Buchla modular synth

Robotspeak Modular Synth Meet

Last weekend, Robotspeak in San Francisco hosted a modular synth meet, with several manufacturers of synth modules on hand along with collectors and enthusiasts.

Eric Barbour of Metasonix was on hand, demonstrating his distinctive yellow tube-based modules, including a new spring reverb still in a pre-production phase.

Metasonix modular synth

I had the opportunity to try these out for myself. I particularly had fun with R-54 VCF, which I may have to get as a companion for my R-53.

AC at modular synth meetup
[Photo by Edward Sharp.]

Another favorite, Make Noise, was also present. I was particularly impressed with the Phonogene – I had heard it before, but this demonstration made the power of the module more apparent.

Make Noise modular synth

I also finally saw and understood what the Wogglebug module does.

Pittsburgh Modular’s offerings were more down-to-earth, workhorse modules. They make an entire basic range of oscillators, filters and modulators that can be obtained separately or in very accessible pre-packaged units like this one.

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The Pittsburg Modular demo was quite extensive, spanning several interconnected cases.

In the back room, there was a Buchla modular synth being demonstrated. It is a thing of beauty.

Buchla modular synth

In an interesting twist, the owners of the Buchla and the adjacent Arp 2600 decided to hook them up together. You can hear a little bit of the result in this video:

While Dave Smith does not build modulars, he is a San Francisco institution in the synth world, and was represented at the synth meet. We even got a sneak preview of the upcoming tabletop version of the Prophet 12.

Dave Smith Prophet 12 synth

It had the same luscious sound as the keyboard version, though in my opinion the QuNexus keyboard does not do it justice. This is probably a bias a trained keyboardist.

In all, it was a fun afternoon at what I have decided is one of the “most dangerous stores in San Francisco”.

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