by Stefan Wyeth | 4,1 / 5,0 | Approximate reading time: 4 Minutes
The Best Semi-Modular Synths

The Best Semi-Modular Synths for your Studio Setup  ·  Source: Moog

ADVERTISEMENT

Modular without the modules? Here’s a convenient way to get into modular synthesis. We’re looking at some of the best semi-modular synths for starting your own patch-lead spaghetti empire.

ADVERTISEMENT

Semi-modular synths first rose to fame with instruments like the Roland System 100, ARP 2600, the EMS VCS 3 and Synthi AKS, and the Korg MS-20.

Although these instruments are revered for their sound, they provided a different approach to sound design than the workflows of classic subtractive synths like the Minimoog.

Choosing the Best Semi-Modular Synths

Semi-modulars differ from regular analogue keyboards and desktop modules in that they provide CV I/O for the various sections of the synth. This enables the oscillator, filter, and envelopes to interact with each other as well as with external instruments.

This allows a huge range of real-time tweaking, which makes them especially useful in electronic music production workflows. Also, many of the semi-modular desktop units you’ll find have their own sequencer, which means you can get creating straight away.

Behringer Crave

If you’re looking for analogue sounds, the Behringer Crave provides a great entry point into semi-modular synths. You get plenty of patching I/O (18/14) and sound-shaping capabilities, plus the VCO chip is based on the CEM3340 which was used in classic synths.

In addition, the 32-note step sequencer and arpeggiator means you can immediately begin creating synth patterns. The Crave offers poly-chaining, and there is a good deal of connectivity for incorporating it with other gear in your setup.

Behringer Crave

Behringer Crave

Behringer Crave

Behringer Crave

Customer rating:
(586)

cre8audio East Beast and West Pest

Keen on exploring East Coast and West Coast style synthesis? cre8aduio and Pittsburgh Modular have created the perfect duo that allows you to experience the quirks of these two opposing schools of thought in synthesis.

cre8audio East Beast

cre8audio East Beast

Customer rating:
(11)
  • With the East Beast you get the classic East coast design with a multimode filter
cre8audio West Pest

cre8audio West Pest

Customer rating:
(17)
  • Meanwhile, the West Pest offers unique features like wave folding, FM, and an LPG-like dynamic section similar to the Taiga

Both are equipped with sequencers, mini button keyboards, and the versatile multimod modulation routing tool. You can also use either of these as Eurorack provided you have 40 HP of space.

cre8audio East Beast and West Pest

cre8audio East Beast and West Pest

PWM Malevolent

The Malevolent is a simple keyboard-orientated semi-modular synth with a great layout, which makes it a nice choice for beginners. The design feels somewhat familiar, with a few similarities to the Korg MS-20.

ADVERTISEMENT

You have all the basic necessities, including two oscillators, two envelopes, and an LFO, as well as distortion if you’re looking to get crazy. In addition, the internal arpeggiator has both MIDI and CV outs which makes the Malevolent useful for controlling other gear.

PWM Malevolent

PWM Malevolent

PWM Malevolent

PWM Malevolent

Customer rating:
(8)

Pittsburgh Modular Taiga

It provides a huge amount of creative controls, but the layout of the Taiga is still straightforward enough to get going without having to RTFM. From the extensive 3-oscillator sound generation section to the analogue delay, each section has its own corresponding CV I/O below the controls.

What’s more, there’s a preamp with overdrive below the mixer, a multimode filter, and a dynamics controller. There’s no step sequencer per se, but the MIDI to CV interface allows you easily sequence patterns from your DAW or another sequencer.

Pittsburgh Modular Taiga

Pittsburgh Modular Taiga

Pittsburgh Modular Taiga

Pittsburgh Modular Taiga

Customer rating:
(5)

The Moog Studio

With the Moog Studio, you get a complete modular desktop system, with 3 unique synthesizers neatly racked up and a 4-channel summing mixer and 3-way power supply unit.

  • The Mother-32 is a single oscillator synth with a 32-step sequencer and a 4 x 8 patch matrix
  • The DFAM is a percussion synthesizer with a simple 8-step sequencer and a 3 x 8 patch matrix
  • The Subharmonicon is a 2-oscillator synth with an 8-step polyrhythmic sequencer and a 4 x 8 patch matrix

*Each unit offers Eurorack compatibility in a 60 HP format.

moog studio

The Moog Studio

Moog Sound Studio: Semi-Modular Bdl

Moog Sound Studio: Semi-Modular Bdl

Customer rating:
(11)

More about the Best Semi-modular Synths:

Videos:

YouTube

By loading the video, you agree to YouTube’s privacy policy.
Learn more

Load video

YouTube

By loading the video, you agree to YouTube’s privacy policy.
Learn more

Load video

YouTube

By loading the video, you agree to YouTube’s privacy policy.
Learn more

Load video

*Note: This article contains promotional links that help us fund our site. Don’t worry: the price for you always stays the same! If you buy something through these links, we will receive a small commission. Thank you for your support!

Image Sources:
  • Behringer Crave: Behringer
  • cre8audio East Beast and West Pest: cre8audio
  • PWM Malevolent: PWM
  • Pittsburgh Modular Taiga: Pittsburgh Modular
  • The Moog Studio: Moog
The Best Semi-Modular Synths

How do you like this post?

Rating: Yours: | ø:
ADVERTISEMENT

One response to “The Best Semi-Modular Synths for your Studio Setup”

    Decimal says:
    3

    For the price of the The Moog Studio you could get a Behringer SYSTEM 55 – Modular Synthesizer with 38 Modules. And still have change left over to buy a PWM Malevolent.

    Just get a Moog sticker to cover up the Behringer logo.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *