We’ve come full circle: the informal meetup seems to be eclipsing big trade shows. And for modular and boutique makers, KnobCon is now an American mainstay.

We saw Russia’s upcoming Synthposium. Moscow is as much music festival as it is gear conference. KnobCon in Chicago is mostly just gear – mentions of performances double as demos, and even the Friday party promises “gear-centric performances.”

With the ever-growing cadre of small modular makers in the USA, though, Chicago’s KnobCon is looking like the one place everyone will come together. A handful of bigger manufacturers (Roland, Yamaha, Elektron) join a mostly-boutique lineup – and Doepfer from Germany, who started the whole Eurorack thing.

Tom Oberheim, who’s gone from being historical legend to modern-day gear rockstar, will “headline” the event with a keynote. Maybe the most interesting feature is the Demo Derby. Sign up for dedicated time slots on a system, with the venue open to people bringing their own studio setups. (It’s a bit like a model train meetup – you can create any modular setup you like, in a defined area.)

Here’s the full lineup of gear makers:

1010music LLC
4ms Company
Amplified Parts
Art For The Ears
Arturia
Audioutlaw
Audulus LLC
Blue Lantern Modules
Catalyst Audio
Chase Bliss Audio
Conductive Labs
Copper Traces
Couture Voltage
Dave Smith Instruments
Delptronics
Detachment 3
Division 6
Doctor Synth’s World of ROMplers
DOEPFER Musikelektronik
Dwarfcraft Devices
Elektron
Elite Modular
Erogenous Tones
Etherealsun
Family Room Recordings
Five12 Inc
Future Retro
Great Lakes Modular
Grove Audio
Hammond
Industrial Music Electronics
Isla Instruments
JMLS – Logan Soloman Synth Research
Korg
KVgear
Landscape
Make Noise
Metalphoto of Cincinnati
Michigan Synth Works
Modular Addict
Mystic Circuits
Nerd Audio
Noise Engineering
Novation
omiindustriies
Rabid Elephant
Roland
Schlappi Engineering
SDIY Chicago
STG Soundlabs
Syinsi
Synth City
synthCube
Synthesis Technology
Synthrotek
SysEx Dumpster
Tascam
TipTop Audio
Universal Audio
VCV
Yamaha
Zetaohm
ZORX

More:
https://knobcon.com/

  • Dan Powell

    Brilliant headline!

  • im 14

    In the UK, “Knobcon” is the name for our governing party’s annual conference.

    • Joseph Guisti

      Zing!

  • Nicholas D. Kent

    As someone who has attended since year 1, I would not characterize any of the concerts as demos. That said, the typical attendee is interested in electronic music gear and meeting others with that interest and not a typical genre music festival crowd

  • Joseph Guisti

    I’ve been telling people for years that as high-minded as me “being into music stuff” (as people describe my synth addiction) might read at first glance, it’s really just my version of playing video games.

    But I’m realizing I now have a much better simile: I’m a model train enthusiast. For better or for worse.