I know what you’re thinking – why mess about with software if you’re about to buy into a completely hardware concept? For one very simple reason – a reality check. Up until now we’ve had a very romantic notion of modular. It looks so cool and so inviting and we know all about synthesis so how hard could it be? We might have even picked up a semi-modular synth and started patching and convinced ourselves that we know what we’re doing. But what a semi modular doesn’t teach you is how the basic, most simple connections are made – and they are not as obvious as you think.
Softube Modular is uniquely placed to reveal both the horror and the joy of patching modules other and what a modular system can sound like. Plus it’s only 70 quid. For me Softube Modular was a wake up call. It took me ages to get any sound out – I didn’t know it had presets and I didn’t stumble upon them for ages. And what I realised is that the fabulousness of modular only starts to reveal itself after a bit of work – once you start patching, start modulating. Before then it’s shockingly frustrating and unimpressive.
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So, rather than hit that wave of frustration and disappointment after spending the best part of a grand on a case and a handful of modules – spend a couple of nights with Softube Modular and get those first fights out of your system. And again, like with getting a semi-modular it gives you an opportunity to get off this journey here before it’s all too serious.
Let’s see if I can show you what I mean – see video above for a demonstration.
But after some perseverance it does start to open up and becomes fun and stuff. The presets of course are a good source of inspiration once you discover them. The Molten Modular ident at the beginning of the video was made in Softube Modular – it wasn’t difficult once I knew my way around.
Softube Modular is excellent – particularly if you are interested in the sound of modular but just don’t want the hassle or expense of dealing with the realities of the hardware – although, shame on you!
There’s an important distinction to be made between using Softube Modular and the real thing. Sure, they can sound the same and do the same thing but a huge part of modular for me is the physicality of the modules. There is something fundamentally different in patching a module with a mouse and patching with a real patch cable. Maybe there shouldn’t be, maybe it’s ridiculous, maybe it’s all psychological – that doesn’t matter. What matters is the experience of using your gear. I’ve been happy with software for decades – and I still am – but for this journey it’s not just the sound, it’s not just the style of connection or modulation possibilities, it’s the physical interaction with real circuitry – that’s a big part of the deal.
So we are three episodes into my Eurorack journey and I still haven’t even ordered a module. That’s right! But this is enough procrastination – it’s all about to get real. I’ve just ordered my first Eurorack case and my next video is going to attempt to unpack what it all means and give you some pointers on choosing and case and understanding power supplies.
Until then – go and make some tunes.