Another day at Superbooth and even after our big announcement of the TBD yesterday there a few more news. Some of you pixel-sleuths have already spotted 3 new modules in the photos we published on social media, so naturally you may have a few questions and here is what we can tell you so far:
HEARTBEAT is a new module that is currently in development which will provide a steady master clock in your system. The display allows you to select a very fine grained BPM setting which you can select either via the knob in steps as fine as 0.1 or via the tap tempo button. It has 6 outputs which can be configured individually for different clock divisions between 1/1 and 1/32 and even dotted notes and triplets. The module has its own internal clock, or it can be configured to use an external clock (e.g. the Bus clock if MIDI is plugged into the MASTER module).
HEARTBEAT EXTENDER will be an extension module which connects to the HEARTBEAT module via a small cable in the back. It offers a quick way to switch between different clock rates via the 6 preset buttons. It also offers 3.5mm connections for MIDI in (as an additional clock source independent from the external clock input). With the MIDI out connection you can use the AE system as the master clock in your studio as it sends standard MIDI clock/start/stop signals to other gear. Lastly the SWING/ACCLR knob allows for choosing a swing amount or accelerando/ritardando time when switching between tempo presets.
Those two modules are shown at Superbooth as prototypes but are still not quite ready for production yet. We’ll let you know once they are available in the shop in a few weeks.
We have come a long way since the last Superbooth in 2019. Not only are there now over 70 modules available in the online store, but a few indie developers have started creating their own module lines which are compatible with the formfactor which is much smaller than Eurorack and allows cheaper production costs. Our team has grown as well to tackle the steadily growing list of orders which are all still handled in the beautiful small Bavarian town of Murnau.
Notable module creations, which can be inspected in person at Superbooth, are the CIRRUS, a clone of Mutable Instruments’ Clouds, WAVETABLES, a wavetable oscillator which is a collaboration project with Paula Maddox from Dove Audio, METER which provides an oscilloscope among other functions and a complete 18 voice drone oscillator.
The main stars at this year’s Superbooth however are the Synth Explorer education system and the AE TBD, a brand new, programmable multi-function module for sound generation and -processing.
The AE TBD (“to be determined”) is based on the ESP32 chip which is very powerful. The module is made to run the open source firmware CTAG-TBD developed by the Creative Technologies AG of Kiel University in Germany.
Currently the firmware includes 50(!) plugins which include a huge variety of sound generators, filters and effects. The module can connect to a PC running Windows, Linux, or MacOSX via a USB cable and the many parameters for each plugin can then be adjusted in real time via a web interface and stored as favourites back to the module for standalone performance. The module has 2 CV and 2 trigger inputs which can be mapped to any parameter via the web interface. In addition the module has two knobs and two trigger buttons which can also be freely assigned to any parameter or function on a given plugin.
The firmware contains plugins which are based on open source code by Mutable Instruments: TBDings, TBDaids and Claude (Their web interface is inspired by their Eurorack counterparts Braids, Plaits and Clouds)
But there are also completely new and unique fully featured synthesizers all within this tiny package:
The firmware also includes a very sophisticated sample player (Rompler). Up to 60 seconds of audio samples can be uploaded to the module via the USB connection.
A full list of all included plugins can be found here.
A small, but very dedicated and friendly community of open source software developers is constantly expanding the available plugins and since it is based on C++ and a very well thought out framework, it is relatively easy for new developers to come up with new plugins.
Initially the TBD platform was only available for Eurorack, developed and currently sold by another small start-up, Instruments of Things. Through a licensing agreement this amazingly versatile module is now also part of the AE Modular family of modules. There are only two main differences between the AE TBD and its Eurorack counterpart: The AE module is in mono and offeres only USB connectivity, not WIFI.
Please see the dedicated page on the AE Modular community forum for news, demo videos and soundbites about the TBD for AEM: https://forum.aemodular.com/post/13652/thread
Words from Robert
As autumn is now clearly on its way into the land, we can all breathe a bit more clearly and enjoy the way nature paints all trees in the most beautiful colours. But instead of spending my free time in the mountains nearby, I’m preparing for the long train ride to Berlin. Finally, after much uncertainty the Superbooth is going to happen, live and in person, albeit with proper social distancing. I’m looking forward to meeting my friends and colleagues and of course I’m very much looking forward to meeting you, my dear customers, members of the AE Modular community. I hope you can make it and visit me at booth W450 on the Ground Floor.
Each year for Superbooth I have prepared a special module to unveil and this year I’m so excited to be showing off a very special module which I’ve worked on in secret for many months. I hope you will like it. But this is all I’m going to reveal for now!
Synth Explorer Educational System
What I can reveal however, is the Synth Explorer educational system which is now available for purchase on our webshop. This project is very dear to my heart and I’m very lucky to have the support from two amazing music educators in the US, Jordan Rose from Synths4Kids in Oregon and Frae-Frae LaSci from Willie-Mae Rock Camp in New York City. They each are trialling the synth explorer in their workshops and offer ideas and advice on how to shape the curriculum which is still in development.
If you are a music teacher and are interested in acquiring the Synth Explorer at the educational discount for your school or university, please get in contact via the contact form on this page which also has a lot more information about the system and variations:
Synth Explorer for Education
Many people have asked about whether the Synth Explorer is also available for everyone and therefore we are now selling the “Ultimate” system which you can find in the web shop here:
Synth Explorer Ultimate
CIRRUS currently out of stock
You may have seen that currently the CIRRUS is out of stock which is unusual for our web shop. The reason is the current global shortage of chips which unfortunately has driven the prices for the particular chip, which is used in the CIRRUS, to unforeseen heights.
We are investigating alternatives to make the CIRRUS available at a manageable cost and will let you know when it becomes available again.
This was discussed at length in the forum:
Third Party Products
Flavorwave has announced another nifty accessory which fits perfectly for the AE Modular: a beautiful and colourful acrylic stand which you can order from directly from the Flavorwave Website: https://flavorwave-synth-accessories.myshopify.com/products/desktop-synth-stand
The new module called MOCO is a take on Doepfer’s A-144 Morphing Controller which allows the mixing and morphing of 4 independent VCAs or other waveforms.
Keurslager Kurt promised new modules
Zeno aka Keurslager Kurt has mentioned that he has 3(!) new modules in development! They are
AEtherwaves Vol. 3 SUBMISSIONS close on 20th of September!
We are doing it again and ask everyone in the AE community to send in a track to this year’s album! Please check out this forum post for all the details:
Music made by the Community
User @pt3r presents a new album on Bandcamp. The first track shows how well the Algodrone works in an atmospheric drone. Please check it out here:
A first track presented by user @chmeee5 and it’s a really nice one, too: https://forum.aemodular.com/thread/1621/stranger-slings-arrows
Some real live footage of Papa Rôti having fun with glitchy sounds: https://forum.aemodular.com/thread/1596/road-aetherwaves-vol-papa-ti
This is a labour of love by @101 .. AE Modular samples played and processed through Audiomulch, an Australian music software that is made for live performances: https://forum.aemodular.com/thread/1563/dubstep-mix-aem-audiomulch
This is the first track featuring the new Cirrus module, provided by @keurslagerkurt and it’s ambient: https://forum.aemodular.com/thread/1618/first-track-cirrus-ambient-okay
Well this however is NOT so ambient, says @dmoney2000 about this track: https://forum.aemodular.com/thread/1594/ok-ambient
A really nice summer groove from @lorizon: https://forum.aemodular.com/post/13353/thread
How to hook a Z-DSP card to the AE Multi FX module:
Other Forum Topics
HELP needed for a special art project! User @Maximilius001 asks for voice recordings from people who talk about their experience of and during the pandemic. Please read all about it here: https://forum.aemodular.com/thread/1614/art-commission-help-needed All recordings should be sent in by the 1st of October.
What are your overrated or underrated modules? This is a very fruitful discussion which may change your mind about some of the modules in your rack that you’ve neglected lately. https://forum.aemodular.com/thread/1634/overrated-underappreciated-modules
We need more Schwingggg! Here are some ideas on how to make things swing a little and apparently there’s even a module in the works that might do it for you: https://forum.aemodular.com/thread/1624/schwing-swingggg
Karplus Strong Synthesis with the GRAINS module! This thread started out with a discussion about how to achieve those plucky, clangy sounds using a delay in lieu of MI Rings and then @namke gave us the GRAINS codes for this! Check out the discussion here: https://forum.aemodular.com/thread/1608/karplus-strong-synthesis
The GRAINS code for this can be downloaded here: https://github.com/wonkystuff/grains_karplusStrong
Are you stressed from having too many modules and you don’t know which to use first? This may be a first world problem, but you are not alone. Join the group therapy session in this thread: https://forum.aemodular.com/thread/1622/module-stress-first-world-problem ;-)
Huge Humble Book Bundle with books for electronic inventors and aspiring geniuses, grab it while you can, it expires on 18th September: https://www.humblebundle.com/books/charles-platt-make-community-books
SUPERBOOTH 2021 in Berlin, September 15th-18th
Please visit us at Booth W450, we would love to meet you!
More information and tickets at the Superbooth Website: https://www.superbooth.com
Many of you may have seen this short video of my workplace which I posted to YouTube in May 2019.
Although it is now over 2 years ago, very little has actually changed from what you can see there. The biggest change was of course that I no longer work alone, but have the incredible help from Antonia and Benedikt who take care of most of the production work these days and which allows me to spend more time on dreaming up and prototyping new modules.
This dream is a shared dream. For me it is to be able to do for a living what I love doing: To create and build synths and to inspire people. For you, it is to be able to build affordable modular systems to create the incredible music that you do. However I also love to make music, it’s just that with the constant pressure of building systems and getting orders out the door this part of me got pushed back again and again. Until now!
I have been fortunate to secure the lease of a beautiful little former chapel which is in the same building as our workspace, within a renovated old Hospital which has been turned into an innovation centre. You can see the chapel in the video where I got to use it for a short time only. Now I’m in the process of turning this amazing space into a room where I can make music, experiment and perform! This will allow me to play my own synth in a kind-of live situation; something I have increasingly missed over the last months. This will contribute to the module development for sure, and - it’s simply fun of course!
At the moment there’s still a lot of work to do in the chapel, but I will keep you posted on the progress.
Reminder: Price increase from 12th of July
We’ve written about this before so this is only a reminder that all prices will go up by 5%-8% due to increases in our production cost. So if you want to save some money then you still have a few more days to send off your order at the current prices.
New Products now in Store!
All the below products were featured in our last blog post and are now available for purchase from our online store!
This is a very cool VU meter with real tubes as display element! It looks great and definitely will make everyone come over and talk to you if you bring this to a synth meet!
You can buy this product from our online store.
A very simple, but useful module for performing. There are 6 inputs, outputs and switch buttons that will mute the outputs (click-free!) when pressed. The buttons are very soft, high-quality and illuminated to show the status.
Buy this now from our online store.
This is a precision CV adder which you can use to easily transpose pitch sequences thattrack 1 Volt per octave. This is a single adder with four inputs and adds easy octave transposition by one or two octaves or a free interval.
It’s now available for purchase here.
These are two precision adders that work like the single one above, but don’t feature the octave transposition.
You can find this in our online store here.
This is a clone of Clouds from Mutable Instruments, however with the Microcell alternative firmware installed which adds many more features to the original granular and reverb effects. This is our second MI clone in the AE Modular range and more will follow!
You can order the CIRRUS module from our online store here.
With the STOMP-IO module, you can integrate guitar effect pedals and similar devices into your AE modular system! For output (send) and input (return) return there is a mono minijack socket; two minijack to 1/4" socket adapters are included as effect pedals usually work with the latter ones. Send and return levels can be controlled with separate knobs.
You can order this module now from our online store.
Flavorwave Cable Hangers
We featured this amazing cable storage device a few times here in the blog, but due to the very expensive shipping costs from the US, people in Europe and other regions were missing out. Therefore we got a big batch from Flavorwave and now it’s officially available in our store for our non-US customers.
You can find the cable hangers here in our online store.
All lengths are now available in beautiful violet!
You can buy these in the store here.
Music made by the Community
It must be the summer heat or gradual introduction of freedom from COVID restrictions, but whatever it is, there has not been a month in recent history where more music was produced on this forum! The output from this super talented community was phenomenal and incredibly varied!
Please have a listen to this selection of sounds below!
S101w techno by @maydonpoliris where he combined techniques from @101 and @slowscape. It’s really cool to hear the influences here:
(Mr)(Bubble)T by @pt3r is showing off his DIY aeclidean sequencer module with nice bubbly sounds:
Arbor Low South by @martynaudio is such a nice mellow tune that invites a stroll through a summer garden …
Contemplation (Drone) by @moruial is the first patch that uses the BioT module to great effect. As usual this comes with super nice visuals:
Tegmo 1: a zesty synth romp by UY Scuti (@dmoney2000) is a comeback with edgy sounds and creative visuals, check it out:
Quake of the Universe by @glitchyfrog is a triple treat of firsts. Some of these tracks were made on a train and we can imagine watching the landscape pass by to these relaxed tunes
HiTek by @thehatghost is an audio visual experiment that is quite astonishing really. You have to see it to believe it:
Live techno featuring AE Modular by @keurslagerkurt is just pure fun with two guys having a party in the living room!
Pourpre-orange by @gaetan is a laid back ambient techno(?) piece which invites to lounge and have a beer ..
CV Jam by @101 is a thumping beat with shifting CVs and ghostly background drones, cool stuff!
Droneday by @pt3r is his homage to drone day!
First Jam by Running in long grass (@docwho) is a great debut, full of interesting sounds in all directions and a beautiful AE sequence
Topography by @maximillius001 is a nice ‘West Coast’ inspired track
Dark ambient by @namke lulls you into a safe space, but be careful, there may be occasional jumpscares!
UY Scuti (@dmoney2000) has released an album on bandcamp with selected works, many of which feature the AE Modular in some way. It’s a great album and you should check it out! At only $3 (or more, if you can spare it) this is better than a cup of coffee!
Experimenting with Capacitive Touch
Ever since the BioT from Wonkystuff and Hotair the topic of capacitive touch interests and excites people. This is another similar experiment.
Self Made Patch Wires
These have nice tips similar to the original ones from tangible waves
Is this the ultimate reverb? It definitely looks cool and inviting to all ages to play with it.
These switches look awesome mounted to a blank panel.
Other Forum Topics
KISS or Go For it? Is a valid question to ask once your first case is full and you have another couple of modules in the wait list. Should you build another Gargantua with everything but the kitchen sink, limit yourself to just a small case with a selection of vital modules or have many smaller cases that you patch together? It’s a great discussion..
Stereo Solutions. Here are some very cool tips and tricks what you can do with stereo signals and the new MIXCONSOLE
Superbooth, 15th - 18th September 2021
This time it’s really on! And tangible waves will be there again with a stand. Please come and visit us if you can, we would love to see and chat with you!
Introducing the SynthExplorer
We love synthesis, the electronic music you can create with it and of course modular synthesizers, which are so flexible and can adapt so easily to any creative mood and form. So naturally we thought of how to encourage and excite young people and kids to kick start their creative journey into music with this amazing instrument. After talking to a few music teachers and some brainstorming we came up with a small collection of modules that would be ideal to teach children (and any beginners) the basics of synthesis and even other concepts from a modern STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) curriculum. This led to the concept of a basic SynthExplorer system with a series of possible upgrades to target those different concepts. This system will be sold at a generous discount to schools or similar organisations who teach music to kids or young adults. But the hardware is only one part of the concept, the other is the Handbook, the curriculum, which will help teachers understand the possibilities of this product and how to integrate it into their lesson plans. For this we got in contact with Jordan from SynthsForKids, who runs workshops for kids in the beautiful forests of Oregon. We are also in contact with a few other similar organisations from various parts of the world and we hope that in partnership with such a dedicated and diverse group we will create a music curriculum which is unique and approachable for teachers and students anywhere.
And after months of brainstorming and waiting the very first model of the SynthExplorer was sent to Carsten (aka The5thVolt) to be presented in Australia at a local synth meetup near Sydney. Here you can watch the presentation in full:
We hope to officially offer these systems and a first version of the basic curriculum by August ‘21 and are always happy for any messages of interest, questions or ideas. Please send those to email@example.com.
IMPORTANT - Price increases from 12th of July
For almost 4 years the prices in our shop have stayed stable and true to our motto: “Modular synth affordable for everyone!”
However, the shortages and increasing cost of microchips and other electronic components are taking a toll on the bottom line and we have to adjust the prices of our products for this new market situation.
Therefore we will increase all prices by 5%-8% from the 12th of July. That includes the Starter Systems, individual modules and all accessories. Some modules which use now rare microchips will see an even higher increase, eg. the Wavetables and other microprocessor-based modules.
So if you like our old prices, you still have 4 weeks to put your order in at that cheaper rate.
No new products in the shop, but definitely some new products next month. We are looking forward to bringing the following new modules in July:
A very simple, but useful module for performing. There are 6 inputs, outputs and switch buttons that will mute the outputs (click-free!) when pressed. The buttons are very soft, high-quality and illuminated to show the status.
This is a precision CV adder which you can use to easily transpose pitch sequences which tracks 1 Volt per octave. This is a single adder which adds easy octave transposition by one or two octaves or a free interval..
These are two precision adders that work like the single one above, but don’t feature the octave transposition.
This is a very cool VU meter with real tubes! It looks great and definitely will make everyone come over and talk to you if you bring this to a synth meet!
@slowscape got it right and put the puzzle together, congratulations! This is probably the most anticipated module which will come out in a while. A clone of Clouds from Mutable Instruments, however with the Microcell alternative firmware installed which adds many more features to the original granular and reverb effects. Unfortunately this will also become the most expensive module in the entire AE Modular range which is due to the current price inflation and global supply shortage of microchips. You may have heard that due to COVID and other factors some chips are now very hard to get and the STM chip that is used in Cirrus is one of those. Fortunately we have secured a good batch of them before they went completely out of stock at our supplier’s.
More MI Clones?
Which MI clone would you like to see next? Leave a comment in the forum: https://forum.aemodular.com/thread/1491/new-blog-2021-synths-kids
Pink Patch Wires
Soon all lengths of patch wires will also be available in pink! Just to make a statement!
Third Party Products
BioT from Wonkystuff and Hotair Productions
John and Matt have got together and produced a true work of art with this module that sold out on both their stores within 12 hours of release! Let’s hope they brew a new batch soon.
This module adds touch plate connections and funky aliens to your rack, but you have to build it yourself, which, with only 24 solder connections, is really super simple!
You can find more info at the Wonkystuff store: https://wonkystuff.net/product/biot-kit/
And on the Hot Air Bandcamp page: https://smallrocks.bandcamp.com/album/biot-touch-plate-demonstration-record
Cable Hangers from Flavorwave
Jason sent us a batch from the US so that they can be more easily shipped to our European customers and they will soon be available in the tangible waves shop.
Music made by the Community
As always, the community didn’t rest and gave their collective AE Modules a solid workout. Good to see a steady stream of good tracks from the regulars and also first pieces from new members. And this should really be an encouragement to all those that are coming new to AE Modular or synthesis or even completely new to music making: You’re learning new things, don’t be afraid, your “mistakes” are your style. Just keep patching and post your stuff!
Dark Ambient First Album
@jubin is relatively new to the forum and has posted this gritty, dark ambient to bandcamp. The AE modular plays a big role in it and so does a Korg Volca. https://forum.aemodular.com/thread/1474/peur-du-noir
AEM + Bastl Kastle Drum - Acid Jam
@101 shows us how it’s done. Apparently “It is like trying to herd cats when your jamming with it. You can get something good going - only to trash it with the slightest tweak.” Listen for yourself https://forum.aemodular.com/thread/1446/aem-bastl-kastle-drum-acid
New Album on Bandcamp - Murmurs
By @pt3r who consistently amazes us with ambient soundscapes and beautiful albeit dark imagery. Check it out: https://deofol.bandcamp.com/album/murmurs
Slow Moving Water
@slowscape used found sound and found visuals to create this relaxing ambient track: https://forum.aemodular.com/thread/1480/ambient-session-slow-moving-water
Found Sound Techno from Foxermod
M.J. Hood has released a new EP on Soundcloud which uses a lot of found sound and the AE to glue it all together. Check it out: https://forum.aemodular.com/thread/1465/ae-sounds-new-track
Ambient with new 5 step module
@keurslagerkurt has done it again and not only created a new module prototype, but then made a compelling piece with it: https://forum.aemodular.com/thread/1460/ambient-patch-new-steps-module
Night of the Yowie and Driving along the M1
@maydonpoliris posted these two awesome tracks that feature the AE Modular and a few Korg Volcas. It’s cool, funky and bit scary and you should check it out: https://forum.aemodular.com/thread/1455/todays-jam-track
Show off your Rack
Here are pictures from AE Modular systems that have their own very special make up!
@gaetan has beautifully hand drawn designs all over the blank panels in his rack.
@lutzjak has put his AE Modular into a nuclear glowing spy briefcase
This is an inverting amplifier made with only the BRAEDBOARD and the components that come with it. A great first project, check it out: https://forum.aemodular.com/thread/1477/braedboard-project-triangle-buddy-inverting
World Drone Day - 29th May 2021
This is to celebrate not those pesky flying monsters, but those loooong ambient sounds that take you in and make you dream. Hundreds of musicians around the world are streaming or playing live on this day. You can find more at the official homepage: https://droneday.org/
There may be a few AE Modular members showing off their droning skills, check it out on the thread here: https://forum.aemodular.com/thread/1444/world-drone-day-29th-2021
Words from Robert
“Almost” business as usual - what does this even mean? For most of you it means that you are still waiting patiently for your order to be shipped and while I am incredibly grateful for your patience, understanding and kind words, there isn’t a day when I don’t think of how to turn this situation around. For 3 years now we are trying to catch up with this incredible demand, not just for the stock on hand, but also for new and exciting modules. We have grown from just myself to a team of three truly dedicated staff and while that helps, it also means that if one of us gets sick, production goes down by 30%! We encountered this painfully the last weeks - but now we are complete again. It is a fact of and reality of any small business and while we’re trying to improve processes, it’s not that easy like “simply hire more staff”.... All this might sound as if I’m a bit weary, maybe worn out from the double demands of getting out orders every day while trying to innovate and design new modules at night….
But - NO! In fact the opposite is true: I’m feeling more energised and more alive than ever! This work has been a true blessing in my life, not just because I can finally support myself and my family with work that I truly love, but also because of you, the incredible community which gives me so much inspiration and support and makes everything we do here in the shop meaningful and worthwhile doing! Due to the workload in the production I don’t get to read all of the posts on the forum and don’t get to watch all of the amazing jams and music videos that are coming out almost every day now, so I’m always happy when Carsten creates these blog posts with an overview of what happened and what was discussed in the community each month. Also reading some of the older blog posts shows just how far we all have come and how this community has grown in leaps and bounds over only the last 3 years!
Thank you all for allowing me to be a part of this amazing journey!
A quad VCA, switchable DC/CV and Audio (same like 2VCA), and a mix output! So it is also a 4-channel CV controllable mixer!
You can buy this module in the shop now!
A dual bass-treble tone control, that is a quite useful companion for the MIXCONSOLE.
This module is now available in the shop!
The VMBRIDGE module offers all necessary level adaptations for cross-patching between Volca Modular and AE modular. It offers two audio and two CV connections for each direction (from/to Volca Modular), plus two minijack connections for the CV and Sync in/out connections of the Volca Modular.
You can find more info and purchase this module in the shop!
4 inputs, four outputs; you can make freely every connection between these, no matter if CV or audio signals. Each routing / connection setting can be stored in one of 64 preset memories. Selecting the presets is possible by up/down triggers, CV, and of course by two up/down buttons.
A performance mode makes it possible to switch between 16 presets by simply pressing one of the matrix buttons - quite handy for live use!
You can now buy this module in our shop!
The following modules have now been successfully prototyped and will soon go into production!
This module will allow a click-free muting of up to 6 audio channels with illuminated pushbuttons. It is a nice addition for the MIXCONSOLE and is perfect for live performances.
Think of those white fluffy water vapours in the sky and then think of the famous Eurorack module with a very similar name … This module is (for me) one of the most exciting additions to the AE palette!
Cable Holders by Flavorwave
This cable management attachment fits perfectly on all AE Modular racks and has already attracted much interest from the community. Check it out on Flavorwave's Online Shop.
There’s also a discussion thread on the forum: https://forum.aemodular.com/thread/1407/help-cable-management-kit-question
Music made by the Community
More and more fabulous tracks are being released into the AE Modular community. Each is a testament to the incredible creativity of these artists and how they use the modular synthesizer to express their visions of sound. Again the following list is only an excerpt of all the wonderful new tracks that have been posted. Please visit the forum for more!
Live Jam with Movie Comments by @lukylutte - It’s always so interesting to see how people use the AE Modular in live environments. https://forum.aemodular.com/thread/1430/kinda-house
Techno Jam with the new 555 Breadboard Oscillator - Keuerslager Kurt just can’t stop. After his recent success with his first new modules he’s already working on the next one and showing it off here with great aplomb!
Psychedelic Video by @101 - There are a few really interesting music videos now posted on the forum with very artistic graphics. This one also features a nice psychedelic guitar:
Aphex Twin inspired Jam and showing off yet another Breadboard Design - We just can’t keep Keuerslager Kurt quiet! Does he ever sleep? This jam shows off his arpeggiator prototype on a breadboard:
And this is another jam with that same arpeggiator. This is more ambient:
First Jam and it rocks! - New to AE and new to the forum, but this track makes us want to see and hear more of user @maydonpoliris:
First Ambient Track with Drone38 and DronX - Ambient master Moruial puts the new drone modules to work in this slow and meditative track:
Ambience and Swirling Video - user @dmoney2000 (UY Scuti) achieves a very captivating symbiosis between his ambient soundscapes and the swirling video structures:
Ambient Solina - @lorizon doesn’t post very often, but when he does the tracks are just absolutely excellent. This dreamy piece is another one of these marvels:
Video Synthesis and AE Modular - This is a faster track by Uy Scuti featuring video synthesis and a techno track made with the AE and other synths
A Volley of Ambient and Droney Pieces - are coming from user @pt3r who creates these amazing sound and video scapes with only a Starter Rack 2 and some FX. And lately he has even released an album on Bandcamp which might or not be your “Cup of tAE”
New AE Modular Podcast
This is an initiative of The Tuesday Night Machines, Slowscape and The 5th Volt with the goal to meet once every month over Zoom and just talk about various topics concerning the AE Modular community. We are thinking of inviting guests in the future, so if you would like to be part of one of the next episodes, please contact @admin via the forum! All episodes will be listed in the forum thread below.
As usual, the DIY projects have bloomed in April. No wonder since it’s Spring in the northern hemisphere where most of AE’s fans live! The following is an excerpt of what our genius inventors have posted to the forum. However please check out the DIY board yourself and also go on to our Discord server where you can participate in real-time chat and discuss your next DIY project.
Free 3D printed AE Modular stand
Posted by user @lillyschwartz this looks like a great way to prop up a one case system. Thanks to Lilly for also posting the model files on Thingiverse so that anyone with a 3D Printer can make this stand!
Double Rack Stand
This is another 3D printed rack mount and holds together the cutest little AE setup that we’ve ever seen. Check it out in all its cuteness:
“Legendary” 555 VCO by Thomas Henry
In his typical Lab Notebook fashion, Zeno aka Keuerslager Kurt has presented his experiments with turning the good old 555 timer chip into a wonderfully tracking VCO. The design has been out for a number of years and was only waiting for someone dedicated enough to port it to the AE. However for now it only lives on Zeno’s breadboard even though it already makes amazingly good sounds.
And because Zeno can’t stop inventing new things he’s also presented us with a breadboard prototype of a new arpeggiator module that allows for CV controlled transposition of the root note. Check out his detailed report:
Chaos aka Sloth
This module is yet another project by Zeno and is a clone of the Sloth Eurorack module made by Nonlinear Circuits. It is a source of slow moving chaotic CV and great for drones and ambient things. Check out the progress here:
Powering your AE directly via Micro USB 5V
Felix aka TheTuesdayNightmachines wanted a super compact Drone Rack and found a way to get the modules powered without losing 1U to a Power module! This is a great hack for those small, battery powered rigs.
Other Forum Topics
The AE Modular forum is a safe space for musicians and allround creative souls and in the Lounge we can discuss many other topics that aren’t directly related to hardware, software or even music making. It allows us to come together as people and as creatives and share our thoughts, philosophies and dreams. I think that it’s this opening up and sharing more personally our thoughts on our journey as artists that makes this community so incredibly fun and rewarding.
How the modular synth has kindled my creativity!
User @johnpg “broke cover” and wrote a long and very important piece on the forum about his new creative process and he states that “Your mistakes and errors are not mistakes and errors - they are your STYLE.”
I think this is such an important message especially for beginners as it will help to overcome the “fear of not being good enough” that might hold some people back from ever discovering and fulfilling their creative potential.
Tell Me About Jazz
This has become one of the most frequented threads in April and has definitely struck a chord in many of our members. What is Jazz? How do you make Jazz? How (if at all) can we make Jazz with our modular synths? Even if you never thought about or particularly liked Jazz, reading the posts in this thread will give more insight and most likely an appreciation of the influences that Jazz had and still has on all music and why not also on our electronic music?
Sisters with Transistors
If you haven’t yet seen this new documentary about some of the pioneering women who have contributed hugely to the development of synthesizers and electronic music, then you should definitely give this a go. Here is a good writeup to whet your appetite before you buy the incredibly cheap ticket to see this movie!
This blog is going to be a bit different, mainly because Robert has been super busy with orders and hasn’t had much time to work on new modules. Most people who are anxiously waiting for a package from Germany may appreciate this!
However we are going to introduce a new independent AE module creator and his two new modules.
Zeno is a relative newcomer to the AE Modular community, but boy did he make an entrance! Already his first few videos were thumping and were immediately followed by a series of live streams of techno done with his new AE Modular system. From the start he was engaged in the DIY channel of the Discord server and board on the forum and it wasn’t long before he introduced his first module idea - Kurt’s Dead Band Filter. You can see his first announcement here:
He has taken a big step and really turned this prototype into a product which is now for sale as a DIY kit. That’s why we would like to know more about Zeno, how he got into making electronic music and where he gets his ideas for building modules.
First things first, what are those new modules?
Kurt's Dead Band is an audio/CV manipulation tool for AE Modular, homemade with tons of love by Keurslager Kurt. In the kit you will find everything you need to make your own 1U Dead Band module, you only need a soldering iron and some solder. The build is very beginner friendly, with only through-hole components.
Kurt’s Quad Boost is an amplifier module for the AE Modular format. It is tailored specifically for AE Modular, but it will work for every signal from 0-5V, and it runs on 5V. It consists of four transistor amplifier circuits, inspired by the old-school ‘LPB-1’ guitar pedal. Each amplifier circuit has its own dedicated ‘Boost’ knob that controls the input volume. The amplification has a distinct ‘transistor sound’. Due to the non-linear nature of this simple component, it is by no means a clean boost at all. Depending on the input volume, you will get everything in between crispy high end accents and deep low-end fatness.
You can see the Quad Boost in action here:
Where can people buy your modules and how much do they cost?
I will start off by offering my modules as a complete kit. So you get the PCB, front panel and all components, but you need to solder and mount it together yourself. It is honestly really easy, and could be a great beginner build for everyone who wants to try out soldering! You can get a soldering iron for as low as €10 these days and that will do for a small build like this.
I would like to offer full modules in the future, but the reality for the moment is that I have no decent workbench to do long soldering sessions, nor do I have the spare time for it besides my day job. It also makes shipping considerably harder, as I can send the kit just as a ‘flat’ envelope package, but a full module would have very different shipping needs. So we’ll see what the future brings, I’ll be on the lookout for ways to make the full module possible, and of course the success of the kit will also determine the future.
A website is in the works, but for now you can buy my Dead Band kit for €37.95 (or $45 USD, without shipping costs) via Tindie on this page:
The Quad Boost is also available now (quicker than expected)! It’s a slightly more dense build, there are more components on a smaller space, but nothing is really fragile and all components are through-hole. This full kit costs €33.86 (or $40 USD, no shipping included).
Please tell us a bit about your musical journey. How did you start making electronic music and who are your influences?
My first exposure to electronic music must have been the LP’s of Kraftwerk from my dad. However, this felt like ‘old’ music already when I was a teenager. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed listening to these records, but the first time electronic music blew me away must have been Mount Kimbie’s debut album ‘Crooks & Lovers’. I think I was about 16 years old and it sounded like nothing else at that moment, and yet, it felt very catchy and accessible. Listening back to it now, I can hear tons of interesting soundscaping, loads of hiss, bitcrushed drums, etc, but back then it was the melodies and funky rhythms that I heard. I think making and experimenting with music yourself makes you hear other music very different.
Then came tons of albums that sucked me into electronic music. There was James Blake’s first EPs and album, I remember Boards Of Canada releasing a new album which made me discover their fantastic debut. I dove into Aphex Twin and Autechre, and also enjoyed more recent stuff from people like Flying Lotus or Fourtet. One of my favorite albums was also Moderat’s ‘II’, which gave some nice introductions to techno and club music. And probably my all time favorite electronic artist is Oneohtrix Point Never, he really blurs all lines between experimental, cheesy pop and noise with his incredible catalogue of the last decade.
But the biggest influence that made me want to make techno music was definitely Recondite. He really makes music that makes me dance and touches my soul, but in a very German Techno way. It’s very minimal, almost cold music, and yet it’s crafted so well that it makes me feel something. So my first experience going to a Techno club was seeing Recondite live in a warehouse in my hometown of Ghent, and that is definitely what got me into the clubbing and techno scene.
Seeing these people perform, often with live rigs consisting of tons of Elektron gear, desktop synths and often a modular rig, made me dream about my own system. Like a lot of people here, seeing the steep prices of Eurorack gear made me reconsider my dreams. When Covid hit, I was pretty much locked at home without work (I give practical courses about electrical motors at Uni). I was lucky enough to keep my paycheck, so I had more money than usual (as I couldn’t go out), and way more time. So this is the point where I really got into hardware synths, starting with a TD-3 and an Elektron Model:Samples. After some months I also started recording live videos of my jams, which got watched by random people online (much to my suprise!!). I’ve played in quite some bands, and it always seemed so hard to even reach 100 different listeners that are not our own friends & family. So this was really a new experience for me that gave me tons of energy to explore hardware synths further.
This is also when I started to use the ‘Keurslager Kurt’ alias. I was in search of a good artist name, and it's a bit of a recurring trend with European Techno artists to make music under their own name (Charlotte Dewitte, Adam Beyer, Amelie Lens, Stephan Bodzin, Robert Langer,..). But in my opinion ‘Zeno Van Moerkerke’ was not really a great stage name. So I ended up using ‘Keurslager Kurt’, which is actually the name of the local butcher in the small rural village where I grew up (Keurslager meaning ‘quality butcher’ in Dutch). It sounds a bit brutal, which is perfect for making techno music, but it’s also a bit stupid, to indicate that I don’t take myself too serious. So when you see recurring hints to meat, butchers, etc, in my music and artwork, now you know why! Oh, and to be clear, I’m not with the meat lobby, it’s not meant to be serious at all ;-)
So after diving into hardware synthesizers,I got to know AE Modular through a video of BoBeats in the second half of 2020. Seeing those prices and hearing the fantastic music of people on here (I remember the cactus video of Slowscape in particular, but of course also the videos of Tuesday Night Machines, The 5th Volt & Technobear) made me take the dive into modular!
You have used other electronic instruments in the past and we can see a Digitakt in one of your videos. Why did you choose to add the AE Modular to your arsenal and how does it fit into your music?
Modular seemed very inspiring to me as it can do things that really no other hardware instrument can do. I’m very interested in synthesis and the crossing of science and music, and AE Modular seemed perfect for that. Besides all that, AE Modular is also compact, which is important as I have very little space to work with.
I think Digitakt and AE Modular make a fantastic pairing. I often use Digitakt as the central piece of my setup (much like a lot of AE users use a Deluge), it sends clock & MIDI signals while it also provides a fantastic sequencer with tons of musical options. However, AE Modular offers an endless amount of possibilities that the Digitakt does not have, as it is a sample based machine. Modular also gives a great way to introduce random factors, small changes and such that make the music come to life!
However, even with high expectations, I was still very impressed, surprised even, by how extremely good AE Modular sounds. I did not find a lot of people dipping in techno and more ‘harsh’ sounds on youtube, so it was a bit of a guess whether it would be something that fits AE Modular. But the brute force and power that you can create with the system really blew me away. I have spent so much time with the machine the last half year, I even sold quite some of my older gear because I don’t use it anymore since I have my AE, haha.
What do you like about the system and where would you like to see improvements?
Like most of us, I was sucked in by the affordable prices, but what impressed me most was the fantastic sound quality. I also love the patch cables, it keeps the system so portable and makes it really easy to interface with experiments on a breadboard. I think the analog modules side of AE Modular really bring tons of great options already, and I think the most ‘groundbreaking’ new options might be in the digital side of things. Which is ironic, because I only make analog stuff, haha!
So what I miss most is some type of complex, digital sequencer that would really make the system a standalone powerhouse for more percussive stuff too. However, I still have made quite some live techno on AE Modular alone, and the TOPOGRAF has been a godsend for that. What would also solve that ‘problem’ for me, would be the possibilities to have multiple MIDI channels to CV in. My Digitakt can send and sequence up to 8 MIDI tracks, so multiple MIDI in channels on the AE would make some seriously complex songs possible!
But I feel like this community is growing fast, and so many people are loving the system, that it is only a matter of time for more and more third parties to arrive! Together with Robert himself churning out so many modules, I feel like the future is gonna be great for AE (and the present is already so great!!).
How did you get started with electronics and how did you get the idea for the new modules?
I only got into electronics about one and a half years ago, when I started at my new job at the University. The previous lab teacher who retired, was an electronics geek building his own amplifiers and stuff. In the past, when people at the university were going to throw old stuff away, he always kept it in different cases ‘hidden’ in the lab. So when I was going through all the stuff, I found tons and tons of old PCB’s with loads of different stuff. I was triggered to go online and search what all these different chips did. I found some chips that came out of an old function generator, and found out that synth diy legend Thomas Henry used these exact chips to build a synth in the past. It led me into a rabbit hole of diy builders and youtubers like Look Mum No Computer, Simon The Magpie, and many more.
I started building guitar pedals, as I did not have a lot of synth knowledge back then, I mainly played guitar. However, testing guitar pedals is really a drag. You have to mess with a huge contraption of jack sockets going to your breadboard, connecting a ton of grounds with alligator clips and at the same time you have to hold and play your guitar! No fun, and very frustrating at times. So when I got my AE Modular, it was when I really took a deep plunge in audio electronics, as it is so easy to connect a breadboard and experiment! I must add that I’m also quite an electronics nerd by now, I read ‘The Art of Electronics’ before I go to sleep in bed these days, haha.
So the idea for new modules did not come out of a direct need, but rather out of learning new circuits and trying them out to see if I can make something musical with it. My first module, Kurt’s Dead Band, was based on a super interesting video I found by Prof. Aaron Lantermann. It seemed like a fun, super basic circuit that I could easily try out on the breadboard, and it worked! So I took that idea to the AE Modular forum, and both Robert and @namke (from Wonkystuff) provided me very useful input on converting this basic building block to a useful module. So I managed to add CV, together with the option for both audio & DC in, and I even discovered an ‘easter egg’ in the circuit by accident that made it possible to both create a horizontal and vertical dead band.
The Quad Boost also came into existence while I was learning more about transistors. I still have a hard time completely grasping transistors, as they feel like very complex and non-ideal building blocks with a lot of unexpected properties. So while I was learning about circuits to use a transistor as a simple amplification device, I wanted to try and design one to test my new knowledge. So after a lot of calculations and mistakes on paper, I figured out a working, simple circuit on 5V. It’s actually so simple that I managed to fit four identical circuits on one PCB with all through-hole (so easy-diy) components. I really love the sound of it, it's not a clean amplification by any means, but I think other people will enjoy the transistor boost sound too!
There is actually a fun twist with the Quad Boost: you can change just one specific resistor value in the circuit which really alters the sound in a cool way, giving it some dirtier clipping/overdrive sound. For example, for my own version I have two of the four transistor boost circuits with the ‘standard’ value, and the two others with the ‘dirty’ version. For the module I will include some extra resistors, so people at home can make their own personal version of the circuit! I will also include four different transistors for the circuit, but these only alter the sound in some very subtle (or imaginary?) way, but it's fun to introduce some randomness.
Do you have more ideas? What do you think you will produce next?
I have been messing with a recording/playback chip, ISD1820. It's a low cost and very glitchy chip, which is a lot of fun, but also very unstable. If I figure out a way to make it work reliably, I think it could be a fun circuit to convert to a module. One thing that I would also love to make is a completely analog drum kit module that is suitable for more techno-oriented setups: kick, snare and hihat. A clap would also be nice, but seems rather hard to do. So this one needs a ton more research and is something for the longer future. Probably I will do some random other circuits in between, depending on what crosses my path!
Of course I’m always interested in what other people would like, and I will also make all my schematics public on the forum, as that is how I learned about electronics in the first place! So I would like to spread the knowledge and help other interested people or builders. Anyone who has questions, tips, or thoughts, I’m very happy to chat and talk about this kind of stuff.
More Info, Social Media, etc
Don't forget to visit his Tindie Shop and buy those two modules!
February was a strange month. As you may know, we rely on our Chinese manufacturers for the production of many parts of the AE Modular. As every year, China closes for some weeks over the Chinese New Year festival in early February, therefore we placed a big order before that. Four big parcels arrived in Germany in time, with the module boards we needed to fulfil a huge amount of outstanding orders plus filling our stock; we were happy that everything went well so far. But then we found that our parcels were held by the German customs, we learned that the customs were overloaded by much more parcels they have to process (with the same staff), mostly caused by the new and somewhat chaotic customs situation of UK Brexit! So for around two weeks we did what we could with the material at hand, but the bulk of our product was stuck! And we thought 2020 was bad for shipping!
Then we heard more and more troubling reports from some customers in the USA who asked about parcels that were sent many weeks and even months ago and still hadn’t arrived! After some digging we finally received a message from DHL about the abysmal state of the US Postal Service and its backlog of half a million packages! You can read most of it on the forum:
We are still investigating other options to hopefully reduce the wait time and also to make the posting of our valuable packages more secure. As a first measure, we added optional DHL Express shipping for orders from North-/South America. With this, parcels are delivered usually within 3-4 work days.
On a much more positive note, we have started on the design of the special systems for educational purposes and are now working on a matching curriculum with an organisation which specialises in delivering music workshops for kids! We will reveal more once there is a bit more substance to this project, but it’s definitely going in the right direction and is very exciting!
The mentioned miseries have no impact on the very good mood in the AE team; we are so motivated and encouraged day by day by all the feedback and excitement we get from our customers - from YOU!
With the most important packages detained at the customs facilities, Robert had time again to finish off some new modules! The series of modules that make up the mixing console in AE Modular is now extended and offers serious playability to live and studio artists. You can expect further extensions like modules for tone control/equalizer and muting channels in the near future - the field of “mixing” offers a lot of modular extensibility too ;-)
MIXCONSOLE XLR Out (balanced)
This is an extension module for the MIXCONSOLE which we introduced earlier in the year. It adds two balanced XLR sockets for connection to PRO audio equipment. It connects to the MIXCONSOLE via an internal connector cable at the back of the module.
You can buy this module here in the online shop.
MIXCONSOLE JACK Out (unbalanced)
If you don’t want to use adapters between the ⅛’’ (3.5mm) mini jacks of the MIXCONSOLE and a studio mixer or audio interface, then you can install this module which offers mono ¼’’ (6.5mm) unbalanced jacks. This module connects either to the MIXCONSOLE or to the XLR OUT module via an internal cable at the back.
You can buy this module here in the online shop.
This is another module that makes playing with the AE Modular fun and engaging. The joystick can be moved into 4 directions and either send four individual control voltages or attenuate 4 incoming CV signals. In addition it acts as a CV mixer on a separate output.
If you have an eye on a four-quadrant audio mixing with the joystick, then you will welcome the upcoming 4VCA/VCMIX module ;-)
You can buy this module here in the online shop.
We’ve added the following accessories to make AE Modular even more colourful, and to give you more tools to make music and even build your own modules.
New Rack Colour Options!
You can now choose many different colours for the front and side panels when buying individual racks, check it out in the online shop. The days of the grey, red and black are numbered! Combine these new rack colours with the colourful knobs and you can create your very unique style!
To buy the racks with the colour options, go to this product in our online shop!
Adapter audio cables 3.5mm to 6.5mm
The MIXCONSOLE only has 3.5mm mini jacks, but most audio mixers and effect pedals come with 6.5mm connectors so we now offer these adapter cables in our online shop.
Of course, they can be used also with MASTER, 4I/O and other modules with minijack sockets.
Various parts for DIY
As you can see in the forum (more about this below) there are more and more people that create their own modules, either just for themselves or, as we hope, to sell or otherwise make them available to the wider AE Modular community.
We want to support this as much as we can, so here you can buy the original parts that we are using to build the AE modules.
If you are a manufacturer and want to buy these parts in bulk for your product development, please contact us. We are happy to negotiate a favourable arrangement with you!
Express shipping for North-/South America
After the painful experience with the extreme long shipping times to the US we decided to add optional express shipping for these countries. Of course, the shipping costs are significantly higher (especially for small parcels with a few modules / accessories), but if you need the components really quick, you have this option now. You can choose between regular shipping or DHL Express during checkout.
Music made by the Community
Every month the AE community surprises us with new music! It’s an incredible joy to see the system being used in so many different ways, each beautiful in their own ways. And even though Jamuary is over, the community didn’t stop producing more tracks than we can list here!
This month was abuzz with DIY projects! It is amazing what people come up with if you give them a relatively simple framework and safe voltages to play with. Many of these projects look really promising and we hope that these might turn into proper modules in the future! Here are just some of the projects that were presented this month.
AEtari Punk Console
The Atari Punk Console is probably the “Hello World” of sound electronics! And in this post, it is shown how to patch it on the BRAEDBOARD module. Inadvertently pictures of a new cute “baby” case were leaked ;-)
When the DIY community is missing a function, it just builds it! Here are two designs for a ring modulator circuit
Teensy 4.0 Sample Player
The sound examples for this DIY sample player based on a Teensy chip is very promising and all the code is provided in this post. Check it out!
CV to MIDI
It seems that user @sleeptotem never sleeps! Here is another project based on a Teensy which transforms CV to MIDI. It’s very sophisticated even though it currently lives on a breadboard.
This wasn’t really introduced as a DIY project, rather it featured as part of a techno jam by our techno master Keuerslager Kurt. But this simple compressor circuit sounds “badass”!
Kurt’s Dead Band Waveshaper
Keuerslager Kurt is on a roll! This module now comes with a “proper” PCB and there are hints that this glitchy, noisy waveshaper might become a proper product, possibly a DIY kit! Exciting to see new 3rd Party developers on the scene!
Euclidean Sequencer with Arduino
This is a very sophisticated sequencer based on an Arduino Micro and assembled onto a AE Modular DIY board. It looks and sounds amazing and we would love to see more of this.
New mini AE format by XODE
The AE Modular format got even smaller when, completely out of the blue, XODES announced his invention and prototype of the 1/3 modules. These consist of a base module in 1U format which is used to mount up to 3 smaller modules. Very impressive design and the prototype looks absolutely gorgeous!
You should check out the thread on the forum which showed the excitement this has sparked in the AE Modular community!
However a few days later there was this thread on the forum from XODES about potential pricing, design and manufacturing principles and how an independent module manufacturer can make a living from designing and selling synth modules without compromising his principles. It was a very good discussion and showed that there are always many sides to one story and that it’s important to view an issue from many different angles. Also that sometimes one might not do something if it means compromising on one’s principles. Please read this for yourself:
We completely support XODES’ position and hope that he will find a way to make this work for himself and the AE Modular community. If you are keen to see the 1/3 modules come to life and have an idea on how to help XODES make this a reality, please let us know in the forum!
Colourful Racks sighted on Facebook
Joel, one of the first Kickstarter supporters, has started the colour revolution and posted this beautiful photo of his rack which looks like the German or Australian Aboriginal flag, but not quite ...
There was also a discussion on logical colour schemes and we like the following idea:
What do you think? If you have transformed your rack with coloured knobs and have other ideas about the colour schemes, then please let us know in the forum!
There were reports of some dead Wasp Filters which could be due to a production issue for one batch of modules. If you have a dead wasp that has this behaviour then please contact us for help.
Wonkystuff’s rbss doesn’t play nice with the QUANTIZER module?
There were some reported issues with the QUANTIZER module when used together with the rbss module from Wonkystuff. This issue has to do with some jittery noise on rbss modules of earlier batches (below #130) and can be fixed relatively easily by soldering a 103 capacitor onto the board. This thread shows how this issue was tracked down in the forum and subsequently resolved by Wonkystuff.
You can find the instructions on how to fix your rbss on the Wonkystuff website:
It’s just amazing to see how constructive and helpful the AE community is! There is never any blaming, just people working together to find and fix problems in a supportive way.
It’s truly a very special community!
Words from Robert
We have all been waiting for the year 2020 to end and have high hopes for positive change in 2021. Here at tangible waves we are certainly looking forward to the months ahead and have big plans to continue making modular synthesis available for everyone. Since the beginning of the system 3 years ago, we have steadily improved existing modules and have designed a plethora of new ones - and each single one is designed and produced with all my/our passion and excitement to see the thing growing and flourishing. This year will be no different and we’re hoping that you will enjoy all the new products that we will be releasing along the way.
This year we will also strive to make modular synthesis available to school students, by designing a rack configuration with matching workbook which can be used in schools and other institutions to teach children not just how to make electronic music, but also use this medium to further the student’s interests in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects.
Last year has seen people physically isolated from each other as each country went into various stages of lockdowns and most meetups, conventions and events were cancelled. But then we saw how people got together online via Zoom, Twitch and YouTube. Suddenly meetings were happening across continents that otherwise weren’t possible. This year we may see more of those online events and we hope to see you there!
Shipping Delays due to COVID-19
While we have always struggled to keep up with the incredible demand for our systems, last year was especially bad, in that shipping was seriously interrupted due to the pandemic.
Especially shipping to the US was, and still is, a total nightmare because there are much less flights, most DHL parcels go mostly by ship and take 6 to 8 weeks to arrive! DHL asks not to place parcel inquiries before 8 weeks after shipping. Even worse, the USPS tracking is almost completely useless, all US customers we hear from get no updates for weeks. The only "good" news is that all of our parcels have always arrived, not a single one fell from the ship and drowned in the ocean.
So please be patient! While the global delivery systems will hopefully slowly increase their capacity again, so we are working hard to make our production workflow more and more efficient and catch up with our backorders list. One of our main goals for 2021 is that no customer has to wait more than 10-14 days from order to shipping until mid of this year.
New colour option for cases
To make your AE system even more personal, we now offer the possibility to customize the AE cases in a very wide range; you can choose individual colors/materials for the side panels and front/back - with different types of acrylics and two types of wood you can build your unique AE case.
DRONE38 is a sound generator with 18 oscillators in total, organized in six groups of three oscillators each. 12 of them can be switched between sawtooth and triangle waves, 6 are fixed sawtooth oscillators.
The groups can be mixed individually with 3 mixer knobs, where each 2 groups can be assigned to the level. Additionally, each group can be activated / “played” with buttons near the group.
The oscillators are not meant to be controlled by CVs, but only set static with a knob.By mixing them, very dense drones and clusters can be created.
Additionally, 6 oscillators can be synced to other ones for extending the sonic palette.
The DRONE38 is now available in our shop.
DRONX is a special mixer designed especially for the DRONE38 module; if has 6 input channels (so you can connect two DRONE38 modules) and offers some sound processing capabilities: A tone control with bass and treble control, a distortion, and finally a dual delay with different algorithms. Two insert points allow to add up to two more audio effects to the internal signal chain. Together with the DRONE38 module(s) you get a quite nice drone synth for dense, dark soundscapes. Of course, it can be used with any other sound sources!
The DRONX is now available in our shop.
TRIP is a trigger processor module; it takes incoming triggers and repeats them - you can think of it as a delay module for triggers. The delay time and the number of repeats can be set with a knob and additionally be CV controlled. Beyond static delay, the delays of one input trigger can be accelerated or decelerated, leading to the rhythm of a bouncing ball. In another mode, the probability of the output triggers can be chosen.
Different output modes change the assignment of the delays to the eight outputs; either, all delayed triggers for one input trigger are on one output, or the delays go through the outputs 1...8. By this, complex events can be triggered. Finally, the acceleration and the gate time can be CV controlled as well.
The TRIP is now available in our shop.
New GRAINS Firmware
From the Netherlands, the origin of the Grains Eurorack module, comes this new firmware which offers a really good sounding waveshaping oscillator. This has been developed by Kassen Oud, who usually develops his live sets using the live audio programming environment ChuCK. This oscillator is based on West Coast Synthesis ideas and features two sine waves with the second being hard synced to the first via a ring modulator. Then there’s also a wave shaper. Everything is manually or CV controlled which makes for some really fat sounds. It also tracks really well at 1v/oct.
You can download the firmware from the Github website here:
You can find out more about Kassen via his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/kassen.oud
And this video by The 5th Volt shows how this new firmware works:
News from the Community
Music made by the Community
The community was again very active with making music.
First off we had an extra thread to get a few videos up for Jamuary 2021. There are some really nice submissions there, check it out:
Apart from that there were many other cool new projects and tracks by our members, for example:
There’s heaps more, please check it out at https://forum.aemodular.com/board/5/ae-music-performances
So many new people join the forum every month and I’m always happy to see them post their “first jam” with the AE Modular! While posting your first jam is incredibly courageous as you’re just finding your way around the new instrument, it’s also very rewarding especially when you get the feedback from our friendly community. Here are a few first james from new members:
The DIY section of the forum was on fire this month with new modules and other cool things being built in the living rooms and garages of our members:
Cardboard DIY Stand
We also see a lot of DIY discussion over on the Discord channel. Please always remember, if you’ve built something cool, please post it on the forum, so more people become aware of it!
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.
Robert Langer, founder of tangible waves. Here, I will share some thoughts, background infos and news about AE modular and tangible waves.