It’s been a busy year for Eurorack, with many manufacturers navigating chip shortages to come up with interesting and unusual modules. Here are my top 5 picks of The Best Eurorack Modules of 2022.
Modbap has gone from strength to strength this year after the superb Osiris which rounded out a great 2021. We’ve seen Modbap add the useful Transit stereo mixer and the characterful Hue to the lineup. But it was the Trinity that really filled the holes in our rack this year.
Trinity is a 3-channel digital drum and percussion voice with 4 sound engines and enough attitude to blow your modular into the new year. The 4 engines take in analogue ideas, additive partials, FM metallics and chiptune to give you a stunningly versatile sound palette for making beats. It’s got heaps of modulation, mix and individual outputs and the ability to cycle through engines on-the-fly. I spent 2 minutes with this thing, and I was hooked.
No module has transformed the clarity of my live performances like the Kickain. I thought that struggling to get the kick drum through your mess of modular sound was normal. It was just one of those tricky things to tackle. The moment I plonked the Kickain on the end of my signal chain, everything changed.
It does need a bit of patching. Essentially Kickain is a side chain compressor module that sucks your mix down whenever your trigger your kick drum. It’s a common enough process and can create everything from a little bit of space to the throbbing, pulsing beat of sound and bass in perfect unison. But the kicker is that there’s a kick drum built in. It’s a 909-style kick with a bunch of controls, and it sits there perfectly in your mix.
Now, when I drop the kick in, it actually has an impact rather than a dull impression. It’s one of those modules that can revolutionise what you’re doing.
Bastl Instruments Pizza
If you’ve ever struggled with complex oscillators or wondered what on earth FM is all about in modular then Pizza is for you. Complex oscillators that feed one oscillator into another usually generate weird and largely unusable sounds, plus a handful of wonderfully sweet spots. Pizza gets rid of the crap and leaves with a module that’s one big sweet spot.
Whatever you do, however you shape, fold, ring modulate or FM it with itself, it comes up with something fascinating and musically useful. And as things get crazy out on the fringes, you can easily pull things back to simplicity and sweetness. It’s easy, and intuitive and will give you sounds you haven’t found before.
Erica Synths EDU
At the start of the year, Erica Synths released the first of 9 EDU DIY modules. They had been developed with Moritz Klein with the intention of teaching you about circuit design as you built and understood these modules. Over the course of the year, you slowly put together an entire modular system complete with sequencer, filter, pair of envelopes, VCA, LFO, Noise and so on, and you even built the case and power supply.
While building the kits and getting into the circuits is a lot of fun, it’s not for everyone. So now you can buy the whole system fully built and ready to go. It’s one of the best value ways to have an interesting modular system that’s ready to go and easy to build upon.
Busy Circuits ALM ASQ-1
Busy Circuits released quite a few modules this year, including the excellent MFX effects module and a brand new update on one of the most ubiquitous modules in Eurorack – Pams. The new Pams Pro Workout should probably be on this list, but while it’s excellent, it is an update rather than something new.
On the other hand, the ASQ-1 sequencer is completely new and an exciting module to have in your rack. It looks amazing, and you know those clacky keys are going to reward your fingers with awesome melodies. It’s not a complex device. The ASQ-1 has two channels of CV/Gate sequencing and four channels of trigger sequencing for drums. The neat arrangement could run a half-decent setup, particularly if you have a bit of Pams as a backup.
The sequencing nails that SH-101 style of punching notes, rests and ties and running with it. It’s instantly musical and intuitive and has you programming melodies and rhythms in a very familiar and deliberate way. This is the sort of module that makes you very happy, and new firmware updates have started to expand on its simplicity by offering further modes and ways of interacting with it. It’s a solid sequencer for people who want to make tunes.
I felt that I couldn’t let a roundup of the Best Eurorack Modules of 2022 slip by without mentioning Mutable Instruments. For many years Émilie Gillet has been producing some of the most iconic and engaging modules in Eurorack. But she made the decision earlier in the year to move on from module-making and do something else with her life. As a parting gift she’s just released a stunning new firmware for the Plaits Algorithmic Oscillator, which includes a 6-operator, DX7-compatible FM engine.
Emilie’s impact on modular synthesis cannot be underestimated, and I’d like to express my thanks and wish her all the best.
- Erica Synths EDU DIY System: Erica Synths