Processing audio within your rack can add a fun and adventurous layer to your patches. Here’s our pick of the best new effects modules for Eurorack.
While wibbling with your wobbly bleeps and bloops is all very well, it’s the effects that can elevate a patch into something extraordinarily ambient or fiercely intense. In this roundup I’m looking at the Eurorack effects modules that have stood out for me. There are some classics that’ll be at the top of anyone’s list like the Strymon Magneto or Mutable Instruments Clouds/Beads but for this list I’m trying to keep it recent. I’m also avoiding massively multi-functional modules like the Poly Effects Hector, Empress Effects ZOIA Euroburo or Expert Sleepers Disting EX to hone in on modules that are a bit more focused.
So, if it’s not about them, then what are my top 5 Eurorack effect modules? In no particular order, here we go.
This is the first module from Modbap Modular and it’s killer. Per4mer is a 4-channel effects module designed for live jamming and performance – hence the name. The idea is that you have 4 performance effects that you can engage by punching the arcade-style buttons. The effects are Delay, Reverb, Glitch and Tape-stop. Alongside it also has a pair of processing effects built in to add Color and Compression with a side-chain input.
Delay and Reverb are obvious enough but Glitch does classic beat repeat and looper effects while Tape-Stop grinds your audio to a satisfying halt. The Color processor has 8 different presets and can bring in some lo-fi and saturation style vibes.
Feed in some audio and go to town on the buttons to drop in effects and processing on-the-fly. You can also take control over CV and use gates or the built-in AR envelopes to shape the outcome. It’s brilliantly engaging, gives you something extra to flavour your performances with and it sounds great.
Noise Engineering Ruina Versio
Versio is Noise Engineering’s DSP platform for super-weird effects modules. Each module can run all the firmware in the Versio series and the layout is identical for each except for the front panel design and labelling. So rather than have a blank Versio module that can be anything you have tailored Version modules (that can be anything) that are designed to reflect a particular firmware – does that make sense?
Anyway, there are currently 4 physical modules and 3 additional firmware and they are all fascinating, complex and deep but the one that caught my eye is the Ruina Version for its ridiculous levels of distortion and the DOOM knob.
Ruina Versio is all about distortion. It’s not one sort of distortion, it’s more sorts of distortion than you should ever fit into one module. It has wavefolding, phase distortion, multi-band destruction and up to 128dB of drive. You have a button for “Smoosh” and a knob for “DOOM” which you know is going to be dark and fabulous. And then if you fancy something different then you can turn it into a synthetic-tail generator, 12-tap delay or granular transformer. Excellent!
Talking of distortion if you want some straightforward and juicy breakup in your audio then Ciobra from Barullo could be just what you need. I’ve found it an awesome module to turn polite drum breaks and simple bloops into heart-stopping thumps of epic proportions. Of course, more subtle users would also enjoy the sweetness of the saturation and softness of the lo-fi vibes. But trust me, what you need to do is wind up that drive and ride the feedback to hell and back.
Ciobra is a distortion module with a 2-band shelving EQ and a feedback path that you can route out to other unfortunate things. There are 2 drive positions, you can boost the gain up to +48dB and you can control the blend between the dry and distorted signal. There’s plenty of CV control but I do rather like the hands-on approach.
- Barullo website
In a similar vein to the Noise Engineering TipTop Audio has been bringing out a range of effects modules that all follow the same form factor. However, although they share the same layout and DSP engine there’s no facility to swap firmware as far as I’m aware. While the reverb, delay and modulation modules are superb it’s the new FSU that feeds into my current bias towards destruction.
FSU will fudge your stuff up – oh yes. It has 3 main things going on; a guitar pedal inspired distortion, a granular glitch processor and tape looper. Each one has 8 algorithms to play with that give different approaches to the task at hand. On the distortion side, FSU goes from saturation, through bit crushing to ring modulation and frequency shifts. For Glitching it will play with the pitch, annoy the timing and grain itself through the audio. The Tape Looper offers sound-on-sound recording and adds in some chorus, varispeed and random grains.
The result is a dynamic and impressive range of sounds that work themselves around distortion into interesting grain textures and multi-layered sonic explorations.
Endorphin.es Golden Master
Something we don’t often think about in Eurorack is the fidelity of what’s emerging from our racks. We’re busy working on melody and noises and assume perhaps that we’d do any dynamic processing only once we’ve recorded it. Endorphin.es Golden Master offers a simple multi-band solution to massage your audio into a much punchier and dynamic state that will improve not only your recordings but the energy you generate in live performance.
Golden Master was inspired by the studio mastering sound of the 1990s. It has three bands of EQ with a +7dB boost and -20dB cut, a brick wall limiter to cap your upper limits, compression and mid/side processing. The module runs at 16bit and 96kHz with 32bit internal processing for superb sound quality. You stick the module at the end of the chain so that everything goes through it and you’ll find your output is transformed. It doesn’t feel like you’re doing anything particularly creative but it probably is the one module that does the most for your overall sound. It’s also available in the 1U format.