It’s been a while since Britain produced a polysynth with analog filters. So perhaps it’s fitting that SonicState gets up close with the modulus.002, in a lavish, nearly half-hour tour of the instrument, as this luxury instrument goes head to head in a very select club (including Dave Smith’s Prophet 12, as far as the New World goes).
And the modulus.002 has some more surprises, as the creators show off their analog tradition-meets-modern design production. It looks very high-end indeed, and has a slick, modern layout to match (though they’ve still included wooden end panels). There’s a joystick for the wavetables. There are pretty text labels. And there’s a bright, crisp AMOLED display, a bit reminiscent of the Teenage Engineering OP-1 (but still something of an rarity in the cut-cost world of synths). There are “animator” features for sequencing parameters, and deep options for mucking about with all those digital oscillators.
All in all, it looks like a luxurious instrument you’d want to pin to your bedroom wall and lust after, girls and boys.
It’s a great tour with Paul Maddox, Philip Taysom, and Luca Mucci – was a pleasure to meet Liam Lacey, as well, recently, in London.
And extraordinarily, developed in just 12 months.
And about the cost – brace yourselves – £2995 +VAT / $5200 / €3750. Yes, watching this video seems a bit like seeing the synth equivalent of Top Gear. There’s a thing of absolute, total beauty that my wallet can’t quite fathom at the moment.
Which brings me to an obvious observation: I’d love to see a monosynth version, a modulus.002.mini, if you will. Sure, the layering is great, but there’s still an awful lot of fun that could be had with a single voice, the joystick, and some parameter animation, for those of us on a budget.
But it’s phenomenal to see something high-end like this in wide production, and it seems the birth of a great new maker. Can’t wait to give you folks a visit soon, and definitely will be on my agenda for any UK tour.
Also, some specs to summarise for you:
12 voices, 2 oscillators + 2 sub oscillators per voice
Subs with switchable waveforms (either square or the waveform of the main oscillator)
4-pole transistor ladder filter with “pole sweeping”
One LFO per voice, one global LFO
“No menu options” – everything on the front panel
16-track, 12-row, 32-step sequencer with dedicated controls
Arpeggiator with sequence storage, hold mode
Animate any control parameter (like morphing that filter)
4.3″ display with wide viewing angles
Two audio inputs
Ethernet port for updates plus “cloud features” (guess we’ll see what that is – assume it’s for presets and the like)
Clarification: I should be particular in saying that there have been a number of polysynths out of England (hello, Novation!), and we can’t quite say this is unique in being an “analog” polysynth – as it isn’t. But it is an analog hybrid polysynth, and that’s unique.
Actually, maybe I shouldn’t be echoing SonicState’s exceptionalism at all. It’s not that this is a polysynth that’s extraordinary. It’s that it’s a freakin’ high-end polysynth.