Everything You Need To Know About Modular Synthesizers

Modular synthesizers can be described as synthesizers having separate units or modules which should be connected with patch cords or wires to generate or process audio. These are very flexible synthesizers and they have no fixed connections or routing between those units or modules.

Since they have no fixed connections, they need to be connected by patch cords through patch pins on a patch matrix by the user to generate overall routing of both audio and control information. Modular synthesizers can be found in both analog and digital forms.

Different types of combinations are found in Modular Synthesizers

The commercial modular synthesizers, which have been developed by Moog and Buchla in 1963, are the earliest of its kind. The development of synthesizers expanded the spectrum of electronic music. And gradually with time the modular synthesizer have developed remarkably.

Modular synthesizers with various combinations are now available in the market. Different modules with the same function having different inputs and outputs on various models can be found while looking for a modular synthesizer.

It is made up of modules which are interchangeable, allowing new modules to be added with ease, as well as the customization of existing modules. It is also the most expensive and exciting synthesizers found.

Standard modules found in Modular Synthesizers

There are different modules found in modular synthesizers. Some standard modules found on almost any modular synthesizers maybe categorized as follows

Voltage controlled oscillator. VCO will play a note with a pitched sound in a simple waveform which includes pulse, triangle, sine waves, square wave or a sawtooth wave.

Voltage controlled filter. VCF filters out all sounds and frequencies above (high pass), below (low pass) or both above and below (band pass) a certain frequency.

Voltage controlled amplifier. This is the module which controls the amplitude or overall volume of the synthesizer.

Low frequency oscillator. LFO has an output of low frequency waveform and the output is usually in a sine or triangle wave and is also used as a control voltage for some other module. For instance, is can be used to modulate the frequency of a VCO.

Envelope generator
The envelope generator is most commonly used to control the amplitude or volume of the sound, by routing it to the control input of the VCA. It is even used to control the timbre of the sound, by routing it to the control input of the VCF.

Ring modulator
Two audio inputs are utilized to create an inharmonic result while suppressing the original signals.

Slew Limiter
This can be used to create a smooth glide in between notes. It also smooth off the peaks of voltages.

Basic differences between digital and analog Modular Synthesizers

There are some specific differences between digital and analog modular synthesizers, but sometimes the digital synthesizers often imitate the procedure of their analog counterpart.

Though the digital synthesizers can utilize a flexible number of instances of any standard module but has an inadequate option of steering audio and control signals. Rather in case of analog synthesizers it is a very simple process of fixing patch cords.