Modal Electronics have done it again. They’ve followed up their snap-together, affordable, simple synth with a drum machine in the same form factor.

Now, this UK company are a little puzzling. Modal make either very expensive flagship synths or very affordable, fun snap-together kits. It’d be like if Gulfstream also sold balsa wood toy planes. Well, sort of – it’s all good.

But whatever the larger brand strategy here, the Craft Rhythm looks very cool. You can load in your own samples, control filter and pitch, and mix together parts by track. There’s a 16-step sequencer and pattern chaining for assembling your grooves. And there’s decent I/O.

The “kit” part of this means the actual physical body is a little fiddly. As before, it’s a delicate little piece of hardware, now adding tiny buttons to the touch controls and knobs.

There’s an innovation, though: a companion app (iOS only?) gives you editing capabilities. That’s an idea that seems to be catching on. We’ve seen it in the Novation Circuit’s Web-based editor/library and sample loading and companion desktop synth editor. And we’ve even seen in KORG’s volca sample, though that was painfully slow loading samples.

Then again, by the time you use an app, you could just use a great drum machine app like Elastic Drums. No complaints here, though, as this looks like a good time.

The nearest competition had some companion software, too – Teenage Engineering’s Pocket Operator Tonic, which works with the awesome Sonic Charge Microtonic.

Awaiting word on pricing and availability.

If you’re in Chicago for Knobcon, do pay them a visit.

  • The app runs on iOS, macOS, Windows, and Android, so full marks to Modal for that. The unit is superior to the Korg Volca Sample in many areas: 44.1kHz versus 32 k sample rate, more patterns and longer chains, stores kits separately from patterns, has a filter envelope (in addition to pitch and amplitude), “pattern groove control” instead of simple swing, tap tempo, MIDI over USB and USB power.

    But the Modal lacks the motion sequencing that makes the Korg units so expressive. Even if a similar feature exists in the app I discount this because, as you rightly say, if you *must* use the app to get a feature while playing, you may as well use a dedicated drum app in the first place.

    The other huge win on the Korg is the ability to edit the start and end point of the sample, allowing all sorts of sonic mayhem. You can even turn the Volca unit into a wavetable synth of sorts. (As I document on Theatre of Noise.)

  • I want!! (subject to availability in backward Australia)…