Modular value for money?

Why is modular gear so expensive relative to other hardware? Even within some manufacturers own product lines, modular versions seem to command a premium.

I’d actually love to build up a small modular skiff but every time I put pen to paper I end up thinking that I could just buy synth x, y or z instead.

It seems a waste to not make use of the AK’s CV power, but a small complimentary rig would easily be worth as much as another AK!

Very interested if others have had similar thoughts and have since changed their minds.

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I actually think eurorack is pretty cheap for the most part. Say take a $1000 and go buy a synth (SH-101?) and the equivilent on modular… Id much rather go into battle with the modular personally

When you look at the flexibility modular affords I don’t think it’s particularly over priced.
Also the sound is something else. A4 for eg sounds great but compare it to a DPO & it’s another World. That’s not a critism, it’s expected, A4 performs a lot of tasks well, DPO is a dedicated oscilator!

Say you take the Intellijel Atlantis and a Pittsburgh Modular Move 104 case.

Using an apportionment of the cost of the case based on the HP used, the total cost is approximately $833 USD.

That does seems pretty good compared to an SH-101 given that both items are brand new.

Maybe I’ve been looking at the high end modular stuff too much ^^

No argument on the flexibility and quality front. I guess my thoughts are based on trying to build three or four complete voices. Essentially you end up in Solaris territory!

Besides the aforementioned reasons (flexibility, etc) you have to understand that it is still a cottage industry, despite the growth. Most of the module companies are 1-2 man operations, working out of their homes. Many if not most still have to work normal jobs as well.

So, it’s not comparable to mega hige corporations that have huge manufacturing facilities, R&D research, focus groups, etc. They look at the market and release stuff that cost them not much to make, and flood people with cheap analog gear like Korg, or rehash the same circuits/concepts over and over (Dave Smith).

If you look at the innovation in eurorack, stuff like Intellijel’s unbelievable Shapeshifter complex oscillator, 20 million flavors of filters, and a format that has encompassed everything from Buchla/Serge based designs, sampling with granular capabilities, extensive effects and mixer, then it’s far ahead of modern day monosynths like the Microbrute and Bass Station 2.

Sorry for the rant, I’m just an impassioned euro(crack) user with 4 row+ system. It changed my life, and I’ve sold pretty much all of my synths in place of more modules. Only the machinedrum remains, which, BTW, is an excellent partner for a modular system. Send out clocks, effect and sample the modules, etc.

I appreciate the insights exper, and it sounds like we are building the same rig Baddcr (though you’re way ahead!).

Exploring CV I/O is definitely worth it … so many interesting possibilities not really covered by MIDI. Being zero latency it works great with CV triggered drum modules.

Anyway, if you don’t want to go down the modular route what about the Arturia Microbrute? It has a mini CV I/O section, with 6 CV inputs so that would be a much cheaper alternative.

modular also sounds really really really good. very visceral experience getting lost in synthesis. much more relaxing and easy to approach than menu diving, and if you have an A4 you have 4 really nice and flexible voltage sources to get freaky with.

also the option to take various aspects from classic drum machines, synths, filters, sequencers etc to make your own is very very satisfying. usually they’re modern updates that have been built to be more reliable and flexible.

you pay a lot for tactility and dedicated controls, but it is very worth it. great hands on learning that will only make you better with the elektrons

hard to say “modular” is expensive when you have eurorack and then buchla

I think one of the major obstacles is how to start: the first case, and the first modules… That’s what sometimes looks like a waste of money. Because a case is just a case, right? It is difficult to realise that it is not ‘just a case’ until you’re hooked into Eurorack (though some people don’t mind). As for the first modules, they usually wouldn’t do much by themselves. That’s what used to stop me getting into modular: planning, adding up the costs, and getting so scared… until one day I could not resist it any longer and decided to take the plunge. And it has been great since then. I’m more likely to end up selling some of my synths (including the A4… the OT is another matter) than my modular (though I have sold a few modules… to buy other modules!). Also, these days there are cheaper and cheaper starting points (uZeus… Pittsburg… Doepfer might not be too sexy, but is rock-solid, good cases…). Once you got yourself a system, not matter how cheap, you can always upgrade it, bit by bit. I think modular is much more open and fun than any synth out there (and I know there are some amazing synths…). The only problem is that it becomes more obsessive than buying synths, precisely because most modules cost less than a synth, so you can always tell yourself you can afford another module.

To modular, or not to modular? That is the question!

The price point is tough, but totally understandable for all the reasons the other guys have posted. If it was less expensive than just buying a synth, I’d be balls deep into it already! Actually, space in an issue for me too, so, all those cables and stuff…yikes!

One thing that has seriously caused me to shy away from modular is the fact that most of the videos I’ve seen of people using modular just look terribly boring and pointless. I know that doesn’t mean a person can’t do great stuff with modular, and I have seen some really great videos, sure, but I just wonder if all that patching and random noodling just ends up becoming a time and inspiration killer. Too many dead end patches and jams? I honestly don’t know. I’ve never used one!

There are some wickedly innovative modules coming out though. Some really crazy unique shit. And all of it looks sexy as hell! Very tempting indeed.

The truth is, I’m sure if I went modular i’d love it and go broke over it, so is stay away from it!

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To be honest I thought a lot of the modular stuff Id seen was just noise and bleep boop bop bop - which I like - I can play with filters and oscs for hours… BUt after watching pretty much every make noise vid there is a massive potential for melodic and ryhmic variation - just because its not on utube doesnt mean it aint there. BUt in moludar they create released pieces of music when playing a shared system for instance. Im getting a couple of grand in a month or so and Im gonna spend it on a make noise system most likely as the resale value on those things is unbelievable - Im talking 90% retail! Ive never seen anything like it.

That’s just what a lot of people are in to. Noise, classic berlin school bleeps, robot farts. A lot of people out there use them purely to feed their samplers, so you never know.

The beauty of modular is the signal routing flexibility and that your instrument is truly your own. I think small racks and whole-voice modules sort of miss the point. Even the current trend to smaller and smaller modules packing more and more functionality into them sort of leads to the same kind of VCO->VCF->VCA patching that’s already there, for cheaper, in dedicated synths.
OP, If all you want is to have an extra classic monosynth voice or two than modular can be quite expensive indeed. Get a Bass Station Rack/Pulse Plus/MSmini/foo, add it to your A4 and be happy. All of those are cheaper than most empty euro cases.