As 2018 comes crashing to an end it’s good to take a moment and ponder the futility of being. But more importantly: what happened to all the cool gear that was promised? Here’s a roundup of synthesizers and modules we were hoping to see in 2018 but didn’t materialise, with updates on their current status (from those manufacturers that responded to enquiries). Happily, most are still under development and destined for 2019.
I’m not even going to talk about how many reimagined synthesizers and drum machines were promised for the end of the year. We’ve still only seen the Model D in the shops. The rest – RD-808, RD-909, Pro-1, Odyssey, UB-Xa and MS-101 are all taking much longer than anticipated. But we should see them in 2019.
A prototype was on demo at NAMM back in January and it looked like it could be a popular module. Drum is a 4-channel wavetable percussion module. It has three unique character settings, a clock input and 8 steps of motion recording. Its ability to record modulation was quite interesting and having 4 drum sounds in one module is very cool for small racks.
The other new modules at the show have all appeared, except the Random which we’ve never seen anything of. They were all scheduled for release last Spring but I guess other priorities get in the way. Malekko makes a lot of stuff, not just for themselves but for other companies too. In response to my query Malekko said it’s “one of our new year’s projects!”
SOMA Labs Pulsar-23
One of the most interesting devices of the year shown in a very hand-labelled prototype state back in June. It’s an organismic drum machine and looks like a whole world of fun and very different to any other groove machine. It has 4 channels of sound and envelope generators that feed into 4 loopers while being modulated and crushed from all the place.
SOMA say that pre-orders should be fulfilled early next year with general stock arriving by Superbooth. I for one can’t wait to see this thing properly in action. In the meantime here’s that fabulous prototype video.
Mordax GXN Granular
Mordax is the maker of the DATA Eurorack oscilloscope that you see in everyone’s videos. It came as a bit of a surprise when they revealed the GXN Granular module at NAMM this year. There was very little information at the time and there’s been none since but Mordax tell me that it’s still in the works – “slow and steady”. Here’s what we had on it.
Genki Instruments Wave
This was so interesting that I backed the Indiegogo campaign and have been looking forward to receiving my Wave since September. Sadly it slipped to December and now it’s slipped to June of 2019. Wave is a ring that you wear on your finger and generate MIDI control over Bluetooth. It’s a bit silly, like all these wearable controllers are, but also has a lot of potential to do interesting things. What I particularly liked was the companion Eurorack module that would map it as a CV modulator – that’s what got me.
Wave is still alive and well and I look forward to waving it about next summer.
Oh, come on Elektron!
Pittsburgh Sequence Designer
This was a beautiful desktop sequencer that seemed to match the MicroVolt in style and design. It appeared in videos around Superbooth 2018 and then vanished. There doesn’t seem to be any mention of it since on the Pittsburgh website and there’s never been an official press release regarding it. It looks fabulous! Pittsburgh said that it is still in protoype design and the best place for updates is their Instagram.
This fascinating Eurorack module appeared at Superbooth and is the first piece of hardware ever attempted by software synthesizer master U-He. CVilization is a CV processor capable of taking in signals, mixing them about and outputting them in interesting ways. In some ways it’s difficult to define and I guess that’s all part of the prototyping process. U-He says they are working it and we will see it in 2019.
Soulsby has had the ATX Atmultitron II keyboard on demo at various synth shows since NAMM. It’s the evolution of the Atmegatron 8-bit digital mono synth. It’s full of voices, full of different sound and synthesis processes and capable of extraordinary things. I confess I don’t really understand it yet. I reached out to Soulsby and they said despite it being all a bit quiet on the website and Facebook page they are working on it, they have new PCB revisions at the moment and are aiming for a release before the summer.
This was my pick of the most interesting module from Superbooth 2018. Last I heard in October was that after the massive response and interest at the show they are moving forward, trying to find manufacturing partners and all the messy stuff involved in bringing a module to market. They were expected pre-production models to arrive in November and it was still planned for a 2018 release. No further news at this time but hopefully something will emerge in 2019.
4MS Spherical Wavetable Navigator
This module appeared on my “Whatever happened to these synths 2017” article. The 4MS SWN turns up at every show with its LEDs spinning. LFOs pumping and sounds emerging and they it goes back in the box never to be heard of again. Still no news on this one.
Others from last year
Talking of 2017’s article there’s still no news on the Relic-6 from Shear Electronics, Tom Oberheim seems to have removed all mention of Eurorack from his website and it was Puma who ended up doing some TR-808 trainers. Other products like the Behringer Model D, System 80 Rhythm Composer and the Erica Synths Drum Computer did finally arrive.
What gear have you seen this year that’s driving you mad by still not being available?