that this is happening now that the AE Modular format is really taking off and I’m sorry, too, that so many of you have to wait weeks and sometimes months(!) for your system. All I can say is that no order will get lost and that we are working as fast as we can to send out every order. However if you do have an issue with the long wait time, please contact me and we can sort it out.
I hope that my health will improve soon and I have plans to ramp up production capabilities then to cope with the increasing demand. And finally - No worries - AE modular is alive and will grow on!
Robert Langer, founder of tangible waves. Here, I will share some thoughts, background infos and news about AE modular and tangible waves.