May 13, 2015

I’m not sure how many times we’ve heard/read the sentence “Modular synths are back!” in the past couple of years. If most synth manufacturers who jumped into the modular frenzy have indeed looked ‘back’ by offering formats identical (Moog Modular) or similar (Eurorack) to the original one, a few brave companies have made an effort to “think outside the rack”…

One of these is Patchblocks, an Irish manufacturer that created a modular gadget synth system that takes things one step beyond, by literally transcending the limits of hardware.

The Patchblocks may remind you of a bigger version of KORG’s littleBits, but, if the two formats definitely share a gadgety look, they are based on completely different approaches, which gives Patchblocks an edge in the flexibility department.

Yes because, unlike any hardware synth you bought before, one of those blocks you see in the picture is not a specific module… it can be any module!

That’s right, each Patchblocks can be programmed through an open source software to act as an Oscillator, or a Filter, or an Effect, or any other modular component (within the hardware’s limits).

Each unit is battery powered and has two knobs and two buttons.  Each block may take inputs, calculate some arbitrary function, and return outputs which in turn can be routed to serve as an input of another block. The blocks can be slotted into each other or connected through cables for extra routing options.

Also, in case you are wondering, the Patchblocks are also MIDI compatible.

This is a very exciting new concept that is now distributed in the US by Pittsburgh Modular, which bodes well for this product’s future.

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